SMSGTE allows you to send text messages via APRS to and receive responses from your phone bridging the gap between APRS and SMS.
SMSGTE came to my attention when park activators started to exploit JS8 to send SMS messages when out of phone range. APRS supports real time information sharing between enabled assets, not just positioning packets and SMSGTE enhanced the ability to communicate with nor radio users. Given the sparse population and stretched infrastructure APRS coverage is challenged. Typically if you have cellular coverage, a VHF HT radio can usually reach an APRS digipeater. ParksnPeaks supports receiving SMS to support spotting and only required slight updates to support messages from JS8Call via SMSGTE thus allowing remote activators to raise spots. JS8 is typically across HF whilst APRS on the 2M band but with 30M has excellent coverage.
The ability to communicate during a disaster or times of compromised infrastructure is a given with amateur operators. The likes of APRS and JS8Call with SMSGTE will allow messages to be raised but still relys on high levels of infrastructure being available.
It will be short-sighted to only think of comms will be with other licensed Amateur Radio operators. During or after a disaster the desired messages is typically to ensure family that your still ok or to pass messages third party messages (messages sent on behalf of, or sent to, an end destination who is not an amateur operator). Assuming localised infrastructure disruption you can use the likes of Winlink to maintain email messaging to both Winlink accounts AND regular internet email accounts. You can also use Winlink to send text messages.
SMSGTE will allow you to communicate with the outside world when local (regional?) digital phone service goes down. I have not done it as yet but you could use the Packet Radio Digipeater on the International Space Station to send APRS message when local infrastructure is compromised. Best to verify then process before required
Having said that, lets look at how you can send messages from HT via APRS to a cell phone;
Usage from software like Xastir is clean as an extension to the APRS messaging process. The SMSGTE site hosts tutorials for;
but I have a VX-8. Do have a TM-D710 in the car. This device digi-repeats the HT when out and I will note has an intuitive interface. Will admit I find the APRS messaging interface for the VX-8 challenging so here is how I was able to use.
Send APRS message to SMS
To send a message from an APRS station, simply address your message to SMSGTE with the following format:
The @ symbol signifies that the following characters represent the destination for the message while <number> represents the sms number or associated alias the message should be sent to. All words following the destination will form the body of the message. The @ symbol signifies that the following characters represent the destination for the message while <number> represents the sms number or associated alias the message should be sent to. All words following the destination will form the body of the message.
To: SMSGTE @61488123456 hello from the ht
- Press the menu key until the APRS message screen appears.
- Use the DIAL knob to select an existing message or new slot.
- Press key to edit the entry
- Using the BAND key to move left or the MODE key to move right and the DIAL knob to select characters, enter SMSGTE in the TO: field then pressing the mode key to progress to enter the message body. The destination of message is entered where @number is the target phone number in international format (0488123456 becomes 61488123456) then space and continue to enter the message.
- Once finished entering the message press the TX key to send and return to message screen.
APRS messages require a return path. So this works a treat through the TM-V71 but not through the RTL.
OK so that’s working so now whats next ? associate a phone number, set a password, send a map, request delivery confirmation, send missed messages and create aliases.
First action is to link your phone number to your callsign. Linking your mobile number with your SMSGTE account automatically creates a global alias for your number. Messages you compose into APRS from your mobile will be aliased from your callsign. Similarly, messages sent using your callsign as an alias will be delivered to your mobile device. From APRS device send the following;
To: SMSGTE #mynumber add 61488123456
Password. Once linked your phone, you will need to set a password to access the SMSGTE website to manage aliases. Set the password according to these instructions. From your phone send the following to SMSGTE;
#password set password
now you can access the site and manage your account.
Aliases. You can set up an alias on the SMSGTE website so that the system remembers your phone number. Also removes the sending telephone numbers in clear text across open networks in the APRS messages. Go to the SMSGTE website and create an alias for however many phone numbers you wish. Then when you send a message you will enter the alias with the @ sign and your message.
APRS queries. Commands that interact with the APRS side. Just clambered your way back from a remote summit and want to see if any outstanding messages ? send APRSM;
To: SMSGTE ?APRSM
Want your work mates to see where you are ? Send them a map in the form of a link to your callsign shown on aprs.fi. The destination number can either be a valid number, or one of your configured aliases. In this example I’m sending my location to my wife who phone number is aliased as michele;
To: SMSGTE #mapme @michele
and they can reply to the SMS which is in turn delivered to your HT.
Don’t forget, SMSGTE is run by volunteers so donate to them and spread the word.