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KAX 2006-2007, SDR DXing in Lapland

Report and log from Kaamanen, Finland,
from November 12, 2006, to April 5, 2007

by Jim Solatie and Mika Mäkeläinen

These are the results of the first season of remote DXing in the village of Kaamanen in the Finnish Lapland. A 1-kilometer-long Beverage antenna was set up, pointing to the East Coast of North America (at 300 degrees), in the hope of catching loads of rare AM stations during an excellent AM DXing season. To our knowledge, this was the first time that such a monitoring station had been established in Scandinavia, marking an important milestone in AM DXing.

The purpose was to try to take advantage of good conditions without having to be personally present. The signal from the antenna was divided into four SDR-14 receivers, each recording a 190 kiloherz wide section of the AM band on external hard drives, connected to the SDRs via four laptop computers. Normally the receivers would be run for a few hours per day during the early morning hours before and after sunrise, which was determined to be the most productive time of the day. Both of us had two receivers, which were programmed separately, mostly without knowing the frequencies and times that the other listener would be covering. As a result, the log contains some stations caught by both of us, but mostly the catches are unique to either one.

Cabin in Kaamanen
Cabin in the wilderness

The recording times and frequency ranges were constantly changed by our local assistant according to our instructions in order to cover the sections which we expected to yield the most interesting DX catches under the prevailing conditions. Unfortunately, strong local electrical noise remained a persistent problem throughout the season, severely affecting the results, and effectively preventing daytime listening, which traditionally has been the best way to log stations from North America in midwinter Lapland.

Also, signal strength was considerably weaker than at the famous Lemmenjoki DXpedition cabin located only some 50 kilometers away. As a result, under poor or average conditions we always found dozens of recordings over several days without anything of interest. Nevertheless, we netted a bunch of nice catches listed below. Quite a few recordings still remain to be checked, so the log is expected to grow in the future.

midday sunshine
The sun also rises

During the season either one of us would periodically visit Lapland for more traditional DXpeditions in Lemmenjoki, giving a chance to check and maintain equipment also in Kaamanen. External hard drives were retrieved and replaced during these visits, and adjustments were made to SDR parameters. Human errors and technical problems were abundant. Initially the recorded sections kept shifting unintentionally. For most of December, the system was out of order. It remains to be seen, how well the equipment survive extreme conditions, including temperatures falling to -30 degrees also inside the cabin.

Four laptops with four SDRs
Four of everything: laptops, SDRs, hard drives

Still, the enterprise was made possible only by the kind assistance of our host, who agreed to place the receivers in a small cottage next to his home. The location was challenging and truly remote; although there is electricity – and unfortunately surprisingly strong electrical interference – there is no road connection, so the lakeside cottage can only be accessed by boat during the short summer or by snow machine during the long winter, or by walking through forests and vast swamps. The cottage is located at 69N02 27E00, at an altitude of about 150 meters above sea level.

Hundreds of more or less regular catches have been omitted from the following log, listing only stations that we found to be new, rare or otherwise personally interesting. The majority of these catches were made by Jim, while Mika still hasn’t checked most of his recordings.

KAX 2006-2007 Log

 North America
 kHz: day.month. time UTC: station, comments:
540 28.12. 0800 CBGA1 New Carlisle, QC. French CBC stations give their call sign at the top of the hour. I wish English speaking CBC stations would do the same. “Ici Radio Canada … Premiere Chaine CBGA …”
540 28.12. 0805 + WFLF Pine Hills, FL. Was heard with a weak signal under the dominant CBC station in French. A promo mentioning “540wfla.com”. Also heard in Lemmenjoki (see LEM239 DXpedition log) and Parkalompolo at roughly the same time.
540 28.1. 0600,0700 CBT Grand Falls NL. Good conditions to Newfoundland this morning, though no local programs from CBC stations
550 30.12. 0830 KFYR Bismarck, ND. WSAU is clearly the dominant here, this is the second strongest.
550 31.12. 0805 WKRC Cincinnati, OH. “55 KRC”.
570 29.1.
WKBN Youngstown, OH. One of the friendliest replies this season. They have a very nice QSL policy. I wish other stations would be like WKBN!
600 22.2. 0503 KSJB Jamestown, ND. “Classic Country KSJB Jamestown, North Dakota”.
630 28.12. 0845 CHLT Sherbrooke, QC. In a promo they mentioned “musique traditionelle a CHLT”, otherwise just talk.
680 2.3. 0500 + WNZKn Dearborn Heights, MI. Tentative. Arabic programme with a few announcements and Arabic music. Also heard on 21.2. with Macedonian show, but only with non stop music then. A true ‘nighttimer’, since they change their frequency to 690 AM at sunrise.
680 22.2. 0505 WRKO Boston, MA. Surprisingly difficult, since CFTR and CJOB are so strong.
690 22.2. 0533 KTSM El Paso, TX. “Welcome back to Al Colmes show on Newstalk 690 KTSM”.
820 4.12. 0500 + WOSU Columbus, OH. Was heard for almost two hours, dominating the frequency all the time. Antti Aaltonen in Lemmenjoki was the very first Finn to hear this station, thanks Antti for the hint.
820 5.12. 0800 + WMGG Largo, FL. “La Mega Clásica” & “La Original”. Audible for 45 minutes with Spanish hit music.
850 5.12. 0657 WNTJ Johnstown, PA. “The NTJ Newstalk Network”.
870 5.12. 0745 WHCU Ithaca, NY. “Newstalk 870 WHCU”.
890 20.11. 0546 KVOZ Del Mar Hills TX, “La Cadena Nueva Radio Cristiana”.
920 4.12. 0800 WBAA West Lafayette, IN. “Jazz all night long, this is AM 920 WBAA West Lafayette”.
920 5.12. 0820 + WIRD Lake Placid, NY. “Sports Talk AM 920 WIRD Lake Placid”. A most welcome surprise, since the frequency is usually dominated by CJCH, CKNX and WOKY.
930 17.11. 0500 KOGA Ogallala NE.
 Central America & Caribbean
 kHz: day.month. time UTC: station, comments:
660 28.12. 0845 XEEY “La Consentida”, Aguascalientes. The strongest Mexican this morning, as always during the winter. Also XEAR La Mexicana, Tampico and XEDTL Radio Ciudadanos, Mexico were heard this morning on 660.
690 6.3. 0300 XEN Mexico. “XEN 690 de AM con 100 mil watts de potencia, desde la Ciudad de Mexico, Constituyentes 1154, Colonia Lomas Altas”.
760 15.11. 0626 + XEES Culiacán CH, “Antena 760”.
790 15.11. 0626 XEBI Aguascalientes AG, “La B-I”.
830 5.12. 0816 XELK “LK”, Zacatecas. “LK, la estación de la palabra”.
840 22.11. 0601 CMKC Radio Revolución, Santiago de Cuba
900 22.11. 0555 CMKP Radio Progreso, Cacocun HO
 South America
 kHz: day.month. time UTC: station, comments:
580 12.2. 0630 YVMJ La Voz de la Fé, Maracaibo.
640 12.2. 0610 + Radio Morena, Guayaquil. This was a very strong Ecuador-morning. I wonder what could have been heard, if the antenna had been the right one (now it was 300 degrees, 30 degrees too far north). Morena was audible for 20 minutes. Thanks JPR & HK very much for help with this.
690 12.2. 0530 HJCZ Radio Recuerdos, Bogota. “Radio Recuerdos 690”.
700 12.2. 0530 HCRS2 Radio Sucre, Guayaquil. Huge signal over two hours.
700 12.2. 0637 YVMH Radio Popular, Maracaibo. “Radio Popular 700 AM”.
Published on November 18, 2007 - updated later

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