I'm trying to build a tiny (roughly non-smart cellphone sized) device which communicates over radio. Ignoring any mistakes during development, in the end it'll probably broadcast over standard ham radio bands. However, the frequency will ultimately be dependent on what hardware I can get and what's legal, hence this question. Specifically, what I'm building:

  • Is relatively low-power. In exceptionally good conditions, I expect the signal to reach about 20 meters.
  • Will be on a band picked for low local usage, to avoid interference.
  • Is networked together with other (more of the same) devices, and communicating with them over radio. A signal started by one could end up significantly more than 20 meters away, but not broadcast by the same device.
  • Will surprise me if, in practice, it's detectable outside of my basement apartment.

My understanding of 47 CFR §15.23 is that, because I'm building it at home, not for profit, and not many, I don't need to get a license to operate it. However, §15.23(b) confuses me: What are the "specified technical standards"? In addition, to what extent am I required to comply with sections like 15.212(a)(1)(vi) and 15.203? Are there other laws/regulations I've missed that I need to take into account? And, of course, the big one: Do I need a license?

I realize I need to talk to a lawyer for a definitive yes or no on this, but I'm honestly more curious than anything. In my case I can simulate the radio pretty easily to sidestep the issue entirely, if there are any serious problems. I'm just curious if it's legally feasible to build it actually working, instead of simulating it with direct, physical connections.

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