There has been a lot of discussion about regulatory compliance on the announcement thread for these radios.
I thought I should explain a bit about why these radios don't already have compliance certificates, and what you can do to get involved in an effort to get them certified. I should first note that I don't work for 3DRobotics - I'm just a volunteer ArduPilot developer who happens to be very interested in these radios. I also wrote most of the radio firmware. So this is not an official 3DRobotics statement.
The basic idea with regards to regulatory compliance is that these are DIY radio parts. It is our understanding that, at least in the US and Australia, it is quite OK to use radios that comply with the relevant standards without getting them officially certified. Other countries have different rules.
So why didn't 3DRobotics get them certified anyway? Part of the problem is that the firmware is being rapidly developed, with new features regularly added. Under some certification systems that may mean re-certifying each firmware. That would cost a lot, and push up the cost of the radios.
The second problem is that there are so many different certification systems. There is FCC in the US, C-Tick in Australia, CE in Europe etc etc. Sometimes it may be possible to get quicker/cheaper certification of one type if you already have another type, but it is still complex.
So what do you do if you want to use/distribute these radios in a way that requires certification? I think the only reasonable answer is for the community to solve the problem. If someone puts their hand up to volunteer to do the legwork to get these radios certified in some area then they could share the results here and hopefully make life easier for someone else to work on certification elsewhere.
Meanwhile, if you post something about certification, please try to make sure you do your research carefully to make sure the information is accurate. If we can build a community effort around this then I think we can solve it together.
Hello Bjorn & Richard,
How do you / have you found away around the "CE" approval for the use of the radio there with you? I still poke about at this to see if there is a way to get them in the store here as they are not allowed in the UK unless they have there certificates, so I can't sell them or use them without fear jail & fines.... :( Do you have approval there, or is there a break in the law for you as you have the "cook a chicken" license?
How did you find the duty cycle, the 868 Xbee's just stop working when they hit the limit, did they stop working at any point or did it just have the low range issue?
Well Martin, it is really a hit and miss with the customs officers. Iceland is not EU but has applied all the red tape through bilateral agreements along with Norway and some other small states. The CE mark is a holy insignia here too. THe worst thing is that it really does not guaranty much in the way of safety or quality, especially with the chinese no-name junk (where it usually stands for China Export). Even for EU produced goods, the CE mark is not a proof of rigorous control like the FCC certification.
We buy almost everything on-line over here and we have to clear it through customs at the post terminal. The customs officers are usually not the sharpest knives in the drawer so to speak. If the things don't look like complete appliances and are labeled as "components" or such they are usually not checking for CE marks. I seem to recall that the package from 3DR was labelled "instructional" or "educational" or something to that effect? From what I understand, radio amateurs have sometimes been able to talk their way past the CE mark by waving their license. They have a somewhat respected position in these matters (and they want to defend it).
I guess you are in a difficult position Martin, having to adhere strictly to the EU rules, being an official retailer. I wonder whether the transmitting module on the 3DR radio has a CE rating of its own. Would that solve things?
I had a feeling from our chat that you might have got them through customs ok, I don't think that there would be an issue here with the customs guys either, The standard package term from 3DR is marked "learning kit" so I think this helps that it's a kit! I guess they see so much stuff in "kit" form they would not not have time to check every last item, we would have a golbal melt down here in the UK if that were the case!
I have seen many people here using the China parts, I guess if they get caught they might see some form of slap on the wrist, however it's another story for people selling it! The missing links for the UK from the people I have spoken with is the certificates which are needed to place the CE stamp on the units, I could place the CE mark on them as could any other importer, but without the right documentations, well..... a huge can of worms opens up, it's a real shame I can't get past this as there is a band there waiting to be used for these radios in the UK! I have looked and can't see the certificate for the modules however I have looked at so many sites and so many documents I could have missed one, but I think it would go a long way to helping get them here to sell :)
Perhaps contacting the module/chip producers directly and ask if their product has the necessary approval? If so the assembly would perhaps not need to be certified as a whole. Just a thought.
Hi Martin, I was simply observing the Signal strength percentage. It never lost range, but went quite low. I did however have the aerial velcro's to the laptop screen. Mountain the aerial on a tripod will definitely increase the range. I have been investigating the Ham License
@Richard The "simple answer" is that the range will be totally dependent on your antenna (and its feeding line if one is used) at both the drone and the ground station. Getting as close to the optimal setup in that respect is the trick if you want to go for long distance links.
Antenna theory and the feeling of wanting to know much more about how these things work was what led me to read for and take the ham-license exams last winter. I found these things so fascinating that I even managed to acquire the full license in the first go. I really recommend going at least for the novice/technical level. Morse is no longer required so thats one less threshold to worry about.
Cheers for the info, I have been looking at the HAM License, As i understand it will allow me to use different frequencies and at higher power outputs.
Good. Let´s not drift off the thread topic of regulatory matters. When we´ve collected more info on performance we´ll carry on in a new or more appropriate thread.
Agreed, removed info on range.
When the CE regulations came into force which I think was 1999, I ran my business making one off specialised computer systems. These regulations gave us a dilemma in that it was impossible to pay the £10k that laboratories were asking for a CE certificate.
I obtained a copy of the CE regulations and found a section on “Self Certification” which allows you to make equipment and certify it yourself.
All the parts we bought were already CE marked, but when you put them together you create a new product but you start from a good point. We then built a small room lined with metal mesh so no interference could enter. So all you need now is a Spectrum Analyzer to measure 0 – 50GHz. Now these are very expensive but you can hire them by the week and you only need to test your first production model.
Providing you have no stray signals you write how you have tested the equipment. Receivers should not cause much problem. With transmitters you should only get the Tx frequency and its harmonics.
Now attach a CE sticker. No one ever questioned our systems.
I am sure that some of the dealers in the UK could import the radios and carry out the above.
Thank you for the information on the process and experiences in this field, I think you have added the key point, when all the parts are added together that is the "test" equipment not the parts as single items approved or not, I still have a look at this from time to time and see if there is another way but have run out of all options apart from the one you have now listed above. I guess that the 3DR team don't have a "duty of care" to display the legal implications of using these radios in other countries, the bands might be free to use but the "radios" which use the bands have to be certified, I do hate red tape..........
If you reasonably believe the radio meets the applicable CE specs then self-certify it and slap the "CE" mark on it. You guys are actually lucky over there to be able to self-certify and not have to deal with the FCC.
I noticed on the SiLabs website that Synapse has a little $49 module based on the same chip radio. Looks a lot like an xbee. Seems they have FCC certified it. So there really shouldn't be any problems with compliance as long as HopeRF didn't do something radically wrong in their module design. Usually Chinese companies just copy the reference design exactly.