The Ultimate AM DXing Base
Available for Rent
The Aihkiniemi DX cabin in September 2017
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
DXers as well.
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, but both the
cabin as well as the 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 2018):
Antennas in Aihkiniemi
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay
Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Eastern Caribbean
(and lower band Argentina, Paraguay)
||East Coast of
North America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Central America
Great Lakes, Midwest, Mexico
Prairie states, Rocky Mountains, Western Mexico
New Zealand (North Island)
(Hokkaido), New Zealand (South Island)
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 a larger version).
The antennas from 255° to
46° are spread out on the northwestern side
of the main road on a flat but otherwise very 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 35
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 clean them from snow and
ice, and 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 small bridge
a few hundred meters away downstream. 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 a
coax cable leads into the cabin. Inside the cabin,
all coax wires are HFX50, which is more resilient
towards radio-frequency interference (RFI) than
the common RG58. One of the antennas (321 degrees)
is equipped with a toroid-based RF choke. 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
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 RFI, there are currently several laboratory-grade
power supplies for your laptop computers and external
hard drives. However, using hard drives which are
powered via USB is recommended to eliminate one
potential source of RFI. Because the level of electromagnetic
interference in Aihkiniemi is extremely low, you
may notice that some of your own equipment cause
RFI which you haven't been able to detect at home.
There is also a separate power
supply to provide 5V DC for Perseus receivers. Several
laptops are available for DXing, but they should
not be connected to the Internet. If you do bring
a laptop of your own, which is recommended if you
want Internet connection or wish you to use your
favorite pre-installed SDR software, note that you
also need a wire connecting the power supply to
your laptop, as laptops have a variety of different
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 very few 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
Most listeners travel to Lapland
taking the overnight train, so a new crew normally
arrives in Aihkiniemi at the earliest around 2 p.m.
(on a Saturday which is when a weekly reservation
begins and ends), by which time the previous crew
has already left to catch the evening train. 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
UTC, and Asian stations can be enjoyed until around
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 closing
time (at 1600 UTC or before). Indian stations can
be best identified around sign-off time at 1740
UTC or after 0023 UTC sign-on.
Sub-Saharan 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 Ethiopian stations
signing off after 2100 UTC; Nigerian, Mozambican
and others signing off around 22002300
UTC, and stations from Sudan and Ethiopia signing
on around 0300 UTC.
Jim is hunting for new AM stations.
The first signals from the Americas
appear around 20002200
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
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 15001600
UTC, and Alaskan stations even later. The strong
signals from Alaska will give you chills.
Around midday Finnish time is
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,
with V7AB on 1098 kHz being the most common catch.
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,
transatlantic signals can become inaudible for days.
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
and again around 02000500
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 before 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 around 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,
AIH88 and AIH98.
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 hardly any floorspace, so
housing more than two is definitely not recommended.
Between the two rooms there is an indoor composting
toilet, which works great and is odorless. It needs
less maintenance if you pee mostly in the forest
outside and only use the toilet for number two.
You will find English-language instructions for
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, a new induction stove, some closet
space, a microwave oven, a coffee maker, a water
heater, a 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.
The previous crew will leave you some drinking water.
You can get more from Matkapaikka
Jounila (a few km to the southwest), which offers
lodge-type accommodation. For an off-season fee
of 15 euros/person/visit you can take a shower,
wash your dishes, get more drinking water, and watch
TV, but not stay overnight. Another alternative
is to drive a bit longer 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 English-language website
with detailed instructions on how to get there.
The Aihkiniemi cabin has a smoke detector and a
There's no closet space
for your stuff, so you'll have to pile most of it
on the floor and tables, or just keep it in your
You may find it surprising, but there's good 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. Airtime and data
are very cheap in Finland.
Instructions for obtaining the key will be given
to you after reservation.
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 cheaper deals.
If you have more stuff than you can take along in
a plane, 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.
Of the two northern destinations, driving time from
Rovaniemi is shorter and also the road is better
than from Kolari.
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
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 "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. You can
get more detailed driving instructions after your
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.
If you arrive in
winter, there'll be some snow on the driveway of
the cabin, so drive carefully. 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 earphones,
and loads of external hard drives to store your
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
(for 230V). You won't find them in the grocery stores
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
bridge further downstream. 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.
Power outages are rare and short,
but bringing a flashlight is still a good idea,
because it will be dark outside most of the time.
Two UPS units with four power outlets each are available
in the cabin to enable you to continue DXing even
in case the power goes out. 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 at large
roadside bins, the nearest one of which is located
close to Matkapaikka Jounila.
Half of the original Aihkiniemi team, from left
to right Jari, Lauri, Jarmo and Olli.
The cabin is available on a first-come,
first-serve basis. Most likely September and October
are booked solid by us, and openings can generally
be found from mid-November. If you email Jari
Sinisalo, he can let you know about availability.
If you're traveling alone, you can inquire about
the possibility of joining one of us for a DXpedition
Rent for the cabin and antennas is 700 euros
a week. If there are two DXers, it comes to
350 euros per person. The rent must be paid in
advance at the time of the reservation into
our association's bank account. Your reservation
is confirmed once we have received your payment.
What to do in addition to
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.
This is what Saariselkä looks like in the
winter, so don't spend all of your trip just
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
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!
Huuhtanen, Markku Jussila, Martti Karimies,
Mika Mäkeläinen, Lauri Niemi, Jarmo
Salmi, Jari Sinisalo and Jim Solatie
on May 25, 2011 (last update in October 2019)