Tag Archives: UHF

ARRL takes minor exception to wording of FCC Enforcement Advisory regarding uncertified two-way radios

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden, who shares the following ARRL response to the FCC Enforcement Advisory we posted last week. The following was published in the ARRL News:

ARRL has taken a minor exception to the wording of a September 24 FCC Enforcement Advisory pertaining to the importation, marketing and sale of VHF and UHF transceivers and is in discussion with FCC personnel to resolve the matter. The Enforcement Advisory was in response to the importation into the US of certain radio products that are not FCC certified for use in any radio service, but identified as Amateur Radio equipment.

“While much of this equipment is actually usable on Amateur bands, the radios are also capable of operation on non-amateur frequencies allocated to radio services that require the use of equipment that has been FCC-certified,” ARRL said. “Such equipment is being marketed principally to the general public via mass e-marketers and not to Amateur Radio licensees.”

[…]“In several places, the Enforcement Advisory makes the point that ‘anyone importing, advertising or selling such noncompliant devices should stop immediately, and anyone owning such devices should not use them,’” ARRL pointed out. “The Advisory broadly prohibits the ‘use’ of such radios, but our view is that there is no such prohibition relative to licensed Amateur Radio use — entirely within amateur allocations — of a radio that may be capable of operation in non-amateur spectrum, as long as it is not actually used to transmit in non-amateur spectrum.

ARRL has had extensive discussions about this issue with FCC Wireless Bureau and Enforcement Bureau staff, and those discussions are ongoing.[…]

Click here to read the full news article.

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New Zealand prohibits unrestricted two-way radios

(Source: Southgate ARC)

New Zealand’s regulator RSM reports:
In August, we mentioned creating a prohibition notice for unrestricted two-way radios. This was to limit the availability to the general public for radios that don’t meet the Radio Standards.

The prohibition notice is ready to gazette and will come into effect on 18 October 2018.

The notice will affect the supply of two-way radios like Baofeng, Pofung and Wouxun to the amateur market, but not equipment factory locked to the Amateur bands.

Amateur radio operators or suppliers need to hold a ‘Licence to supply radio transmitters’ to import and supply this equipment.
When you’ve received your Licence to supply number, email us at supply@rsm.govt.nz. We’ll add special conditions to your licence to allow the import and supply of this equipment.  You’ll need to supply us monthly returns of your imports and sales, including nil returns.

Application for licence to supply radio transmitters – Individual

Application for licence to supply radio transmitters – Organisation

Click here to read a similar announcement by FCC Enforcement.

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The end of cheap non-compliant VHF/UHF two-way radios?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who references this thread on RadioReference.com regarding the following FCC Enforcement Advisory:

The Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has observed that a growing number of conventional retailers and websites advertise and sell low-cost, two-way VHF/UHF radios that do not comply with the FCC’s rules. Such devices are used primarily for short-distance, two-way voice communications and are frequently imported into the United States. These radios must be authorized by the FCC prior to being imported, advertised, sold, or operated in the United States.

Many of these radios violate one or more FCC technical requirements. For example, some can be modified to transmit on public safety and other land mobile channels for which they are not authorized, while others are capable of prohibited wideband operations.

Such radios are illegal, and many have the potential to negatively affect public safety, aviation, and other operations by Federal, state, and local agencies, as well as private users. Because these devices must be, but have not been, authorized by the FCC, the devices may not be imported into the United States, retailers may not advertise or sell them, and no one may use them. Rather, these devices may only be imported, advertised, sold, or used only if the FCC first has approved them under its equipment authorization process (or unless the devices operate exclusively on frequencies reserved for amateur licensees or they are intended for use exclusively by the federal government). Moreover, with only very limited exceptions, after being authorized, the devices may not be modified. Anyone importing, advertising or selling such noncompliant devices should stop immediately, and anyone owning such devices should not use them. Violators may be subject to substantial monetary penalties.

What Should You Know?

The Bureau has noted an increase in the manufacturing, importation, advertising, and sale of two-way VHF/UHF radios that are not authorized in accordance with the Commission’s rules. Generally, electronic devices that intentionally emit radio waves are required to be certified by the FCC or an authorized third-party certification entity (Telecommunications Certification Body) prior to importation, advertising, sale, or use. Two-way VHF/UHF radios require FCC certification to show compliance with our rules, unless they qualify for a limited exception (see Amateur Radio Exception, below, and Federal government exception at footnote 4).

This certification requirement ensures that equipment complies with technical requirements to avoid causing interference to federal government operations, private licensed operations, and other authorized operations or equipment. Equipment that does not comply with the technical requirements cannot be certified and thus cannot be imported, advertised, sold, or used.

Amateur Radio Exception. There is one exception to this certification requirement: if a device is capable of operating only on frequencies that the FCC has allocated for use by Amateur Radio Service licensees, it does not require FCC equipment authorization,8 and an amateur licensee may use his or her license to operate such radios. However, many two-way radios that purport to operate on amateur frequencies also operate on frequencies that extend beyond the designated amateur frequency bands. If a two-way VHF/UHF radio is capable of operating outside of the amateur frequency bands, it cannot be imported, advertised, sold, or operated within the United States without an FCC equipment certification.

Even if a two-way VHF/UHF radio operates solely within the amateur frequencies, the operator is required to have an amateur license to operate the device and must otherwise comply with all applicable rules. The Bureau will take very seriously any reports of failures of two-way radio operators to comply with all relevant rules and requirements when using devices in the amateur bands.

What Happens If Manufacturers, Retailers, or Operators Do Not Comply with the FCC’s Rules?

Violators of the Commission’s marketing rules may be subject to the penalties authorized by the Communications Act, including, but not limited to, substantial monetary fines (up to $19,639 per day of marketing violations and up to $147,290 for an ongoing violation).

What Should You Do?

The FCC rules governing two-way VHF/UHF radios are designed to minimize interference to all authorized spectrum users, including important government and public safety operations. Manufacturers, importers, retailers, and radio operators should take the time to learn the FCC rules governing equipment authorization and comply with them. When manufacturing, importing, advertising or selling two-way radios and accessories that either are electronic or have electronic components, manufacturers, importers and marketers should ensure that such devices or components are properly certified and labeled as FCCcompliant and cannot be easily modified to operate outside its grant of certification. Prior to purchase or operation, individuals should ensure that a device is either labeled as FCC-compliant or operates solely within amateur frequencies.

Need more information? For additional information regarding equipment marketing and amateur radio rules, please visit the FCC website at https://www.fcc.gov/engineering-technology/laboratory-division/general/equipmentauthorization and https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-divisions/mobility-division/amateur-radio-service, respectively. Media inquiries should be directed to Will Wiquist at (202) 418-0509 or will.wiquist@fcc.gov.

To file a complaint, visit https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov or call 1-888-CALL-FCC.

Click here to download the full advisory including footnotes (PDF).

I can’t imagine how many of these non-compliant HTs are floating around on the market. I’m guessing this could also affect the sale of used non-compliant radios–? I’m sure there are a number of amateur radio retailers that have a vast inventory of non-compliant radios that they can no longer sell, without potentially facing serious fines by the FCC.

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First Amateur Radio in Geosynchronous Orbit Will Aid Disaster Communications

GreenBankTelescopeCould it be we will have a true geosynchronous satellite for Amateurs in 2017?! I hope so, and we will not need an antenna this big to use it!

This was first reported in Wireless Design Magazine

Researchers at the Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology are preparing to send an amateur radio transponder into a geosynchronous orbit in 2017.

“Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, a new ham band will be available for the Americas,” said Robert McGwier, a research professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Hume Center’s director of research. “It will allow rapid deployment to disaster areas and support long-haul communications for first responders.”

This would be the first amateur or “ham” radio payload in a geosynchronous orbit, and would significantly enhance communications capabilities for amateur radio operators, in particular following natural disasters or other emergency situations. The Hume Center team met with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate in September to discuss the project.

The full article may be found following this link.

I have really been enjoying trying to catch the satellites and the International Space Station as I am able, but it really is catch as catch can due to orbiting times and changing horizon points. A geosynchronous orbit satellite means we could plant an antenna pointed directly at the satellite and find it there day or night. I for one am ready!! I might even dedicate an inexpensive dual-band radio to it assuming typical satellite repeater protocol is used.

I will post more details as I find out additional information.  Cheers! Robert

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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Using the RTL2832U $20 SDR for HF & trunk-tracker scanning?

DE_DVB_T_1In response to our post on inexpensive SDRs based on the RTL2832U, Jeff Benedict writes:

Here’s a website that has a lot of info on cheap SDR gear.  They have a write-up on an external board which adds HF capabilities.  I have one but haven’t done anything with it yet.

http://www.hamradioscience.com

Jeff  KB7AIL  CN88

Thanks, Jeff! Has anyone tried HF with any success? I’m curious how well this über-cheap receiver will cope with adjacent signals and blowtorch stations within the HF spectrum.

Meanwhile Neil, blogger on Fofio, commented:

I have an RTL-SDR system up and running.  I have done 2 demonstrations for my local Ham Radio club.  One on the basic setup and use of the dongle, using both SDR# and HDSDR.  The other presentation showed the remote receiver capability using a Raspberry Pi as the receiver with the dongle attached and a remote SDR# computer decoding the stream over a network connection.  Once I compensate for some minor frequency discrepancies it’s a pretty good receiver.  The only issue I have noticed with mine (one of the early E4000-based models) is a tendency to overload in the presence of a strong signal.  We have a pretty powerful 2 Meter repeater less than a 1/4 mile from our home, and when it’s active it causes some strange results with the RTL-SDR setup.

I have yet to try one of the HF converters they make for these.  I hope to do that soon.

Another project I was reading about today that I may try out is using 2 of the dongles at once to create a trunk-tracker scanner.

Wow! Two $20 USB SDRs and a little PC magic could yield a trunking scanner? I want to hear more about this. Trunking scanners tend to be both expensive and complicated. If a web-updated database could be downloaded and used to control this sort of rig, the possibilities would be most impressive!

Neil, keep us informed!

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A very inexpensive Software Defined Radio based on the RTL2832U

DE_DVB_T_1Many thanks to Benn (AK4AV) for passing along this article from the IEEE which describes how a $20 USB digital TV antenna tuner can be transformed into an impressive, flexible software defined radio:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/geek-life/hands-on/a-40-softwaredefined-radio

The article incldes the following embedded video from the IEEE:

Here is another informative video via YouTube:

This year at the SWL Winterfest we had a presentation on the topic of $20 SDRs configured like those above. Some scanner enthusiasts had used them to receive satellite and many other VHF/UHF communications. I’ve heard of some devices being nearly plug-and-play easy to install and configure; others may take some minor tweaking. All of the SDR applications and drivers are either open source or free.

This page contains a wealth of information on the topic of RTL2832U based SDRs–it makes for a great starting point.

If you have experimented with thRTL2832U USB SDR, please comment below.

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