The project is described as a "hackable, open source, ESP32 amateur radio board with walkie-talkie functionality and data communication". We note that this is not a software defined radio, rather it's a highly customizable software controlled radio.
The advertising claims that you can communicate between SOCORAD32 devices by voice and text for up to 5km at 2W of power. No commercial or amateur radio license is required to use this radio since it operates in the 400 - 470 MHz license free bands that are available in many countries. Although we note that these bands in many countries may have power restrictions well below 2W, which would restrict range.
In recent updates they note that they have been refining the PCB and now added a battery holder and moved the push to talk button to a new position.
During crowd funding the device is selling for US$80 + $8 US shipping / $18 worldwide shipping.
Because it covers 400 - 470 MHz the device can be used without a license in the license free bands available in most countries. It's able to connect with a standard smartphone over Bluetooth, and can transmit and receive voice, supports voice encryption and compression, and can also transmit and receive SMS data.
SOCORAD32, aka the ESP32Software Controlled Radio, is a professional-grade hackable walkie-talkie for amateur radio exploration, voice, and data communication using simple AT commands. Just add a speaker and a battery and you get a fully functional walkie-talkie radio. With the onboard dedicated Push To Talk (PTT) button, SOCORAD32 can be used straight out of the box without touching a single line of code!
Unlike using complicated SDR for amateur radio operation, SOCORAD32 is an amateur radio-tailored device that makes things simpler. Using uncomplicated AT commands, users can configure the audio volume, tone squelching, CTCSS, CDSS codes, etc. SOCORAD32’s frequency range covers the license-free bands for most countries.
SOCORAD32 also features all of the operations of a standard walkie-talkie. It employs a proprietary RF design featuring the RDA1846 IC. This is the same IC used in commercial walkie-talkies such as in Baofeng, Motorola and Hytera. Because of this, SOCORAD32 can communicate with commercial walkie-talkies with ease.
In addition to all of this, SOCORAD32 utilizes powerful ESP32 Bluetooth functionality. All SOCORAD32 settings can be adjusted via a connected mobile device using a serial Bluetooth app of any choice, while also being adjustable via the dedicated physical buttons. You can store as many channels as you would like in the onboard memory of the ESP32. SOCORAD32 can also communicate data, so you can explore the amateur radio frequencys for IoT or send texts. Texts can be read via the onboard OLED screen or via a Bluetooth connected mobile device.
Beyond communication SOCORAD32 is fully open source and hackable. For high level enthusiasts the RF module can be opened and tinkered with, allowing features like upgrading the power amplifier, among other adaptations.
Overall, SOCORAD32 makes it fun and interesting to explore the intricacies of amateur radio, portable two-way radio walkie-talkies, and long distance audio or data communications similar to LoRa. All done using easy to understand AT commands and the power of the ESP32 module.