"If the radio appears smelly or smoke…"

Many of our wireless sales and service member organizations are lamenting the fact that manufacturers from Asia are selling radio devices that are not only exceedingly inexpensive, but come equipped with instructions on how to tune the portable radios to potentially hundreds of channels ranging from 136-174 MHz and 400-512 MHz without regard to eligibility requirements.  EWA’s research reveals that none of the products manufactured by Quanzhou TYT Electronics or Fujian Nanan QuanSheng Electronics are type-accepted for use under Part 90 of the FCC’s Rules. They are certified to operate under Part 15 of the Rules, but those rules are relevant for amateur uses, and the amateur bands include only slivers of spectrum within the spectrum ranges that these devices apparently cover.  Maybe these vendors think that Part 15 is close enough to Part 90. 

Another vendor, Baofeng Tech, states that certain of its devices are “Complete FCC Part 90 (Commercial) Use Approved,” and “Insure (sic) that Baofeng Tech is your … commercial FM radio reception.” These pronouncements do not particularly convince me that the intended messages are crystal clear to the internal marketing folks. Of course, none of these devices purchased online through Amazon and shipped overnight mention anything about frequency coordination or FCC licensing requirements, and that improper programming could place the devices incorrectly on federal government, aviation or mission critical dedicated channels.  The nearest accurate instruction we have seen was printed in a TYT Electronics User’s Manual that accompanied the “TH-UV8000D Dual Band, Dual Display, Dual Standby” transceiver – yes, EWA bought several of these devices to see for ourselves – which stated, “Obey the local government regulation before using this radio, improper use may violate the law and be punished.”  (Reminds me a bit of Federal Licensing, Inc.’s solicitations, but that’s another story.)

Yes, using these devices in violation of several FCC regulations is a risk, specifically using devices that are not type-accepted for use under by Part 90 and, tuning the radios to any channel that suits the buyer for which use is not authorized or for which an FCC license is not even available. But apparently who cares?  EWA cares, and hopefully the FCC cares. 

But the real problem may be health risks, at least for the 10-watt portable devices sold by TYT Electronics and distributed by Amazon.  The same User Manual advises, “If the radio appears smelly or smoke, please shut off its power immediately and contact with your local dealer” and, “Do not transmit too long, for the radio may heat and hurt the user.”  Now that’s excellent advice.