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Spotting via SMS

Over some time I’ve noticed people having recurrent problems using Spotlite. These range from simple use errors to changes by mobile providers that stop once working Spotlite connections from working anymore. Sometimes Spotlite starts working again for no apparent reason later. Other people have no problems at all.

To solve these issues and also to allow people to use Spotlite if they don’t have internet access on their mobile phone, I have written a simple SMS to Spotlite gateway. Instead of filling in a web form you send an SMS containing your details and this will get posted to the SOTAwatch spot page. There is a working SMS spot facility run by Zsolt, HG4UK but using it will cost people in the UK an international rate text. This new gateway is in the UK and so will be cheaper to use for any UK hams.

In order to use the gateway you need to register with me, this is so I can map your phone number to your callsign for validation. I don’t need to know your SOTAwatch password to place the spot though. The spots are placed by a special user, SMSBOT, rather than the person sending the text. (Some observant users may have seen spots by SMSBOT coming and going over the past days as it was tested.)

I’ve done some testing and I think the gateway is ready for some beta testing by real users. So I’m looking for volunteers who will give it a try over the next few days. If it seems to be resilient and stays working then it will become available to anyone who wants to use it.

If you want to be a tester then please email me with your name, callsign and the mobile phone number of the phone you want to use. You can register as many phone numbers as you want. I’ll add them to the database for the gateway and let you know when it is online and available. I’ll also tell you how to use it! Please note, only register if you intend to use the gateway over the coming weekend. General availability will be as soon as it is stable.

Send your details to mm0fmf_sota AT intermoose.com ( do the obvious to the AT)

I’ve plans to extend the functionality to include posting alerts through the gateway and possibly requesting spots to be sent to you phone via SMS. First thing is to get the spot facility running 100%.

Be aware: This is not a replacement for Spotlite but an additional facility. In fact the gateway uses the Spotlite URL to post spots that it has received by SMS. If you have Spotlite working then you’ve no need to give up using it. You may want to have this SMS facility as a backup though. The gateway is free to use, the only cost is whatever it costs you to send an SMS to a UK number.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:

Hi, Andy.

Great stuff. That sounds like a really useful backup. There have been many occasions when I’ve got a 'phone signal but data comms don’t work.

I’ve e-mailed you as suggested.

73, Richard

In reply to MM0FMF:

Hi Andy

Sounds extremely useful, in fact exactly what I need!

Sadly won’t be out this weekend to give it a test but look forward to playing with it when on stream…

73 and thanks

de Paul G4MD

Many thanks to those who’ve been in touch. I think I have enough beta testers now. If all goes well I’ll open this up for anyone as quickly as I can.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:

Just like that! Excellent stuff, Andy. It must be if I can get it working first time! Thanks for the clear instructions. :slight_smile:

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:
Worked ‘just as it said on the tin’ well done Andy.
Sorry if my spot was there a long time I could not get sotawatch to work on my phone to delete it :slight_smile:

Roger G4OWG

In reply to MM0FMF:
Well done Andy. I like Zsolt’s service and don’t mind the 30 pence text so far. Spotlite on my Ericsson P-910 is hard work so I found that pre-prepared draft SMS messages are more convenient and more quickly sent if CQ elicits no replies. The same for less would be marvellous.
Regretably I found I I had a 0.03 GBP balance when on the summit of W6/CT-034 with Stuart KI6J last Sunday so couldn’t send a spot to Hungary.
I’d like to subscribe in time for next weekend’s activation of Baystones G/LD-039.
Just about to set off from W6 Land for G - whippee!
Cheers
David
W6/2E0DAI [probably {;-D ]

Andy,

Thanks for your sms spot service. I found it easy to use, and certainly helped my activations yesterday. It seems to work well

Thanks

Richard
G0IBE

Nice backup facility Andy. I am increasingly finding myself able to make a call or a text but not connect to internet, or make a text but not a call or internet. Very useful - just testing now to see if I can make it work!

…and indeed it does work - great! I’ll delete the bogus test spot now.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

…and indeed it does work - great! I’ll delete the bogus test spot
now.

Tom M1EYP

That’s where I encountered a problem Tom (and Andy) because the spot was from the bot and not me I could not edit or delete it :frowning:
So probably best not to send test spots unless you are a moderator.

Roger G4OWG

ps couldn’t use the system from NP-015 because the sun was so bright I couldn’t read my phone screen - still in the UK that is unlikely to happen very often :wink:

In reply to G4OWG:

Yes, it’s a problem. The alternative is people sending me their passwords so I can spot as them. I’d prefer not to do that, I really don’t want to masquerade as other users.

I have ideas for a solution that would allow you to delete the last spot made via SMS by sending another SMS. Also enhancing the automatic callsign feature ("!") to understand UK callsigns and hence modifying your base callsign to fit the association you are activating from.

The most important thing for me was to see if the system was viable for users with the current syntax. It appears to pass that requirement with flying colours. The other was to see if anyone crashed it, which they haven’t. Similarly nobody has managed a nonsense spot either. Overall, I’m quite pleased by the results so far.

Thanks to everyone who has given it a bash todate. Thanks also for the nice comments and thanks. I wrote this program as a learning exercise in using V25ter commands and using an internet comms library (libcurl). There’s no better way to learn than to try and write a program that does something useful. So something I did for my own benefit has turned out to be of value for other activators.

I’m going to work on the above features and then when they are complete I’ll open the system up for anyone who is interested. I have some holidays coming up so it may not get finished till I return but I’ll leave the current version running in the mean time.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:

Hi, Andy.

Once again, thanks for your efforts. I self-spotted a couple of times today and it worked fine. After Spotlite - which is closed-loop (you can see the result appear) - it’s a bit of a leap of faith to believe it will work but as you have said it’s not a replacement but a backup when other methods fail. It seems the spots appeared within a minute of me sending the text messages.

As you can save text messages for later use just like web bookmarks, I’ll have both available ready-prepared for my next outing.

From the remarks, the beta testing seems to have gone faultlessly.

73, Richard

In reply to MM0FMF:

I used this facility for the first time “for real” today from GW/MW-003. It felt very good to be able to send an SMS from a desolate moorland and have folks coming back to me moments later!

Many thanks Andy - it’s FMFing brillint :smiley:

73,
Dave M0MYA

In reply to M0MYA:

Once again I can only agree with Dave’s comments, excellent service and from testing appears to work very well!!

73 Matt 2E0XTL