I picked up an RTL-SDR (affiliate link) Software Defined Radio dongle recently and have been having a blast with it. You can see my adventures so far with it here.
My most recent project is to discover and decode all of the digital signals transmitting through the air around me. I looked at lot of different things like the FT8 weak signal protocol, POCSAG pager decoding, and packet radio to name a few.
A viewer tipped me off to another digital signal to look for which is the Shortwave Radiogram broadcast that transmits a few days a week on shortwave frequencies. It consists of a 30 minute broadcast that transmits text and small images. Part of the challenge is to keep the signal strong enough to decode it! You can see what it looks like thanks to “Shacking Off” on YouTube.
More information can be found at the SW Radiogram website. They also have links to recordings so you can practice ahead of the next broadcast.
There’s a whole community around this too. Check out their Facebook group.
I am almost done studying for my HAM radio technician license. Just need a few more days to run through the practice exams. Stay tuned!