SMS Spotter OE status


As already announce at the 8th OE5 SOTA day now the official launch of the OE SMS to Sotawatch.

Unique feature:
This SMS spotter is able to handle both synthax methods.

Bogdan @YO8SAW was so kind to modifing his App SOTA Spotter for Android to allow both options. Thanks a lot for your great work and support!

The phone number is:

+43 680 3110897

Both syntax methods means:

1.) Registered phone number via the service provided by Andy @MM0FMF. You will need to register your callsign and phone number. All the information can be found here: Summits on the Air
Without your registration the SMS text message will be silently ignored.
Technically the message is just forwarded in the proper format to Andys server.
Note: Select “OE SOTA Spotter 1” in Bogdans app.

2.) Exactly the same basic syntax like the existing SPOT SMS services (EA/HA/I)
Without correct syntax the SMS message will be silently ignored.
Note: Select “OE SOTA Spotter 2” in Bogdans app.

Of course you don’t need to use the app. Just sending a SMS text message works fine.

More information and examples on the syntax can be found on my website:
Also the last spots can be found there (for the 2nd method only).

Disclaimer: Choosing a unique password only for sotawatch is highly recommended as it is sent in cleartext in the SMS. Don’t use the password that you have for your online banking, email login or any other critical services.

Cost for SMS is of course depending from where you send. Within Austria depending on your phone agreement in most cases it is for free. Within the EU costs may vary. I think 0,15 € is typical for text messages.

A word on the tech and background infos:

  • Raspberry 2 B+
  • USB 3G Modem Medion (btw. Big thanks :+1: to Martin @OE5REO for sponsoring it)
  • Active USB 2.0 Hub (Modem needs it for stable operation)
  • 4 GB microSD card
  • 2 A / 5V Powersupply


  • gammu-smsd: A background service to handle SMS receive in the background. Every 15 seconds the modem is scanned for new SMS and calls …
  • … a Python script that handles all the message processing, spot placement and updating the website (about 200 lines of code in total)
  • Raspberry is not accessible from the internet (router firewall). Webserver (last spots) is updated by FTP.

Just received a nice metal case to house the unit. Installation pending…

There is no guaranteed availabilty/uptime but tests have been stable for several month now in a small testgroup.
In case I need to do an update to the software or hardware I will post here. Feel free to contact me here or by PM on the reflector in case of questions or issues.

Wish you all successful activations :wink:


It seems a while since I worked with Joe to get some bugs ironed out so his code worked with mine. I remember it being really very painless compared to some protocol connection issues I have worked on.

Nice to see it opened to the public.

I’d better make sure my end stays working now!

Good job Joe, thanks.
The spotter was tested during OE5 SOTA day presentation and I confirm it works perfectly !

73, Jarek SP9MA

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Thanks Andy,

Sorry that it took a while to make it public but I wanted to be sure that it works.

Getting the communication going was a good learning for me. And a feeling of success getting it working is a nice bonus.
Btw. just needed to change the server url recently due to dynDNS service stopping operation on your side.
But recent testspot worked fine via your service so everything good :white_check_mark:

Having options is always good I guess. I will still fallback to APRS2SOTA for high alpine summits without mobile phone or just use data connection and spot via the Internet when available.

Let me know when sotawatch3 is available for testing because I guess I will need to modify my “method #2” script for that then.

Hi, Joe

Perfect. We are using the spotter since last week.

Thanks a lot

Peter & Sylvia

Yes, I have seen it in the log :slight_smile:

Btw. did you see my message about the J-Pole?

73’s Joe

hi joe,

just updated to the new version of SOTA Spotter and can only find “OE SOTA Spotter 2” in the SMS gateway list. btw: wouldn’t it be better to change the names to:

#1 --> SMS_EU
#2 --> SpotSMS OE

thanks for providing this service for the sota-community!

73 martin, oe5reo

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Hi Martin,

It also took some time for me so that all options showed up in the SOTASpotter gateway menu after the update.
I think Bogdan wanted to have a look at it again. I have not defined the names but Bogdan. I guess that can be changed anytime. Technically on my side this makes no difference.

73 Joe

Have I understood the instructions correctly? OE SOTA Spotter 1 uses the sending phone number for validation and OE SOTA Spotter 2 uses your Sotawatch account and password?

However … in settings in the SOTA Spotter App, clicking either OE option turns on BOTH radio buttons (this doesn’t occur with other SMS sites in the list).

  • In the “send a spot” panel, option OE SOTA Spotter 2 is selected - I don’t see how option 1 can be selected.

73 Ed.

Hello Ed,

I noticed that but only Bodgan can answer if this is a bug or feature … @YO8SAW
It could be that if sotawatch credentials are provided option 2 is used. Otherwise option 1 but that’s just a guess.

73 Joe

OK, we’ll see if Bodgan responds here otherwise I’ll drop him an email.

You are right - removing SOTAWatch credentials in settings does indeed switch the selected SMS option in the send SMS screen to OE SOTA Spotter 1 - but you can get an error message about missing credentials as they are needed still for if you submit the spot via an Internet connection. Which appears to be the default on this panel.

73 Ed.

Update - after removing credentials and OE Spotter 1 comes up as the SMS gateway, putting the credential back in, leaves the SMS option as OE SOTA Spotter 1 in the Send Spot panel - and you can’t change it back to 2 …

Hi everyone,

Sorry for not replying sooner, but I’ve been really busy lately. I haven’t had a chance to check yet, but It’s most likely a bug (must have these, or programming wouldn’t be fun). I’ll fix it as soon as I can. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Bogdan YO3SAW

in the end it should maybe look like this:

(red = edited by me)

I just published an update which should fix the gateway selection problem. It may take up to a few hours for it to become available on Google Play, so please be patient.

@OE5REO Regarding the gateways’ names, I didn’t choose them. I just used whatever the owner sent me - it didn’t seem too important, because you can see where the gateway is if you click on it in the list. Anyway, I can change them if you think it would make a difference.

Thank you all for putting up with these minor issues of late!

Bogdan YO3SAW

hi bogdan,

thanks for the quick update of your app! just sent two test spots using the updated version of SOTA Spotter to OE Spotter 1 (MM0FMF) and OE Spotter 2 (SpotSMS) and both worked fine!!

regarding the names it would maybe make sense if first all of the SMS_XX were listed and then all the SpotSMS XX. for me personally it makes no big difference because I am familiar to the app but for new users it would maybe be easier to find the “right” gateway to use!?

73 martin, oe5reo

Hi Martin,
I don’t think calling the Austrian SMS gateway “EU” is correct as there is also HA, EA and (at the moment) UK also in EU. I know at present HA and EA use the login format rather than the phone number but that could change in the future. Perhaps simply SMS_OE for the phone number validated access to the system via Austria would be better ?

73 Ed.

I have received an updated gateway list on my phone. Eds and Martins suggestions are implemented.

Now it is more consistent. Thanks a lot for improving it and to Bogdan for the fast implementation.

73 Joe

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To be 100% clear (as I have understood this);

  • the entries in the list that only refer to SMS_country-code use your Mobile Phone’s number for validation and this has to be registered before you can use the link.
  • the entries that start SpotSMS still send an SMS message however your SOTAWatch userid and password are sent as the vaildation (and therefore must be entered in the program’s settings). You don’t need to have your mobile number registered for these routes to work.

73 Ed.

100 % Correct

Registration needs to be done by Email to Andy MM0FMF as described in FAQ. One-time registration will work then for all numbers with name SMS_CountryCode

SpotSMS uses the provided credentials to directly submit the spot.

73 Joe

I do not take credit for “writing” the SMS Format Spotting Manual referenced in the initial post. I compiled all the information I could find, and tested it for fidelity with what was included in the document.

It now looks like the new number for Austria SMS_OE should be added to the list. Below is an idea of how the numbers could now be better presented (in alphabetical SMS order).

I do not know if those SpotSMS numbers should be included in the list or not. I am also not very familiar with properly presenting phone numbers for areas outside of North America.

If someone can compile a better phone number section for insertion into the document I would appreciate it. Present any improvement to Andy, and he can merge it into the proper place.

Glenn AB3TQ

North America SMS_NA use 1-530-430-SOTA ( 1-530-430-7682 )
Austria SMS_OE use ( +436803110897 )
Europe SMS_UK use 07903 533046 ( +447903533046 )
Australia SMS_VK use 0447 568667 ( +61447568667 )