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Ham License

#1
If you are going to promote the use of the Ham bands for FPV video, particularly the 5 Ghz or Race bands, and you are going to sell equipment that uses those bands then you should make a video on getting your ham radio license.

You could have one or two of your people who don't already have a license go through the process of getting one and VLOG their experience. From pointing people to the appropriate resources, to taking the test and getting their call sign.

We could argue endlessly about the value of doing this, whether it has any relevance to the typical FPV flyer, but it is the law. Letting people know that it is the law can't be a bad thing. Hams are hobbyists too and there is plenty of crossover between the hobbies.
 

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#2
Been hoping for this for years. They stepped up and did a couple videos on FAA part 107 (or at least one dedicated to it and several mentions of it in the vlog since.)

But the FCC requirements predate the FAA requirements and a lot of the theory you pick up taking the test is important in other aspects of the RC hobby as well.

Been thinking about it a lot lately too, I got my novice (back when novice as the first step before technician) when I was in 3rd grade. My daughter just started 2nd grade and I've been getting ready to teach her to solder (since I was in 2nd grade when I learned.) I'm not going to try and push her into getting her license - but if she shows an interest I'm pretty sure she'd be able to pass the test next year at the rate she's going. Heck I wouldn't be surprised if she could pass it this year at the rate these kids learn now!

But she hasn't shown much interest in radio and I haven't had much luck getting her interested in RC yet either. She did enjoy the e010 quad I picked up for her (until she crashed it hard enough to destroy the frame) and does like chuck gliders. And tonight when I asked if she'd like me to make her another glider she asked if I could make one she could control this time. So...hope the plans for the FT release get released soon because I'm about to go out to my shop and whip up a sparrow for her :)

I got off track though. Point was....this hobby wouldn't exist without radios and hams played a HUGE role in making this hobby viable. It's something FT is doing themselves and the community a huge disservice by not addressing and I hope they do soon.

----
N8INJ
 

LitterBug

Troll Spammer
#3
I picked up my technician license over a year ago before playing around with FPV. There was a five year old girl there the same day and she passed the test too.

I don't think that the majority of people understand that 99% of these FPV transmitters require a license to be used legally. The manufacturers and distributors both need to make it clear.

Anyone who has modded the antenna on a certified transmitter also requires a license.... The certification is for the TX and Antenna as a package since altering any component can make the whole package be out of spec.

Cheers!
LitterBug
KE8ELK
 

PsyBorg

Fly Angry
Mentor
#4
I will fully agree on this as well. I did pick up a little information on the HAM testing and got onto Hamstudy.org and started going thru the flash cards. The last practice I took I could get above 82% on all of the tests and some into the mid 90's. I really should get motivated over winter and get that done.
 

LitterBug

Troll Spammer
#6
5 year olds can pass the technician test? You are going to set the shame factor pretty high if a 58 year old with a EE degree can't pass. ;-)
She was a really smart cookie and she wanted it for her self. Wasn't like her family was forcing her to do it. Her 8 year old brother was there and had no interest in it and hasn't taken the test. I failed my first test by one point. It had a ton of international questions on it that I had not studied up for. They let me take another one immediately which I aced. It was almost all technical. Was hoping to do Tech and advanced the same day. Still need to go back for the advanced test.

Cheers!
LitterBug
KE8ELK
 

Craftydan

Hostage Taker of Quads
Moderator
Mentor
#7
Ran,

About 20 years back I failed the old Novice test twice. In fairness, I was a dumb EE student at the time and didn't take adequate time to study, but still. Twice :(

Took the Technician's a little while ago with nothing more than reviews of the test pool (practice tests, but mostly picking up the legal points) and passed it with ease. If you've got the concepts down, you just need to pick up the law and a few semantics. RF Black magic or not, most EEs that can avoid electrocuting themselves (or at least survive it) should fair well on the technical content. The hardest part will be waiting for the next exam session ;)
 
#8
I just finished reading the AARL training manual. Now I am pounding through the 426 questions in the "pool" to determine how many I just know, how many I can calculate or otherwise just logically figure out, and how many I just have to memorize. The test itself is only 35 questions and you only have to get 26 right.

Since the test is created by hams, for hams, and administered by hams, it is definitely biased towards traditional ham activities. For someone who just wants to fly FPV using the 5Ghz race bands there is very little about it that is applicable. I am not sure I can justify why I am doing this except that it is "the right thing to do".

Beyond that, it is not clear to me that it is legal to operate FPV on the 5Ghz race bands even with a ham technician class license. The band is legal, and the mode of use (real time video) is legal, but there is still a requirement to identify who is transmitting. Unless you have a heads up display that can display your ham call sign I think you are still operating outside of the law.

I think the thing that mostly saves us is the relatively short range of these signals. Modelers doing long range FPV with higher power on other lower frequency bands are probably more likely to attract unwanted attention.

I suspect the longer term solution is to have this gear be certified so you won't need a ham license. The technology is quite primitive in many other respects so I expect it will advance rapidly now that there are lots of people who want to do FPV.

I am obviously NOT an expert, so if someone wants to correct me please do so.
 

LitterBug

Troll Spammer
#9
I have my call sign on my OSD where possible. If it isn't possible, my call sign is also on my VTX and VRX. All are acceptable methods of station identification. You could also point your camera at your call sign....

FYI I picked up a Handheld for communications during different events, search and rescue, Weather spotting, etc. https://baofengtech.com/bf-f8hp can be picked up <$50 and you are on the air using repeaters providing service to the community.

LB
 
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Craftydan

Hostage Taker of Quads
Moderator
Mentor
#10
Clarity? You do remember the FCC is a federal agency, right? ;)

More than "right thing to do" is a near philosophical conversation, but IMO, for an EE, I'd say it's mostly checking a box. For the electro-phobics, getting general concepts of radio gear -- antennas, polarity, and basic rf concepts -- is a helpful start.

As far as the rules. . . Keep in mind, either the station operator or the equipment need to have authority to operate. For the low power gear in the ISM, it's the gear that gets the part-15 certification to operate. For high power gear, the operator needs the license. So . . . What's the power limits? The rub is it's quoted in radiated power density, not wattage. Hard to measure, and squishy to trace back to a wattage equivilent . . . And put on a high gain antenna on the vtx (not rtx) and the numbers are all skewed with the gain.

In short, the OEMs who actually sell the part-15 certified vtxs (there are a few, but not many) settled into 25mw with a typical cloverleaf, and the pass muster in the labs. Not all 25mw vtxs are certified . . . But there is a "diy" clause in part 15, so those aren't completely uncovered.

As for callsign . . . There are clause's explicitly for us -- radio control gear. The rule is the operator's callsign must be affixed to the controls. Sure, that was written for our control transmitters, but if the video link is considered part of the control loop, it fits. Flashing a sign at power on or OSD badge aren't bad either, but label on the station is enough according to our rules.

BTW . . . IIRC, The operator power limits in digital are 10 fold higher than analog in this band -- it's assumed digital will take on a spread-spectrum pulsed method, which cooperates better with others in the band. Analog video is fairly jellous of it's bandwidth, so it gets throttled back to reduce it's impact. Digital is cool, but gear that doesn't have excessive lag is pricy . . . and big. Give it time, and if we aren't banned from using it, it'll be on every tiny quad and cost less than the super batteries that keep em aloft for insane flight times.
 
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#11
I just finished going through the 426 questions in the question pool. Despite having a EE degree (from 1981) and also having read the license manual cover to cover, I still found 63 questions that I could not answer via logic or calculations. In other words, these are questions I would just have to memorize.

The good news is that 63 out of 426 is 14.8%. You can miss up to 25.8% of the questions and still pass, so theoretically I should be able to take the test and pass easily right now.

My point is not to brag, or admit stupidity. I am just saying that if you already have a basic grounding in the technology then reading the book should be all you need.

I am somewhat annoyed by the specific knowledge they want me to memorize that has nothing to do with anything I ever intend to do, but there is not enough of it to stop me from passing, so I can't complain too much.

Given that each question is multiple choice with 4 possible answers, you have a 25% chance of getting them right through random chance. Often one or two of the answers is nonsensical, so you can improve those odds even further.

Knowing that the 6 meter band is best for bouncing signals off the ion trails left by meteors is pretty useless information, but at least I can use it to impress women at parties (not).
 

JimCR120

Got Lobstah?
Site Moderator
#12
Ok, I like ham with most anything. It tastes yummy. I am aware of such a thing as a HAM license but have little knowledge about it. If it's as easy as it would seem here I suppose I'll jump on in and experience the process and then get those cool letters into my signature too. I do have an avionics and electronic warfare background so maybe that will be helpful. We'll see. I'll post the progress here.

@Litterbug, thanks for the link to the radio site. Since seeing PsyBorg's handheld at FF this year I've been considering getting one. Do you have a particular radio you recommend?

@PsyBorg, which radio do you have/recommend?

I appreciate this thread and the info in it. I suspect others will find it helpful as well.
 

LitterBug

Troll Spammer
#13
@Litterbug, thanks for the link to the radio site. Since seeing PsyBorg's handheld at FF this year I've been considering getting one. Do you have a particular radio you recommend?

I appreciate this thread and the info in it. I suspect others will find it helpful as well.
If you want a quick, easy, and cheap handheld, The Baofeng UV-5R is an easy way to get your feet wet for $32.99 on Amazon. I have the newer BF-F8HP version, which is about double that. I also picked up a better Nagoya NA-771 antenna and magnetic mount Nagoya UT-72 mobile antenna. So for < $100, I am able to do Weather Spotting, Search And Rescue, use the local repeaters, ETC.

I have been listening on the HAM bands and studying on and off for close to 40 years. FPV is what finally pushed me into picking up my license and joining the other HAMs of the world in transmitting.

Cheers!
LitterBug
 
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PsyBorg

Fly Angry
Mentor
#14
Like Litterbug I have a uv5r but mine is the -2. This one is the multi powered one I believe is the difference. It can be set 1 watt or 5 watt. It seems like a solid piece of gear. Some uber hams frown on it and give it bad reviews but I keep mine with me and use it as a police scanner since I don't have my HAM licence yet. I like to have it with me on the off chance something goes wrong as I don't have a cell phone and cant call anyone.

I will make it a point to get the licence over the winter though. I got side tracked on my original time plan with FFE. If you do get the uv5r get the programming cable and the higher gain whip antenna. I did not get the cable as the person who pointed me in the direction of the uv5r said he has it all and was going to help me program it. Sadly he has been in and out of the hospitals for a while now with heart issues so I have not bothered his recovery with trivial things like the radio.
 

sprzout

Active member
Mentor
#15
It's kind of shocking how many people misinterpret the HAM license rules. At my field, there are board members of the club that think if you are an AMA member, you are covered. I had to tell them repeatedly that no, it does not matter - this is the FCC coming down on this. All of the drones I have that use something other than Wi-Fi for transmission state on the package, "If you are operating this product in North America, an Amateur Radio (HAM) License is required."

I went through and got my license a few months ago, back in...May? June? I'd honestly have to go back and look. It took some prep time from me; I'll be honest that I did not read the AARL book, but rather took multiple online practice tests to drill into my head the questions I needed answered. Some of the stuff was basic practice, like grounding, power strips, and safety measures, but knowing space station signals and communications was something that I didn't think would EVER apply to me. Sure, it was kind of interesting, but I'd rather devote my time and money into planes and quads than into radio antennas and transmitters for HAM operation.

It's great that people have an interest in it, and I can see its uses, but it's just not my cup of tea. All that aside, I have my call sign on my Spektrum Dx6 and on my headset; I did put it on the bottom of my 220 frame as well, but I have NO idea how the heck I'd stick it on my Inductrix Pro/Tiny Whoops and have it be legible. The rulings on some of this, I really think it needs to change. People need to have knowledge of how it works, how to prevent interference, etc.; it's like the old crystal radios of 30 years ago, when everyone had to have different frequencies or else there were conflicts. Now we just have the different frequency bands for channels (and potential bleed over, in some cases, if someone's running a powerful enough transmitter). I think it'll eventually be straightened out, but it's going to be probably 20+ years at the rate we're going...

Bottom line, get certified. It's not worth the fight. The FCC is like a slow moving, blind elephant - it's big, it's difficult to move, and it doesn't see the little people in front of it before it tramples them.
 
#16
Well I passed the test. Now it is just a matter of waiting for a week for my call sign to show up on the FCC database.

If I had taken it cold I might have passed. As it was, I studied way harder than necessary and aced it. I agree with sprzout, for FPV purposes it is mostly a waste, but at least I am being respectful of the community.