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This discussion paper explores the potential of Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology to provide flexible and low-cost subsurface radar prototypes for the GPR community. Unlike traditional fixed hardware implementations, SDR uses software configurable RF modules which can be used to implement customized signal encoding, decoding and processing. However, the full potential of SDR has not yet been fully understood or exploited for radar-based applications, and so is of special interest for GPR development. This paper introduces the fundamental concepts behind SDRs and describes the underlying hardware and software architectures that are used to implement them. It also provides a simple reference design using open source GNU Radio software and the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) hardware to indicate how low-cost radar configurations can be designed and evaluated. The benefits and challenges of SDR-based radar architectures are highlighted, and opportunities discussed for new and enhanced subsurface sensing capabilities. Overall, SDR technology is seen to provide new opportunities to boost future radar research and development to provide enhanced GPR system capabilities.