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As a Part 15 device user, it is a matter of considerable interest to know how I can best install my transmitter so that it operates efficiently, without exposing myself to undue risk due to varying rule interpretations by FCC inspectors. Frankly, a large majority of the population of this country don’t happen to either live on a farm or on a large suburban lot where they could install a classic ground mounted antenna system.
Let me offer a few examples. What if you live on the 15th floor of an apartment building? What if you live in the city where you can’t install something on the ground, either because someone would steal or vandalize it, or because there is simply no space? What if, like me, you just have a small lot that is cluttered with trees and buildings such that if you installed an antenna on the ground, all of the RF energy would be soaked up by surrounding objects (to say nothing of the difficulty of deploying a decent radial system)?
The legal ramifications of these issues are not resolved by physics lectures on the one hand, or by pretending that they don’t exist on the other. Furthermore, I have read stories about how understanding and helpful inspectors are when they come to check you out, but I don’t know that I want to experience this first hand. They come out because of a complaint from someone, not because they are curious about your station. And, as we are reminded on a fairly regular basis, complaints can have expensive consequences. When the FCC issues a NAL, it is typically for thousands of dollars. I don’t think I really want to be in that situation.
From a different perspective, as an engineer who has worked in the broadcast industry, and who has also been involved in EMC tests on a variety of low power devices, it is definitely interesting to review the test results on a piece of equipment. This information is in the public domain, and ideally should be provided by the manufacturer upon request. In recent years, the FCC has posted test reports online, but unfortunately they are unavailable for older equipment.
I see great value in understanding how a device was tested. The test report can provide guidance to an end user who wants to operate that device in a similar manner, and could even be used as a reference in cases where disputes develop over rule interpretations.
As an active member of an IEEE standards group, I have observed that these standards (and rules, by analogy) begin life in committee meetings as a set of ideas that are debated by the participants. Although these groups do their best, they cannot always envision all of the circumstances that will be encountered in applying them. This in itself is to be expected, and it is why interpretations often become as important, or even more important than the actual standards or rules themselves.
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