It probably can’t have taken long after the first spectrum waterfall display was created, before somebody had a go at creating a waveform that would create an image in the waterfall. We don’t know who that pioneer was, but it’s over 20 years since Aphex Twin famously used the technique in their music, so it’s nothing new. If you fancy a go for yourself, [Gokberk Yaltirakli] has the project for you, creating waterfall images with an SDR from image files, using a bit of Python code.
The value here isn’t necessarily in creating the waterfall of Bitcoin logos that can be seen in the video he’s put on the page, instead it’s in the simple explanation of creating I and Q values for an SDR. The code is a bit slow so writes its values to a file which is output by a HackRF, but it could just as easily be used by any other capable output device such as GNU Radio and a soundcard if you too want an Aphex Twin moment. The hardware for displaying a spectrum waterfall doesn’t even have to be very complex.
Thanks [Leo] for the tip.