Total posts : 45366
Well, I’m not sure how one can conclude that he is “pretending”. After being hit for selling completed kits, he apparently went to offering partially completed ones. That could be an honest attempt to comply, and not knowing him personally or his motives, I wouldn’t care to comment as to whether he intentionally is attempting a pretense.
As to what degree of assembly is necessary before something is considered a “unit” as opposed to a “kit”, so far as I am aware, that is not well defined. This particular action is interesting since it likely will result in at least some precedent being set on that matter.
Now with radios sold as 10 meter ham transceivers that can possibly be modified for use in the 11 meter CB band or whatever they currently call the space between those two bands, I have seen a precedent/rule quoted in the FCC field actions that’s something about those being illegal if the unauthorized operation can be accomplished by something like setting a switch or soldering in a single wire. I don’t recall the exact wording offhand, but I’ve seen it in a few of them over recent months.
In any case, there’s a fairly clear guideline/precedent there. If this case results in a clear precedent of that nature for kits sold for part15 operation, I think that could be very good for the hobby.
Personally, on my “wish list” for things I wish the FCC would do regarding kits is that I’d like to see a precedent/rule requiring that kits be at least to some degree educational. That is, that the assembly manual would written have the person buying the kit complete and test the circuits in stages with some explanation of the theory as they complete the kit to make the finished unit. Especially whatever testing is necessary to ensure that the kit is operating in compliance with the appropriate part15 sections for its band/type of operation. Ideally, all such measurements/testing would require very affordable tools, like a multimeter and a standard BCB receiver.
That’d be enough with a part15 AM transmitter to check for correct power supplied to the final RF stage and to check and see if the transmitter was putting out spurs for any reasonable distance/power on at least the harmonic at 2*F.
Admittedly, not as simple for FM because compliance is measured differently, but one could at least test to ensure the transmitter built from a kit wasn’t out of compliance to a ridiculous degree. Others are welcome to their own opinions, but I feel that if a kit delivers say 200 mw to the antenna terminal and explains how to make a dipole or groundplane cut to frequency, there is *no* way that the kit manufacturer/supplier can possibly think it would actually be in compliance if they have even some understanding of the rules and/or general electronics. Now there I would say the supplier is clearly “pretending” that the unit could be part15 compliant when they advertise it as such. That sort of kit would put out many thousands of times more power than is allowed. The only way I can think of that such a kit *might* be operated in a compliant fashion would be to maybe put the transmitter and antenna in a metal refrigerator and close the door before turning it on. I’m not sure if that’d work to bring the power it actually radiates down to 250 uV at 3 M, but it *might*. My point is that the people selling some of those kits are putting out kits that don’t appear to be even remotely resembling something that might be intended for legal operation.
To be honest, for part15 FM, I’ve given it a lot of thought and asked a lot of questions and so far as I can tell there is simply no way a hobbyist can be certain that their kit or homebrew circuit is in compliance. But for AM it is quite possible to measure and do a few simple checks before putting it on the air regularly.
I personally feel that a large part of the reason that the FCC allows kits and homebrew is to encourage/foster learning and responsible experimentation. Which is excellent, and worth keeping as an objective in the part15 rules.
This case is very interesting, since it may result in a clear precedence/rule regarding what actually constitutes a kit for at least part15 AM. My interpretation of the statements in the FCC orders so far is that they want *more* building to be necessary by the end user than they would consider necessary for the Ham/CB transceivers need to qualify for the modification for outband operation to be considered as being already manufactured to operate in an illegal fashion.
To clarify, I would think that since the chips are critical components and the transmitter will not operate at all without them, it is more stringent if that doesn’t qualify as “not fully assembled” when with the ham/cb radios are considered as being sold as an illegal “hybrid” if it takes a switch setting or a single wire soldered in place to enable illegal outband operation. From what I understand, those would be legal for sale if it took as much work by the end consumer as to have to install a component like a chip. It’d be considered that the modification had been done by the user and was not supplied as “ready to run” that way by the manufacturer.
But perhaps I’m missing the logic involved or the FCC’s inent on this matter and it may become more clear as the case progresses.
To be fair, I’m not 100% sure I understand Richard Mann’s logic either. It appears to me that he may be trying to determine what degree of assembly he *can* do and have the item still considered a kit for the end user. Or it might be more correct to say he has attempted less assembly on his part and that too has been judged by the FCC as unacceptable.
On a side note, anyone have any thoughts on what sort of impact the “Plain Language in Government Communications Act” might have on FCC regulations if it becomes law?