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AIH103 DXpedition to Aihkiniemi, Sept 28-Oct 12, 2019

The novelty on this DXpedition had nothing to with DXing but it was just as much fun. I brought along a Mavic Air drone to get the first aerial photos and videos of our DX cabin. Inside the cabin, an average amount of interesting catches was made from all around the world, especially from Japan, Australia, Mauritius, Argentina and Peru.

On a crisp and sunny September afternoon I was packing my Auris in Vantaa for the journey up north. Stormy solar weather in the form of a large coronal hole hit the Earth that same Friday, so I made sure to include books and some new camera gear to be ready for alternative activities besides mediumwave DXing.

The previous couple of days had been some of the worst in my life, but it wasn't related to DXing, so I'll save it for later. There was nothing I could do about the unlucky chain of events, so I might just as well try to enjoy my previously arranged two-week slot in Aihkiniemi, far above the Arctic Circle.

Fly northeast over Turvelompolat
Follow the waterway next to Aihkiniemi, flying low for one kilometer! Click to open the video in YouTube and choose the best quality (1080p HD).

As has become customary, I drove my car to the Pasila train station in Helsinki to be transported overnight to Rovaniemi. Major construction projects are changing the face of the Pasila transportation hub, but while waiting for the new railway station and Finland's largest shopping mall to be opened, the only snack option remained Subway. So, a tuna sandwich for dinner. And some chocolate to be consumed later in the evening.

The IC265 train departed as scheduled at 7 PM. A bit further north in Riihimäki, fellow DXer Lauri Levanto (LAL) came on board and shared the cabin. I knew Lauri from the time we both lived in Hämeenlinna over 30 years ago, but later on Lauri took a long break from the hobby.

Lauri was a newcomer in Aihkiniemi, returning to the hobby after his retirement, and he hadn't been on a DXpedition in Lapland since 1981, so he was bound to get at least hundreds of new catches.

Mika, Jorma, Ronny and Lauri meeting in Ivalo
From the left: Mika Mäkeläinen, Jorma Mäntylä, Ronny Klemets and Lauri Levanto

The train arrived in Rovaniemi almost on time. After a delicious breakfast with salmon and smoked vendace, we started driving north at 8 AM sharp. There were lots of reindeer along the way, but we managed to navigate around them. The road was dry and traffic was light, this being off-season.

Fall colors were still quite pretty in southern Lapland, but in Aihkiniemi the leaves were mostly gone. We met departing DXers Jorma Mäntylä and Ronny Klemets in Ivalo where we shopped for groceries. The final pit stop was a kebab at a Neste service station in Inari.

Just as before, I had Perseus type SDRs with Jaguar software, but Lauri was using an SDR Play RSP2 receiver. Our antenna selection remained the same as on previous DXpeditions, with 13 Beverage antennas, each 3,000 ft/1 km in length. These are the antenna directions in Aihkiniemi:

Aihkiniemi antenna directions
Here's a daily summary of our observations on the AM dial.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

We arrived at the cabin at 14:30 local time on Saturday, and got our first gear working arfter 1300 UTC. The AM band was dead quiet, so we had ample time to investigate what appeared to be new sources of interference. A new 5V power supply brought along by me turned out to be the biggest cause of interference, eliminated by the evening.

Fall colors along Highway 4
Fall colors close to Highway 4 on the way north.

Luckily we didn't miss anything. At 1540 UTC a few Japanese stations were heard at the sign-off time of NHK2, and at 1600 UTC a bunch of Chinese stations were heard. I was happy to log Guangdong on 846 AM until I realized that I had captured the same station already in March this year on my previous DXpedition AIH98. There was no sign of even the most common Australian stations. Today's recordings were checked and erased quickly.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Overnight propagation conditions remained auroral. Stations from the northeastern corner of Brazil appeared briefly at 2200 UTC, and a few stations from the Great Lakes region were noted at 0200 UTC, but just about the only interesting opening was between 0300 UTC and 0400 UTC towards Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay. Unfortunately the stations nosedived just before 0400 UTC, and during the daytime there was not a single AM station on the band.

As it was a stormy weekend in the Sun, I made some overnight recordings with the south-pointing 160-degree wire. A pleasant surprise was to catch Botswana on 1350 AM, and two stations from Malawi on 756 and 1404 AM.

Video from cabin to 150 meters
Rising from the front door to 150 meters in the air. Click to open the video in YouTube.

Even more importantly, I scored a new country when BBC from Mauritius was briefly audible on 1575 AM, giving an ID at the top of the hour. BBC has become possible once again as Radio Farda is off the air on 1575 AM, and an Iranian jammer is only airing its carrier wave. BBC's Mauritius relay is a station and a country that I had been hunting for over 20 years. I visited Mauritius last year with my wife, and even paid a visit to the local broadcaster MBC. At least back then the two MBC transmitters on 684 and 819 AM were active. In Aihkiniemi we have just the right antenna for Mauritius (160 degrees), but for some reason they still haven't been heard here.

In the afternoon, the first Far East stations from Japan emerged at 1330 UTC. They remained fairly strong until NHK2 closing today at 1530 UTC. It was remarkable how quickly the AM band recovered from the solar storm. Or, so it seemed, since by 1700 UTC the AM band offered only European and Middle Eastern stations.

In between, however, there was our first opening to Australia. I got several new catches, including 2SM Sydney NSW on 1269 AM, and the same programming relayed on 2GF (1206 AM) and 2VM (1530 AM). A few Queensland stations were remarkably strong, inluding 4RO on 990 AM. Surprisingly, there was no evening opening to Asia at all.

Monday, September 30, 2019

During the night, some mostly Brazilian stations were heard around 2200 UTC and again around 0100 UTC, but well before sunrise Latin American stations just faded away. North America was slightly better, peaking at 0200 UTC and at 0400 UTC, but around sunrise (0419 UTC), most stations just vanished. No new ones have been found so far.

Aihkiniemi cabin from above
A drone photo of the Aihkiniemi cabin from directly above.

From sub-Saharan Africa, Lesotho on 639 AM, Khartoum on 747 AM and Malawi on 756 were some of the strongest stations. It is also worth mentioning that Rádio Moçambique from the capital Maputo is nowadays on the air on 738 AM, almost spot on on the frequency, and giving a jingle ID at the top of the hour. Just like other stations in the region, it is heard best just before local sunrise, in this case at 0300 UTC.

It was raining lightly for the second day in a row, but we started checking the antennas anyway. During these two weeks, we'd need to go through all the 13 Beverage antennas in a very challenging terrain.

The first signs of life from the Eastern Hemisphere appeared at 1330 UTC, but this opening to Southeast Asia lasted no longer than ten minutes. The second peak at 1410 UTC wasn't any more viable. Propagation favored a much more southern route than yesterday, and there was no sign of Japanese stations. This kind of on-off propagation could at best be very rewarding, but now it was just plain crappy. A bit later signal levels improved. Eventually my Asian catches included Qinghai PBS on 801 AM and Voice of Vietnam on 819 AM. Around 18002000 UTC some of the most common ABC stations from Western Australia (such as 720, 810, 1152, 1269, 1296 AM) were heard, but so far nothing personally new.

Video of diving towards the cabin
Drone video of flying down towards the cabin. Click to open the video in YouTube and be sure to choose the best quality (1080p HD).

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The night began with signals from Brazil, but they soon gave way to US stations. Late Monday evening would have been the last night to log some new daytimer stations with favorable sign-off times, as September close-down times are calibrated based on mid-month sunset times. No such luck, but anyhow on this night North American stations were strong enough that it made sense to start hunting for new catches.

Propagation favored the Great Lakes and Midwest, peaking at 0230 UTC. Identified stations included 920 KLMR, 1290 WNBF, 1340 KTOQ, 1370 WFEA, 1400 KBJM & KBRB & KCOW, 1450 KYNT & KGRE and 1490 KRIB, so nothing new. By 0300 UTC the opening had moved to the West Coast, with stations such as 1150 KAGO, 1230 KKOR, 1300 KLER, 1320 KXRO, 1400 KLCK and 1450 KBKW logged. Transatlantic signals nosedived immediately after 0300 UTC, recovered partially at 0400 UTC, and then vanished permanently, even before local sunrise. KKAN Phillipsburg KS on 1490 AM was a new one for me.

Lake Turvelompolo
Lake Turvelompolo is very shallow and the water level is exceptionally low this year. Our cabin is located just below this scene.

On the African front at sunrise, Ethiopia produced decent signals for instance on 972 and 1044 AM, and Emissora Provincial de Manica from Mozambique was exceptionally strong on 1026 AM.

During the day, we caught some more sleep and checked a couple of antennas. For a change, it wasn't raining, and temperatures remained marginally above freezing point.

In the afternoon, the first Japanese stations appeared around 1400 UTC. Nothing out of the ordinary though, just a few dozen usual suspects, including stations from the Koreas and northern China. Later on Chinese stations dominated the dial, although stations from Australia to the Middle East could be head. When propagation favors such a large area, basically all of Asia, scoring any new catches is very difficult. In the evening at 20002100 UTC up to 20 Philippine stations were heard, but I didn't find any new ones.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

US stations faded in before 2300 UTC on dozens of frequencies, but the joy didn't last. After peaking at 2330 UTC, signals weakened until after 0300 UTC, when stations from the entire Western Hemisphere began improving again. For the first time, Cuban stations in the lower end of the dial were part of the mix, and even some Argentinian stations were heard with the 304-degree wire, indicative of decent reception also for the southern part of South America.

Aerial photo of Sevettijärventie road leading to Aihkiniemi
This road, Sevettijärventie, leads to the Aihkiniemi cabin. Lake Inari on the right.

Reception was strongest around 0400 UTC, and soon after 0500 UTC most stations were gone. A few upper band stations remained audible until around 0600 UTC. Just to give you an idea of the general direction, stations identified around 0400 UTC included 560 WGAN, 1080 Radio Monumental (from Paraguay), 1260 WCCR, 1440 KRDZ and 1450 WPGG, so nothing for the history books.

Daybreak revealed snow on the ground, a first. Funny how going on a DXpedition shortens the fall. Only a few weeks ago I was still swimming in a lake, and now it looks like winter outside. The snow will hardly stay long, as early October daytime temperatures are normally well above zero C. During the day we dragged our boat ashore for the winter and took down one birch tree that had fallen on our 10-degree wire. Nice sunny weather for a change in the afternoon.

At 1300 UTC there was a very short and weak opening towards Japan, and by 1400 UTC a more permanent propagation path had opened towards Southeastern Asia. The most common South Australian stations were strong at 1730 and 1830 UTC, a couple of Indonesian signals were detected, as well as a bunch of Thais, and over a dozen Philippine stations, but still it was impossible to find any definite new ones. Hopefully this fairly crappy Asian scene is compensated by an improving western front.

Fall colors at Ivalo River
Fall colors at the banks of Ivalo River

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Overnight was very poor. US stations barely surfaced above noise level with short and modest peaks at 0100 and 0315 UTC. Recordings on my other radio failed, but I probably didn't miss anything. WOSH on 1490 AM was the only identified graveyard station. Daybreak around 04000500 UTC was more interesting, with the same East Coast antenna (304 degrees) picking up stations from Denver to Havana and from Lima to Buenos Aires. I suspect there should be something interesting waiting from Ecuador or Peru in the files. In the morning some US signals lingered on past 0600 UTC, which was later than before during this DXpedition. So far the best catch was LV20 Radio Laboulaye (1440 AM) relaying LV3 Radio Córdoba. Unfortunately I haven't managed to find anyone at LV3 to confirm reception of their affiliates.

During the daytime hours our biggest chore was to dismantle an unused Beverage antenna. We originally had a 1000-meter long wire pointing at 250 degrees, but it never worked really well, and it has since been replaced by a much better 255-degree wire. As our wires are extremely directional, even a small change in the direction can make a huge difference. So, the 250-degree wire has remained unused, and today we finally took it down in one piece. The job of reeling in the wire turned out to be quite arduous sweating for over three hours and trying to untangle the wire from all the tree branches. The copper wire is still as good as new, so maybe we could put it back to work in the future. Personally, I'd like to see an antenna pointing at roughly 210 degrees targeting Gibraltar, Nigeria and Angola.

Mika reeliing in an antenna
Mika reeling in the old 250-degree antenna wire.

In the afternoon, the first weak signals from Asia were detected already around 1200 UTC, but only around 1300 UTC did the Japanese stations begin to have readable signals. They dominated long enough so that when NHK2 closed down at 1540 UTC, I was happy to nail down three personally new local stations on 1125, 1359 and 1476 AM. On other NHK2 frequencies, Aomori tended to dominate where it had relay transmitters. After that I just went to bed early, exhausted from today's exercise in the swampy forest.

When I woke up before midnight, I discovered that there was nothing of interest in the evening's recordings. After 1600 UTC the Middle East and Europeans overshadowed the few common Asian stations. Barely a trace of Australia either.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Latin American signals were initially very weak, but gained somewhat after 2200 UTC on Thursday evening. North American stations were equally slow to emerge, with hardly any activity before midnight UTC. Signal levels shot up and down, and unfortunately overnight low points tended to coincide with the top of the hour.

Flying towards Turvejärvi
Flying towards Lake Turvejärvi. Click to open the video in YouTube.

Around sunrise, both Latin America and North America were in full swing, and it was difficult to choose what to focus on. I was surprised to find a new Brazilian station, ZYI441 Rádio Itaí de Rio Claro from Rondonópolis, Mato Grosso, on 1030 AM. If anyone can find an email for this IPDA-owned station, please let me know. This station is not even listed in the WRTH, but it was pretty easy to catch the name from a fabulous ID. Incidentally, I'm planning a reporting trip in November with a starting point in Mato Grosso, but it's a big state, and I won't be going near Rondonópolis.

North American stations were the last to vanish due to daylight at around 0530 UTC, but made a brief comeback at 0700 UTC, after which only silence was left on the AM dial. Identified stations included 610 KDAL, 1240 KJCR and 1370 WLJW, so no rarities.

Winding
In the middle you can see the small walkbridge that we need to use to get across the winding stream.

During the day we checked a few more antennas, and I took some time to fly my new toy (and workhorse, as you will see on TV next year) – the Mavic Air drone. I took the first aerial shots of the Aihkiniemi cabin. This part of Lapland is relatively flat, so it is stunning to be able to rise above the trees and get a bird's-eye view of the landscape just as winter is starting to get a hold of it. For instance the form of rivers and streams can be quite pretty, as you can see above.

For the first time this fall, we heard several Alaskan and Hawaiian stations after 1300 UTC. Nothing new for me, but Lauri enjoyed the opening. The Asian front opened also around 1300 UTC. Initially there were some Japanese and Korean stations (like AFN on 1440 AM), but from 14001500 UTC the band was dominated by Chinese stations, such as Nanjing Jingji Guangbo on 900 AM and Shandong on 1485 AM. Later on there seemed to be some magnetic disturbance, as only European and Middle Eastern stations were heard.

Red bilberry leaves
This is the time that leaves of bilberries (wild blueberries) turn red.

In the evening we drove to Inari to catch up with Jari Ruohomäki and his spouse Ritva who had spent the week in the Lemmenjoki DX cabin, as well as their host Aslak, for a steak dinner at Hotel Inari. Afterwards we shopped for groceries at a fairly large and new "Sale" supermarket, where Coke Zero costs twice as much as in southern Finland. Addiction can become expensive – but let's not even begin to estimate the costs of the DXing addiction.

As we left the restaurant, as last customers, there were nice northern lights arching and dancing across the entire star-studded sky above Inari. Unfortunately it was all gone by the time we got back to the cabin, so no photos this time.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Part of my continuous overnight recording (at 0000–0300 UTC) was never made, because my PC decided to update Microsoft Security Essentials and restarted. Oh well, looks like I didn't miss much. US stations were pretty weak, but at daybreak the most common Colombian stations offered neat signals. There were also other stations from the region, for instance 1080 Sistema Dos (Ecuador), 1290 RPP (Peru) and 1440 Radio Impactante (Dominican Rep). Signal levels nosedived at sunrise (0440 UTC), earlier than yesterday. Cuban Radio Revolución, probably broadcasting via Radio Baraguá, on 1520 AM, was a neat surprise and saved the day.

Aurora borealis
Aurora borealis was very modest, and the weather was cloudy almost every night.

In the afternoon we visited our neighbor, author Janne Utriainen and his family, who are the only permanent residents living on the shores of Lake Turvejärvi about 3 km away from our cabin. Their homestead and subsistence lifestyle was last year featured in Finland's biggest daily Helsingin Sanomat, where it was one of the most read stories of the year. You can use Google Translate to get an idea of the report. I had met Janne just once briefly before, so it was very interesting to get to know him better. Afterwards our next-door neighbor Liisa invited us for a sauna, a first on this DXpedition.

Our lake was now covered with thin ice, but there was no longer any snow on the ground. Daytime temperatures were just above freezing point, but during the nights temperatures dipped below zero C.

Reindeer on the road
This old reindeer bull thinks he owns the road, in no hurry to cross over.

The afternoon opening to Asia began quite early with some signals already after 1200 UTC. Only after 1300 UTC were the signals strong enough to merit recording, however. Unfortunately stations from all over Asia were present, so it was impossible to find anything of interest behind the dominant stations, which were mostly from China. The early evening was even more miserable, with European and Middle Eastern stations dominating, but at least I had time to edit more of my drone videos.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

North American signals remained absent until long into the night, reaching decent audio only at 0300 UTC, when I identified for instance 1200 WMUZ and 1290 WNBF. Fortunately South American stations showed more oomph. Especially the low end of the AM dial was crowded with Argentine stations around sunrise, and I was happy to catch Somos Radio on 530 AM, probably previously unheard in Finland, and a couple of personally new Radio Nacional outlets.

Mika's equipment
I was using Perseus hardware and Jaguar software to record the AM band.

By 0530 UTC almost everything was gone, although today some stations from the Rockies and the US West Coast lingered on with very weak signals for a few more hours. So in practise we had intercontinental reception almost through the day, since a few Alaskan and Hawaiian stations put out weak signals in the early afternoon, and Asian stations began flowing in after 1220 UTC.

A small drizzle continued throughout the day, so we saved the remaining outdoor chores for the future. There's plenty to review in our recordings, so that kept us busy not only this afternoon – but will keep us busy for months to come.

By 1300 UTC there were already stations from Central China and the Philippines. For a couple of hours it was a semi decent opening without too much European or Middle Eastern interference, but I still haven't found any new ones. By late evening I had found Australian ABC on about ten frequencies.

In the evening, propagation on northern latitudes was better than average, so that Heilongjiang dominated many frequencies (873, 900 and 927 AM), but the local slots of NHK1 (2000 UTC) and NHK2 (at 2100 UTC) offered only some familiar stations in the lower end of the dial.

Lauri Levanto listening
Lauri Levanto enjoyed the Aihkiniemi DXing paradise for the first time, and will be able to send reports to hundreds of new stations.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Initially Brazilian stations were quite strong and persisted for many hours, but around daybreak everything from Buenos Aires to Barranquilla and beyond was heard – not with particularly strong signals, but at least the selection was wide. One of the nicest catches was to pick up Radio Reforma from Panama loud and clear on 860 AM, even though I already have it verified from decades ago. In live listening I happened to catch HJAS La Cariñosa from Barranquilla with a local ID on 1400 AM – a new station for me. Latin American signals were not as strong as they can be typically on winter mornings, but there was more variation, with signals coming and going, so a closer inspection of recordings can eventually be quite rewarding.

US stations for the most part only emerged after 0230 UTC. I stopped recording them after 0630 UTC, but just like on the previous day, a bunch of common stations from the Rockies and the West Coast persisted on the dial for several more hours.

During the day we checked the remaining antennas. In cloudy weather the temperature had lingered above freezing point. All the snow was gone and our small lake was again free from ice.

Mika monitoring the AM band
Mika monitoring the AM band.

The eastern front opened early, with the first South Pacific stations of this fall noted. V7AB on 1098 AM was heard just barely with audio already around 1015 UTC, but Tonga on 1017 AM was surprisingly strong at times from 1140 UTC onwards. The first Japanese station (JOUB on 774 AM) had audio already at 1020 UTC, and at around 1230 UTC most frequencies were occupied by common East Asian stations.

Consequently, also European and Middle Eastern stations appeared early. After 1600 UTC there was not much else left as Iranian and Romanian stations were heard on most frequencies. Late in the evening nothing was heard from East Asia, making it the poorest evening in that sense.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

By around 2300 UTC on Monday, Brazilian and Argentinian stations were relatively strong, and there was also an opening to the US East Coast, peaking conveniently at 2300 UTC, but there weren't any new catches to be made. Interesting signals for instance on 1510 AM were just too weak. Then US signals vanished until 0200 UTC.

The morning was much better. Around 0400–0500 UTC I had one of the best Columbia/Peru openings in many years. I immediately found five personal new ones, including Radio Unión (880 AM) and Radio Felicidad (900 AM) from Lima, as well as Radio María from Bogotá (1220 AM), but I'm sure there are others as well. Other more common identified stations included for instance Radio Rumbos 670, Radio Latina 990, Sistema Cardenal 1010, Radio Paisa & Panamericana 1140, UCSG Radio 1190, and WDEP 1490.

US East Coast never amounted to much and stations vanished almost as soon as Latin American signals did. The strongest West Coast stations however continued to be heard throughout the day, albeit sometimes very weak. Still, it was nice to enjoy classic country on 1520 KKXA while having salmon for lunch.

A peat moss goahti
A goahti made of logs and peat moss is a traditional Sami dwelling for temporary use. This collapsed one is located right next to our cabin.

The first Asian signals arrived already around 1130 UTC, but unfortunately for a long time I had a wrong antenna! What an elementary mistake. I was just happily monitoring atmospheric noise when I could have been listening to and recording to a potentially great opening... So I also missed any Pacific stations that might have been available – at least Tonga on 1017 AM was audible, which I discovered as soon as I connected the right antenna. By that time it was however too late for most other island nations. Looks like sleep deprivation is taking its toll.

Anyway, the Asian opening was not very focused; Japanese stations in the beginning, with Chinese stations taking over soon. And gradually stations from all over Asia, including a couple of weak signals from Australia. It is next to impossible to find any new ones without a more narrow propagation path.

Today's video is an aerial pan of Lake Inari at sunset. Lake Inari was recently chosen by CNN as the first on their list of 20 most beautiful places.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Overnight propagation was fairly poor to all directions. A few US stations in the upper band were audible from around 0100 UTC, and a bunch of Brazilians through the night, but nothing compared to the previous night. Even daybreak was a disappointment. Signals just fizzled out at sunrise around 0500 UTC. Half a dozen most common stations from Paraguay (such as Radio Fé y Alegría on 1300 AM) and Uruguay had decent signals just before all Latin American signals evaporated.

A few of the most common West Coast stations lingered on through the daylight hours, but signal levels were generally very weak, and nothing was heard on graveyard channels.

Antenna landscape
This video shows the landscape where most of the antennas are. Click to open the video in YouTube.

For the past couple of days KBRW Barrow (680 AM) – which at 4,400 km (2,700 miles) away can be considered semi local – had been heard throughout the daylight hours. After 1200 UTC the most common other Alaskan stations, as well some Asian stations, began to rise from the noise. This time I made sure to monitor the 30-degree wire, but aside from what I presumised to be Tonga on 1017 AM there was no signs of life from the southern Pacific.

I have yet to take even a superficial look at early evening recordings from Asia, because I caught up on sleep, but anyhow by that time Wednesday felt like a day wasted. Fortunately late in the evening before sunrise in East Asia, Chinese and Philippine stations sounded surprisingly robust, and I even found one personally new Philippine station, namely DYKB Bacolod on 1404 AM. I was sure to check both NHK1 (2000 UTC) and NHK2 (2100 UTC) local ID slots, and found two personally new NHK1 stations: JOLG Tottori via JOLQ Yonago (963 AM) and JOJK Kanazawa via Wajima (1584 AM). So, a very nice evening after a very boring day.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

This was the night that we had been waiting for. North American signals showed up briefly around 2300 UTC, some even before local sunset (like CFGO 1200 at 2110 UTC), which would have offered an opportunity to pick up daytime-only stations. No such luck, but after a bit of a retreat, US and Canadian stations returned in force before 0100 UTC, and continued with mighty signal levels through the rest of the night. Signal levels were really good, considering that it's still early October, but nevertheless, everything vanished into thin air after sunrise, which is now at 8:00 a.m. local time (0500 UTC). By 0530 UTC the AM band was almost quiet. As is usual, later in the day some West Coast powerhouses maintained weak signals.

This roughly five-hour opening was by far the best towards North America on this DXpedition. Conditions favored Michigan (eg. WWWI 1270, WLJW 1370, WMLM 1520), Wisconsin (WOSH 1490, WLFN 1490), Minnesota (KBRF 1250) and Iowa (KBOB 1170, KLEM 1410, KCHE 1440), but stations were heard from coast to coast. KERR from Montana was the most powerful station on 750 AM for hours. Many Texan stations were heard, for instance 1440 KEYS and 1530 KGBT. I even got a couple of new ones from Texas, Illinois and Michigan. Also, I noticed about a dozen Mexican stations, for example XEDTL alone on its frequency of 660 AM at sunrise.

Otsamo fell with snow on top
Otsamo fell had a snow cover on the day of departure.

Not only for North America, Thursday turned out to be the best day for Oceania. In the afternoon, Tonga (1017 AM) was heard with audio already at 1000 UTC, later improving to a really enjoyable level. V7AB from the Marshall Islands (1098 AM) was heard with nice quality for the first time this fall, signing off at 1132 UTC. The most common Kiwi station, NewstalkZB on 1035 AM was first heard with audio at 1140 UTC and at 1200 UTC with the regular top-of-the-hour newscast: "This is NewstalkZB News".

During the following two hours, a few of the most common NZ stations occasionally showed up. One of the easiest Kiwi catches is 1107 AM with transmitters in Tauranga and Rotorua. The station has however changed its name, and what I used to know as Radio Live is nowadays Magic Talk. Magic Talk aired promotional announcements also for its sister network Magic Music.

Alaskan and Hawaiian stations were the strongest they had been so far this fall, so Lauri had a field day reporting new catches. Unfortuntely I didn't find any new ones from any direction. After all this excitement towards other directions, I didn't pay much attention to Asian recordings in the evening, but based on a quick review, I don't expect anything – the focus seemed to shift fast to South Asia and Iran.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Based on the previous night, expectations were high – and they were not met. The evening began with stronger than average signals from Brazil, but that was about it. Signals from the rest of the Americas were weak through the night, and reached average levels only around 0400 UTC. By 0700 UTC everything was gone, and nothing of interest from the Pacific or Asian fronts seemed to materialize until late in the afternoon.

Australian ABC was eventually heard for instance on 567, 576 and 702 AM, so there is potential for some new Down Under catches, once recordings are reviewed.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Flying southwest over Turvelompolo
Here you can fly southwest for a kilometer following the waterway of Turvelompolo. Click to open the video in YouTube.

Overnight was exceptionally poor to all transatlantic latitudes, but at sunrise Colombian and Puerto Rican stations suprisingly remained on the dial for a couple of more hours. No rarities were immediately identified, but still a nice morning.

After the morning opening we packed our stuff and headed south. In the morning temperatures had dipped to -10 C (14 Fahrenheit), which was the lowest this far. There was some fresh snow between Ivalo and Inari, but otherwise road conditions were good, and we had ample time in Rovaniemi before the departure of the train south.

So goodbye to Lapland, for a moment. The break from DXing would become exceptionally short, as I'm planning to return to Aihkiniemi for yet another DXpedition just before the end of October.

Published on October 21, 2019

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