Test Spots on SOTAwatch (rant)

It would be great if people who, for whatever reason, feel it necessary to post test spots to SOTAwatch would follow up by deleting their test spots immediately upon confirming that they were successful. It would also be great if SOTAWatch would automatically delete those spots (with the search term "test" and "ignore") after 10 minutes. 73, Barry N1EU

You may find http://www.mathieudavid.org/webapps/sotawatchfilter/ useful. Its default is to not show such spots…

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Thanks, yes that’s a great Web site!

Is this an issue big enough to be concerned about? The SOTA participants savvy enough to even think about deleting a successful test spot - probably are not posting the test spots.

Some of us are still new to this, thus still learning. If a test spot is sent from a phone I would not have a clue how to delete it unless I was sitting beside a computer. Frankly, sending spots from the phone is still a needs improvement learning process for me.

I understand how we can let little things bother us after we personally have it all figured out. GUILTY. The alerts 15 years into the future bother me. Why? I don’t know, they just do. But they have the potential to be there for 15 years (I think someone actually cleans them out occasionally). A test spot will be gone soon enough on its own. I certainly do not think we need an automated process to remove them promptly.

73 also, Glenn AB3TQ

Hi Glenn, I don’t know of any smart phone app that allows deletion off Test (or invalid in some way) spots. You have to go to the SOTAWatch site via a browser (the one on your smart phone is fine) to edit and then delete the spot.

This refers to spots sent via the Internet, SMS sent spots normally cannot be deleted.

73 Ed.

Good points Ed. Makes me realize I should have mentioned this: My phone doesn’t do apps. It doesn’t do browsers. It is so dumb it couldn’t pass the First Grade if it was an open book test.

You mean you have actually found somewhere that will still supply a REAL phone rather than a mini-computer with a second-rate phone “chip” in it! Well done!

So if you are spotting with that phone from a mountain top, you will be using SMS and they cannot be deleted I think?

73 Ed.

Like other morning with little spots on i did a test.
BUT soon as i noted its working, its removed as that,s from home now via SMS can no do.

But yes if you could remove it if you can would be good for sure.


Often you actually cannot delete test spots. I know when I test different methods via APRS or Android apps they are not linked to my SOTA watch account and I have no way of deleting them.

I’m one of those guilty not deleting a test message. Was a few weeks ago but sorry about that. 1 test message via APRS gateway. I saw the spot posted but I didn’t get a delete option when I checked it.

Any member of the MT has the facility to edit or delete Spots and Alerts. I leave test messages alone because I have no way of knowing how long the person who made the test needs to have it remain visible. As I see it, an occasional test message is at worst a minor irritation, it will remain highlighted in colour for an hour and then recede to black. If such messages were to become more plentiful then it might be necessary to deal with the problem, but note that any action might require that the Spots be monitored 24/7, which is not practicable - I need some sleep!


If there were some kind of protocol for such test spots, the system could be trained to watch for them and delete them at the appropriate time. Something like “TEST1H” for a test spot that should be deleted after 1 hour? Just a thought…


There are multiple reasons people send tests spots, mainly because they are using 3rd party systems, they’re checking their access is working, normally after having been just registered. Or they’ve not used these access methods for a while and they want to check they are still registered and they know how to use them.

The downside is that some systems don’t allow removal of spots because the spot is posted by a different user to the callsign in the spot. These 3rd party systems could be modified to delete spots but it’s a pain in the bum because the only spots retrieval is via an RSS feed. So it’s not implemented. 3rd part spotting was added onto SOTAwatch a long time after it was released. As already mentioned, SOTAwatch is a crufty old hack that is now very awkward to maintain, it contains hack on hack and has been bumped over assorted servers in its lifetime.

There is work going on (actively going on) to replace the SOTA Website and SOTAwatch. These will be crafted using more modern web technologies to make support easier. The way these sites are piggy-backed onto other sites means that the MT can’t have direct access. This is being addressed. Similarly there will be a proper API so 3rd party software can interact with these sites without having to bash an RSS feed and interpret the results or worse, screen scrape SOTAwatch. With that will come the ability for 3rd party spotting sites to handle the deletion of spots etc. We haven’t discussed it as such, but a facility to test spots is a necessary requirement.

As things have grown we often wonder how we missed out features at the start. An example is that the database regions table hold all sorts of valid data about a region such as region name, region manager, manager email, region description etc. Amazingly we never put similar entries in the associations tables. This means that the SOTA website has a page of AM and their contact details but that is statically maintained by editing the page, it’s not data in a table. Jon and I discussed this at the weekend and the DB will be extended so the AM details will live in the DB and the SOTA website will fetch that data for display. This will end the regular emails between the summits team, myself and Jon saying “we’ve updated EA6 and W3, can you import the summits to SOTAwatch and also there’s a new AM for OE”. The new code will fetch that data from the DB.

So these things are coming… but we wont be updating SOTAwatch software as it is being replaced. I’ll warn you now that the good old SummerTime/WinterTime bug will return in a few days when the clocks change. As Jon has said in the past, it takes a minute to hack the code to display the right time and would take a lot of effort to make it work properly. There will be a few hours when the systems are out of sync. That’s how it is.


The SOTAWatch and SOTA Database facilities are in my opinion an example that other groups try to copy. Yes the technology may be a little dated but the facilities provided are exactly what is needed. One of the reasons, I believe the Reflector was updated was to make management less of a chore (it also brought some nice new features of course). I know that from time to time there are some problems or “interuptions to service” on SOTAWatch and the database web interface but these are rare and often outside of the MT control.
If the new versions of the SOTAWebsite and SOTAWatch are also to make management easier, then that is a very good reason to implment the new solution, as I know several people invest many hours of their private time in the current systems.

I would like to come back to my first point however and that is that all of the current SOTA systems provide a great service and all involved in setting them up and maintaining them should get a hearty thank you from the SOTA community.

I see the IOTA group are outsourcing their needs as they can see how big a task it is!

73 Ed.