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In the decade since it was first proposed, cognitive radio (CR) has become a popular research topic. While most prototypes are based on a cognitive engine (CE) controlling a software defined radio (SDR) subsystem, in this article we present the reader with a somewhat novel CR architecture in which an RF application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) or system on a chip replaces the usual SDR portion of a CR, reducing the radio's cost, computational complexity, and size. While our work was motivated a need to develop an inexpensive CR suitable for deployment in small radio controlled (RC) model-airplane-sized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), we hope the ideas presented here will be useful for engineering educators and CR researchers interested in learning about the RF and artificial intelligence (CE) aspects of CR and studying real radio behavior in live RF environments without designing and building specialized SDRs. We present a simple CR platform called SKIRL for experimentation and educational purposes, with a component cost less than US$240.