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The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 40
October 5, 2001


The FCC's Riley Hollingsworth used the occasion of a recent Warning Notice
to hammer home the FCC's position on the sale of RF amplifiers that have not
received FCC certification--formerly called "type acceptance." In a
September 19 letter to Extra licensee Sidney Lee Martin, KD4YBC,
Hollingsworth reiterated an earlier FCC warning to Martin that he cease
commercial marketing of non-certificated external RF amplifiers and
amplifier kits capable of operating below 144 MHz.

In 1978, the FCC banned the manufacture and sale of any external RF
amplifier or amplifier kit capable of operating below 144 MHz without a
grant of certification from the FCC. The rules specifically prohibit
manufacture and sale of amps that operate between 24 and 35 MHz as a means
to stem the flow of illegal Citizens Band amplifiers.

The case arose from a February 11, 2000, warning to Martin from the FCC's
Detroit office as a result of a classified ad Martin had run in QST. The ad
featured the sale of external Amateur Radio RF amplifier kits for HF and 6
meters. The FCC letter admonished Martin that selling or offering such units
for sale violated Section 2.815 of the FCC's rules. 

Martin--who operated a one-man business called RF Electronics in South
Carolina--countered with his interpretation that he was allowed, under FCC
Part 97 Amateur Service rules, to sell such kits as one amateur to another
under an exception to the certification rules. Martin argued that Section
97.315 of the Amateur Service rules permitted his licensed customers to
purchase from him--as another licensee--and construct or modify one model of
a non-certificated RF power amp or kit per calendar year for that licensee's
personal use.

The FCC rejected that analysis, however. Hollingsworth emphasized that
Section 2.815(c) of the FCC's rules requires all external RF power amplifier
kits that can operate below 144 MHz after assembly be FCC-certificated
before they can be made, sold, leased, marketed, imported, shipped or
distributed. He noted that other provisions of Section 2.815 apply only to
certain already fabricated amplifiers and do not exempt amplifier kits,
particularly those capable of operating between 24 and 35 MHz after

Hollingsworth said Section 97.315 also "specifically prohibits the use in
the Amateur Service of an amplifier that the operator had constructed from a
non-certified kit." He also noted that, in addition to kits, Martin's RF
Electronics Web site had been selling non-certificated, assembled RF power
amplifiers for use below 144 MHz. Hollingsworth said at least three of the
assembled models were advertised as operational between 24 and 35 MHz. 

Hollingsworth said FCC rules permit an individual amateur to construct or
modify a non-certificated RF power amplifier once per calendar year for use
at that amateur's own station--although the unit may not be built from a
kit--and the amateur may then sell the amplifier to another licensee or
dealer. The rules do not provide for mass marketing or manufacturing and
marketing kits or assembled amplifiers as part of a business, Hollingsworth
said. He added that the FCC would prosecute any violations and take
enforcement action against Martin's amateur license.

Martin's Web site no longer offers any RF amplifiers for sale.

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