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AIH88 DXpedition to Aihkiniemi, October 13-27, 2018, report by Mika Makelainen

The 88th DXpedition to Aihkiniemi got off to a fabulous start. As soon as we had our receivers working, the AM band was full of signals from Far East Asia, and best of all, from New Zealand. We have never before heard so many Kiwi AM stations. In Chinese culture the number 88 symbolizes fortune and good luck, which were indeed abundant during these two weeks.

We were anxiously looking forward to this traditional October DXpedition in Aihkiniemi. With the solar minimum approaching, good reception was virtually guaranteed, at some point, and to some geographical direction anyhow.

For the first time in many years, Jim was able to take a longer leave so we were all set for two full weeks of intensive AM DXing. Mika had already been in Aihkiniemi just three weeks prior for the AIH85 DXpedition which had yielded quite a catch of AM rarities, especially from the Philippines.

Train on arrival in Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi has successfully branded itself as Santa hometown and the Christmas capital of the world.

Our departure by train from Helsinki was delayed by an hour on Friday evening because of an elementary mistake by the railroad operator. The engine wasn't properly connected to the passenger cars, and when the train began to move, the connecting pipes and wires were torn, and so they had to replace the engine. Luckily the train nevertheless arrived in Rovaniemi on time early Saturday morning. Jim was able to start driving north at a record-early time of 7:40 a.m. local time.

We met departing DXers Martti Karimies and Jari Sinisalo in Ivalo where we got our groceries. Driving went well without too many reindeer sightings, and we arrived in Aihkiniemi at the early hour of 2 p.m. Surprisingly, some gear was running and recording already before the next top of the hour 1200 UTC. We weren't in any particular hurry, but luckily we didn't waste any time along the way, and this time it paid off big time in the form of a Kiwi onslaught.

Mika and Jim toasting with Aihki beer
Cheers! Aihki beers, proper drinks for Aihkiniemi

Weatherwise the start of AIH88 felt almost like a Lapland summer. Granted, fall colors were gone, so the landscape looked naked and miserable, but the temperatures were abnormally high, initially well into the teens. The first snow had melted, and we even got some sunshine. Later on ice began forming on the small lakes around our cabin, but it wasn't yet strong enough to walk on. It snowed again before we left, and most of the time temperatures were hovering around freezing point.

We were using Perseus type SDRs. Jim used also Perseus software, while I was running Jaguar. Our antenna arsenal was the same as on previous DXpeditions, 13 Beverage antennas, each 3,000 ft/1 km in length, to these directions:

Aihkiniemi antenna directions

More or less at the same time there were also other DXpeditions in the Nordic countries. In Lemmenjoki, Finland, Jari Ruohomäki was on DXpedition LEM402. In Parkalompolo, Sweden, DXers BOS, JOB, RÅM and LSD attended PAX127 (MS Word file), and in Kongsfjord, Norway, DXers Bjarne Mjelde, OJ Sagdahl, TJ Bråtveit and Ole Forr took part in DXpedition KONG37.

To get a more detailed look at our discoveries, here's a day-by-day diary of what happened on AIH88:

Saturday, October 13, 2018

We very were fortunate to land in Aihkiniemi so early in the afternoon, because the opening to the Pacific turned out to be great. Dozens of New Zealand stations were heard, so even though we both already have about 30–35 verified Kiwi stations, we are bound to find many new ones. Perhaps best of all, neither of us had ever before heard a single TAB Trackside Radio station, but now we found Trackside on 12 different frequencies! The opening to New Zealand lasted for about two hours.

One remarkable aspect of this NZ opening was that there were numerous stations heard also from South Island, which is very rare. We got several stations from Dunedin (16,700 km from Aihkiniemi) and Invercargill (16,677 km away). These are the most distant AM stations that exist.

Aurora over Aihkiniemi cabin
On one of the nights the northern lights were very lively, rapidly moving across the sky. The light on left is our Aihkiniemi cabin.

In addition to Oceania, Japanese stations were strong, and there were also other pleasant catches, such as Hegang PBS from Heilongjiang in China on 1413 AM, never before heard in Europe. I was happy to hear DZBR "Bible Radio" closing down right after 1600 UTC with excellent reception quality. The legal opening and closing announcements of Filippino stations are truly spectacular! Late evening was however disappointing. With no particular focus, stations from Iran and the Middle East tend to cover too many frequencies.

During the night, northern lights produced by a minor solar storm must have been spectacular somewhere, because the lightshow was partially visible even through a heavy cloud cover hanging over Aihkiniemi. Aurora photography will have to wait for better visibility though.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

During the night there were mediocre peaks by North American stations around 0100–0400 UTC, but nothing new was noted. Stations from the Great Lakes area seemed to be most prevalent. Typical catches in these circumstances include stations like KDLR 1240 AM and KBMW 1450 AM. The strongest stations from the Canadian Prairies continued to be heard at least until midday, but after 0700 UTC there wasn't really anything interesting.

Northern lights reflecting from a lake
Northern lights reflecting from our lake

South American stations were also heard most of the night, and best in the morning around sunrise. Our best catches include CW31 Radio Salto on 1120 AM, OBU7A Radio Corporación Wayra, Juliaca, 1410 AM and HJNZ Colmundo Radio, Medellín, on 1440 AM. Around sunrise reception favored northern Colombia and we heard many stations which we visited personally in Barranquilla in 2011.

In the afternoon Japanese stations emerged already before 1100 UTC. A bit later also a couple of Newstalk ZB stations showed up, but it was nothing compared to yesterday's Kiwi opening. Japanese stations were quite strong, but no new stations were noted immediately. Later on Indian and Pakistani stations were strong, but not much from the coveted Southeast Asia. Some common Hawaiian and Alaskan stations were also heard.

On Sunday we both had surprise guests and made a surprise visit ourselves. Jim's sister and her colleague were on a work assignment in the neighborhood, so they stopped by briefly. Later on, we realized that a bad interference source had been turned on in a nearby cabin, which prompted us to pay a visit to this hunting cabin. The culprit is his wind power system inverter, which he promised to keep off during the daylight hours. That would be essential and it would save our afternoon DX sessions.

Monday, October 15, 2018

When checking at the recordings, it can be safely concluded that nighttime was not the right time. Both North and South American stations were weaker than yesterday. However, the daybreak opening to Argentina and Brazil around 0500 UTC was excellent, and was followed by stations from Chile (for instance Radio María on 1060 AM) and Peru (such as Radio Andina on 1370 AM), before Latin American stations began to fade out at around 0530 UTC. North American stations were heard simultaneously, but reception paled in comparison. By 0600 UTC the AM band was practically quiet, so the collapse was quick.

Aurora borealis above Aihkiniemi
Aurora borealis above Aihkiniemi

The first wave of Asian stations landed at 1040 UTC and lasted for about 15 minutes, after which everything vanished. Newstalk ZB popped up briefly at 1240 UTC, but nothing more from the Pacific. All of East and Southeast Asia began pouring in around 1300 UTC, and until 1400 UTC reception was decent with occasional Filippino and Thai stations, but afterwards the evening was miserable, dominated by Quran recitation.

Luckily the skies were clear in the evening, so I was able to take my first aurora photos. In reality the dominant color was light green, but Photoshop sure does bring out the best of these shots.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Transatlantic reception was pathetic. Hardly any South American stations were audible late Monday evening after the sun dipped below the horizon in Eastern Brazil. The first North American stations pushed above the noise floor at 2315 UTC. The first identified station was WGVU on 1480 AM, indicating a very familiar propagation path to the Great Lakes area.

Siberian tit
Grey-headed chickadee, aka Siberian tit, landing on my hand - and hoping for a treat.

US stations were heard decently for short periods at around 0130 and 0500 UTC, but there wasn't much to listen to. The big guns from the western half of North America remained on the dial well into the afternoon, but signals were quite weak. KSL 1160 AM and KFBK 1530 AM were the strongest ones.

Since it didn't rain, we spent a couple of hours in the forest checking antennas and doing some minor fixes.

The first Far East stations appeared first at 1000 UTC, vanished soon after, and then resurfaced at 1100 UTC. V7AB on 1098 AM was the only Pacific station logged, heard very briefly at 1010 UTC and again around closing time 1130 UTC. No Kiwis today. Early afternoon offered the usual suspects from China, Taiwan and the Philippines with a couple of regular Australians (such as 630 and 702 AM) in the mix. The Philippines was pretty strong with around 20 stations, but no new ones. However, after 1500 UTC there wasn't anything to listen to anymore, as the AM band was taken over by stations from the Middle East, and eventually also by European broadcasters.

The Milky Way with a hint of aurora
The Milky Way with a hint of aurora

Solar weather indices should be perfect, but the AM band is exceptionally boring. Looks like we could use some magnetic activity to stir the signal soup. Anyhow, the skies were clear, and so I ventured out in the middle of the night for a photography session. Hardly any aurora borealis tonight, but our very own Milky Way forms a magnificent arch across the night sky. The green hue in the photo is the result of very faint aurora.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Brazilian, and to a lesser extent also Argentinian, stations were heard through the night. Although signals were relatively strong, adjacent channel interference by European stations was also fierce. Daybreak after 0500 UTC was once again the best time. Identified stations included Rádio São Francisco on 1240 AM, Radio Rafaela 1470 AM, KIUN Pecos TX 1400 AM, KYYW Abilene TX 1470, KGBT Harlingen TX 1530 AM and KDOM Windom MN 1580 AM. It was great to hear many Texans, but we didn't net any new ones.

Before midday we headed again to the forest, checking the antennas and slightly improving their markings.

After a sudden drop in signals at sunrise (0525 UTC), North American signals improved again and offered decent reception at around 0700-0800 UTC, but after that only a couple of the most powerful stations persisted with audible signals. West Coast signals improved later and were heard again until the afternoon, including occasionally some graveyard channels.

Cabin covered in light snow
A sprinkling of snow at the Aihkiniemi cabin

The afternoon opening towards the east took longer than on any previous day. V7AB showed up briefly at closing time (1130 UTC) and Tonga (1017 AM) was booming with a huge signal long into the afternoon. A few of the most common NZ stations were heard, but nothing new for us. A wider selection of Asian stations was available only after 1300 UTC, which was unusually late. There were hardly any Chinese stations, but loads of South Asia. Thazin Radio (639 AM) from Myanmar was a nice surprise.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

For the first time during this DXpedition, transatlantic signals continued more or less through the night, mostly from around the Great Lakes and western USA. Signals from Latin America were quite weak. Signal levels remained fair even after daybreak, which was another first this week. Identified stations included KONA & KNML 610 AM, KXMR 710, KPOW & KROX 1260, XEP 1300, KGIM 1420, KZZJ 1450 – so nothing spectacular, but it was still nice to be able to enjoy a steady flow of stations from North America.

Once again we checked antennas during the daytime and let Jaguar and Perseus take care of recording North American stations at the same time.

Video about listening to Alaskan and Hawaiian AM stations
Click on the image to open a video with a bandscan of Alaskan and Hawaiian stations.

Afternoon was very disappointing. Tonga (1017 AM) and Gold FM from Fiji (990 AM) were heard briefly, but nothing else from the South Pacific. Before sunset, Alaskan and Hawaiian stations were stronger than before this week, so I shot a bandscan type video showcasing what kind of stations can be heard from the north. For these stations you really need to come to Lapland, as none of them could be heard for instance in Central Europe, and they would be very difficult even in southern Finland.

It took until around 1430 UTC for Asian stations to start showing up on most frequencies. India, Pakistan and India dominated the dial, and we found nothing new.

Friday, October 19, 2018

For the first time, US stations were heard as soon as darkness covered the Western Hemisphere. Initial inspection didn't result in any daytimer catches, but some might be lurking in our terabytes of data. Signal levels were finally such that no boost was necessary – in fact, adding amplifiers wasn't even possible because of overmodulation. During the night European interference was strong, but at daybreak signals from North America were really good, and DXing was a pleasure, although geographically propagation focus was the same as before – Great Lakes and the Midwest. Manitoba and Sascatchewan dominated the few frequencies were such stations still exist.

Aurora arching over the sky
Aurora arching over the sky - shot right in front of the cabin.

There was no drastic drop in signal strength in daylight, and this DXing session is one of the best we've had in years. Identified catches include KMLB Monroe LA (540 AM), KRAI Craig CO (550 AM) and KYFI Saint Louis MO (630 AM). West Coast stations remained on the dial past 1300 UTC, which was followed by a fabulous flow of Alaskan and Hawaiian stations, during which we identified "Kauai's Country" KUAI Eleele on 570 AM, a longtime most-wanted C&W station from Hawaii.

Tonga (1017 AM) was heard starting at 1025 UTC, continuing until the evening. V7AB (1098 AM) signed off at 1137 UTC, but aside from possibly Fiji, there were no other Pacific catches. When Asian stations began flooding the dial, initially at 1245 UTC the Philippines was quite strong, but soon South Asia and the Middle East overcame East Asian stations. Quite a day!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Nighttime was similar to yesterday. No daytimers, but a fairly consistent flow of North American stations. European interference was nevertheless so heavy that DXing for real could only begin in the morning. The lower end of the AM dial was again quite impressive, and for instance on 540 AM I was able to log three Mexican stations, XETX, XEWA and XEHS, all of which I have verified already years ago. The only personally new station caught live in the morning was WREY St. Paul MN on 630 AM, indicative of the familiar propagation path, although stations were heard coast to coast.

The problem with this kind of an opening is that all the frequencies are covered by the usual suspects. For instance, I kept a close watch at 880 AM, where I have been hunting numerous interesting stations (KJJR MT, KRVN NE, KHAC NM and WMEQ WI), any of which could possibly be heard on a day like this, if it wasn't for CHQT and CKLQ totally dominating the frequency all day long.

Also graveyard frequencies tend to be too crowded. Only in the afternoon it was possible to identify stations on the local channels.

Frost on the ground
Frost on the ground after a cold night

A bunch of stations from Alaska and Hawaii was heard at around 1200–1430 UTC, but not as well as yesterday. The afternoon opening to Asia was miserable. Tonga (1017 AM) was heard, but when Asian stations became audible at around 1300 UTC, East Asia was heard just passingly, after which South Asia, the Middle East and European stations ruled the AM band.

In the evening, Jim took a break from DXing and drove to northern Norway for two nights to meet with Norwegian DXers in Kongsfjord. I'm staying in Aihkiniemi both to focus a bit more on writing my book, as well as tending recordings for both of us.

On Saturday evening, stations from western Europe, especially the UK, were remarkably strong. UK stations were even heard with our Asia antennas.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

WDEA 1370 AM paid a brief visit at 2205 UTC on Saturday evening, but the nighttime opening turned out to be average. Readable signals were mostly found after 0000 UTC, and even then, the most common regional stations from the Great Lakes were heard. Latin American stations tried to push through in the morning, but North American stations were just too strong. Still, an opening towards Peru and Colombia may eventually yield something interesting.

The most unusual DX catch of the night was perhaps Asfalttelegrafen, a low-power experimental AM station in neighboring Sweden, testing on 1476 AM. In this case, kHz almost equals to km: The distance from Aihkiniemi to the station in Borås is 1470 km. It would hardly be considered serious DX, but still it was the longest distance that this station has ever reached.

A meandering river
A small meandering river that needs to be crossed to check antennas.

During the day North American stations were heard pretty strong from coast coast, from Canada to Mexico, and from the low end of the dial to the very top. My best instant catches were WSNL Flint MI (600 AM) and KLYC McMinnville OR (1260 AM). However, there was no trace of low-power travelers' information stations (TIS) aka. highway advisory stations (HAR), which would be the ultimate low-power catches.

North American stations fizzled out earlier than on Saturday. By 1200 UTC, even most of the West Coast stations were gone. Alaska and Hawaii gained in strength at around 1300–1400 UTC, but were weaker than before.

There was some geomagnetic instability in the early afternoon, which resulted in an on-off Asia opening with rapid changes in propagation. Tonga (1017 AM) was noted earlier than ever this fall, with a readable signal when I first tried it at 0918 UTC. V7AB on 1098 AM was equally strong at that time. Newstalk ZB showed up first at 1015 UTC on 1035 AM, and some other NZ stations appeared briefly later on, but fleetingly. The evening was again boring, with some stations from all around Asia, but the Middle East dominating.

The minor instability resulted in the best aurora borealis that I had seen all week, so late evening I spent over an hour taking photos outside.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The first US East Coast stations emerged before 2200 UTC, which theoretically could mean that daytime-only stations might be found in the midst. A very superficial look at the overnight recordings indicates that reception favored the US prairie states such as Nebraska and the Dakotas. In the morning, Brazilian stations were stronger than normally, and I caught for instance Rádio Industrial, Várzea da Palma MG (1070 AM). Signals from Brazil began to taper before 0600 UTC. There were some stations from Paraguay as well, but few from Argentina.

The majority of North American stations dipped already after sunrise. After 0700 UTC those remanining were mostly from the Rockies and the Northwest. The WA-OR-ID-BC corner remained audible until past 1300 UTC, and because of the limited scope, graveyard channels had really good audio – though the stations are already very familiar.

Frozen king crab A box of frozen king crab, which we turned into a midnight dinner party.

The Pacific nations of Kiribati (1440 AM), Tonga (1017 AM) and the Marshall Islands (1098 AM) were all heard as soon as I tried them at 0915 UTC. Kiribati closed down at 0941 UTC, but unfortunately there was no sign of the new transmitter on 846 AM. Newstalk ZB was first heard on 1035 AM at 1053 UTC, and a bunch of other Kiwi stations followed in toe, but eventually they had to surrender frequencies to Asian stations. Japanese stations, while not strong and not many enough to give us new catches, were nevertheless powerful enough to drown the weak Kiwi signals. Later on, Chinese stations were very strong around 1400 UTC, but the evening was dominated by European and Middle Eastern stations.

Jim arrived back in Aihkiniemi late in the evening with a huge load of king crab, sent by friends and fellow DXers Bjarne Mjelde, OJ Sagdahl, TJ Bråtveit and Ole Forr currently on DXpedition KONG37 in Kongsfjord in northern Norway. Thank you guys, we had a feast! You can follow KONG37 on Bjarne's blog.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The first Brazlian stations were quite weak, and so were the North American stations, rising above static a bit after 2200 UTC. I haven't yet checked overnight recordings, but the morning was poorest in many days as far as North America is concerned. The southern half of South America however turned out to be really nice around daybreak. Signals from Brazil and Argentina persisted in daylight well past 0700 UTC, which is exceptionally late at this early point in the DX season.

Cooked king crab
Cooked king crab, plenty for today's breakfast as well!

While North American signals were weak around sunrise, they improved a bit when stations from Latin America vanished. After 0800 UTC most stations were from the Northwest. Graveyard signals were again wonderful, but have so far revealed only familiar stations from around WA, OR and ID (such as KKOR & KBAR on 1230, KEJO on 1240, KLOO on 1340, KEDO on 1400 and KBKW & KVSI on 1450).

In the afternoon Pacific islands gave monster signals, and about a dozen Kiwi frequencies popped up briefly at around 1000–1130 UTC. Again, no new ones, but it is always a thrill to hunt for them. First to arrive from Asia were Japanese and Chinese stations, and after 1500 UTC Iran and South Asia ruled the dial. Personally the only new instant catch was KPUA Hilo HI on 670 AM, finally overcoming Alaskan KDLG. I had kept a close watch on this one for days. The best window of opportunity for Alaska and Hawaii at this time of the year is usually around 1300–1400 UTC, after which stations at 9 kHz intervals begin to drown everything from the Western Hemisphere.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The overnight opening to North America was very strong. Both of my receivers had overloaded, and one of my Jaguar softwares crashed altogether, but we were awake early enough to enjoy the daybreak opening, during which signals were still quite powerful. The total signal strength of all the AM stations, if it could be measured, was probably better than I've heard in years. There was no chance for Latin American stations to be heard this morning.

A foggy morning
On a foggy morning

However, East Coast stations were few, and soon the opening narrowed to the Rockies and the West Coast. Personally my best discoveries were stations like KHKR Washington UT on 1210 AM and KGEN Tulare CA on 1370 AM. Many Californian stations were logged during the daylight hours, perhaps best around 1100 UTC.

Daytime offered a neat surprise from another direction as well - the Pacific. For the first time in Finland, Radio Kiribati was heard from its new transmitter site on Kiritimati Island (846 AM). This location is so far east from the capital Tarawa that it is actually heard much earlier, and with a different antenna. The 9-degree wire is clearly best for 846 AM, while 30 degrees is the choice for Kiribati's more common transmitter on 1440 AM.

Jim's Kiwi filters
With these hitech Kiwi filters attached to Jim's earphones, he is guaranteed to hear only Kiwis.

Later in the afternoon, the path to Alaska and Hawaii was open again, and finally we nailed KVOK Kodiak AK (560 AM) with a proper ID. KVOK has an exceptionally good and an increasingly rare format for an AM station: country music, which I happen to love. Jim also scored his last remaining Hawaiian AM stations, so he has nothing new to listen to from that state anymore. I'm still hunting for KNUI 550 AM, which is tough to identify, because of interference by Alaskan KTZN.

V7AB from the Marshall Islands was booming so well that I wanted to surprise fellow DXers in the Arctic. I gave V7AB a call and asked them to send our greetings to fellow listeners in Finland and Norway, especially to the KONG DXpeditionists. Luckily reception was quite good when the late night host sent our greetings on the air. It remains a bit of a mystery how he spent the four minutes discussing the issue, because despite my recent visit to the Marshall Island, my Marshallese is a bit rusty.

Dinner at Hotel Inari From the left: Mika, Jim, Ritva and Jari enjoying a dinner at Hotel Inari.

BTW, the upcoming World Radio TV Handbook will include an article that I wrote about V7AB based on my visit to Majuro in June this year.

In the evening we elevated socializing from the broadcasting and virtual level to actually meeting people face-to-face – we met Jari Ruohomäki and his spouse Ritva, who are spending the week in Lemmenjoki, for dinner at Hotel Inari.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The first North American stations appeared at 2235 UTC from Ontario and the Great Lakes area. Conditions improved fast, and signal levels were surprisingly good. Overnight recordings remain unchecked, but the morning was a bit of a diasppointment. North American signals began to wane already after 0530 UTC, and Latin American ones a bit later. By 0630 UTC most channels were just atmospheric noise, but an hour later, signals from North America returned, continuing until around 1400 UTC.

A kuksa with a pen
Kuksa, a traditionally carved mug for coffee, and a pen, both made of local hardwood.

It seemed that all channels were dominated by the usual suspects, many of them Canadian. We did however enjoy a bit of an afternoon opening to California. While not quite as good as yesterday, for instance KFPT (790 AM) and KDOW (1220 AM) were heard. KDOW from Palo Alto was an especially nice surprise, because ages ago I used to live in Palo Alto for a year, and this hometown business station has been among my most wanted stations for a long time. A year ago I also visited the studios and the transmitter site, so I'm very happy to have scored KDOW now also on the AM dial. If any fellow Arctic DXers were listening to the West Coast in the afternoon, be sure to check your files at around 1150–1220 UTC.

The usual Pacific islands of Tonga, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands were heard once we switched on our 30-degree antenna after 0900 UTC. Today also Japanese stations showed up before 1000 UTC, so it could have been possible to catch local station identifications from NHK1 stations, but they all either vanished in static or under Chinese interference by 1000 UTC.

The evening was unremarkable. Jim heard ABC Perth on 720 AM at 2000 UTC, but a check on other Western Australia frequencies revealed nothing more. Instead, all evening the AM dial was full of Middle Eastern stations.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Reindeer trail This trail has been made by reindeer.

North American stations were heard from 2215 UTC onwards. Brazilian stations were already abundant by then, but average in strength. A minor peak in US signals occurred at around 0100 UTC, but the following couple of hours were very quiet. In the morning hours reception improved gradually, and once again, stations were heard coast to coast. The spread was large also vertically; stations originated from Canada to Argentina, although hardly anything from Central America and the Caribbean, from where just a few Cuban stations were heard. My best catch of the morning was Radiomundo from Uruguay on 1170 AM, a tough frequency for transatlantic reception. A few weeks later I gave an interview to Radiomundo trying to explain about DXing in Spanish, which always feels quite challenging! You can listen to the interview here.

North American signals were pretty weak between 0600–0700 UTC, but improved for a few more hours before diving earlier than on previous days. Jim got one new station, WERC from Alabama on 960 AM, but otherwise this opening didn't sound very promising. Also Alaska and Hawaii fared much worse than on previous days.

So many stars
The countless stars on a clear night, with a green hue from weak northern lights

Even Kiribati, Tonga and the Marshall Islands were weaker than before. A couple of Newstalk ZB stations were heard briefly, but quite fast East Asians stations took over. After 1100 UTC Japanese, and exceedingly Chinese stations, dominated the dial. Despite trying, we didn't find anything new.

All in all, more of the same, but weaker than before, so it was hard to get excited about what the AM dial offered – until late in the evening, when at 1959.50 UTC NHK1 local identifications were heard on 18 different frequencies! Two of them (JOIG Toyama 648 AM and JOQG Morioka via Yamada on 1323 AM) were new ones for me.

And, in addition to previously mentioned Asfalttelegrafen, another Swedish station captured my attention on this DXpedition. In the evening, Radio Nord was testing from Vaxholm, near Stockholm, on 6035 kHz, which turned out to be my one and only shortwave report from AIH88.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Snowy road This is the main north-south artery in Lapland, snowy and slippery on our way back.

Late Friday evening we caught at least one interesting US station with daytime power, namely WNWC Sun Prairie WI on 1190 AM. After that overnight conditions seemed to offer some common graveyard stations like KWNO 1230, WJMC 1240, and KATE 1450 AM. However, we didn't monitor the AM band in real time, instead we slept through the night to be alert enough for a long drive.

In the morning North American stations vanished almost totally at sunrise, so it didn't hurt to turn receivers off and start packing. We cleaned the place, and at around 1030 UTC we closed the door and began heading south. Close to Kaamanen we met briefly with incoming DXers Jorma Huuhtanen and Jorma Mäntylä, who were going to have fabulous conditions during their AIH89 DXpedition.

Click on this to open video of driving with KVOK 560 AM Click on the image to open the video with an ID of KVOK 560 AM and a close encounter with reindeer. Jim kept his cool.

The road back was a bit slippery. On the way we listened online to some of the stations that we had just caught the old-fashioned way. In this video (yes, Aihkiniemi videos are now on Youtube!) you can hear us listening to KVOK 560 AM, while narrowly missing a collision with reindeer at roadside.

Eventually we made it fine to Rovaniemi, where we loaded Jim's Honda on the train, and got a good night sleep before arrival in Helsinki at around 9 a.m. on Sunday morning. The only drawback was that as this particular night marked the return to standard time, the train actually stayed put at Seinäjoki railway station for an hour after 3 a.m. instead of taking us home an hour earlier. An hour of our lives wasted... Well, on the other hand, that's nothing compared to the hundreds or thousands of hours that analyzing our recordings will take.

Published on November 4, 2018

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