Very cheap wideband radio reciever.

The nerdy experimenter types online have discovered that some of the cheap DVB-T USB sticks which allow you to watch Freeview on your computer have a tuning range far outside that for just digital telly. Bodge on a decent antenna, grab some of the specialist software and you can listen to anything from around 70-1700Mhz through your PC. Add more software and you can "decode" digital modes, allowing you to see pager messages, plot the position of ships/aircraft or read packet radio data sent by hams. It's not going to be the equvalent of half a grand's worth of scanner but might provide a few hours entertainment or just satisfy those who are nosy about what the sky gods actually say to control for about £15.

Linky with the details rtl-sdr
Define "decent antenna" ?
Depends what you want to do with it really. Either a wideband type or one matched to a specific band that you're interested in. Cost from sub-tenner to name your price. The antennas you get with them are cut for the digi TV band only (and usually aren't great at that).

If you want to be really cheapskate about it, you can make your own, plenty of plans on the net.
Im sure you could get one on ebay. Or even the MoD disposals sight. From what I was told if you get the line right it can reach 3000 km.
When I was a kid my brother used to have one of these, with a dipole in the garden, I think the dipole kit came from Maplins or rs or, maybe even Tandy.
Sony ICF-2001 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

There is something hypnotic about listening to morse drifting in an out of the ionosphere
Great radio but it's sensitivity to static electricity was legend for all the wrong reasons.

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