Development of a Universal Radio Test Instrument
The Great Scott Gadgets team is thrilled to announce our newest research and development project: a Universal Radio Test Instrument (URTI). We have decided to call this project URTI as a working title. With the support of ARDC in partnership with TAPR, we aim to develop an open-source SDR platform with an unparalleled set of radio investigation and experimentation functions in one versatile device. URTI will offer radio amateurs, researchers, educators, and professionals an affordable, compact RF test tool that could be used in place of multiple expensive pieces of traditional radio test equipment.
Design and Functionality
Our goal for URTI is to design a single hardware platform capable of serving as many popular types of one-port or two-port RF test instruments. We plan to build a directional coupler into a wideband, full-duplex SDR platform to enable URTI to function as a:
- spectrum analyzer
- vector network analyzer
- vector signal generator
- vector signal analyzer
- antenna analyzer
- power meter
- frequency counter
- full-duplex SDR transceiver
Incorporating these test equipment functions into a compact form factor with a handheld user interface will make URTI portable and convenient to use in the field. We also plan to develop a lower-cost variant that will provide the same test equipment functions but as a computer peripheral device without the handheld user interface, making the tool more accessible for every budget.
The Great Scott Gadgets engineering team will develop URTI in eight overlapping phases. These phases will include:
- Mainboard component selection and sub-circuit evaluation
- Initial mainboard hardware design
- User interface board component and sub-circuit evaluation
- Mainboard firmware and gateware development
- Host software development to enable use of the mainboard as a USB peripheral
- Final mainboard prototype design
- User interface board hardware design
- Handheld user interface firmware development
Once we have a complete and fully documented final design, we plan to assemble and distribute 50 prototypes of the USB peripheral version and 50 prototypes of the handheld version to select beta testers to promote feedback and community involvement. We have already started working on the first phase of development: mainboard component selection and sub-circuit evaluation. Our priority is selecting components that are widely available and cost-effective so the completed design can remain relevant and accessible for as long as possible.
All phases of the URTI project will be published concurrently with development in public repositories within the Great Scott Gadgets organization on GitHub. In keeping with Great Scott Gadgets’ commitment to putting open-source tools into the hands of innovative people, we will publish all hardware, software, firmware, and documentation for URTI under open-source licenses, making these resources available to all. You can view our current progress on URTI in the lab notes repository on GitHub.
Thank Yous and Getting Involved
We are excited to bring the URTI project to life over the coming year, and we hope it will transform how people experiment with radio. We thank ARDC and TAPR for supporting this project and contributing financial resources to make it happen!
We would love to hear your feedback on this project and invite you to join us on our Discord server to chat about this or other Great Scott Gadgets projects.