The SOTAMĀT (pronounced “sota-mate”) app now supports a bunch of new SOTA and POTA commands, some just added.
Execute SOTA/POTA commands via HF radio 1-way (with an iPhone or Android) when there is no internet service, no cell service, and no satellite service:
- Post a (self) SOTA Spot
- Post a (self) POTA Spot
- Post a SOTA Alert (useful to “tickle” RBNhole for CW ops if you didn’t file an alert ahead of time)
- Send predefined SMS messages
Execute 2-way commands via SMS <–> SMS, or eMail <–> eMail, or Garmin inReach-eMail <–> Garmin-inReach-API
- Post a Spot (with many options and shortcuts) for SOTA/POTA
- Post an Alert (useful to tickle RBNhole) for SOTA
- Get a list of recent spots (for S2S or P2P) for SOTA/POTA
- Get a list of Alerts for SOTA
- Get SOTA/POTA info on a Callsign
- Get SOTA info on a Peak
- Get POTA info on a Park
- Get Weather for a SOTA Peak, POTA Park, or a Lat/Lon (Altitude Aware: defaults to the peak’s weather, but you can ask for the base too).
- …and more.
For Garmin inReach users: this service is 2-way and responds to your commands (unlike 1-way inReach emails). Previously 2-way inReach was accomplished via SMS, but Garmin has a policy of not supporting SMS to non-physical phones (“virtual” phone numbers like automated systems). Many “virtual” numbers work, but Garmin’s provider eventually blocks them as they are discovered. To avoid this issue and allow true 2-way commands, SOTAMĀT uses inReach-eMail for the inReach-to-SOTAMĀT direction and SOTAmat-to-Garmin-API for the response direction (so that SMS is not used and thus not blocked).
Note: the official MM0FMF SOTA inReach spotting gateway uses SMS to a virtual phone number and is subject to random blocking by Garmin’s provider (discussed in Garmin’s documentation and confirmed with Garmin support that they only support SMS to physical phones). The official SOTA SMS Gateway is working and has worked for years and is likely to work for some time, but I’ve had multiple virtual phone numbers blocked by Garmin in the past year and I suspect it is only a matter of time before the official SOTA SMS gateway is blocked by Garmin’s provider as well. Also, the official SMS Gateway requires that inReach telemetry be disabled since it appends characters to the message which confuses the gateway. A lot of effort went into addressing these issues in SOTAmat. Enjoy.
- Documentation on 1-way commands via HF: https://SOTAmat.com [Note: the tutorial videos are a bit out of date, but you’ll get the idea. I’ll update them as I get time.]
- Documentation on 2-way commands (SMS, eMail, Garmin inReach): https://SOTAmat.com/sms-services
NOTE: CURRENTLY THE SMS FUNCTIONALITY ONLY WORKS IN CERTAIN COUNTRIES (inbound SMS or outbound SMS) due to high SMS costs for other countries. I’m evaluating several solutions. All other modes (HF, eMail, inReach) work internationally and cost me nothing. The SMS-enabled countries are currently USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, Italy, and I’ve only tested it in the USA (and a beta tester did a bit of 1-way testing in Germany). SO: test before you depend on it (or don’t use SMS and save me a nickel).
If you have questions or find a bug, I’m happy to help.
73 de AB6D
I wonder what their business justification is for that policy?
When I called Garmin support they took several days to research internally and the response that came back was that Garmin themselves are not the issue. They said the blocking is happening from one of their contracted providers that their systems integrate with. It isn’t them actively doing it. It was very frustrating to have several of my Twilio numbers blocked this past year.
And here is the web site where they talk about it: (you have to expand the appropriate section with a mouse click)
If you Google around for a few days trying different search terms (virtual, VOIP, SMS not delivered, etc.) you’ll see that a number of people from different industries are affected. I have no idea why my Twilio numbers worked for 9 months and then poof: they are now ALL blocked.
I also called Twilio (a friend is a vice president there) and they researched that the problem was not on their side: it was Garmin (or their provider). Twilio said they have no way of tagging a number as a “physical phone” vs. “virtual”.
…This led me on a multi-month rabbit hole of trying to figure out other ways of getting 2-way communication with Garmin. I reverse engineered a bunch of stuff and found how their API’s work, their messaging ID’s work (and thanks to the SOTA community I even discovered that the Garmin inReach servers change based on the location of the inReach!), and more and how to send a response back directly through Garmin’s network and bypassing SMS, eMail, etc.
That’s what SOTAmat is using now for inReach:
inReach-eMail-Out → SOTAmat → Garmin-API-to-inReach.
By the way, if you want to try the other modes (inReach, eMail, SMS) I enabled other countries for SMS (originally I only had USA turned on to control SMS costs since other countries are sometimes 10x more expensive). SMS enabled countries right now include: USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Italy, Australia. But if you’re just testing it costs me nothing if you use eMail or Garmin (or HF 1-way) rather than SMS.
It sounds like complete madness on Garmin’s side to deal with a comms partner that doesn’t provide a universal service. It only needs enough Inreach users to get upset their expensive device wont communicate with every phone number for there to be a class action, especially in the litigious USA
It shouldn’t matter whether the thing on the end of the number is real (a phone) or virtual (a lump of software pretending to be a phone). You send a sequence of bytes with a destination address and a protocol is followed to accept and deliver those bytes to the destination.
The limitation is like the postal service saying “we’ll deliver your letter to any house in the country as long the house is not painted yellow.”
Deep down it’s probably something to do with Garmin’s chosen SMS aggregator’s anti-spam issues. Anybody doing SMS marketing (legit or spam) will not being sending them through a mobile provider directly but some 3rd party provider. The easy way to stop spam is not to deal with people who aren’t a mobile provider whether they’re spamming or not.
Agreed. I’m sure it has to do with anti-spam. What is crazy is that two of my virtual phone numbers that got blocked had less that 100 messages transmitted over them in a 9 month period. About ten messages per month is not exactly “spam”. So whoever is blocking stuff is not being smart.
There is also a big change happening in the USA (and possibly internationally but I’m just a customer of the service so I don’t have visibility) regarding SMS and anti-spam measures. There are a bunch of new details you have to register for virtual numbers like Twilio for companies. The rules for non-commercial individuals (like my SOTAmat) haven’t been provided yet and the deadline is mid-December. A nail biter. I’m waiting for the instructions so I can update my Twilio account. But again, this is only for SMS and I’m finding more reasons to use other channels besides SMS (eMail, HF, inReach). SMS is just so convenient and quick.
Note to Garmin inReach users: several bugs have been fixed with SOTAmat’s Garmin inReach handling. This is thanks to reports from user K0MOS who was very helpful in working with me to debug a few use cases I had not tested previously. One major bug and 3 minor bugs have been fixed. If you had an issue with SOTAmat over Garmin inReach, try again. Let me know if you have issues!
New version of SOTAmat out today: V1.1.0 build 46.
Simplified: No more need to manage “Configuration Blobs”. Now you just login with your SOTAmat username/password in the mobile app and click the “Load Configuration” to sync the server and your mobile device. Easy. This avoids issues with people who don’t understand the timestamp rules between SOTA’s Db, SOTAmat’s Db, and the mobile device’s Db work. Now it automatically “just works” even if the SOTA org adds new summits to a region after you’ve loaded your configuration to your phone. The old “configuration blobs” are still available for experts with unusual use cases and who like to live dangerously.
You can (optionally) download the entire SOTA and POTA databases so that the app can show Peak and Park info on the spotting screens when you select a peak/park. You can see who the recent activator was, points, and other info. This offline database is a foundation for future features. The first download brings down the entire database for SOTA and POTA (202,000+ records, about 5MB compressed), and subsequent downloads only grab changed records (fast, and often 50KB compressed for a week of updates). The mobile apps hit the SOTAmat server which caches the data from the SOTA API and POTA API (refreshed daily for all users) since the official servers don’t have an easy way to ask “which records changed?”, but SOTAmat does.
User interface improvements.
Getting started guide: https://SOTAmat.com/getting-started
73 de AB6D -Brian
Thanks for the update, all works fine as before!
I didn’t have a problem with the configuration blob, but now its even easier to sync, once you change your configuration.
During my recent activations, I mostly spotted at least once with SOTAmat, mainly to test its reliability and it never let me down. Some weeks ago, when I was in the Black Forrest, my spot was even decoded across the pond. I was always using my old Android smartphone with “air coupling”, i.e. no cable but only the TRX microphone.
A handy and reliable alternative for APRS messaging!
I’m glad it worked for you Stephan.
Certain Android users running older OS versions report an issue with the new configuration loading feature, resulting in “configuration invalid” errors. It appears some older phones might be incompatible with recent SSL security protocols. I have been unable to reproduce on my devices. Here is a work-around if you experience the issue: use the old manual “configuration blob” approach:
- On your phone, visit the page https://sotamat.com/configuration
- If you aren’t logged in, click the “+” in the upper left corner to login to your SOTAmat account.
- If you aren’t already there, return to the page https://sotamat.com/configuration
- Copy the configuration “blob” to the clipboard.
- Jump out of the browser and return to the SOTAmat app. Go to the settings tab. At the bottom of the page under “Experts Only” paste in the blob of text. Then click somewhere outside the text-entry area to load the configuration. Done. If you later change your configuration on the web site, repeat the process on your phone.
73 de AB6D - Brian
Single button configuration load and download SOTA/POTA databases both work without any problems whatsoever on my Android 12 LG K42 Smartphone here.
I’ve never used anything but SSB is there a particular frequency to transmit the ft8 message?
ALSO no matter what band you are on, you use SSB mode in Upper-Sideband (even on 40 & 80m).
@2M0OSB The app has a “Frequencies Reference” page (under the “more …” tab) that lists all the frequencies for all the modes and bands. Nice and handy in the field. The “-U” means “Upper Sideband” and the “-L” means “Lower Sideband” in the table.
73 de AB6D
Thanks so much looking to use it in anger today
2M0OSB, the app works the same if you use it when you are happy or angry, but I hope you get to use it in “action” and not in “anger” today . I’ll be looking for your spot.