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AIH142 DXpedition to Aihkiniemi - banner photo

Our traditional October DXpedition focused squarely on North American stations. We had a couple of nice openings, and reception improved gradually until October 28th. Just as we expected to enjoy daytimer-filled final days of the month, a large solar eruption silenced the AM band for the remaining days. Apart from DXing, a definite highlight was an excursion to the Arctic Ocean coast, where we enjoyed the hospitality of our Norwegian DX friends over a fabulous king crab dinner.

This year the launch of DXpedition AIH142 coincided with the start of a one-week fall vacation at schools, which meant that we wouldn't be the only ones traveling north. It was very difficult to secure a cabin and a place for a car in the overnight train. Instead of our favorite destination Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle, the only vacancy was on a train heading to Kolari near the Swedish border. It was further up north, but the train would arrive several hours later, meaning that we'd arrive in Aihkiniemi much later than normally.

As our day of departure (Friday, October 15) arrived, Jim Solatie and I faced other obstacles. The largest ice-hockey arena in Helsinki is located right next to the car-carrier station. Traffic was a nightmare as the most popular game of the season was about to begin, and all roads leading to the area were jampacked. COVID-19 regulations had just been loosened, so the crowd was huge. For a moment I thought I could be late for loading the car, but I did arrive in time. Jim's stuff was moved to my Toyota Auris at the Pasila train station, and so we set out north, ready to face the next hurdle: the first winter storm this fall.

Unloading cars at Kolari Railway station
Winter was waiting for us at the Kolari railway station. Click the images in this report to open larger photos.

I slept miserably, as the train felt even noisier than normally. We arrived in Kolari on schedule at 10.40 local time on Saturday, but it was snowing heavily. Quite a contrast to my previous DXpedition AIH139 just a couple of weeks earlier, when Lapland was ablaze with fall colors. Once we started driving north, the next stop was Kittilä, where we filled up and weighed our options. We decided to opt for a detour, first east to Sodankylä, and only then straight north. This added 100 kilometers to our drive, but spared us from the worst leg of the road and the eye of the storm.

By early evening it had snowed 35 cm (14 inches) in Kittilä, the record for the day in all of Finland, so avoiding the western road north was the right choice also in hindsight. During the detour, part of the onslaught was just plain water and part of it sleet, but most importantly, the road was never icy, so while driving was stressful, it wasn't outright dangerous.

We stopped for lunch at a Neste service station at Saariselkä ski resort, where we also briefly met outgoing Aihkiniemi DXers Jorma Huuhtanen and Jorma Mäntylä. They were happy with the previous week of DXing, although they had to endure the consequences of a minor solar storm. We shopped for groceries a bit later in Inari, and arrived in Aihkiniemi at 18.50 local time, the latest arrival time on record, and it was already pitch dark. We emptied the car, set up our gear, and relaxed in the sauna, looking forward to two weeks of fabulous AM DXing.

Aihkiniemi cabins
The brown cabin in Aihkiniemi dates back to 2010, and the reddish cabin was added in 2020.

We would have been happy logging stations from any direction, as long as there would be a clear focus, favoring reception of stations from any narrow target area. That didn't really happen. The solar weather was rather quiet for a long period, which produced neat signals from large areas at relatively high latitudes both east and west. So North American stations ruled the first ten mornings, and a mixed bag of Asians were heard in the early evenings.

All that changed instantly on October 28, when a large coronal mass ejection started heading to Earth. Its immediate impact was a proton event, which silenced our AM dial, sparing only stations in Europe and in the Middle East. The last few days were mostly time wasted, although we did score a couple of rare Brazilian stations.

Long shadows on lake ice
This far north the sun shines from a very low angle, forming long shadows on frozen lakes. I shot this from a drone 120 meters above ground level.

The weather remained wintry for the full two weeks. Our nearby lake froze, and on a couple of days the temperature fell to -15 degrees C (5 F). Due to persistently overcast skies on most nights, AIH142 turned out to be the first DXpedition in years without any successful photos of the northern lights.

Our most important chore was to build a new antenna pointing southwest. This antenna aimed at 207 degrees replaced an earlier antenna directed to 214 degrees, which for some reason had started to collect unwanted interference. Here's an updated map of our antennas.

Antenna directions at Aihkiniemi

Our receiving equipment were same old, same old. We both had three Perseus receivers to cover the full AM band, using (at most) three antennas at any given time. I operated receivers with Jaguar, and Jim with Perseus software. Fortunately I was able to fully concentrate on DXing, burning my vacation days, but Jim continued working remotely all through the DXpedition.

In this video shot in 2020 you can take a peek inside the Aihkiniemi cabins and see how we have equipped the place.

During our DXpedition there were a total of three DXpeditions in the Lemmenjoki DX base, 100 kilometers southwest from us. First Jari Korhonen and Jussi Korhonen (LEM451) were DXing on October 1623, then Jari Ruohomäki (LEM452) on October 2330, and finally Juha Vehmas and Teijo Mäenpää (LEM453) on October 30November 6. Apparentely also Vesa-Jussi Rinkinen had preprogrammed recordings running in Lemmenjoki in October.

Reindeer at the Aihkiniemi cabin
These reindeer wandered around our cabin.

There were also other parallel AM DX efforts. Many Swedish DXers were listening in Parkalompolo in late October, and Norwegian DXers continued to monitor their remote receiving stations also after the KONG43 DXpedition. And as there are two more Beverage-equipped DX bases near Ivalo in Lapland (Veskoniemi and Jari Korhonen's cabin), some coveted stations may be flooded with reception reports from the Nordic countries this time of the year. Fortunately most weak stations tend to fade in and out at different times in different locations around the Arctic north, so at least the reports and corresponding recordings shouldn't be identical.

Here's a description of our adventures each day:

Sunday, October 17, 2021

U.S. stations invaded the AM band as soon as darkness covered the nation, and stations from coast to coast were quite strong through the morning hours. There was a slight dip after sunrise around 0600-0700 UTC, but by 0800 UTC signal levels improved again. Identified stations included 610 KNML, 710 KXMR, 730 KDBI, 860 KPAM, 870 KPRM and 1490 KDBM. Jim spotted KREF from Oklahoma on 1400 AM, which was a new one for both of us.

Mika diving in a tunnel under the road
Mika needed to crawl through a concrete drainage pipe under the road to take the coax cable (Tri-Lan RF240) to the other side. Photo by Jim.

During the day we had an antenna construction project. First we needed to build a coax feed, which turned out to reach 450 meters in length. It had to be routed through a culvert across to the other side of the main road running next to the cabin. The culvert was just wide enough for me, and naturally it was dark, but fortunately it wasn’t wet. And there were no rats or other wildlife. Once on the other side, we took the coax to as far away as possible from a power line running adjacent to the road.

Then we proceeded to unwind and hang the Beverage-type antenna (made of 1.6 mm diameter UL wire, which weighs only 4 kg/1 km) to maximum length, until we arrived at a road. The final span was 784 meters pointing at 207 degrees. This antenna replaced an antenna pointing at 214 degrees, which had become too noisy because of some undetermined source of interference. Maybe it was the powerline.

Jim with antenna wire
Jim unreeling the antenna wire.

The new antenna seems to work fine, and should be ideal for targeting Nigeria, Algeria and Italy, which all host plenty of AM stations. It also works reasonably well for Eastern parts of Spain as opposed to our 255-degree wire, which overwhelmingly favors the northwestern part of the country. And yes, we’re still hoping to catch Gibraltar on 1458 AM some day.

In the evening, nothing much from the east. NHK2 stations closed down at 1530 UTC, but only the usual suspects were spotted.

Monday, October 18, 2021

U.S. stations landed in our cabin after nightfall, but unfortunately not before sunset. Initially the focus was in the Great Lakes area, gradually moving westward by the morning. Around 0500 UTC Mexico City stations were pretty strong. Graveyard frequencies improved during daylight, with common stations from the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest. I identified stations like 830 XEITE, 940 KIXZ, 1250 WJMK, 1260 WSDZ, 1340 WMBN, 1440 KKXL, 1460 WBRN, 1570 WBGX, and 1580 KKTS, but no real surprises.

A frozen puddle
Beautiful patterns in newly formed ice.

During the day we finalized construction of the new antenna at 207 degrees. We lifted the coax to safe heights, hanging from tree branches, to avoid it being a hazard to moose and reindeer. Near the powerline we pressed it on the ground. Then we added grounding and a resistor for termination in the far end. The ground in the end of the antenna is rocky and dry, but it is what it is. It is also at a higher elevation compared to the surrounding plains, offering a scenic view.

Back in the cabin a couple of hours later, at least half a dozen New Zealand stations were observed around 1300 UTC, but nothing personally new. Signals were strongest on 1035, 1107 and 1161 AM. Also Tonga was noted briefly on 1017 AM, the first island station from the South Pacific. Alaskan stations were strong in the afternoon, so I finally identified the latest newcomer KPEN Kenai on 840 AM (audio here). Its sister station KABN Kenai on 960 AM was also strong.

NHK2 network closed today at 1540 UTC, but offered nothing north of Okinawa on 1521 AM. Once again a mixed bag of stations from China to Iran, so it was practically impossible to find anything of interest. In the evening I focused on the new 207-degree wire, but heard only familiar stations from Italy and Greece.

The highlight of the evening was the first and only personally new Aussie so far, 2QN Deniliquin NSW on 1521 AM. 2QN gave a nice local station ID and a local spot after the news before continuing its network program, The Australia Overnight. As noted on my previous DXpedition AIH139, 1521 kHz has become a real treasure trove once a superpower CRI transmitter was turned off earlier this year.

Polypores quickly take root in fallen tree trunks.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Overnight U.S. stations sounded very promising just before 2200 UTC, followed by a dip and a second rise around 2230 UTC, again sinking at 2300 UTC, and finally coming quite strong from 0000 to 0400 UTC, at which time the signals nosedived again so it was quite a roller-coaster.

In the morning hours I tried to catch up on sleep. I didn't want to look like a zombie, since in the afternoon I gave an online lesson to a high-school class in Kouvola about my work as a foreign news journalist.

There was no visible improvement in the signals at daybreak, but stations from the Pacific Northwest continued weak on the dial beyond 1300 UTC in the afternoon. At the same time a couple of Kiwis showed up, and signals from Japan grew quite strong after 1300 UTC, which unfortunately is not near any slot reserved for NHK's local station identifications.

Later on there were a couple of Kiwis on the dial, and Japanese stations were quite forceful around a regional NHK1 break at 1355 UTC. In the evening we heard many Greek pirate stations on the AM dial on the new 207-degree wire.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The first U.S. stations appeared at around 2130 UTC on Tuesday, with a strong emphasis on Ohio and its surrounding areas. I identified for instance 1110 WGNZ, 1150 WIMA, 1160 WCVX, 1360 WHBG, 1400 WMAN (listen to the audio), and 1580 WWCD.

Snapshot from Jaguar on 1240 AM
This snapshot from Jaguar was taken on October 19 at 2300 UTC, on a screen showing the borderline between day and night, and mapping all stations on 1240 AM. The three highlighted stations were identified at the top of the hour.

Sunset enhanced Ohio stations

Sunset in Ohio on October 19 turned out to give a neat boost to stations in a relatively small area. Within three minutes around 2300 UTC I was able to log the following personally new catches, three of which were heard for the first time in Finland (marked with a +). Within a couple of weeks all of them had verified my reception reports:

  • 990 AM WDEO Ypsilanti MI
  • 1240 WHIZ Zanesville OH
  • 1240 WJTN Jamestown NY
  • 1280 +WONW Defiance OH
  • 1340 WXFN Muncie IN
  • 1340 +WCHB Royal Oak MI
  • 1560 +WWYC Toledo OH

There was another good surprise as well, when WDEO Ypsilanti MI came booming on 990 AM, very likely on daytime power, seemingly a bit longer than the FCC would have allowed. Also, WWCK on 1570 AM is no longer silent (as indicated in the AM Radio Log), but was heard during this nice opening.

In the morning, North American signals vanished at daybreak, with some West Coast regulars reappearing around 1000 UTC for a couple of more hours. During the day we checked several antennas. The weather was ideal. After a few days of sub- zero temperatures, the swamps had hardened into sturdier ground, and as there were only patches of snow, it was easy to see where you're stepping. Actually this would be the most comfortable time of the year to walk in these forests.

In the evening there were lots of Chinese stations on the dial, but initially no new catches. It had started to snow, and we drove to Inari to meet fellow DXers Jari and Jussi Korhonen, who were spending the week in Lemmenjoki. We had a fabulous dinner at Restaurant Aanaar, and did some grocery shopping afterwards. The distances here are quite large, so we ended up spending five hours on this dinner outing, and got back to the cabin in heavy snowfall, just in time to hear U.S. East Coast stations pour in from around 2100 UTC. This was the earliest opening so far, so expectations for daytimers were high, but at least instantly we didn't notice anything spectacular.

Roasted reindeer at Restaurant Aanaar
Roasted reindeer smoked with pine, a reindeer blood dumpling, lichen seasoned with lingonberry, and Lappish potato purée. This was the main course of the 5-course dinner at Restaurant Aanaar.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Overnight conditions seemed to favor Minnesota and the rest of the Great Lakes, as is normally the case. At sunrise signals dropped fast, and daytime was useless: no signals from any direction.

During the day we tried to resolve an issue with our 60-degree antenna. It has a relatively high noise level, which seems to have gotten worse since last season. After replacing parts, as well as remaking and resolding connections, we pretty much eliminated all the potential problem areas that we could detect. To no avail. Maybe it is the nearby powerline.

After 1300 UTC Asian signals were booming. Aside from Chinese and Japanese stations for a while, there wasn't much of a focus, so finding new ones was once again a major challenge.

A naked birch forest
This birch grove surrounds our antenna pointing at 335 degrees. It becomes a real nuisance during the winter when snow bends most birches down, pulling the wire down as well.

Friday, October 22, 2021

On Thursday evening, U.S. East Coast stations made a very weak and brief showing around 2130 UTC, after which transatlantic connections were miserable. The lousy night however gave way to a great morning, when signals just kept on improving, especially from the Eastern Seaboard. Spanish stations were also very strong, but no new ones were logged from there.

Then it was time for a break from DXing by way of meeting other DXers. We started driving toward Kongsfjord in northern Norway, where DXpedition KONG43 was underway, attended by Bjarne Mjelde, Odd-Jørgen Sagdahl, and Ole Forr. It had been ten years since I visited Kongsfjord (during DXpedition AIH7), but Jim had maintained more frequent contacts, meeting Bjarne last summer, and was now embarking on his third Norway visit this year.

Bridge over Tana (Teno) River
This modern bridge over the Tana (Teno) River was opened in 2020.

First we headed east, filled up in Näätämö on the Finnish side of the border, crossed over to Norway no questions asked and began following the coastal road westward. After a bit of grocery shopping at the foot of the newly-built Tana Bridge (Tana bru), we continued in heavy snowfall over the fells to Kongsfjord and the adjacent village of Veines, where we checked into Kongsfjord Gjestehus.

Bjarne's Kongsfjord DX base
The house built by Bjarne's grandparents now serves as the Kongsfjord DX cabin.

From there it was only a few hundred meters to the Kongsfjord DX base, where we enjoyed a fabulous three-course dinner. The main delicacy was king crab & carbonara, and a variety of drinks, including supergood Norwegian Supersonic beer. The food was exquisite, the company fabulous, and the DX base was really sophisticated.

The KONG crew was able to use not only their antennas just outside, but also remote listening locations, so if conditions were good, they had many options to look for the best selection of stations on each frequency. It was probably past 2 AM Norway time when we stumbled back into the guesthouse.

Bjarne Mjelde, Odd-Jørgen Sagdahl and Ole Forr
Bjarne Mjelde (left), Odd-Jørgen Sagdahl, and Ole Forr, and a load of king crab.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

We met the KONG DXpeditionists for breakfast at Bjarne’s DX HQ at 10 Norway time, after which we checked out and headed with OJS and Ole to Mount Loran to see their remote listening site on a barren cliff some 25 km west of Kongsfjord.

Odd-Jørgen Sagdahl and Bjarne Mjelde DXing
Odd-Jørgen Sagdahl and Bjarne Mjelde checking the AM dial.

The road from Kongsfjord to Berlevåg is very impressive, snaking around steep coastal cliffs and surrounded by sharp, protruding rocks all along the coast. After OJS and Ole had changed a battery and a hard drive for the Loran equipment, which was housed in a steel box on the open terrain, we headed back to our cars, and bid farewell to our fellow DXers. We continued a bit further west to the town of Berlevåg for some sightseeing, after which we began the long road home.

Fishing boats in Berlevåg

It turned out to be about a six-hour drive. After heavy snow and whiteout conditions on the fells, a snack at Tana bru, very narrowly missing reindeer on the road following Tana River, crossing the border in Utsjoki without getting stopped, and observing an unidentified light above the horizon near Kaamanen, we arrived back in Aihkiniemi at around 9 PM local time. Phew.

Road vanished in snowstorm
If it wasn't for the plow stakes, it would be difficult to see where the road is. This was the road over the highlands of Varanger Peninsula.

Time for sauna and a quick check of our automated recordings. One of my three PCs had stalled due to an unexpected Windows update, but otherwise we got plenty of new recordings. No Asian stations to speak of in the evening.

Kongsfjord Landhandel
Kongsfjord Landhandel, a colorful store, had unfortunately been closed permanently.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Transatlantic signals were surprisingly weak overnight, but the going got better after 0400 UTC. Some common signals from Puerto Rico and Colombia were strong at around 05000600 UTC, and for North America, focus was on the East Coast, which is always welcome.

This was the coldest morning thus far. It was -15 C when I woke up just before 7 AM local time. We checked the last remaining antennas and enjoyed sauna already in broad daylight.

Asian signals arrived early, and we started recording the dial before 1200 UTC. Loads of Chinese were heard, including Henan PBS on 585 AM, which was a personally new catch, and probably unheard in Europe before this.

A landslide on the way from Berlevåg
A warning for landslides is not baseless at this point close to Berlevåg in Norway.

Monday, October 25, 2021

After a lackluster night, the morning was overwhelming. Stations from Colombia, Peru and Puerto Rico were heard for hours, along with stations further south in Argentina and Uruguay. No rarities at least instantly, but reception from that region was still better than on any previous day of this DXpedition. At the same time, U.S. stations improved, so at 0600 UTC it was difficult to choose where to focus. Also Spanish stations were exceptionally strong, and we logged a couple of RNE1 stations previously unheard in Finland. This was thanks to RNE1 having also local breaks, and not just regional slots, at a time when they would be audible in Finland.

Once again nothing from the Pacific, but in the afternoon Asian stations started pouring in before 1200 UTC. Jim identified Ningbo Music Radio on 1521 AM, an unlisted station which we heard also before on this DXpedition. In the evening Japanese stations were also pretty strong, and U.S. East Coast stations became audible already before 2100 UTC.

Sandfjorden beach
A sandy beach, Sandfjorden, halfway between Kongsfjord and Berlevåg on the Arctic Ocean coast.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Overnight wasn’t very impressive, but once again the morning hours were pretty nice. There were some common Colombian and Peruvian stations in the mix, and some of the U.S. stations were from the coveted East Coast, so these kind of openings are always nice to study afterwards.

From 1030 UTC onward Tonga on 1017 AM was stronger than on any previous day of this DXpedition. Overall the South Pacific however remained much weaker than usually at this time of the year, especially when compared to AIH106 in 2019 or AIH88 in 2018 at the same time of the year. Even today nothing else was heard from the Pacific apart from Tonga. Just lots of Chinese and Japanese stations later on in the afternoon.

The first transatlantic signals arrived before 2100 UTC and continued until 2230 UTC, after which signals nosedived. At least 1160 WPIE NY was a new catch during this opening.

AIH142 written in snow
A drone view of an AIH142 sign for visiting aliens. And making it easier for spy satellites to find us...

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Overnight reception of North American signals was mediocre, but in the morning things really got going. There was no decrease in signal strength after sunrise, so during the day the entire AM band was full of North American stations, from coast to coast. To give you an idea of the signal strength of some relatively common AM stations at best, here are some sample audio clips:

For a beginner this would have been heaven, but for us it is extremely difficult to find any new ones if there is no real focus. WSON from Henderson KY on 860 AM was perhaps the best new catch, logged all over Lapland.

In the evening, the first stations from Atlantic Canada appeared already before 2000 UTC, which was exceptionally early for October, well before sunset at these Canadian locations. There was a first initial wave of stations from New England and Ontario peaking at 2130 UTC, but it proved to be weaker than expected. For instance, WSKW was heard on 1160 AM, but no new daytimers were noted. At this time the 321-degree antenna was not yet useful, and we used antennas pointing at 291 and 305 degrees instead.

Boulders covered by snow
Not my favorite terrain for hiking. These boulders are located close to the end of our 94-degree antenna.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

After a short retreat around 2200 UTC (late Wednesday), signals improved by 2300 UTC, and the following hour was quite productive for catching daytime-only stations from the Midwest. Stations identified included 890 KQLX, 930 WLBL, 1120 KCRN and 1550 WHIT. After the sun had set all over North America, a few more boring hours followed, as is typical.

Daybreak is the next highlight of the daily DX cycle. Sunrise here was at 0613 UTC, and under normal conditions, signals would rapidly fall around that time. However, when geomagnetic conditions are favorable, what happens is that nearby European stations quickly wane, while transatlantic signals remain more or less intact. These hours are a pleasure to listen to no adjacent-channel interference, and solid signals from coast to coast. Stations identified included 610 KNML, 770 KATL, 870 WHCU, 1270 WHLD, 1340 KYSP, 1400 WZFC, 1410 WNGL, 1420 WLIS, 1570 WVTL, and 1580 KFCS. The JIX curve on Jaguar software peaked at 98, meaning that there were transatlantic stations 10 kHz apart throughout the entire AM band.

Jaguar screen shot of conditions
A Jaguar screenshot demonstrating strong signals from North America on the 305-degree antenna through the day until I switched the antenna off. This precise offset indicates that I'm listening to KQLX Lisbon ND on 889.9963 kHz at its sign-off time of 2345 UTC, when its signal briefly overtook even WLS.

On a day like this it would be possible to identify 300500 North American AM stations if you counted all the regular ones as well.
In the afternoon we saw a gradual weakening of signals. I pulled the plug on the 321-degree antenna at 1354 UTC, because none of the stations heard at that time were anymore from the main target area of that particular antenna, but rather from the Pacific Northwest, which I was recording using another antenna at 335 degrees.

This explains the sudden drop in the red indicator line, the JIX curve, in the image above. The remaining random streaks in the evening represent just unintended leftovers, and forms of QRM at 10-kHz intervals, while I was actually using an antenna at 80 degrees to record signals from Asia.

For a beginner, a DX day like this would be paradise. Loads of signals from all over North America for 18 hours a day. While there were nice moments, for us (both me and Jim have about 1,8001,900 verified stations from North America) it was extremely difficult to find anything new, because there were no sharp and geographically limited openings to any specific areas.

Also, the so-called graveyard channels (local stations with 1 kW of power) were simply too crowded to allow many individual stations to rise on top of the pile. On a positive note, East Coast stations remained audible for a long time, as typically (up here in Lapland) West Coast stations tend to take over during daylight hours.

Mika Mäkeläinen
The author, Mika Mäkeläinen, surrounded by receivers and accessories.

In the evening we drove for an hour in a snowstorm to Inari to meet Ritva and Jari Ruohomäki at Restaurant Papana. It was nice to catch up, and for a change not spend a fortune in a meal like in the upscale Restaurant Aanaar. On our way back the snowfall had fortunately ended and the roads had been plowed.

While we were in Inari, at 1535 UTC there was a major eruption in the sun, which silenced the AM band on higher latitudes. A coronal mass ejection (CME) was heading toward the Earth. Already then we realized that the remaining days were likely spoiled by this unexpected energy burst. We could kiss goodbye to North American signals for a few days, because this kind of solar eruption would wreak havoc on the geomagnetic field on high latitudes like Lapland. Because of overcast skies, I couldn't even take advantage of the northern lights, which in any case were less impressive than predicted.

Friday, October 29, 2021

After a quiet night there were some Latin American stations at daybreak, after which the AM band totally died. The evening wasn't any better. Some Iranian, Indian and Thai stations were all that was available. Time to shovel snow and get other chores done. And time to listen to recordings made on previous days.

Coax cable parts
I used the leftover connectors to build short coax cables for use in the listening room.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Protons had a devastating effect on transatlantic signals. The second night after the solar eruption was the worst in all of two weeks. Only some weak signals from Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil were noted through the night, peaking around 0500 UTC, and vanishing totally around 0600 UTC. Again a very quiet day, and in the afternoon the first signals from the east were from Iran.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

One more wasted day, almost. Luckily there were some strong and interesting stations from Brazil in the low end of the dial when signals from the Western Hemisphere peaked in the morning around 0530 UTC. During the day I even resorted to listening to European shortwave stations, because there was nothing of interest on the AM dial.

Jim Solatie
Jim Solatie listening.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Essentially no transatlantic signals at all during the night, so this was the poorest night and morning of all. It wasn't such a pity, because at least it was painless to switch receivers off, pack our belongings, and clean the house for the next DXers, who would be arriving on Saturday.

No promises as to when a comprehensive log will be published from this DXpedition. I have a backlog of many years and dozens of terabytes of recordings to go through. However, if you just want to get an idea of what kind of stations can be logged in Aihkiniemi, check out my newest published log (AIH133) from February 2021.

On our return trip to Rovaniemi Jim drove most of the time, while I attended a journalism conference online. The journey was uneventful, except for a short detour in Sodankylä. We wanted to take a closer look at Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, which has massive antennas for various uses.

EISCAT receiver site in Sodankylä
This receiver antenna is part of an international EISCAT (European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association) radar system, used to study solar effects on the Earth on UHF frequencies.

The Observatory measures Earth's magnetic field, cosmic radio noise, seismic activities, and cosmic rays. The National Satellite Data Center run by the Finnish Meteorological Institute is located on the same campus, and has a few somewhat smaller dish antennas.

The precise location of the research center is a village named Tähtelä, which can be loosely translated as "Star home". This reminded me of what astronomer Carl Sagan often said of us humans being "star stuff." All the essential building blocks of life on Earth (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur) have been formed in stars. Dizzying to think about it.

From the Observatory it was only 125 kilometers to Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle. Having left Aihkiniemi before midday, we had time to kill in Rovaniemi before the departure of our train. We dined at Hanki Restaurant, which turned out to be a really good Korean restaurant nestled on the street level of an ordinary condo building, a few blocks outside of the very heart of Rovaniemi. A very tasty conclusion to an exciting two-week DXpedition in Lapland!

After AIH142 I counted that I've spent altogether 218 days in Aihkiniemi during the past 11 years, and another 182 days in Lemmenjoki prior to that, which makes a total of 400 days of DXing in Lapland! Actually I did DX for four weeks also in other locations, so the total comes to around 438 days, or over 62 weeks. Time well spent :)

Text and photos: Mika Mäkeläinen

Published on November 9, 2021

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