FCC issues

The question comes up all the time about the FCC legal issues regarding building and using your own custom transmitters. There are a few things you should know and I have included in this article.

Get an Amateur Radio License

Amateur Radio operators are allowed to build and operate their own radio equipment. You are of course required to operate in the proper frequency bands.

An additional benefit of obtaining a license is you will learn a bit of radio and electronics theory. There is no longer a code requirement so the barrier to getting a license is a lot lower.

I also recommend you invest in an ARRL Handbook, this is a great reference and covers basic electronics and lots of radio aspects.

Relevant FCC regulations

There are a lot of people out there who think they are FCC regulation experts, most of them have never likely read any of the regulations. You can visit the FCC’s site and explore, lots of material to study. www.fcc.gov. Part 15 is the relevant section you will want to study.

The text below was taken from FCC document oet63rev.pdf, page 3, which is available from the FCC web site and here. This section provides an option for custom transmitter builders, it states as follows:

Home-Built Transmitters that are Not for Sale

Hobbyists, inventors and other parties that design and build Part 15 transmitters with no intention of ever marketing them may construct and operate up to five such transmitters for their own personal use without having to obtain FCC equipment authorization. If possible, these transmitters should be tested for compliance with the Commission's rules. If such testing is not practicable, their designers and builders are required to employ good engineering practices in order to ensure compliance with the Part 15 standards.

Section 15.23

Home-built transmitters, like all Part 15 transmitters, are not allowed to cause interference to licensed radio communications and must accept any interference that they receive. If a home-built Part 15 transmitter does cause interference to licensed radio communications, the Commission will require its operator to cease operation until the interference problem is corrected. Furthermore, if the Commission determines that the operator of such a transmitter has not attempted to ensure compliance with the Part 15 technical standards by employing good engineering practices then that operator may be fined up to $10,000 for each violation and $75,000 for a repeat or continuing violation.

Any modification you make to the part 15 device would fall under this area as long as you do not intend to sell it.