The Ultimate AM DXing Base
Available for Rent
The cabin in September 2012. The outside appearance
will be improved in the summer of 2013.
Imagine spending a week in the
middle of nowhere with 13 Beverage antennas
each roughly a kilometer in length and capable of
hearing hundreds of rare stations. It's possible
because we're making our famous AM DXpedition base
in Aihkiniemi, Finland available for rent to other
became the first ever purpose-built AM DXpedition
base in Scandinavia in 2010. Most of the construction
work was done in the summer of 2010, and antennas
have been improved continuously since then.
you to succeed and we'll do everything to make your
DXpedition as comfortable and successful as possible.
Visiting Aihkiniemi is as easy and as memorable
as a DXpedition can be because we've already made
the investments and done the hard work for you.
Forget the drudgery of spending days setting up
the antennas and get right into the business of
unforgettable AM DXing!
Below are the directions of each
antenna and their intended target areas (updated
in October 2012):
Antennas in Aihkiniemi
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay
Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Eastern Caribbean
||East Coast of
North America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Central America
Lakes, Midwest, Mexico
states, Rocky Mountains, Western Mexico
Upper West Coast, British Columbia, Alaskan
(Hokkaido), New Zealand
Japan, Koreas, Northern and Eastern China, the
rest of Eastern Asia, Eastern Australia
and Southern China, South-East Asia, Thailand,
Pakistan, Thailand, South Asia, Western Australia,
the Middle East
the Middle East, Eastern and Southern Africa
As you can imagine, Beverage
antennas of this length are very directional on
the AM band, so during good conditions you have
to choose what you want to focus on. The same antennas
can also be used for shortwave listening. Below
is our aerial setup on a Great Circle Map (click
for larger version).
The antennas from 247° to
46° are spread out on the northwestern side
of the main road on a flat but otherwise challenging
terrain with forest, dense brush vegetation, small
lakes and swamps. The rest of the antennas are located
on the southeastern side of the road in a bit hillier
terrain where the forest is much easier to walk
The antennas are hung a few meters off the ground
The antennas hang 3-5 meters
above the ground to prevent reindeer and moose from
getting stuck in the wires. You should inspect all
of the antennas at least once during your DXpedition
week to make sure that the wires are sufficiently
off the ground and place additional sticks to lift
low-lying wires, where necessary. Having a reindeer
hanging in a low-lying wire would be a nightmare
scenario, in terms of our community relations, which
we need to avoid at all costs. We have a rowboat
to take you over the tiny lake, or in the winter
you can get to the other side using a bridge a few
hundred meters away. Don't try to walk across the
ice, because it remains treacherous even in mid-winter.
Once you've made a reservation,
we'll email you a detailed map of the antennas and
cabin surroundings. You'll also get more detailed
information on the type of connectors used and answers
to any housekeeping questions you may have.
All antennas are grounded and
fed into an impedance transformer, from which an
RG-58 coax cable leads into the cabin. Toroid-based
RF chokes have been installed in most antennas.
Inside the cabin, you'll need to handle the coax
connectors very gently. Rough handling and unnecessary
plugging/unplugging of the cables can cause a major
headache to the following crew.
Jim Solatie peeling copper for grounding
Please note that this is wilderness
and things happen. Although we work on it year-round,
we can't guarantee that all of the antennas will
be in working condition when you arrive. Bears,
moose, reindeer and rabbits have all wreaked havoc
with our antennas at some point (mostly cutting
or damaging the coax cables on the ground). If you
encounter problems, please let us know so that we
can fix it as soon as one of us has an opportunity
to travel north. Even if a couple of the antennas
are out of service and you can't find a way
to fix them there's still an abundant array
of wires that will keep you busy DXing.
The cabin is equipped with an excellent ground wire
that should be used to ground also the antenna switcher.
There's also a grounding panel where all unused
antennas can be attached to reduce interference.
To minimize electrical interference, there are four
laboratory-grade power supplies for your laptop
computers. Note that you still need a wire connecting
the power supply to your laptop, as laptops have
a variety of different power plugs. You will also
find a MiniVNA
which you can use to analyze antenna performance.
Additionally, we have splitters to give both listeners
access to the full array of antennas, but you should
bring your own preamp if you wish to use one. Preamps
are recommended, because there are few strong AM
stations in northern Europe, and you can usually
boost the signal without overloading a decent communications
What can you expect to hear?
If you've never experienced a
DXpedition in Lapland before, the AM band may initially
sound confusing. It's very different from Central
Europe, for instance. You're likely to enjoy a very
undisturbed band and be impressed with the multitude
of far-away stations both in the morning and afternoon.
On the other hand, a location in the Far North means
that the AM band can become almost dead silent during
a solar storm. In any case, you're in for a lot
of surprises, and conditions are likely to change
from day to day. A week should provide enough time
to overcome a solar storm and still enjoy some decent
conditions at some point of the week, which is why
we wouldn't recommend going through the trouble
of traveling up there for only a weekend or so.
The DXing room has enough space for two DXers
at a time
The main target areas in this
Arctic location are the Americas, Pacific, Far East
and Southeast Asia, but of course hundreds of AM
stations from Europe and the Middle East are also
audible. The following is a review of what you can
expect to hear during a typical 24-hour cycle under
Saturday midday (1000 UTC) is
the time to change crews unless another time was
arranged. Setting up your gear will take some time,
but during the first day you'll still have time
to get a taste of the Eastern Hemisphere.
From November to February, the
first stations from the Far East can appear as early
as 0900-1000 UTC, and Asian stations can be enjoyed
until around 1400-1700 UTC, when stations from the
Middle East and Europe gradually take over the AM
band. Be alert for local breaks, such as NHK2 station
identifications at 1319 UTC and at closing time.
Indian stations can be best identified around sign-off
time at 1740 UTC or after 0023 UTC sign-on.
African AM stations are notoriously
difficult catches because Central European stations
tend to dominate the same frequencies. Our extensive
antenna farm is not very helpful because European
stations are in the same direction, so don't count
on getting many African stations, except in the
case of solar storms. Your best shot to catch sub-Saharan
African stations is to watch for Nigerian stations
and others signing off around 2200-2300 UTC, and
Kenyan stations signing on at 0200 UTC.
Jim hunting for new AM stations
The first signals from the Americas
appear around 2000-2200 UTC. They're usually from
Newfoundland, Venezuela or northeastern Brazil,
depending on the direction of the conditions. Gradually
targets from further west appear on the dial. Overnight
conditions vary a lot, but the peak listening time
to the Western Hemisphere falls after sunrise Finnish
time, around 0600-1000 UTC. If conditions are good,
stations can be heard at almost every 10 kHz throughout
the AM band. A true feast! Even during poor conditions
there's usually a short peak in conditions at daybreak.
In midwinter, the sun remains
below the horizon, but DXing conditions are similar.
During good conditions, North American stations
from the West Coast can be heard until 1500-1600
UTC, and Alaskan stations even later. The strong
signals from Alaska will give you chills.
Daylight hours are the best time
to hunt for stations in the Pacific, which tend
to be overcome by Asian stations later in the afternoon.
The Southern Pacific is on the opposite side of
the world, so it is a rare treat.
During less than ideal conditions,
the AM band can be completely silent for hours during
daylight hours. Take it as a good opportunity to
get some exercise, check the antennas and enjoy
the Arctic nature. During very severe solar storms,
trans-Atlantic signals can become inaudible for
If you're interested in European
stations, the morning hours around 0600-0800 UTC
are best for Spain and the U.K., which have loads
of local stations. They can also be heard in the
So when do you sleep if interesting
stations are heard 24/7? We usually sleep around
1700-2000 UTC and again around 0200-0500 UTC. If
you trust your instincts in antenna selection, you
can of course sleep through the night and have your
SDR record overnight. The most interesting DX sessions
are after sunrise and around sunset, which need
to be monitored carefully.
The bedroom sleeps two comfortably, but there
are also two spare beds, so temporarily even
four people can stay overnight.
How many new AM stations are
you going to catch during one week in Aihkiniemi?
It is difficult to predict, as it all depends on
your experience, persistence, equipment, the solar
weather, and pure luck. We'd say that if you haven't
visited a Scandinavian DXpedition base before, if
you are equipped with an SDR receiver capable of
recording the entire AM band, and your week happens
to be average in terms of reception conditions,
you can expect to record hundreds of new stations.
Even though we've been on dozens of DXpeditions
in Lapland, we'd still expect an average week in
Aihkiniemi to yield more than 100 AM stations that
we have never heard before. For examples of what
can be heard in Aihkiniemi, check out reports of
recent DXpeditions in Aihkiniemi: AIH3,
AIH17 and AIH18.
Accommodation and Amenities
The 30-square-meter cabin in
Aihkiniemi has two rooms: one for sleeping and the
other is for cooking and DXing. There are two beds,
so the cabin can comfortably accommodate two DXers
at a time. In addition, there are two spare beds,
but using them leaves very little floorspace, so
housing more than two is not recommended.
Between the two rooms is an indoor composting toilet,
which works great and is odorless. It needs less
maintenance if you pee in the forest outside and
only use the toilet for number two. You will find
English-language instructions for use.
Two doors separate the bedroom and DXing room, so
any DXing/cooking activities will not disturb the
sleepier one too much, although earplugs are still
a good idea.
The kitchenette includes an electrical hot plate
with an oven, some closet space, microwave oven,
coffee maker, water heater, fridge with a freezer
compartment, and basic cooking and kitchen utensils.
You can use the outdoors as a spare freezer, if
you need one. Rest assured, the bears are asleep
in the winter.
The cabin has electrical heating and is warm even
when it's extremely cold outside. Heating is very
expensive, however, in case you wondered what you
are paying for, in addition to the antennas.
There's no running water in Aihkiniemi.
Therefore, you'll have to bring drinking water with
you and drive 5.6 kilometers south to Matkapaikka
Jounila, which offers cabins and lodge-type
accommodation. For a very modest off-season fee
of 5 euros/person/day you can take a shower, wash
your dishes, get more drinking water, and watch
TV. Another alternative is to drive 15 kilometers
up the road towards the Norwegian border for a shower.
We've negotiated with Reino Fofonoff, the owner
of Nitsijärvi Cabins, for the use of his hot
showers for a modest fee. Reino can also provide
you with more drinking water and the use of the
sauna in the fall. Nitsijärvi Cabins has an
with detailed instructions on how to get there.
The Aihkiniemi cabin has a smoke detector and a
There's very little closet
space for your stuff, so you'll have to pile most
of it on the floor and tables, or just keep it in
You may find it surprising, but there's cell phone
coverage even in the middle of nowhere, so the cell
phone network is the way to have Internet connection
in the cabin. Carry your cell phone when checking
the antennas or walking in the forest in case you
get lost or hurt yourself. Be sure to check that
your cell phone operator has roaming agreements
with the major Finnish operators or get a prepaid
SIM card on arrival in Finland.
If you would happen to lock yourself out, a neighbor
has a spare key. You will get contact details after
Road number 971 near Aihkiniemi
We recommend that you fly first
to Helsinki and then to Ivalo. From there, you can
rent a car and drive to Aihkiniemi in two hours.
Alternatively, if you don't mind the extra driving,
you can fly to Kittilä (a ski resort in northwestern
Lapland), Rovaniemi (on the Arctic Circle) or Oulu
(an IT industry boomtown further south) and drive
from there. Flying to any of these destinations
has just become cheaper thanks to increased competition.
In addition to Finnair,
you can fly with Norwegian,
which often has better deals.
If you have more stuff than you can take on an airplane,
and you have more time, you can take an overnight
train from Helsinki to either Rovaniemi or Kolari
(the northernmost railroad station), and rent a
car for the rest of the journey. You can check the
schedules and purchase the tickets from the national
railroad operator VR online.
airport is located 8 kilometers south from Ivalo
downtown. Ivalo is the best place to shop for groceries,
for winter clothing if you need it, and the last
point where you can find a liquor store (Alko).
At this intersection you leave the main road
(4/E75), and turn right on road 971. Still 43.5
kilometers to Aihkiniemi.
From Ivalo, drive north along
highway 4 (also known as E75), through Inari until
almost Kaamanen. After 63 kilometers, you'll come
to an intersection pointing to Kirkkoniemi, Näätämö
and Sevettijärvi. Turn right on the road named
as "Sevettijärventie" (number 971).
From this point on there are no services, so be
sure you have all the food and gas that you need.
The road becomes narrower, and you'll need to be
very careful with oncoming traffic.
In case you've ever wondered
why many signs in Finland have two versions of each
place name: the one on top is in the dominant language
spoken in the area most often Finnish
and the one on the bottom is the minority language.
In southern coastal areas, it's often Swedish. In
Lapland, it's one of the three dialects of Sami,
which is the native language for a few thousand
people in Finland.
Aihkiniemi is located 43.4 kilometers
from this intersection, on the left side of the
road. When you see signs pointing to the right for
"Käyräniemi" (the sign itself
is on the left side of the road) and "Matkapaikka
Jounila" (sign on the right side), soon
after a roadside antenna mast, you still have 5.6
kilometers to go. When you see a sign indicating
it is 80 kilometers to Norja (Norway) and 47 km
to Sevettijärvi, you're getting close.
Don't bother looking
for a sign for Aihkiniemi: there isn't one. When
you see a gated road on the left with a number sign
"4333", you've reached our closest neighbor.
Our driveway, without a number or sign, is about
70 meters up the road, also on the left side.
The cabin is located
about 70 meters from the main road and has a small
parking space right in front of the cabin. If you
arrive in winter, there'll be some snow on the driveway,
so drive carefully. During the DX season the driveway
is ploughed by an outside contractor at our expense
after each 20 cm of fresh snow. In between major
snowfalls, there's a shovel under the cabin for
your exercise. The main road is kept in good driving
condition throughout the winter.
You're guaranteed to see reindeer on the road at
some point, so drive with caution. Hitting a reindeer
is only lethal to the reindeer, but there are also
tall moose, which can come through the windshield
if you happen to drive into one. All public roads
in Lapland are open throughout the winter and are
well kept, but they will still be icy and snowy.
What do you need to bring
While we have the antennas, you'll
need to bring your own receiver(s), power cables
and other cables, an antenna selector, and a preamp/amplifier.
A splitter without an amplifier is available in
the cabin. You'll probably also need a laptop computer,
earphones, and loads of external hard drives to
store your catches.
A compass and a GPS, USB wires, etc. can come in
handy. It wouldn't hurt to have basic tools to fix
coax connections and antennas, although some tools
can be found in the cabin. The environment is largely
free of interference, and the most likely sources
of unwanted sounds on the dial will be your own
power sources, so at least for your laptop(s), it
may be wise to use the power sources that we have
Check out the Finnish
plugs beforehand, because you may need to bring
along shape adapters or even voltage transformers.
You won't find them in the grocery stores in Lapland.
The small lake next to the cabin may look like
it's frozen, but it is essentially a slow-moving
river, so find a narrow and shallow part to
cross, look for the most solid ice, or use a
temporary bridge when available (there was one
in the fall of 2012). We have a rowboat that
can be used until October.
Although you'll find mattresses,
pillows and blankets in the cabin, you'll need to
bring your own sheets, pillow cases and towels.
There's also a vacuum cleaner. You're expected to
clean after yourself, unless maybe you're traveling
with your mother... no maid service within at least
100 kilometers ;)
There'll be snow lots of it. And it'll be
cold. In terms of outdoor clothing, be prepared
for any kind of weather. The temperature can vary
between freezing point and minus 40 degrees, even
lower. Rubber boots or other water-resistant winter
boots are a good idea unless you visit in February
when everything is frozen solid.
You'll need a flashlight during the occasional power
outage. Two UPS units with four power outlets each
are available in the cabin to enable you to continue
DXing. Outages tend to take place every week, but
they're very short. Plan carefully in advance for
what you might need. Remember, it's a long drive
to the nearest store, especially for toilet paper
which is why we store a lot of it in the
Supermarkets in Ivalo are large, well-equipped and
accept all major credit cards. There are smaller
grocery stores in Inari and a tiny one in Kaamanen.
ATMs can be found both in Ivalo and Inari. The nearest
library with free Internet access is in Inari.
If you have used any of the pans, pots or kitchen
utensils, please boil water and do the dishes before
you leave. It can be a bit cumbersome. Alternatively,
you can buy paper plates, cups, and utensils on
your way to the cabin. In any case, please clean
the kitchenette. When you leave, please take all
your trash with you. You can drop it off on the
way back at large roadside bins. You'll encounter
the first such trash bins next to Matkapaikka Jounila
and there are more as you approach the intersection
with highway 4.
Half of the Aihkiniemi team, from left to right
Jari, Lauri, Jarmo and Olli
The cabin is available on a first-come,
first-serve basis. If you email Jari
Sinisalo, he can let you know about availability.
If you're traveling alone, you can ask about the
possibility of joining one of us for a DXpedition
Rent for the cabin and antennas is 500 euros
a week. If there are two DXers, it comes to
250 euros per person. The rent should be paid at
the time of the reservation into our association's
Most of us running Aihkiniemi live in the Helsinki
area, so the most convenient way to get the key
is during your stopover in Helsinki. We can even
meet you at the airport, if necessary.
What to do in addition to
This is what Saariselkä looks like in the
winter, so don't spend all of your trip just
You might want to consider combining
your DXpedition with a more traditional vacation
trip in Finland. Saariselkä,
one of the largest ski resorts in Finland, is located
just south of the Ivalo airport. So, if propagation
conditions happen to be exceptionally poor, you
can take advantage of the slopes, relax in a spa,
or enjoy after-ski partying. For something cheaper,
but equally impressive, you can watch the aurora
borealis, the northern lights! Further south, you
can meet Santa Claus in Rovaniemi or cruise on an
or visit the largest
snow castle in Kemi.
For more information about visiting
Finland, check out the Finnish Tourist Board website,
especially on winter
travel. Compared to most destinations, Finland
is very safe, clean and organized, so even if midwinter
is weather-wise not the ideal time to come over,
it is still an opportunity not to be missed. The
capital, Helsinki, has loads of sights that you
can experience year-round, from modern architecture,
opera and dozens of museums, to nightlife and gourmet
In case you happen to be traveling
in Lapland during the summer, you can rent the Aihkiniemi
cabin for any period of time for half of the winter
rate. It's a good base for exploring Lapland, and
in the summer you can enjoy 24 hours of daylight,
which is an experience in itself. There are ample
opportunities for fishing, hiking,
and picking wild berries (which you can do even
without landowner's permission). In Lapland you
can even try your luck in gold-panning.
We own fishing rights in some
areas of the surrounding wilderness, so when you
rent the cabin, you can fish in these areas. And
we have lots of coveted cloudberries in and around
our property in early August. As for your luggage
add mosquito repellent and delete your radio
equipment; there's not much to listen to on the
AM band in summer.
In Finland most people understand English well enough
to be able to help you, so getting around and finding
what you need is easy. Be in touch if there's anything
more that we can help you with in preparing your
DX vacation of a lifetime! Welcome to our paradise!
Jussila, Martti Karimies, Olli Kilpeläinen,
Mika Mäkeläinen, Lauri Niemi, Jarmo
Salmi, Jari Sinisalo and Jim Solatie
on May 25, 2011 (last update November 2012)