ZELLO APP FOR STORM CHASING

Oct 31, 2013
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Eastern TX Panhandle
Was just wondering if anyone uses the ZELLO app to communicate during storm chases. When I had watched Barry Gray in some of his videos, I noticed that he was communicating to other chasers with his phone, but I didn't know what app he was using. I found out it is ZELLO. Does anyone have any positives/negatives about this program. @Warren Faidley we might want to download this app if it's pretty decent to use.
 
May 25, 2014
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I tried on multiple occasions to get ST members onto many push-to-talk platforms, including Zello. Interest was very low.

Zello is overall a great platform, but has it's definite problems, like continually logging itself out, failing to connect, and failing to receive talkgroups. It didn't used to have any of those problems on the free app, until they released Zello for Work at $6/month/phone, and suddenly those problems popped up.
 
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May 25, 2014
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FWIW, in the past year, ST has had PTT communications groups on Zello, Discord, Sprint Direct Connect +, and Motorola WAVE OnCloud.

Of all of them, WAVE was the best at staying connected and pulling through under most conditions, but was also the most expensive. The SDC+ group was never used once, as it seems most ST members steer clear of Sprint. Zello was used a tiny bit, as it was free, but had it's own connection issues, and people loved to overuse the VC functions of Discord, even though things would get buggy the second any form of convergence happened.
 
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Drew Terril

Staff member
I'd be a little uncomfortable using an unreliable comm. app in some critical situations. Would need to test it first. Ham radio is still good.
I agree with Warren on this subject. For convoy operations, FRS is adequate, especially if you toss the garbage rubber ducks that come in the box into the circular file, and get better HT antennas. With the Morse code requirement being a distant memory, it's too easy to not at least get a Technician License for ham as well, especially since most VECs no longer charge for exams. Pick up an old VX-170 (2m) or VX-177 (70cm) and you'll have something to run short range simplex that will probably never break (I still have my VX-170 from my early days chasing). A good dual band mobile will cover you for hitting repeaters in the area to call stuff in.
 
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May 25, 2014
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I can attest that all of the Kodiak-based platforms are solid. They meet Mission Critical standard, and are about as reliable as you can get for PoC comms. These options include Motorola WAVE OnCloud (the most flexible), Sprint Direct Connect Plus, Verizon Push To Talk Plus, and AT&T Enhanced PTT. With the exception of the Motorola product, all of them are locked to carrier dependency, so you can only talk to other users who have both the service, as well as the same carrier, as you. The only way around that with Kodiak is to use Motorola WAVE. It should be noted that Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T all claim that there is carrier interoperability, and that non-carrier members may use the service, by adding a "cross-carrier account". To date, in extensive talks with all 3 carriers, none seem to have any idea how to do such a thing, and all are surprised to hear that their company states that it's possible in advertising materials.

Also, all of the Kodiak options operate as a dedicated corporate account would operate. You can manually input contacts you wish to communicate with, no problem, but it's all based on a corporate web portal, where you can add and change designators and accounts, much like if you operated, say, an ambulance service, or a delivery company, or something along those lines.

Zello for Work and ESChat also operate along these same lines, although IMHO are less stable and less effective than Kodiak. It appears that T-Mobile, being the outlier among major carriers, has a tie-in with ESChat.

Standard Zello can definitely be confusing when you have a lot of contacts, and if you're trying to get multiple people onto one talkgroup, it can also be a hassle. Ideally, you'd want a talkgroup to have password protections, and Zello loves doing that thing where you set a password, then go to put that password in, and it doesn't work. This wouldn't be required, if Zello weren't also overrun with a bunch of kids that use it for gaming, so no password = eventually some teenager will get into your talkgroup and just start shouting nonsense.

Still, the free Zello is likely still the best option for PoC communications, if you really don't want to pay for anything. Quality costs money in nearly all cases, and this is no exception.
 
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May 25, 2014
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Also, I had and still have an initiative going, trying to get spotters and chasers to start using GMRS channel 7, CTCSS code 7 (462.7125/85.4 PL) as a general talkaround and calling channel in the field. This lets people who don't have ham or GMRS licenses communicate with people who do, and at least would provide a talkaround and safety channel during convergence. To date, I've only ever heard a local smattering of spotters using it, so it has to be getting shared somewhere.
 
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Andre K

Enthusiast
Apr 28, 2020
6
1
1
Chicago IL
its ok if you in good internet coverage . IF bad internet will be very slow, so doesn't work great in fast situations.In chasing mode HAM radio Is the best !