Author Topic: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals  (Read 22771 times)

amz-fx

FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« on: February 23, 2006, 08:13:54 AM »
Under the Part 15 regulations,  an  unintentional radiator (device or system) is a circuit that generates and uses timing  signals or pulses at a rate in excess of 9,000 Hz and uses digital techniques.  This would include analog (BBD) delays and digital delays, bit-crushers, DSP microprocessors, switching power supplies and clocked filters.  These circuits would most likely be classified as Class B digital devices, because they are intended for residential use.  Class A digital devices are marketed solely for use in a commercial, industrial or business use, and have less stringent requirements.  The device must be labeled to verify compliance and the user manual for the product must include a statement of compliance.

This means that any circuit that is a digital device  has to be tested and verified that it does not radiate any stray frequencies that could cause interference with other devices, such as TVs, radios, shortwave, cordless phones, etc.

There are some exceptions to the regulations...  test instruments such as field  strength meters, spectrum analyzers, and modulation monitors are exempt.  There are other exemptions.

THE BIG LOOPHOLE -  Any circuit that is powered by a battery, with no provision for an external power input, is exempt.

The penalties for non-compliance can be severe, as shown by the FCC action against Behringer:

http://www.fcc.gov/eb/Orders/2006/FCC-06-13A1.html

Any pedal makers with questions can send me an email.

regards, Jack

Doug_H

  • Guest
Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2006, 09:18:58 AM »
Good info, Jack. Thanks!

Peter/Aron, this should be a "sticky" IMO.

BTW, what's a "bit crusher"?

Doug

bioroids

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2006, 10:01:02 AM »
Hi!

How can one measure if a device emmits this interference?

Wouldn't a properly shielded metal box (as used to prevent interference to get in) work also to prevent emmisions to get out of the box?

Thanks in advance

Miguel
Eramos tan pobres!

amz-fx

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2006, 07:56:31 PM »
A properly shielded box will not emit stray radiation...  that's the purpose of the test, to make sure it does not.

Also, a kit, even though all components are not included, is subject to the regulations. Section 25 says:

If all components required to fully complete the kit (other than those specified in paragraph (a) of this section which are needed for compliance with the technical provisions and must be included with the kit) are not normally furnished with the kit, assembly shall be made using the recommended components.

BBD is a digital device because of the clock circuit... digital delays are obvious... it doesn't matter if the clock circuit is inside a chip or not, it is still subject to the regs. Sine wave or square wave makes no difference since the regs talk about a timing signal and not just a clock pulse.

@Doug: a bit-crusher is a clocked A/D circuit that is used to down-sample the input and lower the resolution for a lo-fi effect - 8-bit down to 4-bit for example...  the sampling rate may also be adjustable so that some intentional intermodulation harmonics are generated as the sample rate goes lower than 2x the signal freq.

-Jack


troubledtom

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2006, 08:19:16 PM »
thanx jack :icon_wink:
        - tom

Peter Snowberg

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2006, 05:06:26 AM »
+1 on the thanks! :)
Eschew paradigm obfuscation

R.G.

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2006, 08:24:07 AM »
FCC regs were an old misery in the computer world. We didn't do *anything* that wasn't subject to EMC testing. In one of our dedicated terminal projects, we had pure misery on getting the thing through EMC testing, even with a solid metal shell inside the enclosure.

Part of the problem is the sheer power used in side the enclosure. We were using about 150W of DC power, and it was all being chopped into MHz and GHz clocks and signals, sometimes more than once, as the DC power supply in the box was a MHz switcher as well. That meant that any leak on the edge of the box would emit enough to kick us over the edge.

The other avenue of escape for RF emission is any attached cords. The RF in the box can leak out as common mode signal on the attached cords, turning the cords into antennas for more efficient transmission. The usual cure for that is ferrite common mode chokes. That's why the cords on many monitors have molded-on chokes on the cords - it's to kill common mode radiation. That's one other reason there's an exemption for battery-only stuff. No cords means no antenna, along with battery-only being (usually) low power.

Notice, though, that Behringer was ignoring the law and, as they say, willfully continuing to ship.

For one-at-a-time infractions, they usually only slap your wrists. An FCC wrist slap is a desist order, which, if ignored is followed by a fine on the order of $10K per day.

Trivial, yes?
R.G.

In response to the questions in the forum - PCB Layout for Musical Effects is available from The Book Patch. Search "PCB Layout" and it ought to appear.

amz-fx

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2006, 08:37:24 AM »
Trivial, yes?

Trivial? Only until you receive that certified letter from the US government   :icon_biggrin:  :icon_biggrin: They will usually be lenient on a first offense unless they are ignored.  However, it would not be unusual for them to require you to recall every non-compliant unit that you have sold.

Bottom line:  Do you want to willfully violate the law and sell your boutique digital delays and hope never to get caught... and do you want to take a chance that another builder who has complied with the law will not report you?  Gov't agencies love it when they get squealer info, as I can testify from receiving (more than) one of the certified letters -- and we then had to prove our compliance! (Which we did)  I've had gov't agents come to our business, showing their ID and wanting to come in to talk...  not a cool feeling even when you are innocent!!!  :icon_biggrin:

regards, Jack


SeanCostello

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2006, 01:01:41 PM »
So, are all the boutique chorus and flanger pedals out there certified to conform to the FCC regulations? How much do these tests cost?

Sean Costello

R.G.

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2006, 01:39:22 PM »
Quote
Quote
Trivial, yes?
Trivial? Only until you receive that certified letter from the US government
I can see that I should have inserted a sarcasm smiley.  :icon_biggrin:

Quote
So, are all the boutique chorus and flanger pedals out there certified to conform to the FCC regulations?
Clearly not.

Quote
How much do these tests cost?
The last time I saw a number for a small unit radiated and conducted emissions, it was $12K. But you might get a great deal somewhere. All the certification is now going to competing certification labs. They're competing... in theory...  :icon_biggrin:
R.G.

In response to the questions in the forum - PCB Layout for Musical Effects is available from The Book Patch. Search "PCB Layout" and it ought to appear.

puretube

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2006, 03:40:56 PM »
Quote
They're competing... in theory...
...and in Certain countries...

Dave_B

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2006, 12:51:05 PM »
The last time I saw a number for a small unit radiated and conducted emissions, it was $12K. But you might get a great deal somewhere. All the certification is now going to competing certification labs. They're competing... in theory...  :icon_biggrin:
So unless I'm reading that incorrectly, most boutique folks are going to be forced out of the market if they plan to do business legally, yes?  Even if certification is "only" $1,000, that would make it pretty difficult to get started.
Help build our Wiki!

varialbender

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2006, 01:07:59 PM »
If they catch you doing it and give you a cease and desist order, does that mean that you can continue producing after you get your product tested? So, in that case, it would make sense for builders to build without testing until they get caught? It doesn't sound like there's any negative to that, so I don't think they'd just let that method slide; can anyone tell me what would happen?

A.S.P.

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2006, 01:19:20 PM »
...So unless I'm reading that incorrectly, most boutique folks are going to be forced out of the market if they plan to do business legally, yes?  Even if certification is "only" $1,000, that would make it pretty difficult to get started.

no -
rather: folks are not allowed into the business, unless they do it legally -
that`s a big difference!

"Radio-ing" has always be an exclusive hobby...

"Fuzz-Face-ing" is free  :-*
Analogue Signal Processing

Dave_B

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2006, 05:21:45 PM »
Yes, phrased poorly on my part, thanks. 
Regardless, I see a lot of innovative ideas never getting explored as a result of this.  I guess there are too many variables to say, "If you use these approved cases with no open holes (assuming all the jacks have plugs in them) and these approved processors, you're ok." 
Help build our Wiki!

varialbender

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2006, 07:31:57 PM »
...So unless I'm reading that incorrectly, most boutique folks are going to be forced out of the market if they plan to do business legally, yes?  Even if certification is "only" $1,000, that would make it pretty difficult to get started.

no -
rather: folks are not allowed into the business, unless they do it legally -
that`s a big difference!

"Radio-ing" has always be an exclusive hobby...

"Fuzz-Face-ing" is free  :-*


But what you're saying is more like "folks are not legally allowed into the business, unless they do it legally."
R.G. mentioned that there are boutique pedals currently in production that do not comply, so they're in business, bot not legally. If they're caught, they must stop production until they have the boxes tested. Then they can resume production right? No penalties except for the pause in production? How long would that pause be?

Thanks

A.S.P.

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2006, 07:45:05 PM »
until all lawyers are paid...
Analogue Signal Processing

R.G.

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2006, 08:08:56 PM »
Quote
If they're caught, they must stop production until they have the boxes tested. Then they can resume production right? No penalties except for the pause in production? How long would that pause be?
We're venturing into waters that are very close to needing a lawyer.

The law says, if I understand it correctly, that you may not sell to others devices that cause radio interference, as defined by emissions below the limits defined in the testing requirements. You may also not use such interfering devices yourself to cause radio interference to others. It's not about manufacturing schedules, it's about whether you are causing other people's radios and equipment to malfunction (and a whining noise or an buzzy looking TV picture is a malfunction). That is, it says "Thou shalt not interfere." rather than "Thou must test."

If you have proved that your devices meet the emissions limits defined by the law by having a third party test to those limits, and you can show that your manufacturing process is repeatable enough that what was tested was truly representative of the manufacturing line, then the law presumes that you're legal and the onus shifts off you.  If you have not proved non-interference under the defined limits by third party testing, then you are fully, fully responsible.

The feds don't go around inspecting every electronic device for compliance. They wait until they get a complaint. If there is a complaint that you are causing interference, then they will eventually send an FCC inspector out with listening equipment, and if they find you in violation, you are required to stop interfering - that is, turn it off - immediately. Ignore this a time or two and you'll get a fine. The fine usually isn't but could be up to $10K per day that you continue to interfere, and can get much worse as indicated by the Behringer notice.

If you built the interfering device and it's in someone else's hands, then *they* have to turn it off until it no longer interferes, which presumably for an effect is forever. They are likely to want to have a talk with you, or to sully your name, reputation and ancestry all over the internet, or worse. If there are a couple of complaints which show that you're making and selling noncompliant stuff to innocent users, the FCC guys will sooner or later find ... you.

When that happens, you have some ugly choices to make. They're going to first ask you to quit making and selling those dastardly devices until you can prove they are not interfering. In Europe, the users have written into national law that they have legal recourse to you for the cost of goods, and the governments have the authority to force you to go recall every offending unit - as well as repaying the government for any expenses they have turned up showing that you are interfering. That runs into a little expense all by itself. There is also the legal recourse by the purchasers which can find you in court trying to explain yourself out of paying them back for the goods. I don't know whether Euro law has multiplied damages or not. And I don't know whether there is legal recourse to you in the US or not from end users.

So how come the courts are not clogged with boutique makers running afoul of this?

- could be luck. They may not actually be interfereing, especially if the effects are low powered and well shielded. That does happpen. If there is no interference (in the USA at least) there is no foul. In Europe, you *must* have third party testing for EMC emissions to get a CE mark. If they catch you...well..

- could be that there's never time for the FCC to catch up with you. Interference that moves from place to place is hard to catch.

- could be that the FCC views that a few interfering pedals are too piddly to waste time on, very much like the fact that in Texas sending junk fax ads to my fax machine is a felony, but I can't get the local prosecutors to enforce it. Don't waste my time, kid, I've got (insert newspaper crime perpetrators of the week here) to catch.

If you're going to put out interfering pedals, you don't get to just halt production a few weeks while you get the paper work caught up. You'll be very, very interested in modifying the next pedals to ensure that they don't interfere, and shifting any future blame to a third party testing lab before you sell any more.  But then you may not get caught.

But Behringer was caught...

Disclaimer applies:
If you are going to do anything that might land you in jail or get you saddled with large criminal or civil fines and penalties, consult your own lawyer. It's almost terminally shortsided to rely on legal guidance gathered from the internet. That amounts to one of the class of things we used to refer to as an IQ test.
R.G.

In response to the questions in the forum - PCB Layout for Musical Effects is available from The Book Patch. Search "PCB Layout" and it ought to appear.

varialbender

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2006, 02:23:05 AM »
Wow, I misunderstood, but that was very in depth and cleared everything up.
Thanks!

Xlrator

Re: FCC Part 15 requirements for pedals
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2006, 03:30:57 AM »
I was listening to a Amateur Radio news net tonight and one of the stories was this Behringer deal. I was thinking about the boutiquers and was going to  start this topic. Someone beat me!  :icon_mrgreen: I couldn't imagine them shutting some small time guy down when they could bring down a whale and it's $$$. But I guess that is how government works.

That story went on to say that they are not the only big $$$ violators. Internet and electric providers that have started this internet connection through your power lines have been brought up on interference charges, too.
Listen to cKy!