Wixel and the FCC?

I didn’t want to hijack the Com port generation thread so as Peter Pan pointed out there (and I had not realized until this morning), the Wixel is sold as a device that produces no RF, thus is not required to have any FCC or other agency certification. We, as consumers, configure the Wixel so that it makes ‘radiation’, so any product or widget that we design or produce that uses the radio would require certification if we try to sell it, correct? The workaround, or I hope so, is to sell ‘kits’ that provide the Wixel ‘as is’ and require the end consumer to load the software that turns it into an RF device. Would this be a safe assumption?


Unfortunately, we don’t know the answers to your questions. The “Government Regulations for Radio Devices” section of the Wixel user’s guide explains our position on this. I recommend talking to someone with expertise in this area.


Well, I think you should get the right measurement tools, hire an RF guy and offer us low cost FCC approvals for our Wixel based products! :smiley:
Then you could make a high powered one too! Anyhow, it’s a cool widget, thanks for the reply.

You can also read more on The FCC and Open Source Hardware. Sparkfun has provided a cool summary on this.

In short, if you have any device which may cause interference - and anything with a clock/oscillator/resonator falls in that category; then you may fall into some FCC catergory. Having said that, the FCC historically does not pay much attention to low-volume operations unless these call attention to themselves. As long as you do not interfere with someone else you are not on their list.

In a very recent past life I’ve been close to a group who classifies articles for such regulatory agencies. The general rule: if you have a finished device (i.e. device can be used as-is; sort of plug-and-play), then you must strongly consider regulatory compliance (again, the bigger you are the larger your exposure if such regulatory agency comes looking). If your device requires additional components to be actually operational, then you can do what Pololu did with the Wixel - place a big disclaimer. If the regulatory agency ever comes asking you should provide as much evidence of good design intent and all disclaimer information. They would usually only come looking if you are causing interference or if some competitor has made a stink and is trying to stop you from pursuing such product. In most cases the regulatory agency will ask you to cease and desist before proceeding with harsher treatment/penalties.

As you can guess, I have the same frustration. But I would have the same issue whether or not i started with the Wixel, and it is true what others have said… Even if the wixel were already an FCC pre-approved device, it would no longer be so the minute you used it in a product.

So, given I have what I HOPE will be a useful marketable product, but can not justify the time nor expense of pursuing an FCC approval, I intend to initially go the route of the old “for educational purposes only” description. At least until I see the product “take off”. I can’t think of a RECENT example, but over the course of life I’ve seen many wireless products which clearly could cause much more illegal interference than the Wixel ever could. Often these were alternately offered in “kit” or “pre wired” versions.

Generally, in the absence of complaints nothing would ever come of it, and if it was sold under the “educational purposes only” banner I think it would offer a measure of immunity. The most likely “complaint” would come from a competitor, and if you’re getting enough business to cause that kind of retribution, its probably time to invest in the approval process.