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Re: Flash upgradeable user programmable radios - why not?



John P. Toscano <tosca005@tc.umn.edu> wrote:

>laura halliday wrote:
>
> > The type approvals on the radios I do professionally
> > cover the hardware only. Changing the software does not
> > alter the type approval.
>
>It seems to me that the US FCC won't grant type approval to a radio
>that can receive or transmit in the cellular telephone frequency
>range.  If a radio was physically capable of doing so, and the only
>thing preventing it was the firmware locking out those frequencies,
>I could imagine the FCC being concerned about that.  I believe that
>the current regulations in the US not only say that the radio must
>not tune to those frequencies, but that it must not be easily
>modified by the end user to allow it to tune those frequencies.

The regulations are ridiculous (another discussion in itself).

Regulations notwithstanding, what *amateur* use is there for
a radio that tunes these frequencies?

>Perhaps the FCC and the equivalent agency in Canada (sorry for my
>ignorance of the name) doesn't consider re-programming a flash
>memory chip "easy" enough that they worry about it, based on the
>other replies to this thread that mention other flash-programmable
>radios that have made it through the type acceptance hoops.

The equivalent agency is Industry Canada.

Frequency coverage is not an issue here: you may listen
to any frequency you wish. However, except for a small
list of exceptions (amateur, broadcast), it is illegal
to divulge what you hear.

The radios I work with are designed for specific bands
(e.g. paging at 940 MHz). Their frequency synthesizers
and RF circuits are just not capable of larger excursions.

Do we actually *need* DC-to-daylight radios? What for?

Would it not be easier (and cheaper) to design and
use more specialized radios? For example, a solid IF
radio with an assortment of transmit and receive
converters.

>I guess we should consider ourselves fortunate for this bit of
>slackness in the application of the rules.  The average moron who
>wants to buy a radio and modify it for a prohibited use...

In most countries there are no prohibited uses.

>Naturally, that's not to imply that no licensed Amateur operators
>who have the skills to re-program a flash ROM are not the sort of
>morons who would want to modify a radio for illegitimate purposes,
>but hopefully the reasonable people like you and me outnumber
>those bozos.

Why people are so concerned with frequency coverage? When
I think of firmware upgrades I think of new features, revised
DSP algorithms, bug fixes. And so on. The frequency coverage
is built in to the RF hardware and is much harder to change.

>(I'm a bit attuned to this issue because of a "bad
>egg" arrested locally last month, who was/is a licensed ham, and
>who was not only performing malicious interference on local ham
>repeaters, but was regularly and extensively interfering with local
>police, ambulance, and firefighting radio frequencies, using
>modified amateur radios.)

I have a couple of surplus two-way commercial radios. They can
be crystalled and aligned for any frequency from 138 to 174
MHz. It is *my* responsibility to use them appropriately.
If I interfere with the cops, they will come knocking on
my door. Firmware upgrades have nothing to do with it.

Laura Halliday VE7LDH     "Que les nuages soient notre
Grid: CN89mg                     pied a terre..."
ICBM: 49 15.042 N 122 59.053 W       - Hospital/Shafte
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