SOTA Cluster and SMS spotter updates

I’ve updated both the SOTA cluster and my SMS spotter over the last week. The cluster has been running since earlier in the week, the new spotter went live earlier today. Both have changed to use SSO authorisation.

There should be no observable changes to the cluster, it gets its spots differently but the presentation and commands are the same. The bigger plus for me is the way spot fetching is handled better (by me) so the cluster should be (should be) less prone to locking up or hanging when it can’t get any spots updates.

The SMS spotter is quite changed. For a start lots of old code has been removed, this includes support for spotting Wainrights and Humps. WOTA is a little moribund at present but hopefully someone will breathe new life into what was an excellent award scheme for a pretty part of the UK. Spotting support for WOTA can always be re-implemented in the future. Lots of old and ugly code has been put out of its misery and there’s now significantly fewer lines of code doing more useful things.

A benefit of new access is that finally you can now delete a spot you placed using the SMS spotter. Spotting should be exactly the same as before and should work as described in the manual, click the FAQs link at the top of this page and the manual is in the list on the left. If you find you have spotted something incorrectly then you can delete that spot by sending exactly the same spot again but insert a ‘#’ character at the start.

i.e. if you spot the wrong summit with a spot like this

! GM SS-123 5.4035 SSB Calling CQ

then you can delete it by sending the following (ignore the fact it’s now in italics, that’s Discourse being clever)

#! GM SS-123 5.4035 SSB Calling CQ

The spot will be deleted. There are some gotchas though especially as I am still experimenting. Firstly you cannot delete a spot posted by the spotter using SOTAwatch, you can only delete a spot by sending another spot. Secondly, the spotter’s knowledge of spots is not persisted across restarts. This means it stores a small number of spots it posted in its memory and when the program is restarted, that memory is cleared. I have not decided how many spots to save in memory yet, but if you leave it too long to try to delete a spot, the spotter may no longer have it stored and wont be able to delete it. Not perfect but at present you can’t delete them at all.

I have done a number of tests over the last few hours and I’d love to declare it bug free. But there’ll be all sorts of nasties lurking. If you see something not working or strange, drop me an email or PM. If there’s anything really broken I can always switch back to the old spotter so the service remains usable. The note about who sent the spot that is inserted into the comments is now a different format. It leaves more characters for your comment yet still identifiers who spotted and which access point they used.


Hello Andy.

Thanks for improving the SMS spotter; not that I was aware of it needing improvement :slight_smile: Now I have found how to copy, paste and edit old spots I use it for nearly every activation.
As you probably already know I used it twice today without being aware of any changes.
Enabling deletion might well be useful if the fat fingers produce something not quite right; usually I just put up another spot but deleting the wrong one might reduce confusion.


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I read all new informative SMS Message posts. Because of this post I just figured out how to copy text content into a new text. But how often will I use this new delete feature? I don’t own a smart phone (don’t want one). So I can never see sotawatch spots / alerts while on an activation unless I am with friends. If I don’t start getting contacts, I suspect the spot could be bad. I check the text I sent, and have at times found formatting errors. That would mean the spot never posted. Nothing to delete. I will certainly keep this in mind though.

Any new features are good. I will monitor this code development and update the manual when it seems to make sense to do so.

Enough people have asked how to delete a spot in the past that it was worthwhile implementing a delete option when it became possible Glenn. There are 2 common use cases. One is after posting a test spot to confirm you know how to use the system. Many people want to clean up after the test and delete the test spot. The other is when someone arrives on a summit, copies a previous spot to use as a template for the new activation and then sends that without changing the summit or the frequency or whatever.

Even with a non-smart phone, you can see the text of the messages you have sent. So it’s possible you can see what you sent and realise it was not what you wanted to send.

I don’t expect to see it used much but it’s there.

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OK, good point. Deleting a test spot is a very good reason to have this feature. I will no doubt use it myself at some point.

Much as you described - On one occasion I missed one change when editing a spot from a previous summit when sending it out from a new summit, with a very obvious error as a result. A helpful chaser made me aware of that error. As quickly as possible I sent out a new correct spot. Deleting the bad spot (if it had been possible), would have had to wait till the chaser contacts stopped coming in. I would like to think I have learned from my mistake, and this will not happen again.

I have been keeping an eye on the recent sms posts, and have a few observations.

The European access point is now identified as {GB} ?

The {NA} access point gets a fair amount of activity.

I have seen only a small number of recent {VK} spots, but nothing from {OE}

What is the path to access the {Iridium} access point?

What is the difference between these two access points.
||[???{NA}]: (Posted by sms)|
||[???{NA}]: [SOTA Spotter] (Posted by sms)|

Just trying to understand the sms system as much as possible.

OE spotter is run by Joe OE5JFE. It’s so that he (and others in Austria) can spot via SMS for the cost of local SMS (probably free) compared with an international SMS to the UK (probably €0.20). The user pool will be very much reduced which is why you have not seen many/any spots.

The Iridium access point means the message came via the Iridium satellite system. Typically this means the user was spotting with a Garmin(DeLorme) InReach GPS system. (GPS receiver with 2 way satellite SMS messaging).

The posted by says who posted the message to SOTAwatch. An asterisk in the start of the comment means the message came by the now deprecated Spotlite interface. For many technical reasons, my spotter uses the username “sms” (used to be SMS and SMS_NA etc.). So it inserted who sent the spot into square brackets. A spot of XXXX by XXXX should imply more accuracy in the spot that XXXX by YYYY, should is the keyword so it is good to know who posted the spot.

The use of square barackets to add additional info is a de-facto standard by SOTA software writers. [SOTA Spotter] means the person spotting is using the SOTA Spotter app to send the spot. I reduced the number of characters I take to leave more for the actual comment.

Finally if you see the spot posted by “sms” (in lower case) then it is the new spotter. Uppercase will be the old spotter and I will run that because I have a bug in the new one not yet fixed. (Congrats to Adrian G4AZS for finding a doosy of bug yesterday that’s now fixed.)

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[SOTA Spotter] is added by the SOTA Spotter app for Android by Bodgan @YO8SAW
That is independent from using Internet or SMS.

My OE SMS is checking the SMS format and is spotting directly (username and pwd) or forwarding to Andy spotting service.

Hope that helps

73 Joe

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I’d like to barge in, if I may.
@MM0FMF I can remove the [SOTA Spotter] part when I release a new version of the app, if you think it adds confusion or if it violates any rule I may have blatantly disregarded :smiley:. I never asked if it was OK because other apps were doing the same.


Bodgan I think that was not the question/topic overall. Just wanted to make the source transparent.

Keep up the good work!

73 Joe

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I know, but I just wanted to mention that.

I don’t think there’s an issue as long as enough space remains for a comment from the person spotting.

I might change my code to look for well know program idents in square brackets and merge them with my ident and put that at the end of the comment to make the comment standout more

[MM0FMF{GB}] Calling CQ now [SOTA Spotter]


Calling CQ now                                              [MM0FMF{GB}SOTA Spotter]

Hello All,

I just send two SMS spots for testing.
One OE, another one EA.
Nothing appears on sotawatch :frowning:

What may happen ?

73, Jarek

OE one works right now.
EA stil does not.

73, Jarek

You are not a registered user Jarek.


Hi Andy,

Before EA spot SMS was worked without any problems.
Anything was changed ? Sorry maybe I missed something …

73, Jarek

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Let’s take this private and I can get things sorted for you later today.

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Andy don’t forget the OE and EA spotter also work with username and password in addition to the registered phone number. So that might not be the problem.
Something must have worked because I have Jarek spot in my list. So the SSO authentication did work. But not sure if the handover to you failed.
Just checked my logfile. Everything looks fine on my side


Good evening,

I checked right now and EA one still does not work.
Yesterday I checked Italian one on UTC 09:32 and it worked well.
I am writing it just to inform bcse if I have two ones work well it is fine for me :wink:

73, Jarek

I haven’t seen any spots from the EA gateway since Feb 28, maybe it is off line?

OK, if you are happy then that’s good. If you want your phone number registering for the other access method, mail me mm0fmf AT

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it is helpful, thank you :wink:

73, Jarek