The 29th DXpedition to Aihkiniemi
in Finnish Lapland had a very Chinese flavor. Not
only did we hear Chinese radio stations most afternoons,
but a crew from the Chinese news agency Xinhua drove
over 1,200 kilometers from Helsinki to Aihkiniemi
to report on DXing! Propagation conditions ranged
from fairly good to rock bottom. Although decent
openings in the Western Hemisphere were observed
from October 17th to 27th, rising solar activity
wreaked havoc on DXing during the last week. And,
on October 22nd there were more sunspots than at
any point during the ongoing solar cycle.
AIH29 was exceptional in the sense that we had four
participants, a record in Aihkiniemi. However, each
of us spent only one or two weeks out of the three
week period, so that at any given time there were
only two of us:
Lauri Niemi: October
Markku Jussila: October
Mäkeläinen: October 18November
Solatie: October 26November 2, 2013
DXpedition AIH29 began after
Lauri and Markku drove 930 kilometers from Vaasa
to Aihkiniemi the weekend of October 11th. Propagation
conditions during the first week were fairly poor
with only short morning openings to the Western
Hemisphere. Aihkiniemi's extensive antenna options
to the East however guaranteed that there was always
something to listen to from Asia.
Aihkiniemi cabin at daybreak
click to enlarge, and then hit back to
return to this expedition report.
in Aihkiniemi consist of 14 Beverage antennas, each
1 kilometer (3,000 ft.) long, which makes our cabin
perhaps the best-equipped of all AM DXing bases
in the world. The 14th antenna, which was
built soon after my arrival, extends the Aihkiniemi
antenna arsenal to a previously neglected area.
This latest addition is a 1,000-meter wire at 210
degrees, which is intended to capture elusive local
stations from Spain's Mediterranean coastline, as
well as from Nigeria, which is one of the few African
nations with an extensive selection of remaining
AM stations. Here's an azimuthal map for Aihkiniemi
with our antenna directions:
of us use Perseus hardware. While three of us favor
the software made by the same manufacturer, I prefer
to run my Perseus receiver with Jaguar.
My receiver setup
in Aihkiniemi surrounded by a mesh of antenna
and grounding wires. Click to view explanations.
cabin is becoming increasingly well-equipped
with all sorts of technical accessories. It even
includes four laptop computers, so the amount of
tech hardware that we have to haul there and back
is diminishing every year. I still brought one of
my own laptops because I wanted to have Jaguar installed
on it. My large antenna switch box was one of the
few items that I wasn't able to take by plane. Otherwise,
all of the necessary stuff needed for a major listening
and recording operation is already portable.
Three pieces of UPS protected us from a few short
power outages (less than a second) and, surprisingly,
we didn't have any major technical problems nor
did we encounter any significant sources of external
interference to our equipment, so we were able to
focus on the fabulous world of DXing!
Sample some MP3 goodies for
A unique opportunity for exciting new catches on
the AM band is, of course, the rationale for undertaking
a laborious expedition to a remote location like
Aihkiniemi. There will always be goodies, even during
less than ideal propagation conditions. Here are
a few MP3 recordings showcasing what we picked up:
Radio 5, Salamanca, on 1314 kHz, as an example
of how well our new 210-degree wire captures signals
from Spain. RNE Salamanca, here beginning a local
break, is where the well-known Spanish DXer Mauricio
Molano works, so verifications are guaranteed!
Ethiopia, Mekele, on 1044 kHz, heard here signing
off with a closing announcement and the national
anthem. Ethiopian AM stations are actually heard
quite often thanks to a one-of-a-kind 1000-meter
wire directed towards the Horn of Africa.
NHK2 Morioka, on 1386 kHz, signing off, just
to show how well some Japanese stations can be heard.
From Monday to Saturday, NHK2 stations close down
at 1540 UTC, which is one of the few moments when
it is possible to identify them.
Agana, Guam, on 801 kHz, is an example from
the most coveted continent, Australia & Oceania,
in the opposite end of the world from Finland. Again,
pretty neat reception quality.
North Pole, AK, on 1170 kHz, a regular catch
up here, but very exotic on more Southern latitudes,
heard here launching another broadcast day
just to give you a taste of the Arctic!
Columbus, NE, on 900 kHz, amazing strength considering
that the station has never been heard before in
Walker, MN, on 1570 kHz, a very rare station,
and luckily just at closing time, transmitting at
250 watts of power. Indicative of the conditions,
which favored Minnesota for a few days.
Cherryville, NC, on 1590 kHz, obviously transmitting
with daytime power of 10 kW through the night, again
the first ID caught in Finland.
G12 Radio, Bogotá, on 1550 kHz, one of
the many Colombian stations that have fairly recently
changed its name.
Stay tuned as more clips will become available later.
Chinese Xinhua reporting on DXing
Zhang Xuan making
a stand-up, pointing to our 80-degree antenna
for South China, and Li Jizhi behind the TV
camera. You can see the result here.
And then there is China. Not
just the deluge of Chinese AM stations that pour into
our cabin almost every afternoon, but two very nice
I first met the correspondent of the Chinese national
news agency Xinhua at YLE in Helsinki a few weeks
before DXpedition AIH29, and I suggested this wacky
idea of reporting how Finnish DXers pick up Chinese
AM stations. Of course other stories, such as reindeer
herding, could be covered at the same time in Lapland.
The highlight of traditional reindeer husbandry is
the annual corralling of all the reindeer in a pen
usually at the end of October for livestock
census, marking, vet care and, for many, slaughtering.
Yes, we eat Rudolphs, but don't worry; Santa still
has plenty of them left for his annual flight around
the world. The reindeer round-up was a truly unforgettable
event and a good example of the traditional Sami culture
thriving in Lapland. There's more about our activities
with the Chinese news crew in the daily diary.
Xinhua's news reports from Aihkiniemi
were published on November 18th both in English
and in Chinese.
The Chinese article was republished by at least
a dozen Chinese newspapers. You can also find a
CNC TV report in English
and in Chinese.
Hopefully, the Xinhua reports will inspire more
local and provincial Chinese radio stations to begin
responding to reception reports. It seems like only
half of Chinese AM stations verify reports, even
though we write them in Chinese. It appears to me
that they don't realize the value that DXers place
on getting a confirmation in return. For decades,
such verifications of reception have been an honored
tradition in radio broadcasting around the world.
The practice is eroding, especially in countries
where stations are inundated with reports, but this
is not the case with China, which very few DXers
seriously target. So, we're counting on Xinhua to
educate the Chinese media on DXing.
We also got some domestic media
attention. On November 1st, the 90th anniversary
of radio broadcasting in Finland was celebrated
in Tampere, and Radio
Moreeni, a local FM station, interviewed me
for about ten minutes on DXing during its jubilee
Conditions rising and nose-diving
Propagation conditions during the three-week period
fluctuated quite dramatically, which can be expected
near the solar maximum. The first week was rather
poor, the second fairly good, and the third truly
lousy. For those of you interested in detailed solar
weather indices, here's a chart covering the AIH29
DXpedition (thanks to Jan
Alvestad for compiling the information). The
period of best conditions to North America and the
Far East is highlighted in light green and the record
sunspot number in red.
October is traditionally a busy month in AM DXing
bases across Lapland. You can follow parallel DXpeditions
in Kongsfjord, Norway (KONG23 until October 18th)
Mjelde's and OJ
Sagdahl's blogs. Comprehensive logs from Parkalompolo,
Sweden (PAX101), can be found in an often-updated
file, and an overview of the conditions from the
perspective of Lemmenjoki, Finland, is also online,
by two crews, LEM331
until October 25th and LEM332
until November 2nd.
you a better idea of each DXing day, here's a detailed
diary of our activities starting from October 18th.
October 18, 2013
waste a lot of time traveling because I flew for
the first time to
Lapland for a long DXpedition. This arrangement
was made possible thanks to Markku, who took some
of my stuff a week earlier by car. I only had to
fit the remaining equipment almost within limits
of airline regulations. The security check officers
didn't even blink when they opened my carry-on luggage,
which was filled with external hard drives
stripped of all accessories and one laptop.
I got a second screening but no questions asked.
Anything else can be broken with rough handling,
but hard drives are irreplaceable (especially on
the return flight!) so I insisted on carrying them
Mika's shortcut to Lapland, arriving in Ivalo
on Friday afternoon, October 18th.
The weather at Helsinki-Vantaa
airport was awful. It was the coldest day so far
this fall with sleet in the air and moisture on
the ground. However, Finnair's flight to Ivalo was
almost on time and, in roughly an hour and 20 minutes
later, I saw Markku waiting for me at the airport,
where the ground was covered by a thin blanket of
fresh snow. Meanwhile, Lauri was in the departure
hall, ready to board the same Airbus back to Helsinki
via Kittilä. Before arriving in Aihkiniemi
well before sunset, we shopped for groceries in
Ivalo and had a burger in Inari.
Setting up all the gear always
takes a lot of time, so I may have missed some stations
during the afternoon Asia session. However, overall
conditions didn't sound spectacular. To my surprise,
though, I got one new NHK station at 1540 UTC when
NHK2 closed down: a 100-watt relay of JOTB Matsue
(1593 kHz) on 1539 kHz was a novel discovery. Markku,
however, was only focused on the Western Hemisphere,
so he had a relaxing afternoon, as nothing was heard
from the U.S. West Coast.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
I haven't really checked overnight
recordings, but conditions seemed poor in all directions,
just a couple of already noted Ethiopian AM stations.
Practically nothing was heard from Latin America.
North American stations became stronger before daybreak
and remained audible until
around 1000 UTC, and a bunch of regular stations
a couple more hours.
U.S. stations on the dial,
and Markku is having a time of his life!
Signal strength varied wildly,
atmospheric noise was strong, and conditions were
limited to the upper half of the AM band, with stations
coming mostly from the Midwest, especially around
Minnesota and Wisconsin. "La Picosa" KQSP
Shakopee, MN, on 1530 AM was identified on daytime
power, along with a couple of stations on 1450 kHz,
the best of which was KOKO Warrensburg, MO. Listening
to 1450 AM was sheer joy now compared to the same
time last year, as a long-time pest in neighboring
Kola Peninsula has left the adjacent frequency of
1449 kHz. Until now, listening to stations on 1450
kHz was usually possible only during a few seconds
before the top of the hour when Russian stations
never worried about dead air. It's pure luxury to
be able to monitor the frequency now without any
Just as the Western Hemisphere
faded out, Eastern stations emerged. Initially we
got a lot of Japanese stations, although NHK2 breaks
didn't yield new ones. Soon after, Chinese stations
dominated the entire AM band for several hours. I
took full advantage of the vacated frequency of 1449
kHz, which was open to the East even late in the evening.
The most common Chinese station here is Rizhao PBS,
which launched its broadcast day at 2130 UTC with
several neat station identifications and a very powerful
signal. Some Philippine stations were also heard,
but the only new one was DWRS Vigan on 927 kHz opening
its morning broadcast around 1954 UTC quite
an interesting timing, I wonder why they didn't start
at the top of the hour?
Markku runs a big supermarket,
so there's no risk of starving in Aihkiniemi.
This amount of chocolate should be enough for
DXpeditionists through the winter!
Overall, the Asian opening today
was well above average, and browsing the recordings
should result in more fun surprises.
Aside from listening, I paid
a courtesy visit to our nearest neighbor. The weather
was repulsive with strong winds developing into
a snow storm by the evening. Braving the snow in
the comfort of a car, we drove a few kilometers
away to Jounila for a shower, and enjoyed Markku's
cooking later in the cabin.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Overnight recordings of transatlantic
stations were useless and deleted after inspection.
Just the usual suspects from North and South America.
In the morning, signal strength was reasonable from
around 0400 UTC, and 0500 UTC was the best top of
the hour. Conditions favored the Great Lakes area,
so even though graveyard frequencies were open,
stations like KTRF on 1230 kHz were usually on top.
Occasionally, conditions inched deeper south, and
we got one spectacular surprise, KJSK
Columbus, NE, on 900 kHz (MP3), noticed live
by Markku. A few Mexican stations were also logged,
such as XET Monterrey on 990 kHz with a very impressive
sound. Signals began to retreat after 0500 UTC,
and by 0600 the most powerful stations came from
the Canadian Prairie and the U.S. Rockies.
U.S. stations gradually weakened,
although the toughest ones were still audible well
past 1200 UTC, so this was quite a long opening. Graveyard
frequencies were mostly open, although signals were
fairly weak. In addition to KTRF, our typical catches
included KCCR and WJON on 1240 kHz, WMBN on 1340 kHz,
and KIHH on 1400 kHz. Just a trickle of signals from
Hawaii and Alaska in the afternoon.
Mika checking antennas.
This is where our 80- and 160-degree wires begin
The first sustained wave from
Asia arrived well before 1100 UTC, and this time
it was spearheaded by stations from the Chinese
province of Nei Monggol in the north. Many Japanese
stations joined in the mix, and even Vietnamese
stations were present at the same time, so finding
new ones was challenging. Notably, NHK2 closed down
today at 1510 UTC. Japanese DXer Sei-ichi Hasegawa
emailed me that 1510 UTC is nowadays the sign-off
time on Sundays, while transmission ends at 1540
UTC on all other days. The Asian opening was much
shorter than yesterday, and by 1600 UTC nearly all
Asian stations were toppled by Europeans, Iranians,
and the like.
Outside fierce winds and snowfall
continued until early evening, so I had to clear
the yard and driveway. Wouldn't want to get snowbound
here. Well, actually, with all of the receivers
and food, maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all...
Monday, October 21, 2013
Arctic ice lantern designed
Overnight, we heard some common
stations from Venezuela and the United States, followed
by a good morning opening around 0500-0600 UTC.
North American stations were heard from Coast to
Coast, but most impressive was the strong showing
of stations from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and
Colombia. Identified catches included Radio Alegría
(Venezuela) on 1020 kHz and Radio Avivamiento (Panamá)
on 1530 kHz. Then suddenly all stations vanished
around 0615 UTC and resurfaced around 0700 UTC,
with some East Coast as well, including WNZS Veazie,
ME, on 1340 kHz. Once again U.S. stations continued
well into the afternoon.
The Asian opening began after
1100 UTC, once more focused on China and Japan.
Unfortunately, Iranian and European stations spoiled
the fun quite early, becoming strong already around
1330 UTC. Around midday, we let automated recordings
take care of the business while we erected a new
temporary antenna, roughly 700 meters pointing at
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
In the early morning hours, stations
from Brazil and Argentina were heard for hours,
but signal levels were only average nevertheless
this was better than during the previous days. In
the morning, daybreak at 0500-0600 UTC was once
again the most interesting period and a time of
extremely intensive listening. Venezuelan and Puerto
Rican stations dipped in the morning, but returned
close to 0800 UTC, which is remarkably late this
early in the season. North American stations were
heard from Coast to Coast. 0600 UTC seemed to be
the best top of the hour, as even the very low end
of the AM dial was open.
The morning session was lively
and mesmerizing because of constant variation in
signal levels. We got a bunch of new stations, such
as KTUV Little Rock, AR, on 1440 kHz. Around 0900
UTC there was a brief opening to Tennessee, with
old acquaintances 1340 WCDT and 1390 WTJS identified.
Minnesotan stations were still very powerful, and
KATE Albert Lea on 1450 kHz was heard for the third
day in a row.
What do you mean that
this doesn't qualify as gourmet dining or merit
a Michelin Star?
It might be too early to judge
an antenna based on just a few hours of listening,
but it seemed that the new 700-meter antenna at
210 degrees had a fairly wide lobe, so we extended
the antenna all the way to 1,000 meters, which is
the maximum allowed by the terrain ending
at a lakeshore. Even when the wire was short this
morning, I still caught one new RNE1 relay transmitter,
namely Cabra (Andalucia) on 972 kHz.
The first East Asian sounds arrived
just before 1000 UTC, but not quite early and strong
enough for the NHK1 local station identifications.
Conditions to Japan remained fair during subsequent
NHK breaks, but JOAP Naha, Okinawa, on 549 kHz is
so far the only new catch. As a sign of improving
conditions, Guam stations on 567 and 801 kHz were
identified just before 1200 UTC. Around 1030 UTC
I switched my focus and recording activity to the
I needed some evidence
to remind me that it wasn't completely cloudy
all the time.
Otherwise conditions to Asia
were average. Chinese stations, such as Nei Monggol
PBS on the unlisted frequency of 1305 kHz, dominated
at first, but very soon at 1330 UTC even Indian
stations were heard, and the band had become a useless
mess of everything possible.
While writing this, I missed
the 1540 UTC break for NHK2 local station identifications;
I just heard the closing melody being played on
many frequencies. Oh well, slightly less recordings
to check in the end.
To keep things in perspective,
the conditions have been so unstable that on all
these days we haven't had a chance of getting daytimers
during our late evening. Now we're starting to be
more hopeful. First audio from North America was
at 2040 UTC on 1390 kHz (presumed WEGP), well before
sunset there, and from South America after 2100
UTC on 1190 kHz (Brazilian, presumed as CBN Natal
with "A Voz do Brasil"). Eventually, no
daytimers were detected live, but U.S. East Coast
was moderate until around 2300 UTC, when stations
vanished and reappeared early in the morning. Moderate
Brazil and Argentina (such as Radio Rubí
on 1670 kHz) overnight.
Eurasian Jay (Garrulus
glandarius) at the northern extreme of its range.
Whimsical developments in the
sun that are responsible for the sudden deterioration
of propagation have not gone unnoticed by the community
of solar geeks. Here's what Spaceweather.com
TSUNAMI AND RADIO BURST: Sunspot AR1875 erupted
on Oct. 22nd (21:20 UT), producing an impulsive
M4-class solar flare and a loud burst of shortwave
radio static. Amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft
of New Mexico was listening at the time of the eruption.
"I knew this flare was a strong one by the
force of the radio shock front," he says. "It
nearly lifted me out of my chair!" -- Ashcraft
is a regular listener of the sun and he classifies
the Oct. 22nd outburst as "one of the strongest
radio blasts of the solar cycle so far."
On Spaceweather you can even
listen to Ashcraft's recording
of the burst of radio static
quite impressive, and not totally unlike what we
experienced in Aihkiniemi. The highest recorded
sunspot number of the ongoing solar cycle was reached
today (228 according to NOAA's count).
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
U.S. East Coast stations were
heard best around 0300-0400 UTC, and this would
be the only time slot worth saving from the overnight
automated recordings. Some Colombian and Venezuelan
stations were strong around 0400 and 0500 UTC, but
nothing much from any direction was heard in between.
The morning peak was the weakest in five days
just as reception should have peaked, the band became
quiet. There's only one way from here up.
Time to catch up on sleep. Outside we got some drizzle
in the early morning hours as the temperature rose
above the freezing point.
There was a near total radio
blackout during the day. Stations from the west vanished
before 0600 UTC, and only after 1330 UTC the first
signals from the east became audible. Unfortunately,
it was only Iran and Saudi Arabia, along with Europeans,
and practically nothing from further east, just the
Indian superpower station on 1071 kHz.
This is not a black-and-white
photo, but a cloudy October day here devours
Reviewing recordings from this
morning was today's bright spot. The new 210-degree
antenna worked like magic! Already on the first
morning with the full-size antenna I logged five
RNE1 and RNE5 stations that I've never heard before:
Catalunya on 801 and 1152 kHz, as well as Comunidad
Valenciana on 558, 936 and 1125 kHz! This is simply
amazing. Trust me. These are rare stations in Finland.
Another one of those 'why didn't I think of this
before' experiences. Maybe conditions this morning
were a bit special. Otherwise, I'd be running out
of hunting targets from Spain by the end of the
Wednesday evening felt like
a total disaster, as our antennas captured hardly
anything beyond Iran. But hey, there's still Iran!
I thought I had pretty much exhausted what there is
during several weeks of intensive Iran monitoring
a year earlier, but I still had a short list of targets,
and began to inspect the dial accordingly. And what
a surprise as I hit the Zahedan jackpot! Three stations
with provincial programming from Baluchestan, all
with fabulous local station identifications on very
difficult frequencies (1053, 1296, and 1377 kHz).
A word of warning if you hear Farsi (or in
this case more precisely Dari) on 1296 kHz, it is
almost certainly Radio Azadi from Afghanistan, and
hearing Farsi on 1377 kHz is nearly always Voice of
Russia via Armenia. For weeks on end last year, I
didn't hear a trace of Zahedan on these frequencies.
It turned out that propagation
conditions recovered rather rapidly. Overnight conditions
favored the "Orinoco" region: Venezuela
and Colombia. In the morning there was a peak deeper
south around 0545 UTC, when for example Radio Sucre
(700 kHz) from Ecuador sounded like a real big gun,
and quite a few Cubans were heard at enjoyable signal
The days may be short,
but the antennas are long.
After a modest rise earlier around
U.S. sunset, U.S. East Coast was audible again around
0400-0700 UTC, but no rarities were logged when
listening live. A few regulars hung around intermittently
until 0900 UTC, but nothing worth reporting.
In the afternoon, the AM band was remarkably undisturbed,
and I was already hoping for some Oceania, but had
to settle with the regular Asian mix. Fortunately,
I had some luck regarding the only two opportunities
when NHK2 station can be identified, and I heard
two personal new ones: JOLC Tottori via JOLZ Yonago
on 1521 kHz and JOMC Miyazaki on 1467 kHz. I also
noted Nei Monggol PBS on yet another unlisted frequency,
1224 kHz. The opening, which began before 1100 UTC,
was fairly short-lived, and from 1400 UTC the AM
band sounded like it was being swarmed with Iranian
and Saudi stations.
Got some more snow and I shoveled
Friday, October 25, 2013
During the night, U.S. East Coast,
Puerto Rican, and Venezuelan stations showed up
as soon as the sun set in their respective areas,
so we recorded TA signals starting already before
2200 UTC. At daybreak, the conditions just melted,
but a new path emerged to the U.S. Rockies and the
Canadian Prairie. That's when Markku began his long
drive home. Aside from a few big guns, signal levels
were pretty weak until around 1000 UTC, when the
Northwestern corner regained some strength.
As it was Friday, I enjoyed listening
to "Friday Night Blues" and other country
classics on my favorite Washingtonian, KKXA 1520
AM, heard occasionally with a massive signal. Got
this advice from "KXA" live on the air:
"Never stick anything in your ear, except Classic
Country!" Couldn't agree more.
Stations from the Pacific
Northwest continued remarkably late. Signal levels
were not that spectacular, but still at 1400-1500
UTC there were North American stations on the dial
from California, Washington, British Columbia, Alaska,
and Hawaii. This is not rare, but, nevertheless, it
is the first time during this fall season that TA
signals endure throughout the day and even make a
decent comeback late in the afternoon. If solar activity
remains low, this kind of extended North American
opening should become a norm for the winter months.
It was a real pleasure to hear KONP and KLAM fight
over domination of 1450 kHz late into the afternoon,
and solemn to pick up KJNP
(1170 AM) making its opening announcements (MP3)
at 1336 UTC. The wording has probably remained unchanged
for decades. Incidentally, just the previous day I
was wearing a KJNP t-shirt, bought on location during
a very memorable assignment around Alaska in 2007,
allowing me to visit North Pole as well.
A trip down memory
lane: KJNP broadcasts from North Pole, Alaska,
on 1170 kHz.
Conditions to Asia opened late,
featured a hodgepodge of everything, and lasted
only for a short while. Luckily I was still able
to catch one more NHK2 station, namely JOTC Aomori
on 1521 kHz.
Briefly back to Friday morning.
The new 210-degree antenna brought no new ones on
Thursday, but on Friday I very faintly heard RNE5
Murcia from Cartagena on 1152 kHz. This weak ID
was not audible on our traditional (250-degree)
antenna for Spain, which only caught Castilla La
Mancha. So direction matters. And size. And a dose
of perverted stubbornness in hunting for the elusive
country, you know what I'm talking about... Gibraltar,
which has never been heard in Finland on 1458 kHz.
Doesn't look like this antenna is going to make
much difference there however.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Jim preparing for yet
another marathon. If you can run here, you can
And here comes the Western Hemisphere
again. WEGP Presque Isle, ME, on 1390 kHz was traditionally
the first station with audio around 2115 UTC on
Friday evening, but still at 2200 UTC there were
just a few audible signals. Puerto Rican stations
(especially 1280 and 1480 AM) emerged strong soon
after 2200 UTC. Sounds very much like the previous
day at the same time, or maybe a tad poorer.
Saturday morning turned out
to be simply fantastic! A narrow opening to the East
Coast of North America, with no stations west of Ohio
audible except for 1160 WYLL, which is a pest
on the frequency. This narrow eastern focus without
Midwestern stations is a rare opportunity, and signal
levels were very impressive. Definitely one of the
best East Coast openings that I have ever experienced.
As an example, WCSL
Cherryville, NC, on 1590 kHz (MP3) was booming
almost like a local station.
To balance the day, the afternoon
opening to Asia was a non-starter. The first signals
appeared rather late, after 1200 UTC, and soon the
focus dropped down to India and Iran. So far, Indian
stations have been very few on the expedition, so
it was nevertheless nice to hear some of them, such
as AIR Darbhanga on 1296 kHz signing off at 1740
Li Jizhi, Xinhua's correspondent
in Helsinki, just found a Chinese AM station.
Jim arrived in the afternoon,
so we now had a full crew again on AIH29. In the
evening it was time for a VIP appointment. We went
to Kaamanen to meet the correspondent and camera(wo)man
of the Chinese Xinhua news agency. Li Jizhi and
Zhang Xuan had driven all the way from Helsinki
to meet us and make a report about DXing for the
Chinese media! So after a tasty meal, we drove back
to the cabin for interviews and some live DXing.
Luckily, there were some Chinese AM stations audible
late in the evening so that we could demonstrate
examples that were meaningful to the Chinese audience.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Early in the night, nothing was
heard from anywhere, but then Brazilian stations
emerged. Signals began to improve around 0130 UTC,
and later the opening grew to include all of South
America. At daybreak, signals were very strong from
all around the continent, and as North American
stations were conveniently absent (aside from a
few from Newfoundland), this made for an exclusive
opening. Major Colombian and Venezuelan stations
were heard at armchair levels, and rarities will
certainly be discovered once we get to review the
recordings. Puerto Rico and Venezuela are still
strong now at 0730 UTC, which is quite impressive.
A fabulous morning!
On Sunday morning, the Orinoco
front hung around extremely long with last signals
dissipating at around 0930 UTC, and even then, the
westernmost stations were a few isolated cases from
the Eastern Coast of North America, so this was a
truly Latin feast. "La Cantina" slogan on
1450 kHz remained a mystery for a while, but eventually
it turned out to be part of La Cariñosa programming
Xinhua featuring DXing!
For a change I wasn't behind the camera myself.
We don't really have much DX
observations from the afternoon. All afternoon and
evening was spent with the Xinhua news group that
returned to the Aihkiniemi cabin. First we took
them to the surrounding forest to see the antennas,
then continued explaining about the hobby in the
cabin. In the evening, we all went to Siuttajoki
reindeer corral, where the annual reindeer round-up
was just reaching its climax. This was to be Xinhua's
second news report from Lapland.
Trying to hold a reindeer
still takes at least two men.
It had been snowing a lot, but
fortunately Xinhua had a good 4WD to take us in
the middle of the wilderness. It was a truly spectacular
scene. Hundreds of reindeer were roaring and running
around in large pens waiting for their turn, steaming
and trumping snow.
The reindeer were driven in small
herds into a round enclosure labeled as a "churn",
where the reindeer face their destiny: chosen either
to be slaughtered for meat, or eventually let back
into the wilderness. Sami children some as
young as eight learn to capture running reindeer
by their antlers and trying to hold them down, with
some help from others. The strongest reindeer require
2-3 men to hold them still. There is a veterinarian
giving shots against parasites, and the reindeer
are sorted by family who are part of the cooperative.
We returned to the cabin later
in the evening to quickly review some of the automated
afternoon recordings. It seemed that conditions
favored China, but it didn't last very long before
the Middle East and South Asia became part of the
mix. ABC from Australia on 1152 kHz counts as a
regular here in Aihkiniemi. From China, Cangzhou
PBS, for instance, was identified on 1206 kHz. Later
in the evening, Ethiopia was noticed signing off
around 2100 UTC on at least 972 kHz.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Some Brazilian and Argentine
stations emerged around midnight UTC and continued
until dawn, but not as well as the previous night.
Colombian, Venezuelan, and Peruvian stations were
present from 0300 UTC, but from North America, only
stations in Atlantic Canada were audible. So the
conditions were otherwise very similar to Sunday
morning, but signals were much weaker. Nevertheless,
a few powerhouses were heard until around 0800 UTC,
which is late for this time of the year.
This may not be the safest
place to be standing right now, but at least
I got a good shot...
During the daylight hours, I
checked some antennas and Jim went running. The
weather was miserable, it was either raining or
snowing all the time, and as temperatures hovered
above freezing point, everything was wet and slippery.
Later in the afternoon, the Asian
opening, which started around 1130 UTC, was focused
further south than before. Initially most stations
were from southern China and Thailand, but the first
Indian stations joined already before 1300 UTC.
The Xinhua crew visited the cabin one final time
before heading south on Tuesday.
The solar weather has become
increasingly unstable, so we were hoping to catch
something from Africa, but only a couple of Ethiopian
stations have so far been detected.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Nearly rock bottom conditions
not a single North American nor Far East
station detected during the last 24 hours. In the
early morning hours only Brazilian and Argentine
stations were heard, best around 0400 UTC. After
that, I was expecting a morning enhancement, but
signals didn't become any stronger, and only diminishing
interference from European stations made reception
slightly more comfortable for a while, until all
signals withered away after 0700 UTC.
Similar to the prior two days, Venezuelan, Colombian,
and Peruvian stations were heard in the morning,
although signal levels were weaker. Probably the
best catch, however, was from closer to home: COPE
Catalunya, Figueres, on 1269 kHz now I have
identified all COPE stations on the frequency despite
constant interference by Deutschlandfunk. Daytime
hours were equally bleak outside and on the air
rain throughout the day, and just static
on the dial.
In the heat of the action
at the reindeer corral.
In the afternoon, the first Asian
signals emerged around 1230 UTC. The only usable
antenna direction was 100 degrees, meaning that
Thailand was roughly the Eastern edge of the opening.
Indian stations were stronger than at any point
during the past 10 days, and we got local identifications
of All India Radio on a few less common frequencies,
such as 1296, 1458, 1530 and 1602 kHz.
Reading logs from DXers elsewhere
in the Nordic countries didn't offer much consolation.
It seemed that U.S. daytimers had been heard all
around, and especially fellow listeners in Parkalompolo
(Sweden) had made very impressive catches a couple
of days earlier, when we logged just some common
East Coast stations. The prevailing solar conditions
seem to take a heavy toll this high up north and/or
even minor differences in location can result in
quite different catches.
What was lost in radio reception
was made up with improved cuisine. Brazilian tenderloin
steaks and Chilean red wine were a proper closure
for the DXing day. Yummy!
Wednesday, October 30,
Can the conditions become any
worse? Obviously yes. In the early morning, a few
common stations from Ethiopia were heard at 0300
UTC sign-on time (828, 972, 1044, and 1359 kHz).
From Latin America, a few Brazilian and Argentine
stations with poor signal levels were noted until
they too disappeared soon after daybreak, before
0700 UTC. Thanks to our new invention, the 210-degree
wire, I got one new Spanish station, RNE1 Catalunya
from Lérida-Lleida on 612 kHz, so the morning
session wasn't a complete waste. Daytime was totally
silent on the AM band a good opportunity
to catch up on sleep.
Lemmenjoki (left) meets Aihkiniemi (right) halfway
in Inari. A pretty good meal and excellent company.
In the afternoon, Iranian stations
began to emerge from the static after 1300 UTC,
and aside from a couple of Indian stations, nothing
was heard from further East. It was an easy decision
to leave the AM band for a few hours and head to
Inari for grocery shopping and to meet our friends
and fellow DXers, Håkan Sundman and Hannu
Tikkanen, who were spending the week in Lemmenjoki
on the LEM332
DXpedition. Our three-course dinner at Kultahovi
Hotel's Restaurant Aanaar of the included, for instance,
lichen (yes, the same stuff that the reindeer eat!)
as a complimentary starter.
In the evening, it sounded as
if a blanket was thrown over the entire AM band,
and signal levels overall were considerably lower
than on previous days. Again, some Ethiopian stations
were heard, and I even resorted to trying to identify
the ubiquitous Koran-chanting stations that seem
to have overtaken the AM dial. It paid off, and
I came across one newsworthy station: Radio Oman,
Buraimi, on 639 kHz is probably a station, which
has not been reported in Europe before. It is a
new transmitter site, part of the AM overhaul mentioned
also in the WRTH. No transatlantic signals were
heard even after 2300 UTC.
October 31, 2013
The end of October was rather
depressing on the AM dial. Overnight some Brazilian
and Argentine stations were heard, and there was
a bit of a morning enhancement after 0500 UTC, so
we did save files to check from this modest peak.
However, all transatlantic signals vanished already
around 0630 UTC. Spanish stations on the 210-degree
antenna were weaker on this morning than on any
previous one, so not much to listen to from that
A new monster support
pole lifted the 30-degree antenna much higher
We went back to sleep and woke
around midday. Of course there was nothing on the
AM band, so we spent a few hours outside checking
and improving the antenna installations. It was
actually quite nice because the temperature was
slightly below freezing (not getting soaked) and
we even witnessed some sunshine, which has been
a rarity during this expedition. When we returned
to the cabin at 1350 UTC, mostly Iranian stations
were heard on the eastern front. It is becoming
difficult to find anything new from there, but finally
we managed to coax an ID from Radio Bushehr, Dayyer,
on 738 kHz. The same provincial station, from a
different location, is much more common on 1305
kHz where it can be heard daily.
In the evening, we focused on
hunting for sub-Saharan African stations. 1377 kHz
sounded like Tanzania, and I'm hoping for the much
weaker signal on 1323 kHz to originate from there
as well. A station on 846 kHz seems to come from
the south, but is playing only non-stop music.
The proton flux finally started
showing signs of returning to lower levels, so we
still had a chance to get something before the inevitable
end of the DXpedition on Saturday morning. Or so
Friday, November 1, 2013
Conditions remained the same
if not worse despite the proton flux
returning to normal. A few regular African stations
were heard in the evening and morning, below average
conditions to Brazil and Argentina through the night
and in the morning, until everything vanished at
daybreak. Then the daytime was empty, until Iran
and the rest of the Middle East rose in the afternoon,
but nothing beyond India. And nothing from North
America and the Far East for several days.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
We already started packing Friday
evening since we had to leave around 9:00 a.m. in
order to catch a midday flight from Ivalo. We didn't
do much active listening on Saturday morning, but
it was evident that not much of significance was
available. ZYJ265 Rádio Cidade, Pato Branco
PR on 1360 kHz was a very welcome catch and the
only new station that I logged. Brazilian and Argentinian
stations peaked in the morning around 0530 UTC,
and we pulled the last plugs after 0600 UTC.
This is the safest way
to cross the nearby stream during antenna inspection
The return to civilization was
swift and comfortable. And the hard drives survived
intact. There would be a certain charm in driving
through the country (which I've done numerous times),
it would be a kind of a rite of passage a
transition from normalcy to a passionate expedition
and back but it takes a full day, so I think
I just might get addicted to flying.
All in all conditions could have been better, but
AIH29 was still a lot of fun! And in any case, I
have close to 10TB of recordings. Listening to all
of them will take years, so don't expect a comprehensive
log anytime soon.
For more information about Aihkiniemi,
check out this article.
The cabin is already booked for much of this season.
However, if you're interested in a DXpedition of
a lifetime, there are still a few vacant weeks,
especially from February 2014 onwards.
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on November 7, 2013 (small changes later)