Great Scott Gadgets Completes Phase Two of Development on Next Big Project

Phase two on the development of the universal radio test instrument (URTI) project has been completed.

17 days agoHW101

Great Scott Gadgets is best known for its popular HackRF One SDR device. However, along with a few other development platforms they offer, they are also actively developing new hardware. Their next device in development is being called the URTI, an acronym for Universal Radio Test Instrument. The URTI is going to be an open source SDR platform that can perform the functions of various RF test and measurement devices.

The current functionality goals include the following:

  • Spectrum analyzer
  • Vector network analyzer
  • Vector signal generator
  • Vector signal analyzer
  • Antenna analyzer
  • Power meter
  • Frequency counter
  • Full-duplex SDR transceiver

The current project plan is to develop the project in eight various phases. The first phase of component selection and evaluation has already been completed last year. Phase two consists mainly of the mainboard hardware design. As a result, the PCB schematic and layout has been completed with boards being built by JLCPCB. A small number of mainboard prototypes were received to begin hardware and software validation. Thus far the power supplies, system clocks, and switch functionalities have all been confirmed. In addition, bootloaders and firmware have begun to be installed on the device to help communicate with the circuitry on board to verify the larger digital IC’s functionality and communication. Consequently, much of phase four which consists of mainboard firmware and gateware development is happening in parallel.

The complete URTI project plan in phases consists of the following:

1. Mainboard component selection and sub-circuit evaluation

2. Initial mainboard hardware design

3. User interface board component and sub-circuit evaluation

4. Mainboard firmware and gateware development

5. Host software development to enable use of mainboard as a USB peripheral

6. Final mainboard prototype design

7. User interface board hardware design

8. Handheld user interface firmware development

It is worth noting that two forms of the device are in development for this project. One of them being a computer peripheral device with no user interface, and the other being a portable handheld system with a user interface. The next steps of the project involve distributing prototype models to developers to work on software development to allow the device to work as a USB peripheral device. Furthermore, gateware development for the FPGA is needed to begin implementing DSP functions, control of the radio sub-circuits, and overall validation of the full mainboard radio.

With hardware in hands and the next phases already in progress, we can expect to see more updates soon on the project’s progress.

I am currently a RF/Wireless engineer and like all things electrical engineering related.
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