Question for discussion...
Programming your own Part 90 radios into Part 95 service, and front panel programming... Is this legal?
This may be another area that needs further clarification from the FCC, or perhaps I just cannot find the rule that applies, but in the past, all type-accepted radio transmitters had to be set up and aligned by (or under supervision of) a licensed technician before they were legal to use. Radio owners/operators were never allowed to modify their radios in any way. A licensed technician used to be defined as "the holder of a valid Commercial General-Class Radio-telephone Operator's License."
Today, we are all programming our own radios for the frequencies we would like to use, and some even modify radios for front-panel programming. Is this even legal?
The only laws I can find about this today are:
95.319 (b.) Internal repairs. Internal adjustments and repairs to Personal Radio Services transmitters must be performed by or under the supervision of an individual who is qualified to maintain and repair transmitters.
95.337 No person shall modify any Personal Radio Service transmitter in a way that changes or affects the technical functioning of that transmitter such that operation of the modified transmitter results in a violation of the rules in this part. This includes any modification to provide for additional transmit frequencies, increased modulation level, a different form of modulation, or increased transmitter output power (either mean power or peak envelope power or both). Any such modification voids the certified status of the modified transmitter and renders it unauthorized for use in the Personal Radio Services. Also, no person shall operate any Personal Radio Service transmitter that has been so modified.
I had never really considered this before, since I do hold a Commercial GROL, and I am a qualified technician, but what about others programming their own radios with eBay cables? What about those internal modifications that allow the front panel to essentially be used as a VFO? This is fine for ham use, but can that possibly be legal at all for GMRS?
Open for discussion.....
95.319 (b ) does not hold much water. It does not specify who those folks might be. However I like that the rule exists. More below.
I am also a GROL. Years ago, the FCC under pressure of a certain Radio Vendor Evil Batwing Corp, removed the requirements for a GROL to perform tuning, repairs and service of LMR equipment. They did this no doubt, so they could pay technicians a smaller wage and to reduce liability. The FCC rewrote Part 90, putting the responsibility on the licensee to ensure the equipment worked as required.
95.337 as underlined, describes the condition under which a modification becomes a violation. You can modify if it still meets rules. So lets say you want to install a wire into the radio to tap the discriminator or grab COR logic. That's a modification, but it is benign. Or you are a bench tech and the radio comes in with a blown final and you determine that no OEM part exists, but you are aware that an MRF123X is same part, install it, test the radio for spurs and harmonics. That is technically a modification, but not a violation. Then comes Sparky McSpark with his golden screwdriver. He goes into the 40 watt Midland and twists some coils and turns a pot and now his bird wattmeter shows 60 magical watts! That is potentially a violation.
As far as Part 90 and FPP. I am OK with running Part 90 radios within the rules. I think the FPP sort of pushes the envelope however. You can accomplish same thing with a small laptop computer and RIB. I was programming Saber Radios with an HP200LX palmtop and DOS RSS long before FPP became a thing.
Back to 95.319 (b ) . If you read the new rules closely (I can't cite off my head) there is as mentioned above, a rule that hints at the use of non part 95 certified equipment and it refers to "reserved sections" within the RC and GMRS rules. I think that a reasonable rule change could acknowledge that certain Part 90 radios are technically compliant with Part 95 GMRS and that 95.319 (b ) could be the qualification required to use Part 90 radios within GMRS.