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there is a company called chipcon([http://www.chipcon.com]). they have a chip called the smartrf cc1000. this chip is awesome for wireless transcieving. if you write them an email and request a free sample they will send you one. i know i have done it. it does take a little bit to get to your house but its worth it. it requires very few extra components cutting down on cost. the only problem is is that it is surface mount. if you buy a board kit from radio shack you could very easily assemble a decent working transciever for very cheap. as far as building one from an old radio, it is possible to use it for recieving , but there is much math involved. not only that if you are looking to recieve digital data as compared to analog, you are running into even more troubles.
[not all the gears of life are lubed]