FM transmitter (personal device)
A personal FM transmitter is a low-power FM radio transmitter that broadcasts a signal from a portable audio device (such as an MP3 player) to a standard FM radio. Most of these transmitters plug into the device's headphone jack and then broadcast the signal over an FM broadcast band frequency, so that it can be picked up by any nearby radio. This allows portable audio devices to make use of the louder or better sound quality of a home audio system or car stereo without requiring a wired connection. They are often used in cars but may also be in fixed locations such as broadcasting from a computer sound card throughout a building.
Being low-powered, most transmitters typically have a short range of 100–300 feet (30–100 metres), depending on the quality of the receiver, obstructions and elevation. Typically they broadcast on any FM frequency from 87.5 to 108.0 MHz in most of the world (or 88.1 to 107.9 MHz in the US and Canada).
Personal FM transmitters are commonly used as a workaround for playing portable audio devices on car radios that don't have an Auxiliary "AUX" input jack or Bluetooth audio connectivity. They are also used to broadcast a stationary audio source, like a computer or a television, around a home. They can also be used for low-power broadcasting and pirate radio but only to a very limited audience in near proximity. They can also be used as a "talking sign" in real estate sales or similar.
Legality of these devices varies by country. In 2006 these devices became legal in most countries in the European Union. Industry Canada permits transmitters that have an output lower than 100 µV/m at 30 meters (approximately 1 microwatt output). In the United States, Part 15 of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission rules specifies that no license is needed if FM transmitters have a Maximum Effective Radiated Power (ERP) of 0.01 microwatts or 250 uV/meter measured at 3 meters. In Japan, no license is needed for devices with a signal strength of less than 500µV/m at 3 meters.
- Car audio
- FM broadcasting
- Frequency modulation
- Part 15 of the FCC rules regarding unlicensed broadcasting
- Pirate radio
- Portable audio player
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