Lightsail-2 is a solar sail experiment which successfully launched on a Space-X Falcon Heavy on 25 June, and was released into orbit on July 2nd. A solar sail is a type of spacecraft that uses a large metallic foil to create propulsion via photons from the sun hitting it. Lightsail-2 is still undergoing testing, so it has not yet deployed it's solar sail, but recent updates indicate that it is healthy.
On board Lightsail-2 is a radio which is transmitting it's morse code beacon "WM9XPA" every 45 seconds at 437.025 MHz. This beacon should be able to be received with a handheld amateur radio 70cm Yagi and any radio such as an RTL-SDR. There is also an AX.25 telemetry data transmission, however although the beacon structure is available we are not aware of any publicly available decoding software.
One difficulty in receiving Lightsail-2 is that it is in an orbit inclination of only 24 degrees. So only locations with a latitude between 42 and -42 degrees will have a chance at receiving it. You can see the solar sail's current location at N2YO. Clicking on the 10-day predictions button will give you pass predictions for your location.
The Reverse Beacon Network is a project that monitors the amateur radio bands by using volunteer stations to continuously and autonomously collect data on what/when stations are being received, and how good the signal is. The data is made public on the internet and this allows amateur radio operators to easily determine overall propagation conditions. It is currently working mostly with CW (morse code) stations, and mostly on HF, although it is expanding to VHF+ as explained below.
During October, John Ackermann (N8UR) did a talk at the "Microwave Update 2018" conference held in Dayton, Ohio. His talk was about setting up a VHF+ reverse beacon network monitoring station, using multiple RTL-SDR dongles for monitoring. The RTL-SDR dongles run on a Raspberry Pi which runs the rtl_hpsdr software. This allows multiple RTL-SDR dongles to emulate a multi-band HPSDR receiver over Ethernet. They can then be accessed on a PC by the CW Skimmer program which decodes the received CW signals, and then logs it online on the reverse beacon network's website.
Over on the YouTube channel Tech Minds the presenter has uploaded two new RTL-SDR based tutorial videos. The first video gives a bit of background and shows how to decode Morse code with an RTL-SDR. He uses SDR-Console V3 and the Morse code decoder CwGet. With this he's able to decode a few calls from some ham radio operators.
In the second video Tech Minds shows how to decode Weather Fax with the RTL-SDR. Weather faxes are images of weather charts sent over HF frequencies. In the video he uses SDR-Console and SeaTTY to do the decoding and demonstrates reception of an example fax.
The Real Matrix - Decoding Morse Code Using An RTL SDR Receiver
Receiving HF Weather FAX Using An RTL SDR Receiver
Over on YouTube user Brent Crier has uploaded a tutorial video showing how to set up CWSkimmer with an RTL-SDR and HDSDR. CWSkimmer is regarded as one of the best pieces of software that can be used to decode CW a.k.a Morse code.
Morse code is a communications technique still used widely by the amateur radio community in the HF bands. The RTL-SDR can receive HF frequencies and Morse code with an upconverter or direct sampling modification.
In the video Brent goes over the installation of HDSDR, Virtual Audio Cable, and a program called Virtual Serial Port (VSP) manager as well as the needed settings for each program. The set up he shows allows CWSkimmer to automatically change the frequency in HDSDR when tuning in CWSkimmer.