The unusually restless sun
spew vast amounts of particles at us almost throughout
September, which wreaked havoc on the AM band. However,
there was still a daily opening towards Argentina
before sunrise. From the eastern front, we logged
a handful of rare stations from the Philippines,
but only few from Australia, which was our most
coveted target this time of the year.
It had been a long wait. After
working in China for two years and not having an
opportunity to visit Aihkiniemi
since the AIH39 DXpedition
in 2014, I was anxiously looking forward to this
season's first Lapland DXpedition. My schedule was
flexible, so I opted for a leisurely drive and divided
the 1260-kilometer (780-mile) journey through Finland
into two days, meeting many fellow DXers along the
I set off from Vantaa on Friday
after 11 a.m., and two hours later I arrived at
DXer Jorma Mäntyläs home in Kangasala.
Jorma would join me in Aihkiniemi a week later,
but he was going to travel by train and bus, so
I took most of his luggage up north by car. Driving
further north near Jämsä, oncoming traffic
hurled a stone into my windshield. By a stroke of
luck, I was approaching Jyväskylä, and
I made it to a windshield repair shop just minutes
before closing time, got the small hole fixed, and
was able to continue my journey north.
Vaskikello sells decent burgers, but the distance
pole outside has seen better days.
As anyone driving from south
to north can attest, roadside sceneries in Finland
consist of forests, more forests, and the occasional
lake. Driving from Jyväskylä to Oulu is
a boring stretch without any major towns, made easier
by the Vaskikello pit stop in Pyhäsalmi. This
highway diner has stubbornly remained independent
while most eateries belong to nationwide chains.
Vaskikellos lure is a collection of 1600 bells
of all sizes from all around the world
and they do make decent burgers.
After sunset and 635 kilometers
I arrived at the brand new home of Jari Ruohomäki
near Oulu, where we had a wonderful DXers' reunion,
as also Pertti Äyräs from Turku was present.
Jari and Pertti set out to Lemmenjoki on Saturday
morning while I left already a bit earlier to continue
to Aihkiniemi. I have been on DXpeditions with both
Pertti back in 2009 on LEM278
and with Jari on several midwinter DXpeditions,
the most recent one being LEM287.
On the way north on Saturday,
September 16th, I met Martti
Karimies, who had just been DXing in Aihkiniemi
for a week. Martti left early as conditions were
really poor and there was nothing to listen to after
daybreak. Our paths crossed at Café Harianne
in Yläpostojoki, where we exchanged the latest
DX news and whined about the crappy propagation
conditions over a cloudberry pancake.
Reindeer crossing Highway 4 near Saariselkä
A couple of hours later I arrived
in Ivalo, the last full-service shopping town before
the wilderness. There I met Lauri Niemi, who had
already been in Aihkiniemi for a week and a half,
and was taking a break from DXing and getting exposed
to civilization. We had lunch, a king crab sandwich
at a café, went shopping for groceries, and
then drove to Aihkiniemi. I could never have imagined
getting king crab at an ordinary café next
to a supermarket. Ivalo's culinary offerings have
certainly improved over the years.
A mountain view eastwards from the top of Kaunispää
Driving was a delight as roads
in Lapland are still free of ice and snow in September,
and also because there were only few reindeer creating
hazardous situations. Fall colors ranging from yellow
to red decorate the roadside. And what a feeling
it was to see the Aihkiniemi cabin for the first
time in three years!
is how my two-week slot in Aihkiniemi fitted with
the previous and following DXpeditions:
Lauri Niemi: September
524, 2017 (AIH71 + AIH72)
Mäkeläinen: September 1630,
September 24October 7, 2017 (AIH73)
Since my previous DXpedition,
the tireless Aihkiniemi crew has made many improvements.
Most importantly, the 250-degree wire has been rerouted
to 255 degrees and the 270-degree antenna has been
extended to 1200 meters, resulting in much improved
reception from South America. The array of Beverage
antennas currently consists of the following 13
antennas, nearly all of which are roughly one kilometer
Fen peatmoss (heterahkasammal) grows bright
red in the area.
Getting all the gear working
in Aihkiniemi was more cumbersome than normally
since I hadnt compiled my setup for three
years. I had a new antenna switchbox, but otherwise
I relied on equipment that I had used for years.
Eventually I got two Perseus receivers running,
operated with Jaguar software, and by early Sunday,
I was ready to welcome the onslaught of distant
signals. Too bad that there weren't any, as solar
activity remained intense.
Since the sun had released the
most powerful solar flare in more than a decade
on September 6, space weather, and consequently
long-distance AM propagation, had been in constant
turmoil. Recovery had only just begun when I arrived.
There was no radio blackout, but neither was it
possible to hear anything from northern latitudes
either eastwards or westwards from Lapland.
Mika putting up a smile despite poor reception
The best propagation to the Eastern
Hemisphere occurred on September 2526,
and the best opening to Argentina and neighboring
countries was a bit earlier, on September 24. As
the chart below (info compiled by Jan Alvestad)
shows, this was when the planetary A index reached
its lowest point hovering around 35.
On September 27th the A index jumped to 32 and on
the following day to 44, hitting temporarily even
close to 100.
During this DXpedition there
were some parallel AM DXing efforts in the Arctic.
In Lemmenjoki, LEM386
took place from September 1624,
and in Sweden, PAX120
DXpedition (link opens an RTF file) began on
September 27. My logs can be found in
frequency order and in
chronological order (MS Word).
Here's a daily look at propagation
conditions, our DXing results and other activities:
Saturday, September 16, 2017
With all the hassle of getting
settled, I didnt really miss anything on the
dial. Just some Indian and Middle East stations
were audible in the evening. Overnight the first
weak Brazilian stations emerged after 2100 UTC.
I also hunted for African stations with a wire pointed
at 160 degrees, but have so far found nothing new.
Goodbye Perseus, welcome Jaguar!
The overnight recording was also
of poor technical quality, so I decided to ditch
Perseus software in favor of Jaguar. There is some
unresolved issue with the Aihkiniemi laptops and
Perseus recordings, causing disturbance in the sound,
so if you're planning to come over this fall, bring
your own laptop(s) with Perseus software pre-installed
and tested, if you're planning to use Perseus software.
However, I would recommend Jaguar instead.
Sunday, September 17, 2017
The morning was a pleasant
surprise, although I didn't immediately log any
stations that would have been personally new catches.
In any case, stations from Brazil, Argentina and
Uruguay peaked at 02000300 UTC, and signals
were nice and clean especially in the lower end
of the AM dial.
Lauri fixing antenna support poles
I spent daytime catching
up on sleep and checking antennas in the forest.
In the evening, the first Asian signals appeared
before 1600 UTC, especially from around Bangladesh,
but selection was very limited and signal strength
remained poor. There was a brief opening as far
north as Tianjin around 1800 UTC, but the few stations
from the Far East soon gave way to Iranians, which
dominated half of the AM frequencies.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Brazilian stations began to emerge
for real by 2200 UTC on Sunday evening. Mediocre
conditions prevailed until about 0130 UTC, when
signal levels dropped sharply just when I
expected them to improve further. Signals resurfaced
at 0300 UTC, dipping soon and making a modest comeback
around 0415 UTC. Some Argentine stations lingered
on until around 0530 UTC, especially in the lower
end of the dial, but signal levels were poor. So
far the only new catch for me was Radio Nacional,
Comodoro Rivadavia/Chos Malal, Argentina, on 670
As a curiosity, Norwegian low-power
(0.25 kW) station Radio Northern Star from Bergen
(1611 kHz) was audible through the night, best at
Aihkiniemi DX cabin on a rare sunny day
Just like on Sunday, mostly we
have used just two of the 13 antennas: 255 and 160
degrees. 255 brings stations from Brazil and Argentina
before daybreak, and the 160-degree wire is good
for stations from Eastern and Southern Africa, which
also tend to peak before daybreak, around 0230-0300
UTC. Stations from Southern Africa were heard exceptionally
well on Monday before daybreak. Botswana was heard
on 648, 693 and 972 kHz, as well as South African
stations on 657 kHz (Radio Pulpit), 702 kHz (LM
Radio) and on 828 kHz (Magic 828).
After 0600 UTC the dial was empty
until almost 1700 UTC. Cambodia (918 kHz) was strong
at closedown after 1700 UTC. Australia's westernmost
ABC powerhouse (6PB in Busselton WA on 1152 kHz)
made a brief appearance, but otherwise signals didn't
extend much beyond India. In the evening Middle
East stations filled the dial. I was most happy
about hearing Sawt al-Amal (Voice of Hope) from
Israel on 1287 kHz with a booming signal.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Mika uses a twisted garden tool to raise antenna
wires where necessary
Again there was wild variation
in the levels of transatlantic signals. Some Brazilians
were heard around 2330 UTC, diving soon after, and
reappearing just before 0200 UTC. Propagation peaked
at 0330 UTC, and stations vanished sharply just
after 0400 UTC. Latin American catches included
LRA54 Radio Nacional from Ingeniero Jacobacci on
1370 kHz (first spotted by Lauri) and Radio Nacional
de Brasília from an unknown location on 1310
kHz. Radio Portales from Chile was remarkably strong
on 1180.07 kHz. For a short while propagation reached
even higher latitudes as Harbour Light of the Windwards
was heard on 1400 kHz.
Daytime was naturally empty on
the AM dial. In the evening recordings were initiated
just before 1600 UTC for the Indian subcontinent.
A bit later also the path straight south was open.
Some semi-common AIR stations were reported, but
nothing worth mentioning. Overall, signal levels
however were higher than on the preceding days,
which could be interpreted as a sign and result
of modestly improving solar weather.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
We have a rowing boat
to get across a small pond to an area where
most of the antennas are located.
Overnight was generally very
poor to all directions, but once again stations
from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and today
more than before also from Paraguay were
heard with sufficient signal levels around 03000500
UTC. My best catches that I have so far identified
include Radio Belgrano from Buenos Aires and Radio
Uno from Asunción, both on 650 kHz. Also
stations from southern parts of Africa were audible,
best around 02000300 UTC, but their overnight
programs tend to be mostly non-stop music, which
makes identifying difficult.
In late afternoon, stations from
the Eastern Hemisphere became audible earlier than
on any other previous day. Already at 1458 UTC I
started recording with an antenna pointing at 100
degrees, good for South Asia. Around 1700 UTC the
first Aussies were on the dial, but initial listening
didn't reveal anything besides some of the usual
suspects from South Australia (729, 891 and 1539
kHz), heard best with the 80-degree antenna.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
This is how Jaguar can visualize propagation
conditions: the red line on the left indicates
overall signal strength on transatlantic frequencies
in the morning hours of Sept 21, and on the
right, signal strength is shown separately on
each frequency over time.
The first Brazilian stations
became audible around 2100 UTC on Wednesday, and
improved gradually after midnight. Signals peaked
briefly at 0320 UTC, but dipped soon and vanished
by 0400 UTC, so this bout of long-distance reception
turned out to be quite short. My identified stations
included Radio Argentina (570.013 kHz) and AM 750,
both from Buenos Aires, as well as Radio La Unión
(800 kHz) and Radio Monumental (1080 kHz) from Paraguay,
but only Radio La Unión was a new catch for
me. Some sub-Saharan African stations were also
heard in the wee hours on the 160-degree wire, such
as Malawi on 756 kHz and Lesotho on 891 kHz, but
once again Lesotho played only non-stop music before
getting pounded by Turkey which began its broadcast
day just before 0300 UTC.
The evening was less exciting
than on the previous day. I began recording at 1555
UTC with a wire at 100 degrees towards South Asia.
I had an interesting unidentified Chinese station
on 1053 kHz, which I suspected to be Jiangsu Wenyi
Guangbo, and this was confirmed later by Chinese
DX friends, but otherwise there wasn't much of interest.
Thankfully, a couple of Western Australian stations
showed up later in the evening, but we found nothing
Friday, September 22, 2017
Although solar indices have
approached normal levels, propagation conditions
repeated the cycle of the previous days. Nighttime
was poor to all directions and in the morning stations
from Argentina and neighboring countries appeared
for a couple of hours, today starting around 0230
UTC and peaking around 0400 UTC. My best catches
were Radio Nacional from Formosa (820 kHz), Radio
Impacto from Ciudad Madero (1440 kHz) and Radio
Selva from Partido de la Matanza (1709.856 kHz).
The setting sun shining
on our shore
Sunset offered the usual selection
of stations mostly from the Indian subcontinent,
with the Middle East soon taking over. Just by accident
I noticed that the IRIB Hamadan transmitter on 981
kHz has also local programming (identified at 1800
UTC), and not just national as listed in the WRTH.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Considering that solar
indices are quite decent, I thought that DXing couldnt
get any worse, but prospects for new catches on
Saturday were even bleaker than on Friday. A few
Indians were identified around their sign-on time,
the best catch being AIR Gulbarga on 1107 kHz. Daybreak
coincided with the usual opening to Argentina, but
at least initially nothing new was discovered. There
was actually an even earlier but weak
opening around midnight UTC, after which transatlantic
signals retreated and made a modest comeback peaking
around 0400 UTC and vanishing soon thereafter.
The evening window to the
Eastern Hemisphere opened around 1500 UTC, but hardly
anything was heard east of India. And of course,
this being a Saturday, virtually void of local breaks,
in the evening Spanish stations were stronger than
on any previous day. Frustration is setting in.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Lauri with Aihki-branded beer
If it sounds like Im repeating
myself, thats because propagation seems to
be repeating itself. A few sub-Saharan African stations
where noticed before daybreak, as well as a bunch
of Latin American stations rising from the background
hiss slightly later. Daybreak itself however turned
out to be better than before. Reception from Argentina
peaked luckily at 0400 UTC, and especially the lower
end of the AM dial was in full swing, which resulted
in at least eight new catches for me. Many of them
were affiliates of Radio Nacional, relaying the
main station on 870 kHz. There are bound to be many
goodies waiting in the wide band Perseus recordings.
One of my catches was Radio San Rafael on 620 kHz.
The station made a live phone interview for the
radio and an
article on their website (where you can also
listen to the interview) about me picking up their
Papana Restaurant in Inari
Western Europe was also very
strong, so at the same time I nailed some of the
few remaining Portuguese stations. In the evening,
a bit of Western Australia was heard, but nothing
new. Otherwise the band was dominated by Middle
Eastern stations. Evening recordings were mostly
unattended, because it was a time for a change of
the guard: I drove Lauri Niemi to Inari, from where
he would continue home south by bus. Lauri had spent
19 days in Aihkiniemi, perhaps a longer stretch
of DXing than anyone else. Once Lauri goes through
his recordings, there is bound to be a monster log,
even though propagation conditions were quite unstable.
Jorma Mäntylä arrived in Aihkiniemi
for my second week there.
On the same trip to civilization,
I had a pizza at Papana restaurant, the local watering
hole in Inari, shopped for some more groceries,
and then I picked up Jorma Mäntylä, who
arrived to Inari by bus. He is due to DX in Aihkiniemi
for the upcoming two weeks. I had last been on a
DXpedition with Jorma 20 years ago, so I knew we
would have a fabulous week of professional DXing
ahead of us.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Monday offered more of the same.
The morning peak around 0400 UTC favored Argentina,
but was not as strong as on Sunday. Nevertheless,
I was able to identify a couple of personal new
ones, La Voz del Chaco Paraguayo, from Filadelfia,
on 610 kHz, as well as Estación 1550 from
Buenos Aires on 1550 kHz.
The 650-gram perch was probably the biggest
perch that I've caught with a fishing rod.
During the day, in addition to
catching up on sleep, we enjoyed the outdoors. I
went fishing and caught a 650-gram perch from one
of the small ponds near our antennas. The perch
became our dinner, while I released a larger pike,
caught from Turvelompolat outside the cabin, back
in. Along with the cabin we own fishing rights to
many nearby areas, so fishing offers also some untested
opportunities. Jorma went picking lingonberries
and was equally happy about his catch.
This pike was released.
In the evening, the first
Far Eastern stations appeared after 1300 UTC, which
was much earlier than on any day before, but as
reception improved around 1500 UTC, the selection
covered all of Asia, making any new catches very
unlikely. After 1800 UTC we witnessed improved reception
of the couple of ABC powerhouses in South Australia,
which prompted a frantic search for smaller stations
from the state. 5DN Adelaide on 1323 kHz was the
only new station that I caught live, but that was
enough to make my day.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Weak stations from Latin America
were heard through the night, but signal strength
didn't quite reach the level of the previous days.
Soon after 0400 UTC stations from Argentina, Brazil
and Chile (such as Radio María from Santiago
on 1060 kHz) vanished, but for the first time, some
common North American stations (including 1390 WEGP
and 1520 WWKB) came forth around 0500 UTC and again
briefly at 0620 UTC. After about 0635 UTC there
was just static. During the day I checked a couple
of antennas while Jorma was picking berries. Neither
of us ran into bears. We were careful not to get
eaten, or shot, since we knew that there are two
bears regularly in the vicinity and that a bear
hunt was ongoing in the area.
Northern lights would have been visible almost
every night, but most of the time it was cloudy.
In late afternoon, the first
Asian signals began to appear already around 1300
UTC, but signals reached usable levels only around
1400 UTC. What ensued was the best propagation to
Asia so far on this DXpedition. Finding new ones
was tough, but fortunately good propagation persisted,
and eventually just before sunrise in East Asia,
after 2100 UTC, we nailed DYKR (1161 kHz) and DXRU
(1188 kHz), a true DX station! On the Aussie front
3RN ABC Radio National from Melbourne made it through
on 621 kHz. This is one of the many frequencies
which have become new treasure troves after being
vacated by semi-local Russian AM stations. Also
Qinghai PBS was heard on 621 kHz making its first
appearance in Europe.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
On Tuesday evening transatlantic
signals became audible quite early, while we were
still focused on the Philippines. By 2200 UTC many
Argentinian and Brazilian stations were already
relatively strong. Signals were best around 02000400
UTC, but unfortunately nosedived well before 0500
A smattering of North American
stations, mostly from the Midwest, was heard before
midnight UTC and again around daybreak, but the
signals were so weak that we didnt even bother
to try to find anything new. Radio 2000 from Venezuela
on 1500 kHz was perhaps the last station to remain
strong on the dial well after 0500 UTC.
Siberian jay is a curious bird that often comes
really close to observe people.
During the day, I checked and
mapped the remaining antennas and Jorma found more
lingonberries. Now I have all the necessary coordinates
to draw e-maps of the current antenna arsenal. This
info will be available to Aihkiniemi visitors later
in the season.
In the afternoon, the usual beacons
from Asia were 1098 and 1557 kHz, rising above noise
floor before 1330 UTC. A bit later all stations
vanished, and just some weak signals from India
and the Middle East were audible. East Asian stations
appeared on the dial briefly before 1600 UTC, but
later the selection of stations was back to the
India-Iran axis. Occasionally some Chinese and even
Japanese stations were found in the mix, but overall
propagation was poorer and limited to more southern
latitudes. My best catches were DYHB from Bacolod
(747 kHz) and Nei Menggu PBS from Yakeshi (1044
kHz). Later in the evening only recitation of the
Koran was found on the AM dial. DYHB was very excited
to get my reception report, and we had a long conversation
over the phone. Don't be surprised if some day you
hear a DYHB station ID recorded by me :)
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Our neighbor Liisa feeding a grey-headed chickadee
Despite the fierce solar weather,
surprisingly, some North American stations were
heard overnight on two brief occasions, peaking
around 0100 and 0300 UTC. I identified a few East
Coast stations like WXKS on 1200 kHz, but didnt
find anything of interest.
Before daybreak, sub-Saharan
Africa was weak. Our Africa wire yielded a Greek
pirate on 783 kHz. In the evening, just some Indian,
Iranian and Arabic stations made it through. The
entire day was quite disappointing, and at least
in real time I didnt log any new stations.
Friday, September 29, 2017
Overnight, stations from Argentina
and surrounding countries appeared on the dial after
0040 UTC, and signals remained decent until after
0200 UTC, when propagation from this direction folded.
So far I have only logged some usual suspects. After
0300 UTC signals from the East Coast of North America
were heard, but signals remained weak, and the stations
vanished by 0400 UTC. Also around 0300 UTC, on the
African front Botswana was strongest on 693 kHz
and heard on a couple of other frequencies as well.
Another Greek pirate seemed to be operating on 1107
Here we can see a total
of about 150 years of DXperience: Mika Mäkeläinen
(left), Tuomo Vesala, Kimmo Vuorela and Jorma
I didnt have high
expectations for the evening, but surprisingly,
stations from the Far East, all the way up to Central
Japan emerged from the static around 1410 UTC. Gradually,
stations from China and India joined in the mix,
but while some signals were quite strong, there
was barely anything audible on many other frequencies.
In early evening, I left my two Perseus receivers
to take care of recording the AM band as we had
rare visitors: fellow DXers Kimmo Vuorela and Tuomo
Vesala came from Ivalo (over 100 km away) to say
hello. Kimmo and Tuomo have spent time updating
antennas at their remote listening base, which they
have successfully used for several years. I might
have something interesting from Thailand on my 80-degree
wire, but that remains to be seen. Later in the
evening, a couple of stations from Western Australia
appeared briefly, but again nothing new. So far
this looks like a second day without any new catches.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Cloudberry was past season but still edible,
and lingonberry was at its best in September.
Another less than spectacular
night, with some Brazilian and Argentinian stations
heard around 01000400
UTC, but I didn't notice anything beyond the usual
suspects. After 0400 UTC the AM band was quiet,
so I slept a bit, collected my gear, cleaned the
cabin, and headed driving south to Rovaniemi, where
I took the overnight train to Helsinki. I had dinner
at Xiang Long Restaurant in Rovaniemi, where the
interior decor was more Chinese than the food
but after two weeks in the cabin, anything outdoors
actually tastes pretty good.
This DXpedition certainly doesn't
go into history books because of its achievements,
but I still had some memorable moments on the AM
band. At least I got more new stations from Argentina
than on any single DXpedition before. Complete logs
for this DXpedition will be published on DXing.info
after several years, because I first need to go
through the backlog of recordings from many earlier
DXpeditions (EDIT in 2020: Here
is the log, eventually including also lots of
nice catches from Brazil). Despite the disappointing
results, it was of course fun to "get away
from it all", and just to focus on DXing in
on October 3, 2017