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APRS <> Email/SMS



APRS Messages can be sent to EMail addresses and Mobile Phones.

Here's how you can do this using the SAMAIL server at VK3JFK-5;

A gateway server called SAMAIL supports a method of sending EMail and SMSs from APRS as outlined below. 

Note: all examples below are case Insensitive, either upper or lower case will work!

For example, you can simply send an email to me like this:

SAMAIL:VK3TBN@HOTMAIL.COM Hi Pete contact me on VK3RHF urgently!



SAMAIL will then send you an acknowledgement that it has sent the messages as an email to VK3TBN@HOTMAIL.COM





If you want to send me a number of emails you can set my Callsign up as a ShortKey set up with the server, this is to allow you to have up to a 3 letter abbreviation, rather than have to enter the whole call sign.

To set up your ShortKey list for me you would enter the following


Syntax is SAMAIL: (Shortkeycode) (Space) (Email Address)

ShortKeys are great for when you are sending messages with your Kenwood D7 or D700 radio.


Set up your own email address as a ShortKey like this, this will be useful later:

SAMAIL:me vk3???@????.com

Now go ahead and set up your other ShortKey addresses… Each short key entry will be acknowledged by SAMAIL

If you make a mistake, you can REMOVE a ShortKey entry by entering “R” after the short key, so if you want to correct you email address:


Syntax is SAMAIL: (ShortKeycode) (Space) (R)

And you should get an acknowledgement back that ME has been deleted. And now enter it in again as described above.

Ok so now you want to see what addresses LIST you have created? Make sure you have your address entered as a short key then enter “L” for a list of  all your short key entries. It will be sent to your email address:


Syntax is SAMAIL: (ShortKeycode) (Space) (L)

ShortKeys are Case Sensitive. ie ME is different to me

Ok this sets up the email but how do you get the SMS part working?

SMS Setup

Ok there are a few catches that I will tell you before doing this:

1.      It is one way ( well it can be two way but that’s for another time as there are strict provisions around that and it’s a little fiddley).

2.      The phone you nominate will be charged for each SMS sent to it from the forwarding email address

3.      Remember your commitment to 3rd party traffic undertakings within the rules of the Amateur service.

4.      There is a constraint, you can only send one line messages (67 total characters maximum), like any other APRS message.

If you are fine with the limitations, then lets move to the next step, to set up SMS forwarding.

They way to do it is to use a 3rd party email service provider for that.
I use
Hotmail (MSN) as I have found many ISPs and providers have recently removed the SMS facilities from their email systems.

You can also use Yahoo (I think) and they forward emails to mobile phones via SMS. Any provider that enables email forwarding to SMS is fine.

In general here is what you do, there are some variances form site to site, but its pretty much the same.

Set up an email account for the Mobile phone you want to send SMS’s to. Once this is done, then chose the option by the email provider to forward email messages to a mobile phone. It will ask you for a Mobile number and then it will SMS that mobile a keyword or number, which you have to email back to the provider to enable this function. Then in the email forwarding options, it will enable you to select which specific emails are forwarded to the mobile phone

Select emails from to be sent to the Mobile Don’t forget to enter this email address in your SAMAIL short key list as described above and send a test message via SAMAIL. You should find that you get the email, and it forwards to you SMS device (Phone).

For Hotmail:-

After you have loged in to your hotmail accout go to

To enable your 'HotMail Alerts' click on the SetUp button and follow the instructions.

Hint. If you use a hotmail account for every day email I'd recommend setting up a second hotmail account just for ARPS EMail SMS. Add the SAMAIL address to your contats and select 'New messages from my contact' in the 'Mobile Alerts for new messages' selection menu. This way you will only receive valid APRS Email SMSs and no SMS spam.

Yeah it's a bit of a mouth full but you only need to do it once.

Credit for this goes to VK3JFK who not only runs the APRS mail server, SAMAIL described here, but also thought of the idea to interface SMS to APRS messaging.

Sending an EMail into the APRS System

Sending an EMail to an APRS Station is a great way to get a short message to one of your Ham friends when your not near a radio.


  1. Email messages can be no more than one line messages (67 total characters maximum), like any other APRS message.

  2. You must be registered on the SAMAIL Server to send Emails to APRS Stations.

Server Registration

To register an EMail address for Emailing an APRS Station simply create a ShortKey for the EMail address as described above.

Sending a Message

Sending an Email message to the APRS Station is simple once you understand it.

Place the callsign-ssid of the destination station followed by a colon followed by the message text in the subject line. Place userid:ShortKey: in the message body where the ShortKey is the name associated with the senders email address.

Address the email TO:

In the SUBJECT type the call sign of the message recipient and the short message, separated by a ':'

The message must be less than 67 characters.

In the body of the message type 'userid:[ShortKey]:'




The SAMAIL server will only accept Plain Text messages.

If you send the server a Rich Text or HTML message it will ignore it and you will not receive an error.


Use lower case for the key word 'userid:'


Your message may take up to 10 or 15 minutes to reach it's destination due to RF conditions.


If your Email contains errors you will receive a reply email saying "Your message is undeliverable."


Author - Peter VK3TBN


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