If you have only ever known a time in the R/C era when 2.4 GHz,
spread spectrum radios were in use and not only there no interference
issues, but there were no licenses required, either, for legal operation,
then it might be hard to imagine when this was not so. Most people
in the R/C realm at least remember the 72 MHz frequency band
where each system operated on a specific center frequency, where
no two system could be operated in the same vicinity. Before that
there was the 27 MHz band, which is where I began, more specifically
on 27.195 MHz. Only five frequencies were reserved by the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) exclusively for radio control use.
That meant never more than five planes in the air, or even being
worked on with the radio on, at a time. The band was part of the
original Citizens Band (CB) radio allocation. Commercial CB radios
were notoriously lousy at controlling bandwidth and often overlapped
the R/C bands with enough power to cause deadly (to a model) interference.
My FCC operator's permit, obtained sometime around 1972, is long
gone, but I definitely remember at around age 14 feeling quite 'special'
when it arrived in the mail.
Radio Control How to Get F.C.C. License
a law-abiding citizen and I want to get the proper license to operate
my R/C transmitter. But I've sent in forms three times, and every
time they were returned as incorrect. Will someone please tell me
how to do It right!?"
First, for most R/C equipment, you definitely do need a license
of some sort. Most R/C transmitters operate under the so-called
Citizen's Radio Service, but quite a few work on one of the Amateur
Radio bands. You may hear it said that it's quite OK to operate
an R/C transmitter without a license; except as noted below this
is simply not true. You can, however, operate without taking any
sort of examination to get the necessary license; this is the object
of the Citizen's Radio Service, generally referred to simply as
"Citizens Band." To operate on the Amateur Bands you do have to
take an exam to get the required license, but, even here, things
have been simplified.
FCC Form 505 - Application for Class C or D Station License in
the Citizens Radio Service
(obtained from the
ShadowStorm website) )
There are certain transmitters that you can operate without taking
an exam or having a license. So far there are only a couple of these
on the market but their numbers will probably increase. They are
legal under Part 15 of the F.C.C. rules and there are very definite
requirements for them.
The Citizens Band covers transmitters used for communication
and other purposes, as well as for R/C. Those licensed for the latter
are termed "Class C" transmitters; general communication transmitters
are "Class D." Both of these classes operate on frequencies near
27 mc. "Class A" transmitters are for communication uses, but their
operating frequencies are near 465 mc. "Class B" transmitters may
be used for R/C, also work on 465 mc, but are subject to quite a
few restrictions - so much so that there is only one make currently
available, Citizen-Ship Radio Model CC-1. Rather tough technical
specs, and the fact that the transmitter has to be checked by the
F.C.C. for compliance with these specs, has limited the use of 465
mc, but the spot is still available for radio control, may be of
interest to those who suffer bad interference on the 27 mc frequencies.
It should be understood that Citizens Band operation is something
like a telephone "party line"; the F.C.C. has set aside certain
frequencies but makes no guarantee that you won't have interference.
You have no more and no less rights on them than the many thousands
of other users, both R/C and otherwise. Actually, of some 28 spot
frequencies set aside within the range from 26.965 to 27.255 mc,
five have been designated as for R/C uses only; one spot (27.255
mc) may be used by both Class C and Class D transmitters.
This sounds a little like Utopia. We have our own private R/C spots!
True, but the joker here is that very few of the receivers currently
employed for R/C can separate much more than the two extreme high
and low R/C frequencies - and many can't even do that. However,
equipment is on the market that can separate all the R/C spots frequencies,
and more will be coming. The vast majority of R/C receivers are
of a style called super-regenerative; these are fairly simple in
circuitry, thus quite low in cost, very sensitive, but they have
poor selectivity. Now offered by quite a few makers at somewhat
higher cost are "super-heterodyne" receivers, called superhet for
short. These are amply selective to separate all the R/C spot frequencies,
and, furthermore, some of them can operate successfully even though
there is Citizens Band phone operation on adjacent channels. The
superhets have other advantages too, but we won't go into them here.
The R/C spots are: 26.995 mc, 27.045 mc, 27.095 mc, 27.145 mc,
27.195 mc, 27.255 mc (latter shared with Class D phones and other
C. B. services). Sandwiched in between each two of the above spots
are some five or so phone channels. No wonder the R/C boys have
interference troubles! Only a single spot ultra high frequency,
465.0 mc, is set aside for R/C purposes, and It is also shared with
Besides operating on the specified frequencies, there are quite
a few other specs that R/C transmitters must meet. They should be
crystal controlled, and the crystals must be guaranteed by the maker
as within 0.005% of the marked R/C frequency. If transmitter input
Is less than 3 watts, 0.01% crystals may be used - actually, practically
all R/C crystals are made to the closer tolerance.
You are not allowed to tune the transmitter, unless the maker
certifies that such tuning will not result In off-frequency operation.
The transmitter must not transmit harmonics and other spurious emissions.
If there is a possibility that tuning can disturb the frequency,
such tuning must be accomplished by the holder of a First or Second
Class radio telephone or telegraph F.C.C. operator license. All
homemade transmitters and also many that are constructed from kits
also require such a licensee to tune them up, unless they are based
upon a pre-tuned and sealed oscillator, which the maker certifies
will meet the F.C.C. specs. Most commercial transmitter kits and
finished units have some sort of certification accompanying them.
Make sure the one you purchase has.
While all the above sounds very restrictive, present-day transmitters
really are very stable. Many are enough so that if you use the exact
crystals specified by the maker, you can change 'these to shift
frequency, and retune the output circuits, without running a chance
of offending the F.C.C.
Now, how about the license you need? This is technically considered
a Station license, but it doesn't license any specific transmitter.
Your one license may cover several transmitters, If you have more
than one, or if you purchase another at any time after the first
one you get, but the number shown on the license must not be exceeded.
However, note that different licenses are required for 27 mc and
465 mc; if you wish to work on both frequencies you must apply for
both a Class B and a Class C license. The same application form
is used for both (it is used for all Citizens Band licenses not
only for new ones, but for renewals, changes of address, lost licenses,
etc.). This basic form is F.C.C. #505, and you can get It at any
F.C.C. office, many hobby shops, R/C suppliers, etc. The form is
also packed with most manufactured transmitters and kits for same.
If you can't get one locally, send to F.C.C. at address below. The
forms are free, of course. At the same time you send for the form,
send $1.25 to the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing
Office, Washington 25, D. C. for Vol. VI of the F.C.C. rules; this
covers Part 19 of said rules, concerned with C.B. matters. It also
includes Parts 12 and 20, of no interest to you, but you can't at
present purchase Part 19 separately. You could up until a few years
ago, for 15c or so; you might still be able to locate some of these
Anyone can send for license forms, but you must be at least 18
years of age and a U. S. citizen to get most Citizens Band licenses.
However, realizing that younger persons might wish to operate R/C
transmitters, the Commission has dropped the age limit for Class
C licenses to 12 years or over.
The F.C.C. form 505 is rather formidable looking, consisting
of a sheet of Instructions, a "work sheet," another large sheet
and three smaller ones, with three interleaved sheets of carbon
paper. Earlier 505 forms were much smaller and simpler, but don't
use them; they probably will not be accepted. Tear off the work
sheet and mark this up, per information below, then transfer this
data to the other sheets, preferably by typewriter or by printing.
Many 505 forms have been returned because some parts were Illegible.
Fill out the lines as follows: Item 1, for 27 mc R/C operation,
write "Class C" under both 1a and 1b, put "one" or some other reasonable
number under Mobile, 1c; Item 2, your full name and address, Item
3, skip this, Item 4, put an ''X" in box 4c, for 27 mc operation;
Item 5, Insert here the general vicinity of proposed operation,
such as "In state of ..." or "In vicinity of ... (your home town)";
Item 6, skip this too; Item 7, yours is probably a personal application,
so "X" the left-hand box; Item 8, if you own transmitter, "X" the
box for "Yes" on line 8a; otherwise, put name of owner on dotted
line and an "X" on line 8b, but, in any case, disregard line 8c;
Item 9, this can be, "For remote control of models"; Item 10, use
only if your license Is about to expire and you are applying for
renewal, or if you have a change of address; Item 11, this should
be "Yes", as only crystal controlled transmitters are practical
for our R/C uses; Items 12, 13 and 14 should be disregarded; they
do not apply to R/C.
Check the work sheet most carefully, to see that all the lines
are filled as described (and don't write In any we have said to
leave blank), then transfer the data to the single large sheet;
the carbon paper (some early blanks did not have latter - make sure
yours does, or fill all the sheets individually) will take care
of the smaller sheets: Be sure your answers are fully legible; better
have someone else check this for you. Now take the single large
form and three attached smaller ones to a Notary Public (all banks
have Notaries, as do many business houses), sign the large sheet
there, put an "X" In the box labeled "Individual Applicant," have
the form notarized. This will cost you usually 25c, no more than
a dollar. Note that In addition to swearing before the Notary that
all statements on the form are true, you also swear to the fact
you have a copy of Part 19 of the F.C.C. rules. If you do not actually
have a copy of Part 19, you may still file your application if you
state under "Remarks" that you have ordered a copy of Vol. VI from
the Government Printing Office. You should strike out the part of
the Certification which deals with possession of a current copy
of Part 19. The "Remarks" area is on the reverse side of the large
sheet; individuals are not required to fill out any other areas
on this side of the sheet.
Send the completed forms to the Federal Communications Commission,
Washington 25, D. C. Do not send to any local F.C.C. office, even
though you may have obtained the forms there. It will take some
weeks for your license to come back, possibly as many as eight or
more, depending upon how rushed the F.C.C. headquarters may be.
You are not authorized to operate the R/C transmitter until you
have received your license. However. a friend can allow you to operate
his licensed transmitter, provided he is always present to supervise
As noted, there is no actual cost for the license itself, though
to get it you must purchase the $1.25 Vol. VI of F.C.C. rules, and
the notarization will cost a small sum. At present, F.C.C. licenses
are given to anyone for any purpose with· out cost. It is likely
that this state of affairs will change, but doubtful that the Citizens
Band license will cost more than a dollar or two, at most.
All C. B. users are required to monitor the Conelrad frequencies,
during all transmissions. These frequencies are 640 and 1240 mc
and are the only ones that will be active during a national emergency.
Thus, if you keep a small BC receiver tuned to a local BC station,
you will be in compliance. If this station suddenly goes off the
air (and others except on the above two frequencies do so too) all
types of transmitters should be turned off.
Posted June 27, 2015