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FPV legal issue

You might be a mod but I have read the code up and down no disrespect intended. Please make sure you differentiate that this is not a "crime" Unless it is under Title 18 or you are otherwise under their purview it is not a criminal offense. So please unless it falls under that section refrain from calling someone a "law breaker." "Rule breaker" might be more accurate but it is still up to a strict interpretation of that code section. A rule that the FCC has no ability to apply to many Americans. You start getting into stuff like civil wrongs and the commerce clause and so forth. However, once you take that test and get registered with them they can 100% use that as a mechanism to jack you up.

These types of threads scare people. They scare people that want to come to our sport. They also cause people who find these on the internet to think little johny down the street is a criminal.
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Dedicated foam bender
If they can slap you with a hefty fine, I don't see how it matters if what you are breaking is a rule or a law. You will still end up with a very light wallet...
There is a big difference and should be clarified. People usually take the work "criminal" from the term "law breaker" and an outlaw FPV pilot should definitely not be put in that category. What is required for that fine is completely different than what is required for someone to go to jail. Yes, they need less proof of doing it but other stuff has to be considered as well. Little johny down the street will not be fined $10,000 for flying his quad. There are so many rules and regs in the USC and everyone is left with choices.

Because my microwave does not have a FCC sticker means you have to make a decision. It is my decision to make and I have to weigh all of my options. I personally choose to keep nuking my food with it but that is me and only me (oh and my wife.) Life is full of choices.

It also goes further as to why no one should use an internet forum for legal advice. In this case I think jamming someone up with a fine for an FPV receiver is outside the original intent of the law and will be treated as such. If someone is really worried about this it I would say consult an attorney or right the FCC for a written opinion on your specific device. I am not telling anyone to break a possible rule but to consider their options. You can also take the class if you are worried. I dont see any choice as wrong. Me, other posters, or forum moderators are not qualified to read any section of the USC and tell you what you should do. Getting bent with someone for making their own choice is counterproductive.

On that note it would be really nice for these things to come with FCC IDs / licenses on them and make this whole thing not a problem.

I would be very interested to see a letter drafted and sent to the FCC on this matter and have it archived. I think it could definitely help avoid these issues in the future.

Sorry if I get a little heated, I just dont like seeing people getting the designation "criminal" which is normally derived from law breaker.
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Touchy subject but short answer is yes, any transmitter over 10mw (everything used for FPV is far stronger than 10mw) requires a basic amateur tech license. I don't have one but gave up FPV some time ago, vast majority that do FPV don't have one either and I would dare say most don't even know a ham license is required. Now I am going to stand back and watch the fireworks, you sir quite naively have opened a very polarizing topic of conversation in this hobby that tends to bring out the worst in people.
Boy were you right.

Sorry for my part in this... wasnt trying to sound like a jerk or anything. New to flying, new to this site, but I feel strongly about some aspects of things and the internet painting people as a criminal.

Fly safe, have fun!


Dedicated foam bender
A forum is a place for discussion and as such, can easily either get out of hand or be taken the wrong way. I don't think anyone meant any "namecalling" but since the drone issue is being so heavily hyped by the media as bad juju, we all have pretty strong feelings and opinions on the matter. I certainly didn't mean any ill will.

Here in Texas, around my area, there seem to be quite a few hams. Not pork products but radio operators. I happen to have a receiver that I can check any bands that I plan on using for FPV before flying, to at least try to make sure that I am not stepping on anyone. Is this foolproof? No, but I am making an effort to be courteous to others around me and in doing so, I don't see anyone using 5.8, at least I haven't so far. Granted, I am pretty remote and there aren't many people out here since it's mostly farms. Even with the precautions I am taking, I am still planning on getting my tech license. I'd rather error on the safe side, with the fear the media has sold the sheeple into.
If the lawmakers have their way, soon we may not be able to fly at all. Not unless we can come up with enough money to buy some votes for our side...
I love this country and her people, but until the powerbrokering and lifelong politicians goes away and it's truly a government for the people, by the people, it's broken and it won't matter who is sitting behind the big desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Well said. I hope we can sort some stuff out soon! If not our laws and rules will not mean anything and neither will the sacrifices those before us made.


Senior Member
My understanding of the laws in your country is that a transmitter on 10mw eirp and is FCC type approved falls under a "class licence" which means that no licence is required. If you hold a valid amateur operators licence then you are allowed to run non FCC type approved equipment on ham bands as long as it meets emission standards that are attached to the licence class that you hold.
Personally I get anoied with the ignorant rc hobbyists that point up there nose at getting a licence because I studied hard to get my advanced licence and I pay my $73 a year to keep my call sign
All the more reason that there should be licensed FPV items. I am sure they would be more expensive than the china made stuff but if you were really worried about fines it would be the easiest way to go.


Hostage Taker of Quads

I wasn't speaking as a mod (we have opinions too, you know), and even so, I'm not about to ban/block/harass anyone because I disagree with what they say or believe, so long as they're respectful as they do it.

Again, naming names is not name calling, and if I seemed disrespectful as I outlined why I believed this was one and not the other, you missed my intent (likely because I miscommunicated it). I'm not interested in casting you as the bad guy. I want to encourage you to be a good guy! Licensees have benefits:

- teaching you the materiel you'll need to build and operate while getting the callsign
- giving you plugins into a community that can help you learn how to be a good neighbor on the RF spectrum
- giving ways for others to help you know when your rig is malfunctioning, so you can get the friendly warning when you're being a bad neighbor

To transmit under a non-commercial status, either the operator needs to be licensed (governed under part-97) or the device does (under part-15).

The gear you want to see "licensed" so anyone can use it will never be licensed because the part 15 won't allow it -- the part-15 power limits are too low to do anything meaningful.

Sorry, you're blaming the FCC for not forcing people in China to refuse to sell unlicensed operators gear that needs a license, instead of sitting down, taking the test and being a good neighbor.

Everything else I've seen you feel strongly about so far have been excuses of "why should I be a good neighbor when I live in a bad neighborhood?" The only way anyone can make the neighborhood better is by being a good neighbor.

Sit down. Study. Take the test.
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Misfit Multirotor Monkey
I find getting even a HAM amateur operators license is of equal importance of flying safely and considerately.

However, let's take Team Blacksheep. What does it matter if they have a radio certification? They jump the shark in public safety so extreme, radio frequency consideration is a minor concern. Yet, apparently, they are all the rage.

So I think the national culture is still in the wild-west days of RC.

So if you're safe and considerate, and dedicate yourself to understanding what is happening with the radio transmission you're playing with. . . if you do that. . . you're miles ahead of many of the "RC celebrities" steering the culture/hobby.
Found an interesting read here.


I would think that this is a step in the right direction as far as the wild west is concerned. Yes you can buy stuff from china all day long and screw up but it is even worse if you pick it up in a local store and roll with it. I know for a fact there is a lot of stuff you can buy from china, get shipped over, have it make it all the way to your house that can land you in prison. Side effect of a free market I guess.

Thanks for the good words Dan, you know when you are in a good internet community when someone can agree to disagree without banning one another. I apologize if I offended you personally.


Hostage Taker of Quads
Thanks for the good words Dan, you know when you are in a good internet community when someone can agree to disagree without banning one another. I apologize if I offended you personally.

You'll have to do more than that to piss me off, but I don't recommend you try ;)

I've seen similar citations before -- the kit manufacturer Ramsey was cited for an export-only kit because they didn't take sufficient safeguards that the item for sale actually left the US. Citations like theses are likely why HK's FPV gear is sparse in the US warehouse. Frankly, quite a few small domestic FPV stores are one complaint away from being shut down -- the FCC might ignore a store because they don't want to do their job, but if somebody makes them, they haven't accepted the "user must ensure compliance" statements as sufficient.

Of course this is only covering those selling the hardware, and has no effect -- positive or negative -- on the liability of the operator. If they're forced to do their job, the FCC can become quite uncooperative. Also, unlike the FAA, their rules regarding hobbyists are very well defined -- yes hard to read, but well defined none the less. Their $10k fines, once levied, usually stick.
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Faster than a speeding faceplant!
My concern is that to be considered a good neighbor, we have to make a contract with the government. I have no problem with learning the rules, flying safely, building safely and having a good relationship with my neighbors. I am actively looking for information as to how to be the best neighbor I can.

I do have a problem with anything that requires that I interact with the US Federal government. Signing a contract with them is an open invitation to abuse. Telling them you fly is as stupid as registering your firearms or getting an MMJ license. Eventually, they will violate the contract and persecute you for abiding by the law.

How can we be safe and learn the rules of safety and ettiquette without involving the US Federal Government?
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Senior Member
An amateur radio licence has nothing to do with flying, it is a licence to operate an amateur radio station btw it is an awesome hobby.
A very smart friend once told me " learn the game then learn to play it well, when you have learnt how to play well then you perfect the art of becoming a chameleon" in other words it is possible to enjoy your hobbies and blend in as long as you follow the rules


Faster than a speeding faceplant!
I agree with you on the awesome hobby part. The FCC does not agree with you on the radio license having nothing to do with flying. This whole thread is about how the FCC regulates flying FPV via radio licensing.

Those appear (from this thread) to be the rules.

Dan is making the point that getting the license and learning how to be a good neighbor are one in the same. I disagree. I believe I can be a good neighbor and not involve government. I believe that the less I involve the government in my neighborhood, the better a neighbor I can be and the better the neighborhood will be.

Once you employ force to make your argument you have lost your argument. Government is force. Every time government is involved in anything our society loses.

I do not fly FPV at this time. I would like to learn how to be a good neighbor, but I will not involve the federal government or agree to any contract with them for the same reasons I won't contract with a fox to guard my hen house.

So how do those who want to be safe, who want to learn the rules but who will not trust government learn them?

I propose we should teach them here in the build blogs. Learning from Team Blacksheep won't help the hobby. Learning from lawyers with no interest in the hobby won't help the hobby. If we are to be good neighbors, we need to pro-actively engage flyers and builders early and teach courtesy and safety.


Senior Member
Your missing the point mate. The reason you need to hold an amateur radio licence is because when you fly fpv you are mounting a small transmitting station to your air craft. The licence permits you to transmit power levels in excess of the ism "class licence" power limit. What I am trying to say is that the ham licence is for the transmitting station not the flying of the model air craft
Alright...I'll bite:

'If men were angels, no government would be necessary." President James Madison

Cran....let me ask you this...and please understand, I have zero love for 99% of what comes out of Washington these days, and I see your point of view... but let me ask....if you were driving your car down a road and interfered with the flow of traffic, and a police man saw you and pulled you over for wreckless driving....would you rather have a license or NOT have a license?

It would seem like the licensed driver would simply be ticketed for his minor offense, OR EVEN possibly be let off with a WARNING. An UNLICENSED motorist...your going to have a long night.

My contention is simply this: IF I somehow happened to cause harmful interference on the radio frequency spectrum, intentionally OR by accident without knowing it...I would rather BE licensed than not.

The point of a license is that you have permission to do what you're doing because you've demonstrated the ability and knowledge to do so. If you don't like the fact that you need to ask government for the permission to do something, attack it at that level. You can't just speed because you disagree with the speed limit. Lobby the lawmakers to change it, and if you get enough people to agree with you, they will listen. Get a petition going. Spearhead a movement. BE the change you want to see. MAKE the FCC who work for US, change the law to say you in fact should and do NOT need a ham license to operate fpv. Perhaps they could create a special exemption for transmitting while fpv-ing.

Plus...and I'm not trying to start a political debate, simply making a comparison...much like the people who choose to cross the border illegally into the USA, it is a slap in the face to the legal immigrants. By you choosing to operate unlicensed, it's NOT being a good neighbor to those who have taken the time to study and learn the rules and try to operate by them.

I would hate to see you or anyone in this great hobby endure a punishment for not following the rules. Again, I'm not saying you're wrong to think what you're thinking...just throwing a thought out there. Cheers!

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Faster than a speeding faceplant!
N222NY this is why I like FT. No flaming. I agree with you and that IS the point.

I do not fly FPV at this time. I would not drive without a license unless life depended on it.

I used to be a CLI tech for the cable company years ago. I get the interference aspect.

Flying isn't for everyone. Like driving, it looks cool but takes some thought and dedication and eyesight. I fly only over my own private property. I learned to drive on private property before I had a license.

I am a biker with a biker license. I went to a private biker school to learn the rules and get certified. I put 50,000 miles on my bike in six years. You can bet, I know the safety rules and I follow them.

I did not know this rule for FPV existed until this thread. That's what worries me.

What other rules do I not know?

How do I find them without asking the government? I am sure they would love to help me, inspect my home, my tax record, my service record, my driving record, my credit record and those of everyone I know while 'helping' me. I don't think I will be looking into an MMJ license or a full automatic rifle license or a tax exemption for political campaign for a republican or a HAM radio license from the feds any time soon.

Did you learn to drive from the government or did your family teach you?

I believe it is in our best interest to openly define and publish and teach the rules of safety at a grass roots level without requiring a credit card or joining a club. It is only through cooperative effort from all of us that we will have a good hobby.

Good neighbors work together voluntarily. They don't need government to get together and talk and learn safety and know the rules. This is an international forum. The rules of safety don't know borders. If we wait for government we will get 10,000 conflicting rules and the result will be the safest hobby possible.

Flying our toys isn't as dangerous as driving. There is risk. Not all the risk is immediately apparent to everyone. Common sense is not common at all. It is cultural.

If we want a safe hobby with the freedom to explore and to innovate, we need to band together as international neighbors and create the thoughtful culture.