It was recently discovered that several cheap DVB-T usb dongles could be configured to be used as cheap ham radio receivers.
Follow along with the discussions here: http://www.reddit.com/r/rtlsdr
or find some of the useful software here: http://sdr.osmocom.org/trac/wiki/rtl-sdr
picked up one of the compatible receivers from ali-express:
and will document here the steps I took to set it up with gnuradio on ubuntu 12.04.
There are a few things that I won't cover in this instructable, because they deserve an instructable of their own. These include:
1) using the Ubuntu command line (terminal)
2) cloning a git repository
3) building software from source on Ubuntu (especially with cmake)
If anyone has links to stellar, class A++ quality tutorials on any of these things, please add them to the comment and I will link them here.