The SOCORAD32 Is an Arduino-Compatible Software-Controlled Radio Walkie-Talkie, Driven by an ESP32

Designed to be accessible yet flexible, the SOCORAD32 offers compatibility with off-the-shelf walkie-talkies powered by the same radio IC.

UPDATE (1/25/2023): Mord Technologies has officially opened its crowdfunding campaign for the SOCORAD32, an Espressif ESP32-based software-controlled radio described by its creators as a "professional-quality hackable walkie-talkie."

The company is taking orders for the SOCORAD32 at $80 plus shipping, including a fully-assembled board, antenna, and speaker; users will need to supply their own 18650 cell with raised positive terminal for insertion into the redesigned board's battery holder.

At the time of writing, the campaign had already almost reached its funding goal; hardware is expected to ship in early June following the campaign's closure. More information is available on the project's Crowd Supply page.

Original article continues below.

Mord Technologies is preparing to launch an open source walkie-talkie based on software-controlled radio hardware, driven by an Espressif ESP32 microcontroller: the SOCORAD32.

"SOCORAD32, aka the ESP32 Software Controlled Radio, is a professional-grade hackable walkie-talkie for amateur radio exploration, voice, and data communication using simple AT commands," says Mord Technologies founder Mordecai Raji. "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!"

Driven by an Espressif ESP32-WROOM module, the board β€” which crams all its components onto the upper side of the compact PCB β€” uses an RDA1846 chip for its radio side. "This is the same IC used in commercial walkie-talkies such as in Baofeng, Motorola, and Hytera," Raji explains. "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."

Designed to be instantly accessible, the SOCORAD32 aims at ease-of-use: It's controlled using simple AT commands over a 9,600 baud UART. It operates on the 400-470MHz spectrum with 0.5-2W power output and boasts integrated voice scrambling and compression capabilities, as well as support for short messaging service transmission and reception.

The SOCORAD32 is to launch on Crowd Supply soon, as a partly-assembled board needing only a speaker and battery to be fully-functional. Raji has also released an Arduino sketch for the project on GitHub under an unspecified open source license, but has not yet released hardware design files.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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