Xbees are garbage. Get a modern radio like the 3DR radios. Every spec on them is way better AND they're cheaper. They also work a lot better with the APM/MP (more features).
Despite them being the DIYDRONES standard up until about 6 months ago, they are also the only legal radio of such type within Canada. You cannot legally import radio communication devices that are not authorized by Industry Canada. Hence, why Xbee's are again the plus here for Canadian Users as they are approved for use in Canada.
Has anyone actually ever gotten into trouble for using a low power, frequency hopping, low bandwidth radio in the ISM band?
And I guess that nobody has ever built or developed a radio in Canada? I assume they just arrest all RF engineers when they apply for approval?
Edit: I should not be so snide, sorry! But seriously?
Maybe I can explain my view on the issue a little better... I live in a state where there are tons of laws on the books that are never enforced (adultery, sodomy, etc.). They're all essentially unconstitutional, but the politicians are too busy making stupid new laws to worry about little details like that.
In the US there's so many laws that even lawyers don't know how many there are. The best they can do is provide estimates. Because of this absurd situation you're pretty much doing something illegal no matter how careful you are. What you have to do is look at the case law and try to judge how things would go down, what punishment you're risking, and the likelihood of getting caught/prosecuted. On all of these counts the risk of using this sort of radio is very, very minimal. There's so much unapproved gear out there and these radios would be so far down on the list it's not even funny.
Unapproved electronics come in to the US from China literally by the metric ton per second. AFAIK the 3DR radios and the HopeRF module it uses aren't currently approved anywhere in the world. Yet they're making and selling these by the hundreds of thousands. It doesn't seem like the powers that be care in the least.
That's why I can't see worrying about the issue.
Hi Jake, at least from my perspective (Canadian Distributor) I really cannot take the "risk" to import and sell them. Because of the nature of the beast (open source, firmware changed on the fly and all customization that is possible) I hardly think they will ever get certified. For people flying in remote places I dont think they will be at risk. But a lot of people fly in urban area in parks and other place where frequencies are/could be monitored. Getting caught will not be super hard but you would need to be quite unlucky. But flying often at the same place around the same hours will increase your risks.
Anyhow, I think it's really a sad thing as you are right many things are not "legal" simply because they dont have a stupid sticker on them. Most FPV gear sold around here are not certified. A license is also required to operate these and not many have them. I know that most clubs strongly encourage people to get it but again they are using still "illegal" hardware.
I wish I could carry them as I literally get 3-5 emails a week to get them. In the end I think my fellow Canadians order them from the US store... but I also still sell a lot of Xbee 900 CERTIFIED! hehe
I feel your pain. It's no big deal for the end user, but you face fines that could put you under and/or having all your stock seized, all for very little profit.
I really don't see any easy way of easily monitoring or detecting these radios though. With all the other devices operating in the ISM band and the nearly random chirps of RF noise these radios use to communicate it would be very hard to detect them, at least in a way that would cause authorities to try and track you down.
I don't think it would really be all that hard to get them certified. They should easily meet the specs and if you have any firmware that can be made to operate legally that would be good enough to get the device certified.
These chip radios were designed to be certifiable for ISM use and they work great and are cheap, so lots are being produced and used. At some point someone will get a design certified, hopefully it will be the HopeRF module itself. With a bit of luck everyone will be able to use that certification number by simply putting "Contains: XXXXX-XX" on the case.
I would also think you could do some sort of affiliate/dropship thing from your store?
define what you have in mind for dropship... taking order for the 3DR radio but asking 3DRobotics to deliver it to customer for me? This is as bad as I would be selling them and facilitating the import process. Anyhow the shipping cost and duty fees would be the same as if the customers order directly from 3DR ;) not much gain there for both parties.
You'd just be getting a commission for orders coming from/through your website.
I'm not really sure how that would work out legally. You wouldn't be importing them and you'd just be a reseller/retailer/order taker. I would think your liability would be much less than if you were actually importing and selling them, as you'd just be acting like the middleman without having to do any of the actual middleman/retailer stuff.