Please note these instructions are for Canada only. If you leave in another country please follow your own countries guidelines on how to get the HAM license.
All FPV airplanes, racing drones, FPV multi-rotor helicopters have a video transmitter on board and as the name indicates these are RF (Radio Frequency)analog, FM (Frequency modulation) transmitters. Transmitting over the air with these devices in Canada requires a license and the knowledge of what you can transmit – and most importantly what and where not to transmit. Only a very few of the FPV video transmitters on the market today fall into the license free category, 99% of them still require a license to operate. Some of the channels on some of these transmitters are outside of the frequency spectrum allocated to amateur radio and being a responsible amateur / FPV pilot, you must NOT use any frequencies outside of the licensed bands.
To become an FPV pilot you should obtain an amateur radio license issued by Industry Canada. This license is free and valid for life. With your station license you will get an identifying call sign. To obtain the license you have to pass a multiple choice test provided by an accredited examiner.
Luckily there is a computer program which helps the amateurs preparing for the exam in studying and “writing” sample tests. One test a day and in 2-3 weeks time you will learn the questions and the correct answers, so you are prepared to take the exam with an examiner.
The test is available from here: http://wp.rac.ca/exhaminer-v2-5/ in English and French. This might be a little intimidating, but most of the questions are common sense and with a little electronics knowledge anybody can do it. You should do one or two tests a day and after about a 2-3 weeks you will be proficient enough to take the test with a local accredited examiner: http://apc-cap.ic.gc.ca/pls/apc_anon/query_examiner_amat$.startup
You should choose your very own call sign from here:
before you call the examiner.
If you leave in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and you think you are ready to take the exam, please call us at New Generation Hobbies, and we will organize an examiner to come and examine you. We do this at no charge, to help out our FPV clients to fly FPV legally.
Studying for the exam will teach you a lot of things. I learned a lot from the questions and answers. While studying for the exam I became really interested in the Amateur (Ham) Radio activities. Since currently FPV pilots require an amateur radio license it would be beneficial to organize a so called “FPV net” over the airwaves where all FPV pilots can call in, listen and talk about FPV. So who knows, maybe you will be interested in it too. It may lead to a new hobby for those long boring winter nights; you can sit in front of the radio and talk to people all over the world.
Let’s get back to FPV and licensing. Why is licensing really important? Here are few key points:
If you use an RF transmitter without proper licensing you can be fined severely, imprisoned or both.
If that is not enough motivation for you, then here is another:
Some of the FPV frequencies are close to frequencies used by civil aviation, radar and by aviation transponder systems. If you cause interference with any of these, you could be responsible for serious damage, not only to property but maybe life as well. Trust me you want to avoid any of that at all costs. So investigate the above links and go ahead and get your amateur license as the first step to becoming an FPV pilot.