Repeater controllers have gone through a significant evolution. The club I’m a member of (SNOVARC) uses ARCOM RC210 controllers. They’re very flexible, require considerable expertise to program, and are definitely a PIA to adjust level controls. I’ve got one for my 220 repeater, and using it drove me to explore other alternatives.
One alternative I tried is a Pi-Repeater 2x from ICS Controllers. Like the ARCOM RC210 mine lives in a 1u rackmount cabinet, which is bigger than what I’d like for the portable repeater - but most of that 1u cabinet is empty space. The Pi_Repeater line are all controllers that attach to a Raspberry Pi. I won’t need a multiport controller for this project so a Pi-repeater 1x would be appropriate.
Another alternative is to build an AllStarLink controller using a Raspberry Pi and an external sound card like a Masters Communications DRA series unit. I’ve built a simplex node along those lines so I’ve got some idea of how that would work.
And then finally there are a variety of single board controllers - the one I’ve been considering is the Basic controller by (again) ICS Controllers.
For this project I’m got the following concerns:
The minimum requirements are that the controller must provide decent audio quality and must ID in a way that conforms to FCC requirements. Features like being able to record/replay audio to make radio checks easy, voice messages and voice ID instead of morse ID are nice but not a requirement. Linking via IRLP, AllStarLink, Svxlink, or Echolink a plus if we could find a way to provide internet connectivity. (But to be honest I see that as more a fun hack opportunity than a realistic use case)
Running through the candidates:
The only thing really ruled out at this point is another Arcom. I’ve purchased both a Pi-Repeater 1x (Raspberry Pi Zero’s are currently unobtainable!) and will just press a spare Raspberry Pi A+ into temporary service for eval purposes. I’ve also bought a Basic controller, so I can evaluate that as well.
Obviously there’s much more thinking, tinkering, and experimenting to be done on this area of the project.