There is some very cool stuff out there, you just have to look for it. Software defined radios are in that category. Many things come with a SDR, including a built in spectrum analyzer, continuously variable IF bandwidth and so on. Many manufactures have build SDR’s; ICOM, AOR, TENTEC, WInRadio, etc. Until recently, a SDR would set one back a pretty penny.
Then there is the Ultra Cheap Software Defined Radio based on a RTL2832 USB Television tuner. Someone figured out that the TV tuner covers from approximately 60 MHz to 1700 MHz and it’s raw output can be used by any number of free, open source software programs.
Interface and program and be found at: http://wiki.spench.net/wiki/USRP_Interfaces
List of compatible devices can be found here: http://www.reddit.com/r/RTLSDR/comments/s6ddo/rtlsdr_compatibility_list_v2_work_in_progress/
Google discussion group: Ultra Cheap SDR
I found a Newsky TV28T USB tuner on Amazon for about $30.00. I figured, what the heck, it is only thirty dollars. There are some sources that have the ezcap EzTV668 on dealextreme for less than $20.00, however, I could not find that particular model. In any case it looks like a fun project.