SOTA Spotter alternative

HI All,

I changed my phone and I see SOTA Spotter is no longer in the Android app store , what are folk using as an alternative these days .I seem to remember this being previously discussed but did not pay sufficient attention at the time

Declan
EI6FR

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I just go straight to the website.

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I find SOTAwatch works fine on my phone. (Android 13/14)

Occsiaonally I use DroidSpot to place SMS spots but I don’t think the DroidSpot APK is available anymore. Well I just fired it and it says it has been updated and seems to still work.

Check out this one, it’s free and supports SOTA, POTA, WWFF and more.
Loads database(s) with all references, uses your location to suggest which summit you’re on, exports separate logs for each program, can check and send spots, etc

https://ham2k.com/apps/polo/

73,
Luc ON7DQ

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Hi Declan
I can’t recall SOTA Spotter being available from the Android Playstore, but I may be thiinking of its predecessor app - the owner pulled that one due to the GDPR rulings at the time. I’ve a feeling SOTA Spotter came from another direct source and not the Playstore.

73 Phil

SOTA Spotter did come from the Google Play Store as I have it on my phone and have only ever loaded apps from the store (apart from the one I wrote). It still seems to work but, as I said earlier, I just use the website now.

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Hi Guys,

thanks, yep I found the old thread, pity its no longer available but using the website seems just as handy when qrv

Declan

Fantastic app. However, SOTA spots/alerts specifically aren’t ready yet. It’s coming though. POTA spotting is currently available. Development has been rather rapid. I’m impressed so far.

I use SOTA Goat on my iPhone

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VK port-a-log?

I haven’t used it, but SOTA spotting seems to be in the app.

Had a look at that, nice piece of work when its ready for us

Declan

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Hi Declan,

We now use ‘SOTA Activator’ from the Play Store, as we lost SOTA Spotter when we changed phones last year.

It seems quicker and more reliable at spotting, but you have to type in all the spot details each time, which is a hassle.

It does have a good summit mapping option (* fairly good mapping actually; after my recent experience in Majorca I would not use the mapping for navigation purposes!).

73,
Simon

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Don’t forget sotl.as as well - it adjusts very nicely to smartphone screens as well as PC browser screens. Just go to sotl.as in Chrome and then ‘add to home screen’

73 Ed.

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I had reported exact the same hassle to the developer Jess. He has promised to incorporate an improvement in the next release. Unfortunately he has not released a new issue since November 2023.

73 de Michael, DB7MM

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I’ve just used SOTA Activator for two weekends of activations, 11 summits, and it worked very well, easy to use. At one point I saw a server error but an app restart fixed it and allowed me to spot. I like the realtime map with summit markers, something that SOTA Finder lacks.

My only complaint is that the alert and spot forms forget the previous field values which is really annoying, as others have suggested. If that gets fixed it will be all I could ask for.

Well not exactly all… because it knows your location there is an opportunity for the app to pre-fill the summit field when spotting automatically, using a configurable proximity attribute (say, 150m). Any improvement that reduces in-field keystrokes should be explored. (Oh, I just re-read the Polo description and it seems that app does this).

[PS: I would of course use VK Portalogger if only it was on Android].

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How do you get an invitation to try Portable Logger on Apple Testflight??

Elliott, K6EL

Another alternative is SOTAMAT which works differently from the others:

  • When you do NOT have internet: one-way commands:

    • Allows spotting and alerting for SOTA/POTA.
    • The app generates special FT8 “spot commands” by playing FT8 audio from the cell phone into your HF radio microphone. 125 monitoring stations worldwide pick up your FT8 command and spot you.
    • If you have an Elecraft KX2/KX3 - there is a hardware module called SOTACAT that allows the radio to self-spot with FT8 via direct synthesis (not using audio) via WiFi from your phone. Adds WiFi CAT control to KX2/3.
    • Also allows you to send predefined messages to recipients via SMS or eMail, even when you don’t have access to SMS or eMail (no internet)
  • When you have internet: a two-way mode where you send commands via eMail, or in some countries SMS, and you get replies back:

    • Spot and Alerts: it automatically remembers your peak-ID and callsign, and determines your mode from the frequency, greatly reducing typing when you QSY
    • provides high quality peak-specific weather reports (I’ve paid for a MeteoBlue subscription)
    • it can return a list of current spots from SOTA Watch (summit-to-summit opportunities)
    • provides park information, and callsign stats
  • When you have a Garmin inReach satellite device:

    • Similar to the eMail approach above, but replies are sent to your inReach via direct injection of the responses into the Garmin (undocumented) API. You use the inReach to send an eMail to SOTAMAT with a command, and SOTAMAT responds back to you (Weather, current spots, etc.) via direct inReach messaging. Works without SMS which Garmin does not officially support from automated systems.
  • Bonus features:

    • Has an offline database (can be updated daily) of the stats for all SOTA/POTA Peaks/Parks worldwide.
    • Provides offline orientation, and activation zone elevation information for the target peak, (and when online can provide maps/satellite images.)
    • Provides reference materials (frequency band plans, time beacons, and services list such as APRS commands)
    • Runs on both iOS and Android
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My SOTAMAT has two problems. 1) It’s stuck on the spot me page. How do I see which activators have been spotted. 2) I accidentally clicked the track me option. How do I revert to don’t track so my significant other can’t stalk me.

Elliott, K6EL

The app isn’t for the 2-way commands. The app is for 1-way commands (self-spotting, etc.) that send 1-way commands via HF FT8 messages.

Asking for a list of current spots is a 2-way command (asking for the spots, and getting a response back). The 2-way commands don’t need an app. For 2-way you either:

  • send an SMS message to +1-601-SOTA-MAT (+1-601-768-2628) with the text similar to one of these examples:

    • spots (will return the most recent 5 spots in the past hour)
    • spots ssb 3 (meaning return just the 3 most recent ssb spots from the last hour)
    • ss all 4 s (which is just a short-hand for sotaspots all 4 short returns the 4 most recent spots from the past hour, but in a shorter format that is appropriate for the 140 character Garmin inReach)
  • Or do the same, but rather than use SMS, send an eMail to <your-callsign>.<your-PINcode>@go.sotamat.com where you put the command in either the subject line or in the message body. You set up your PIN on the Web site (you define your Profile).

  • Or do the same on a Garmin inReach, sending the same way you send an eMail, but the response will come back via the Garmin network directly (the response does not come back via eMail).

The app never sends your location information to the cloud. Location GPS information is only used on the device to select the closest Peak ID or Park ID from the database, or to guide you to the selected peak and to provide activation zone information. You can turn off permissions to GPS access as follows:

  • On Android: in the Android Settings app → “Security and Privacy” → “Permission Manager” → “Location” → search for the “SOTAmat” app → make your choice (such as “Don’t Allow” or “Ask every time”).
  • On iOS: in the iPhone Settings app → Privacy & Security → Location Services → SOTAmat → “Never” or “Ask Next Time”.

The full documentation of available 2-way commands (spots, weather, etc.) is at https://sotamat.com/sms-services/. A “quick reference” of available 2-way commands is also in the SOTAMAT cell phone app under the “More…” tab, and then “Services Reference”.

-Brian

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VK port-a-log does it perfectly, spotting, alerts, logging. And you can customize for your preferences. I don’t use anything else.

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