I was looking through the FCC part 97 rules for robotic teleoperation, and it cites a one-watt figure for "model craft". However, it also allows higher power transmissions for remotely operated stations, and beacons.

The robot in question is a land vehicle that traverses very hilly/mountainous terrain, and having a higher power communications link would be very handy. Additionally, it sends back video and instrument readings from it's surroundings.

What rules govern such devices? I was unable to find such regulations.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ So....it's Pathfinder? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ @PhilFrost-W8II Are you referring to the Nissan Vehicle? No, it's not for that. It's for a student engineering team for building robots. $\endgroup$
    – Tyzoid
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 21:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ No, I'm referring to the Mars rover. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Tyzoid you really don't have to use amateur bands for that – depending on local legislation, it doesn't seem that hard to get a temporary license for telemetry/control, especially when using tested modules. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ @PhilFrost-W8II Kind of, see urc.marssociety.org $\endgroup$
    – Tyzoid
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 2:44

1 Answer 1


§97.215 has rules for "model craft". It says a station may be operated under those rules. To me, the intent of those rules is to allow for control of RC models without a break to identify every 10 minutes. I'd guess for a rover designed for Mars, a brief identification break is not a problem.

However, the rover is a station, and there won't be anyone at it. I'd think §97.213 Telecommand of an amateur station would allow operation in that case:

An amateur station on or within 50 km of the Earth's surface may be under telecommand where:

(a) There is a radio or wireline control link between the control point and the station sufficient for the control operator to perform his/her duties. If radio, the control link must use an auxiliary station. A control link using a fiber optic cable or another telecommunication service is considered wireline.

(b) Provisions are incorporated to limit transmission by the station to a period of no more than 3 minutes in the event of malfunction in the control link.

(c) The station is protected against making, willfully or negligently, unauthorized transmissions.

(d) A photocopy of the station license and a label with the name, address, and telephone number of the station licensee and at least one designated control operator is posted in a conspicuous place at the station location.

So the salient points seem to be:

  1. Tape a license and contact information on the rover
  2. Put a 3-minute transmit timeout on the rover
  3. The controlling station must be an auxiliary station (which, among other things, limits you to VHF and higher frequencies)
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, this looks like the information I'd need. If I recall correctly, this applies even down to the 10m band? Or would I need to stay 2m and smaller? $\endgroup$
    – Tyzoid
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 0:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Tyzoid 2m and smaller. See §97.201(b) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 13:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .