What is the Universal Radio Controller?


The G1LRO Universal Radio Controller (URC) bridges the gap between your computer and transceiver, significantly enhancing the functionality of your amateur radio setup. This blog post explores the URC’s capabilities, its utilization of the OHIS (Open Headset Interconnect Standard), the potential of personality boards for expansion, and how it fosters innovation within the amateur radio community.

Unveiling the G1LRO URC

The G1LRO URC acts as an intermediary device, transforming analog audio signals from your transceiver (both receive and transmit) into a digital USB format recognized by your computer. This high-fidelity audio conversion supports sampling rates of up to 48 kHz. Additionally, the URC empowers seamless Push-to-Talk (PTT) control through your computer via serial port settings or the widely adopted CM108 standard, ensuring compatibility with popular software like DireWolf. The Version 2 (V2) of the URC introduces CAT (Computer Aided Transceiver) control, granting your computer direct control over your radio’s settings and functionalities. The URC offers a variety of connection options, including a USB-C port for the computer and a multi-jack connector for the transceiver, simplifying the setup process.

Embracing the OHIS Standard

The G1LRO URC is a frontrunner in adopting the OHIS, a revolutionary interconnect standard that streamlines connections and enhances usability, particularly when using a variety of radios. OHIS eliminates the need for a multitude of cables and adapters typically required in traditional radio setups. It establishes a standardized connection format, allowing effortless use of a wider range of OHIS-compliant radios with your URC and transceiver. This translates to a less cluttered workspace and a significantly simplified connection process between your radio, and URC. Furthermore, OHIS facilitates the integration of audio mixing and PTT control features within the URC. This empowers the URC to manage both transmit and receive audio signals from your radio while simultaneously controlling the PTT function. This opens doors for features like microphone gain adjustments or audio overlays for recordings or announcements directly through the URC. The URC’s embrace of OHIS offers an advantage, especially for users who intend to leverage a variety of radios or explore advanced audio functionalities within their radio setups.

Unlocking Potential with Personality Boards

G1LRO’s URC V2 takes a unique approach to expand functionality through the use of add-in “personality boards.” These boards plug into a dedicated expansion port, enabling customization based on your specific needs. Personality boards unlock a new realm of possibilities, extending the URC’s capabilities beyond its base features. Examples include adding packet radio functionalities, Morse code support, or establishing connections to specific transceiver models. G1LRO champions the open-hardware design philosophy, making the specifications and fabrication process for these personality boards publicly available https://github.com/G1LRO/universal-radio-controller. This empowers enthusiasts and developers to design and create their own custom boards to address unique requirements or integrate functionalities not offered in the stock versions. Currently, two official personality boards are available:

  • K1EL WinKeyer V3.1: This board bridges the gap between your PC and transceiver, enabling you to send Morse code using either computer control or an iambic paddle.
  • APRS Digipeater & KISS Modem: This board equips your URC with true modem capabilities for packet radio by incorporating a VP-Digi Blue Pill module. It seamlessly connects to both your transceiver and the URC’s serial port.

The open-source approach adopted by G1LRO paves the way for the development of a diverse range of personality boards by the user community, catering to the multifaceted needs of the amateur radio world. An upcoming innovation that has generated considerable excitement is the VHF/UHF Transceiver Personality Board. This collaborative effort between G1LRO and Smitty N6MTS aims to create a single-board transceiver module compatible with both VHF and UHF frequencies. This exciting development has the potential to transform the URC into a fully functional radio with transmission and receive capabilities at VHF or UHF frequencies depending on the chosen module. Production is anticipated for late spring 2024, with compatibility expected for URC V2.2 or later versions.

A Springboard for Innovation and Collaboration

The G1LRO URC’s expansion connector serves as a springboard for fostering innovation and collaboration within the vibrant amateur radio community. G1LRO’s commitment to open-hardware design empowers enthusiasts and developers to design their own personality boards, addressing specific needs and integrating functionalities beyond the scope of the stock versions. This open-source approach fosters a collaborative environment where developers can share ideas, designs, and code for new personality boards, potentially resulting in a wider array of functionalities and applications for the URC. The URC empowers the creation of customizable solutions.