Lior is at it again, this time he's working on the Baofeng UV-3R radios. The MCU that runs the radio is flash programmable. Unfortunately the security bits are set so you can't read out the existing firmware first, but you can erase it and insert your own. A group is forming on the Yahoo Groups board to work on making a 100% community made firmware for these radios.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/UV-3R/message/8141 This is the thread talking about the initial experiment. See this Youtube video:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/UV-3R/message/8158 This is a thread where people are talking about what features they want to have in a community made firmware.
One thing to note, during the tests the PA circuits are turned off so it's outputting very low power. Too bad the radios are FM only, because that would be a good thing for transverters.. Hey, maybe it wouldn't be bad for the SHF stuff?
Could be good for fox hunts too.. Just flash it with a firmware to send the MCW occasionally and then hide it, no extra circuitry required.
These radios are pretty inexpensive at $41 each. I can well imagine quite a few things they could be used for if they are reprogrammed with a new firmware. Of course I have no illusions that the chip is powerful enough to do very complicated things. I am hoping this opens the door to a community who buys these radios for this purpose and then the companies respond to that by making more radios which can be flashed. Especially if they put more powerful chips in them and a few years down the road it's possible to flash codec2 onto one and have a very inexpensive digital radio.
I doubt that's possible with these. Maybe a 1200 baud packet firmware will come out though. Then you'd have a very inexpensive APRS tracker just by adding a GPS.