The New Guy...

Discussion in 'Becoming a Ham - Q&A' started by W1WDW, Dec 2, 2009.

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  1. W4PG

    W4PG Super Moderator Lifetime Member 279 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Before I close this down, why not make it an educational thread?

    Someone PLEASE post the exact FCC regulation that says you cannot modify a rig designed for use on one frequency and use it on another, AS LONG as the use on the "modified" frequency is legal?

    In other words, is there ANY law that says I can't take a CB rig and use it on 10 meters, as long as I am licensed to use the frequency I am operating on?

    Last time I checked, the FCC says you must be licensed to use a transmitter on the frequency you are transmitting on. I'm a pilot and I'm licensed to transmit on certain aircraft frequencies. Who cares if I modify a 2-meter rig to work on those frequencies? AS LONG as I'm legal to transmit on that frequency, seems OK to me.

    Now, the manufacturer might not like it . . . but that's a different problem.

    Anyone? :confused:
  2. KE0MD

    KE0MD Guest

    OK, here's the short of it:

    For most frequencies other than the Amateur bands, the FCC requires "type-certified" equipment - meaning the equipment has been tested to conform to the requirements for that particular service. This is why the export CB radios like the Galaxy's and Rangers are banned - they do not have type acceptance for the service. Except in times of emergency, use of an amateur transciever on any band other than the ham bands is against FCC regulations. However, the reverse is not true - it is perfectly legal to use a modified radio within amateur frequencies, because we are not required to have type acceptance.
  3. W4PG

    W4PG Super Moderator Lifetime Member 279 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    So, if I modify a rig that is type certified on a particular frequency and it's still within specs on the modified frequency, am I legal?

    AND, does not the requirement you mention simply allow an equipment manufacturer to SELL for profit the rig to work within its designed parameters? Does that same requirement apply to the person who has no intention of selling the rig commercially but using it personally?

    Doesn't the "ban" on the Galaxy radios you mention actually prevent a company from selling them commercially for use on 10 meters, but has nothing to do with whether or not someone is legal using it on 10?

    How does the FCC regulate homebrew equipment that may or may not meet Part 15 guidelines? Am I not allowed to use my homebrew rig? Of course, I cannot SELL it for commercial profit unless it's certified, right? But I can *STILL* use it, eh?

    It ain't so simple as some think! ;)
  4. KE4FSL

    KE4FSL Ham Member QRZ Page

    You take the mag mount off the cookie sheet, and place it on the refrigerator. If you are working FM repeaters, put it up top of the fridge, if you are working SSB, or are wanting to talk to the ISS or Space Shuttle, put it on the side of the fridge...

    Basically it works like this:

    Amateur radios are not what is certified to be on the air, the Amateur operators themselves are (each individually). This is why WE take a test, not the equipment. This is why your call sign is given to you, and you must use it with whatever radio you are using. This also allows you to make your own radios and equipment. And yes, Amateur radios ARE type accepted, that is how they get their FCC ID. The FCC states it as "permitted by individual license".

    All other radio services require the RADIO to have a certification, and possibly the user to BUY a license. A CB is type accepted for a certain known set of transmission specifications, and ALL legal CBs have to be type certified by the FCC, so the manufacturer send in at least one from the production line, and every time they change something, they send in a new production version. This is how they get their FCC ID. Once a non-Amateur radio has been type accepted, it is Legal for use in the radio service for which it was type accepted for, as it meets all of the specifications needed to keep it from interfering with the other frequencies and services. IF a user opens it up, and modifies it, it voids all of the type acceptance. This is why you can not legally open up your FRS/GMRS radio and make modifications at will, like adding a antenna jack, even though there are GMRS radios with removable antennas, the FRS/GMRS radio was not type accepted with that modification. Even having a GMRS license will not let you legally make that modification. The FCC states it as "licensed by rule" or "permitted by part/device".

    The difference in Amateur and non-Amateur equipment is that only certain external Amateur amplifiers are mandatory for type acceptance so that it can be sold here in the states. Radios don't have to be type accepted, even though most are. The moment that an Amateur radio operator buys a radio, he/she can modify it to their hearts delight. He/she can even USE that radio on the air with the modification as long as that modification does not make it perform illegally. Case in point: You can modify your Amateur radio to transmit out of band, and it is still legal for use in the Amateur bands. BUT, the moment you transmit out of band, even if you have a license for that band, you are breaking the law. The law you are breaking is not any of the FCC's Amateur rules, but rather the FCC's rule on whatever band you are transmitting on. For example, you can modify most VHF Amateur radios to talk on the Business bands, as well as the MURS band, BUT that does not make it legal because the radio is not type accepted for that band. Likewise, you can modify most UHF radios so that they can transmit on FRS/GMRS frequencies, BUT, like before, it is not type accepted for use on that service.

    There ARE certain "allowances" as far as using a radio that is certified for one service to be used on another, but they are RARE, such as using old 2 watt or less business band VHF portable radios made before November 12, 2002 on the MURS band. But any time allowances are done, there are restrictions. Another allowance is the ability for Licensed Amateurs to use their modified radios on MARS and CAP frequencies (outside the 2 meter band), BUT they have to be active participants IN those services and use them IN the practice of that service.

    There are also a LOT of gray areas out there when it comes to radios from places like china. There are a TON of radios from china that technically can be USED on Amateur bands (usually 2 meter and 70cm). That being said, only a slight few are type accepted at all, and even then the actual acceptance is in question since they tend to do more ECOs than a 1960s VAX or PDP-11 engineer. So the actual sales of those radios is a rather big questionable area. Technically, they have a wide transmit and receive range 136-174MHz VHF and 400-480MHz UHF, but the rest of the specifications are rather "sloppy". They also have been marketed for other radio service use, such as GMRS, and even MURS, which they are not type accepted for.

    A few good examples:
    Title 47 of the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 95
    95.603 Certification required.
    (c) Each CB transmitter (a transmitter that operates or is intended to
    operate at a station authorized in the CB) must be certificated. No CB
    transmitter certificated pursuant to an application filed prior to
    September 10, 1976, shall be manufactured or marketed.

    Title 47 of the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 95
    95.603 Certification required.
    (g) Each Multi-Use Radio Service transmitter (a transmitter that
    operates or is intended to operate in the MURS) must be certificated in
    accordance with subpart J of part 2 of this chapter, Provided however,
    that those radio units certificated as of November 12, 2002 need not be

    Title 47 of the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 95
    95.603 Certification required.
    (a) Each GMRS transmitter (a transmitter that operates or is intended
    to operate at a station authorized in the GMRS) must be certificated.

    Title 47 of the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 97
    S 97.317 Standards for type acceptance of external RF power amplifiers.

    Basically, your Amateur license allows you to operate an amateur radio, not the radio itself. With the other services, the radio has the authorization to be legal on the band, and the user may or may not be also required to have a license.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  5. KE4FSL

    KE4FSL Ham Member QRZ Page

    If that homebrew equipment is being used by non-Amateurs, then it has to meet Part 15, since it is a non-type accepted radiator of RF (whether it is intentionally radiating or not). If it is being used by Amateurs, then the Amateur's license is what allows it.

    My pocket calculator that has a VFD, radiates like a madman right around 3.6MHz. It is a part 15 device. If my brother, who is not an Amateur operator, decided to hook it up to an antenna and a straight key and try to use it to communicate, he would be breaking FCC rules (part 15, and others). BUT, if I did it, then it would be legal, as long as I had a way to monitor the frequency beforehand, as well as during (so I would be able to determine that the frequency was clear and I was not trying to disrupt an already happening QSO). Would I make a contact with it? Probably not, but the legality of it is what we are talking about.

    That same license of mine would allow me to take apart a microwave burglar motion sensor running at 10.1GHz and use it to transmit data from one point to another, even though the unit was type accepted for a completely different purpose.

    Basically, with your Amateur license, the Part 15 gets put off to the sideline. You can create almost any radio device you want, as long as it keeps within the power limits of the band, and your license (novices can't make a 1500 watt transmitter to use on certain bands). And it has to be "clean" enough so that it does not interfere with others on the air. This means that the frequency and bandwidth that you are transmitting on, are the ONLY ones that you are transmitting on, and not spurious signals up and down the band every time you key up.

    And as long as you are selling to other licensed Amatuers, they don't need to be type accepted (unless it is a certain spec of HF amplifier). Just look at all of the SDR radios that people are making and selling now.
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