SOTA Spotter Documentation


  1. Introduction
  2. Application permissions
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Spots list
  5. Send spot
  6. Find summits
  7. Settings
  8. Summits database

This documentation is a work in progress, and may not be complete.


SOTA Spotter is a simple application that retrieves spots from and displays them in an easy to read manner.
Summits on the Air (SOTA) is an award scheme for radio amateurs and short wave listeners that encourages portable operation in mountainous areas. You can learn more about it at

Application permissions

SOTA Spotter uses the following permissions:


  • precise location (GPS and network-based) – In order to calculate distance and bearing to summits


  • read the contents of your USB storage – Required for downloading and updating the summits database
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage – Required for downloading and updating the summits database


  • download files without notification – Required for downloading and updating the summits database
  • read sync statistics – Required for the proper operation and progress indication of spot data synchronization
  • create accounts and set passwords – Required for setting up the spot data synchronization account
  • full network access – Required for fetching feed data
  • control vibration – Required for triggering vibration notifications
  • prevent device from sleeping – Required for keeping the device awake while downloading updates to the summits database
  • toggle sync on and off – Required for enabling/disabling spot data synchronization


Frequently Asked Questions

You can read the F.A.Q. here.

Spots list

This is the first screen shown when you start SOTA Spotter. It displays the received spots in a list, showing the following information for each spot:spots_list

  • The spotted call sign
  • The frequency and mode of operation
  • The summit reference code
  • The date and time (GMT)
  • The spotter
  • Any comments by the spotter
  • The number of points awarded for this summit


The current time (GMT) is displayed on the top of this screen.

This is also where you can access the main menu of the application, which allows you to go to Send spot, Find summits, Settings, Help and About.

Tapping on one of the spots will open the Summit details screen for the summit being spotted.

While this list is visible, it is refreshed automatically. Once you exit SOTA Spotter new spots will only be received if the Background sync option is checked.

Summit details

This is where you can get some information about the summit:

  • Summit code
  • Summit name
  • Number of points
  • Association name
  • Region name
  • Altitude
  • Geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude)
  • Distance from present location
  • Bearing (degrees from north)

You can also easily send a spot for this summit and you can get some navigation directions in order to reach the summit.

There’s also a map which shows the summit’s precise position (the red marker) and its immediate surrounding area. You can choose to display your current location as well, by clicking on Show my location – a blue marker should appear on the map. If you need turn-by-turn directions on how to get to the summit you need to click on the red marker first, and then click on the  icon. Google Maps should open and guide you further.

This feature uses your mobile device’s Location Services which may not be accurate. Be aware that hiking trails or other accessible paths may not be mapped correctly. If you feel that SOTA Spotter or Google Maps:

  • provide you with erroneous directions for reaching a certain geographical location, or
  • instruct you to perform an unsafe or illegal action, or
  • places you or others in an unsafe situation, or
  • directs you into an area that you consider to be unsafe

do not follow such instructions! Please review the Terms and Conditions. Also, check the Google Maps Terms of Service.

Send spot

Here you can send new spots to With the exception of the Comments field, all the other fields are mandatory.

Activators who are within a 100 m radius of the summit may find it easier to have SOTA Spotter fill in the summit reference automatically by tapping on the  button.

By checking the Remember spot data check box you can instruct SOTA Spotter to keep the form data and recall it the next time you open the Send spot screen. This is useful to SOTA activators, which may want to re-spot themselves quickly, without re-entering all the data from the beginning.
You can also choose the spot delivery method, which can be one of the following:

  • Internet connection
  • SMS gateway

Next to the SMS gateway option there is a small area where the currently active SMS gateway is displayed. In case a gateway is not selected, a warning appears instead.
By tapping on the active gateway or on the warning you can quickly get to the SMS gateways list and change the selection. No gateway is selected by default, and the selection is reset when the SMS gateways list is updated (this is done automatically over the internet, no action is required on your part).

If you use one of the SMS gateways set up by Andy MM0FMF (SMS_NA, SMS_VK, SMS), you can use some special characters in the Call sign field:

  • ! (exclamation mark) – when entered instead of the call sign, causes the gateway to insert the callsign that is associated with the telephone number that sent the SMS text, followed by “/P”
  • $ (dollar sign) – does the same thing as ! but without the “/P” suffix
  • . (period) – when appended to the spotted call sign (any call sign), it suppresses the “/P” suffix


You must have an account registered at and the credentials must be set in the SOTAwatch account section in Settings.

Find summits

This is where you can find information about the summits from the SOTA programme.


Here you’ll see a list of summits that are nearby (in a roughly 100km radius around your current position). In order to use this feature you must first enable the Location services – SOTA Spotter will prompt you to do so if not already enabled. Tapping on a summit takes you to the Summit details screen, which also offers some navigation directions.

If you like, you can see all the nearby summits on a map. The colors of the markers on the map indicate the number of points assigned to each summit (red for higher point count). Open the menu and select View on map.

By association

Here you’ll see a list of summits from the selected association and region. Tapping on a summit takes you to the Summit details screen, which also offers some navigation directions.

If you like, you can see all the summits in the selected region on a map. The colors of the markers on the map indicate the number of points assigned to each summit (red for higher point count). Open the menu and select View on map.


The Settings screen is the place which allows you to configure SOTA Spotter. From look and feel to filters and notifications, everything is in here.

General Settings

This is where you can set some general parameters for SOTA Spotter.

Background sync

Allows SOTA Spotter to receive spots via push messages in the background (when the app itself is not visible to the user). This is useful for the notifications.


This section allows you to customize the way SOTA Spotter looks.


Choose the application color theme. The available themes are:

  • Holo Light
  • Holo Dark
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Blue
  • Green

Font size

You can adjust the font size for the texts:

  • Small
  • Default
  • Large


Choose the system of measurement used throughout SOTA Spotter:

  • Metric (meters, kilometers)
  • Imperial (feet, miles)


Each spot has a colored vertical bar at its left. The color represents the age of the spot and can be one of the following:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Grey

By default, spots that appeared less than 15 minutes ago are marked with red, the ones older than 15 minutes and newer than 60 minutes are marked with orange and all other (older) spots are marked with grey. The maximum age for spots marked with red and orange can be set in this dialog.

SOTAwatch account

The SOTAwatch account allows you to use the service at to send new spots. If you do not want or need to send spots you may skip setting the SOTAwatch user name and password.


The user name is the callsign you used to register at


The password you chose for your SOTAwatch account.

Filters & Notifications

This section gives you access to filters and notifications. Use the filters to drop (block) spots that are of no interest and the notifications to make the ones that do peak your interest stand out.


The filters and notifications are evaluated sequentially, in the order in which they are defined. For example, if you have defined a filter to drop spots from the 20m band and a sound/vibration notification for spots on the 20m band, the notification will never be triggered.

There are several types of filters and notifications: band, mode, callsign, association, region and summit. Any or all of these types can be set for any filter or notification.


The filters allow you to drop (block) or accept spots based on some criteria that you define for each filter.
Spots can be filtered by:

  • Band: 160m, 80m, 60m, 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m, 6m, 4m, 2m, 70cm, 23cm
  • Mode: AM, CW, Data, DV, FM, PSK, RTTY, SSB, Other
  • Call sign
  • Association
  • Region
  • Summit

Any or all of these criteria can be used for a filter.


  • The order of the filters is important. You can tap and hold and then drag a filter to change its position in the list.
  • An incoming spot is checked with each filter until a match is found. The action of the matching filter is then applied to the spot (accept or drop). If no match is found, the default filter action will be applied.
  • You can only enable the Filter by region if the Filter by association is enabled and one association is selected. Similarly, Filter by summit can only be enabled if Filter by region is enabled and one region is selected.

Default filter

This is the default action that will be applied to incoming spots that have passed through all the user-defined filters. By default it is set to accept all spots.


An incoming spot can trigger a notification based on certain criteria (the same as for filters). A notification can be accompanied by vibrations, by a ringtone and by a pulsing LED light.

  • Vibrations: the phone will vibrate in a specific pattern – transmitting SOTA in morse code 🙂 – for notifications with Vibrate enabled
  • Ringtone: a user-selected sound will be played whenever a notification with Ring enabled is triggered
  • Pulsing LED: the device’s LED (if it has one) will pulse for notifications with Pulse LED enabled


  • An incoming spot is checked against each defined notification until a match is found. If a match is found, a notification is triggered for the spot and appears in the notification area.
  • The notifications are only evaluated for spots that have been accepted after passing through the filters chain (either by a custom defined filter or by the default filter).


This is where you can choose the notification ringtone – for those notifications that have Ring enabled.


This section gives you access to settings related to sending spots. For now, a list of SMS gateways for spotting via SMS is available.

SMS gateways

The SMS gateways allow you to send spots by sending a SMS to a certain phone number. The message contains all the information needed to send a spot to SOTA Spotter can compose the SMS automatically and send it to the selected gateway.

This list is read-only, meaning you cannot add a SMS gateway yourself. If you are the owner of such a gateway and you would like to have yours added to this list, please contact me.

In order to use a gateway, you have to check it in this list (by tapping on the corresponding bullet to its left). By tapping on the name/number in the list you can access some more information about the gateway, like the carrier and country, as well as a short description written by its owner and a URL for extra details.


Sending SMS may incur additional costs. The price for sending an SMS may vary based on the carrier to which the SMS is being sent. Please check with your mobile carrier for the relevant fees for sending SMS to the countries/carriers of the gateways.

Summits database

Here you can decide how to handle the summits database updates. You can either have it update automatically or you can update it on demand.

Automatic update

When enabled, SOTA Spotter periodically checks online to see if a newer version of the summits database is available. If there is, it is updated automatically.

This feature uses your mobile device’s internet connection to download a file which is at least 16MB in size. If you have a limited data plan you should leave this option disabled and only perform manual updates when your device has internet access through a WiFi connection.

Update now

This is where you can manually check for and download the latest summits database.