DJI makes different models for different regions to comply with local regulations. For example, the US has different regulatory requirements than the EU regarding transmission power.
This results in two different drone models. The FCC models are meant to be used in the US, and the CE models are meant for the EU market.
But how do you know which model you have?
The easiest way to check whether you have an FCC or CE model, check the sticker on the back of your remote controller. You will either see an FCC marking or a CE marking.
If the drone is a US model, you will see an FCC ID on the remote controller sticker. If it is an EU model, you will see a CE certificate marking on the sticker.
However, the newer drones switch between FCC and CE modes based on GPS location. So an FCC drone can also work in CE mode.
In this article, we are going to explore how to know if your drone is in FCC mode or CE mode.
Difference between FCC and CE drone models
FCC and CE are two agencies that oversee and implement best practices in consumer devices in the USA and EU region respectively.
All DJI and other drones sold in the USA have to get the FCC certification which make sure they are fit for public use and won’t interfere with other consumer goods in the same environment.
CE performs the same function in the EU and other regions where CE certification is considered valid.
So, what is the difference between an FCC certified drone and a CE drone?
The answer lies in the transmitter power. FCC certification allows transmitter to radiate at 1,000 mW range. While the CE transmitters are capped at 100mW only.
That essentially means, the FCC transmitters are more powerful and have better range and signal strength compared to CE transmitters.
If we compare the latest DJI OcuSync 3.0 protocol that came with DJI Mini 3 Pro, the difference in range is very obvious.
- The Mini 3 Pro has a range of 12 Km in the FCC mode in the USA.
- The same Mini 3 Pro has a reduced range of 8 Km in CE mode in the EU.
The reduced range is due to the capped transmitter power via software. Do note that the internal hardware of all drones are the same.
DJI just activate the CE mode when it detects the drone in the EU region using GPS location.
FCC or CE – how to find out?
Previously, DJI used to make different models for different regions with different hardware configurations. But now, everything is done in software.
Based on your GPS location, your drone can chose which mode to work in – FCC or CE.
But how would you know if your drone is currently in the FCC mode or CE mode? There are two easy ways to know.
1. Look at Wifi channels
The sticker under the controller or drone battery compartment only tells if the drone was made ‘primarily’ for which country. It doesn’t tell you which mode your drone is operating now.
This method only works for drones that uses wifi for communication like DJI Air, Mavic Mini and Mini SE)
To check if your drone is operating under FCC or CE, you can go into your DJI Fly App (tap 3 dots >> transmission) and see how many double-digit channels are there.
- If you see 11 channels, you are on FCC.
- If you see 13 channels, you are on CE.
Here we are looking at the first 13 channels only which are numbered in double digits. Ignore the channels which are numbered in 3 digits (149,153, 157 etc.)
2. Look at signal graph
Another way to check if you are in the FCC mode or in the CE mode is to look at the signal graph in the transmission settings.
This method is useful for high end drones that uses DJI OcySync transmissions system. Go to Settings > Transmission and check the signal graph carefully.
If you look at the signal graph, you can see than there is two horizontal lines, one for the ~1km and one for the ~4km.
If you are flying in the CE mode, the ~1km will be below 90 dbm/MHz, between 90 and 100dbm/MHz and the ~4km line is between 100 & 110 dbm/MHz.
In FCC mode, the ~1km line is above 90 dbm/MHz mark between 80 and 90 dbm/MHz and the ~4km line is above the 100 dbm/MHz mark between 90 and 100dbm/MHz.
Can you switch from CE to FCC?
Your drone will automatically switch from CE to FCC and vice versa when you are in the respective region.
However, since FCC has more transmitter power which results in better range and signal quality, some people wonder if they can fly FCC in CE designated areas (i-e EU).
Natively, there is no option inside the DJI Fly app to manually switch from CE to FCC. Also, it is illegal to fly FCC mode in CE area.
But, there are software mods that let you modify your firmware to enable FCC flying in CE areas with more transmitter power and range.
FCC and CE are two very common certificates used in the USA and Europe respectively. Depending on which mode you fly in, the signal strength will vary.
FCC mode offer better signal strength and transmitter power so some people hack their drone firmware to enable FCC mode while flying in CE area.
This is not legal but if you are feeling adventurous, you can give it a try.