I have been engaged in conversation with several other hams in regard to Chinese imported transceivers such as Baofengs and Wouxuns. These radios are very inexpensive (usually less than $50 a piece) and readily available from US suppliers via Amazon and eBay. They frequently do not come with an FCC label on them.
The question is, does it matter?
Some hams are of the belief that FCC certification doesn’t matter because they’re used in Amateur Radio, which operates under Part 97 of the rules and does not require certification.
Other hams are of the belief that the transceiver requires at least Part 15 certification since it will receive outside of the amateur band.
So which is correct? Technically, the latter belief is correct. Part 15 certification is required because the device will receive outside of the amateur band. But more importantly, a large part of the Chinese imports do not even meet the emissions standards of FCC Part 97. We should care about Part 15 certification because FCC testing proves the emission standards of the radio, such as harmonics and splatter, and poor emissions can cause harmful interference in other radio bands.
In the November 2015 issue of QST, the ARRL published results of testing Amateur-owned handheld transceivers at various conventions from 2012-2015. This testing was done on attendees’ used radios which were brought to the conventions. Each transceiver was hooked to a calibrated set of test equipment and was tested for emission standards compliance.
While I can’t provide the actual article due to copyrights, I will sum up the findings here. For all brands listed in the article over the entire test period, I’ve provided the total number of radios and the average percent of compliant radios across all years.
- Baofeng: 186 tested. 29% compliant.
- Connect Systems: 13 tested, 100% compliant.
- Icom: 151 tested, 100% compliant.
- Kenwood: 129 tested, 99.5% compliant.
- Motorola: 11 tested, 100% compliant
- RadioShack: 11 tested, 100% compliant.
- TYT: 6 tested, 50% compliant.
- Wouxun: 79 tested, 82.5% compliant.
- Yaesu: 280 tested, 99.8% compliant.
For greater detail of the radios tested and the emissions findings, including spectral graphs of the emissions of a few tested radios, please see the issue of QST I mentioned above.
Comments are welcome.