Amateur Radio Data Appliance: URC & U-Pi-S

Currently under development on the G1LRO workbench is the U-Pi-S. This unit is a companion to the Universal Radio Controller (URC) that provides key elements to create the full specification of the Amateur Radio Data Appliance.

In this article by Steve Stroh N8GNJ, Steve sets out the functionality required to create the Amateur Radio Data Appliance, being:

  • Power supply
  • Battery backup
  • Radio transceiver
  • Modem
  • Embedded computer with a minimal display for status / health / troubleshooting
  • Networking required to for remote access via “household” network (not Internet)
  • Most of all, cabling to interconnect all of the above

The U-Pi-S is new to the line-up as it contains the power and computing facilities to create a full antonymous Amateur Radio Data Appliance.

Inside the U-Pi-S is a 12V 15W UPS with 5V power management to operate the integrated Raspberry Pi Zero-W processor. The new Pi-Zero provides ample horsepower to drive most current Ham software, and also has a small LCD screen with control buttons to display and manage system information.

On the rear panel is a high-power 5V output (1.5A) via USB to power the transceiver module, and a separate data USB connection from the Raspberry Pi to connect to the URC main functions. Additionally a 12V UPS-protected output is present to drive low-power equipment.

Inside the U-Pi-S are the main power and computing components to support a stand-alone digital micro-station

Using the upcoming URC transceiver module, a complete stand alone system can be made for uses such as APRs digipeater, simplex repeater, packet node, Allstar Node etc.

The unit runs the DigiPi software Ham Radio software suite especially well, and you’ll find specific articles are making DigiPi run on the URC on this site. Of course you can run virtually any ham radio software written for the Raspberry Pi on the U-Pi-S and URC, DigiPi is just one example.

In Steve’s article he proposes: “With the Data Appliance I’m imagining, add an antenna that’s appropriate for the individual user’s situation, and the new Amateur Radio Operator can operate Amateur Radio data modes within their apartment, condo, or home with a minimum of hassle. Sit down at the kitchen table, or the couch, with their laptop, tablet, or phone when it’s convenient. The Data Appliance is tucked out of the way in a corner, perhaps even on an apartment or condo balcony with a small solar panel and antenna.”

The mission for this unit is to have the URC with Transceiver and UPS providing some foundation for how Amateur Radio could be re imagined / re conceptualized to be more relevant to younger techies in the 2020s.

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