We have recently started an experiment on visible Smith-Purcell (SP) radiation to examine practical applicability of a field-emission array (FEA) cathode to compact free electron lasers, placing emphasis on safe operation of the cathode as well as beam quality. The electron beam was generated by a 5 cm long triode which employed either a single- or double-gated FEA. Accelerating voltages of up to -40 and -100 kV were applied to the cathode by a regulated power supply and a small Van der Graaff generator, respectively. A 25 μA beam of up to 45 keV was routinely produced and a 5 μA 80 keV beam was also attained. The beam passed through a 1 mm wide slit in the anode and grazed the surface of a 2.5 cm long replica grating with a period of either 0.56 or 0.83 μm. The SP radiation has not been identified owing to irrelevant luminescence caused by the beam at the grating. Still it was confirmed that the FEA cathode is adequately durable and electron beams generated therefrom are sufficiently stable to be used for systematic measurements of radiation.