Newfoundland DXpedition 7
October 1-17, 1998
by Jean Burnell (with photos by Werner Funkenhauser)
It's also the non-DX that
makes a DXpedition memorable. I will long remember
the seventh DXpedition at Cappahayden, Newfoundland,
for a lot of good DX and the company of friends
who are also excellent DX'ers, but my wife recently
discovered that the event was also memorable for
the populace of Cappahayden. They are convinced,
without a shadow of doubt, that in October their
quiet community was crawling with spies, coming
and going in rental cars at all hours, setting up
sophisticated listening equipment, stretching long
wires in all directions, and activating all the
phones to ring non-stop in the DX Inn.
Mark Connelly Billerica, MA - Drake R8A - Oct 1-4
Neil Kazaross Barrington, IL - AOR 7030 - Oct 1-5
Jean Burnell St. John's, NF - Drake R8A & Icom
R71A - Oct 1-17
Werner Funkenhauser Guelph, ON - Icom R71A with
Plam - Oct 5-11
Alan Merriman Chincoteague, VA - AOR 7030 Plus -
John Fisher Calgary, AB - Icom R71A - Oct 15-17
Mark, Werner, Al, and John
have penned their own interesting accounts of this
DXpedition. Since these span all eighteen days of
the event, it remains for me to deal with only a
few important things. I must thank the participants
for coming to share the DX. For Neil this was a
sixth visit, whereas it was Al's turn to be the
Newfoundland rookie. (No, there are no initiation
rites involving nudity and shaving cream. Yes, we
are indulgent toward a first-timer who is likely
to blurt out "Listen to this!!" when he
stumbles upon completely routine stations like the
100-watt AFRTS outlet in the Azores.) I am especially
grateful to my wife, Stephanie, for allowing me
to make her a single parent for two-and-a-half weeks!
I think every DXer thought the Cappahayden experience
was worthwhile, and really I hope to see them all
back here in Newfoundland again.
It seems that at every Newfoundland DXpedition some
new piece of DX hardware is introduced that we adopt
on subsequent DXpeditions. This year was no exception.
Al Merriman brought his version of the K9AY Terminated
Loops, and this antenna system certainly impressed
me. Although for southern stations the loop did
not perform as well as the 1-km Beverage we aimed
at eastern Brazil, the loop out-performed the common
garden variety Beverages we used for Europe, even
in the direction of those Beverages. Furthermore,
Al took only thirty minutes to get the loop system
set up, and it required only 30-feet square of real
estate. Al has now put together a similar system
for me, and without a doubt I'll be using it at
Cappahayden. The total antenna complement at the
- Brazilian Beverage: 1 km twin-lead with Byan termination
aimed at eastern Brazil. This antenna should also
have been effective for south-eastern South America
and for southern Africa. Indeed, this Beverage was
the one that was responsible for all of my Pan-American
DX (excluding domestics).
- Track Wire: 500 m unterminated wire aimed at Venezuela.
This wire seemed to yield nothing of interest that
was not better on the Brazilian, and it was ineffective
for phasing so this wire was hauled in after only
a few days.
- Second Southern: 600 m unterminated wire paralleling
the Brazilian Beverage. This one was used for phasing,
but its main function was as a back-up should the
Brazilian Beverage have been lost.
- Europe 1: 600 m terminated wire aimed at northern
- Europe 2: 550 m unterminated wire paralleling
Europe 1. This was also used for phasing against
- K9AY Loops: Al Merriman's system of north-south
and east-west delta loops.
Antennas were split four ways using ICE splitters.
The Beverages were at various times fitted with
Kiwa broadband amplifiers. We used a variety of
phasing units (I used mainly a modified MFJ-1026).
What were my DX highlights on medium-wave? "New"
countries are fun, so I was very pleased to hear
Yemen on 760 kHz. However, for me tough stations
are more important than countries, so I will long
remember the concentrations of previously unheard
(by me) Brazilians (27 stations) and numerous logs
of sub-kilowatt British stations. The quality of
reception for a number of Greek outlets was remarkable,
and it was very exciting to garner the likes of
the 10 kW Galei Zahal station from Jerusalem (1404
kHz) and Radio Rosario from Argentina (830 kHz),
and Inhambane, Mozambique (1206 kHz). Overall, we
heard 100 countries on medium-wave. On short-wave,
John Fisher and I logged a station on 6843 kHz that
was very likely Hargeisa, Somalia.
Here are more detailed accounts of the DXpedition
from Mark, Werner, Al, and John:
My fourth DXpedition visit to
Newfoundland was brief, but very enjoyable. Three
years had passed since my last trip there, and many
changes had occurred in my personal life during
that time. As I grow older, I look for somewhat
different experiences from leisure-time activities.
In DXpeditioning, I'm moving away from the notion
that the main idea is spending most of the time
trying to extract a handful of rare ID's from extremely
messy pile-ups of signals. A DXpedition can be an
aesthetic experience, a numbers-chase like the ham
contests, or some compromise between these two extremes.
More often, in addition to the usual goal of amassing
a big country total, I'm looking for some cultural
content and unique programming. US AM radio has
degenerated into a hodge-podge of syndicated talk
shows, religious, and ethnic formats. Young people,
and even those in their 30's and 40's, find little
to get excited about on today's domestic AM dial.
Newfoundland, to a greater extent than even the
best US DXing sites, offers a view into a different
world, one with a multinational radio dial with
programming that uplifts the listener the same way
rock stations like WMEX, WKBW, WINS, WABC, and WLS
did back in 1961 when I was a 12-year old kid just
discovering both the obvious and subtle joys of
night-time AM radio.
The aspect of camaraderie and idea-sharing with
other participants on a DXpedition has become increasingly
important to me. The last two years since my dad
died have seen me going to my mother's house on
Cape Cod generally twice a month, usually on a Saturday.
After I've helped her out, I often stop for a bit
of DXing at some beach site along the two-hour 100-mile
drive back home. During the warmer months, I occasionally
head out to Rockport or Rowley on a weeknight after
work to test out some new "DX Lab" gadget.
I do most of my DXing alone, from the car. On those
few occasions that I'm DXing in the company of others
who share the passion for the hobby, conversing
with these co-participants becomes as important,
or more important, than the actual DX itself. Discussions
not only hit the obvious subjects of receivers,
antennas, and propagation; but also other shared
interests such as music, world cultures, linguistics,
travel, politics, books, TV, movies, food, work
and family life.
"Newfie 7" started out with a bit of a
mishap. The most important piece of my luggage,
the suitcase containing my Drake R8A receiver and
my phasing unit, did not arrive at the St. John's
airport when I landed there on Thursday evening
(1 Oct). After I waited there for an hour and filled
out some forms, I got my rental car and drove down
Route 10 to Cappahayden. As usual, the car radio
dial spin en route was fun. RASD Tindouf, Algeria
(1550) cranked out some great tunes to liven up
the dark drive.
Upon arrival at the "DX Inn" (Lawlor's),
I explained the luggage problem to Jean Burnell.
Fortunately, he had a spare receiver, his Icom R-71A,
available for my use. I was soon digging for DX
and renewing acquaintances with Jean. The first
thing I usually do is a complete scan of the medium-wave
band. Everything heard during this initial bandscan,
whether rare or common, whether foreign or domestic,
gets jotted down in the logbook. Doing this helps
me to "feel out" general band conditions
and the similarities (and differences) in reception
to at-home DX. Also, it helps me to spot any "oddities":
off-channel signals, stations not previously noted,
or the absence of something that was formerly common.
My arrival time was fairly late, about 10 p.m. local
/ 0030 UTC. The really prime band conditions are
earlier, around local sunset, especially for sought-after
Africans. Neil Kazaross arrived during the "wee
hours" of Friday morning, I think about 3 a.m.,
during pouring rain and howling winds.
After everyone had slept till about 10 or 11 on
Friday morning, the course of events quickly improved:
a courier from Air Canada delivered my lost luggage
to the DX Inn. It was time for Neil, Jean, and me
to grab some lunch at an excellent local restaurant
in Trepassey. As I chatted DX strategy with two
of "the best in the business," I enjoyed
a fried seafood platter including the local delicacy,
cod tongues. Almost as succulent and tasty as the
Ipswich clams back home.
A hard thing to contemplate was the struggle of
the local population to survive in the face of the
vast reduction in the scale of the fishing industry,
once the economic mainstay of the area.
Friday afternoon at the DX Inn saw us doing some
antenna work in preparation for sunset African DX
possibilities that excited us all. Jean installed
a Byan terminator on the 1-km Brazilian Beverage.
Tests showed that opposite-direction stations (the
St. John's locals) could be nulled appreciably as
DC voltage on the remote Vactrol was adjusted. I
discovered a new "had to get" DX toy,
the Kiwa broadband amplifier. It provided good gain,
low noise, and no evidence of overload from the
local LORAN transmitter.
True to form, bountiful Trans-Atlantic signals appeared
well before local sunset. The Brazilian Beverage
offered good side rejection of Europeans while allowing
signals from Africa to come through. Switching between
the European Beverage and the Brazilian (/ African)
Beverage often revealed entirely different dominants
on the same channels: Vatican or São Tomé
on 1530, Spain or Ascension Island on 1485, etc.
Portuguese on 1206 was eventually determined to
be from Mozambique. For me, the sunset DX was the
best ... just as it is at coastal sites in Massachusetts.
Things got more routine as darkness settled in.
With skill and enthusiasm, Neil and Jean went after
many Brazilians and other deep South Americans.
We all enjoyed some incredibly huge signals from
Greece and Israel booming in on the European wire.
During the day on Saturday, I wanted to do an accurate
groundwave bandscan. Neil and I drove out to Portugal
Cove South, between Cape Race and Trepassey near
the southeastern corner of the Avalon Peninsula.
It's a strikingly beautiful spot with rocky cliffs
pounded by heavy surf. It reminded me of western
Ireland and of Acadia National Park in Maine. Similar
vistas can be enjoyed in Oregon and in New Zealand.
The midday groundwave study revealed several Bermuda
stations (1160 was best); also, most Boston stations
and a number of New York City stations were easily
heard on the R8A with two wires (200 m and 100 m)
strung out over grass and rocks on top of a high
bluff overlooking the Atlantic.
Saturday afternoon was great as Jean's family (wife
Stephanie and young children Christopher and Emily)
came to the DX Inn to join in on the fun. It was
nice to see their enthusiasm for the activities.
The coastal Beverages offered all of us a panorama
of international AM radio with an intriguing blend
of widely-varied music and talk content in many
languages. Maybe I'll listen to the blues-like a
cappella Berber vocals on Morocco-1044 first, or
party to Virgin-1215 blasting in with Inxs doing
"Disappear" (reminding me of good old
days when US AM'ers featured "Liar Liar,"
"G-L-O-R-I-A," and similar). Then there's
some splendid fiddling from Ireland-567 and the
highlife music from the deep Africans ... so many
choices! Anyone with an intellectual curiosity about
the world would find the array of entertainment
and information, all intended for local populations,
By midnight, I had to go to sleep so I could get
up in the Sunday pre-dawn hours for my drive to
the St. John's airport. As I sat back and relaxed
on the flight home, I recalled pleasant memories
of this excellent Newfoundland DXpedition and those
I'd attended in 1991, 1993, and 1995.
After a somewhat bumpy flight
from Toronto to Halifax, the second leg of my trip
to Newfoundland was uneventful and on time at 4:30
p.m. on Oct. 5. I rented a car at St. John's airport
and began a leisurely drive down the coast to Cappahayden.
The radio in my little Toyota Tercel was a basic
digital set, which didn't allow for split-channel
reception. Even so, I heard Spanish
stations on North American frequencies
like 530, 1010, and 1600 kHz. For once I was happy
to listen to a radio with really poor selectivity.
My Newfoundland Seven DXperience had already begun,
even as I drove out of St. John's.
At the familiar Lawlor's DX Inn in Cappahayden,
Jean Burnell greeted me in his usual friendly fashion.
As soon as I was unpacked, he began helping me set
up. I brought my trusty Icom R71A, and my MFJ 1025
phasing unit. My other equipment were the usual
DXpedition peripherals, including a Sony SW 77 as
a backup receiver. Soon I was ready to do some serious
DXing, and by 2346 UTC, less than five hours after
arriving in St. John's, I had my first Cappahayden
'98 log of VOA-Kuwait on 1548.
Jean provided a hit list of earlier Newfoundland
DXpedition logs. I brought German DXer Peer-Axel
Kroeske's excellent "Strongest 300 Europeans"
with me as reference. These resources I used to
advantage because as in 1995, there was a plethora
of TA and Latin signals wherever I tuned. My Icom's
31 available memories were loaded with main frequencies,
which spanned the dial from 531 kHz to 1611 kHz.
I could easily scan up-and-down the band, and spent
much of the time hopping from one channel to the
next, but periodically Jean would call my attention
to such-and-such a station.
My DX routine was to begin listening during late
afternoon, into the late evenings. I'd sleep for
a couple of hours, then go back at it. Once or twice,
I also DX'ed just before local sunrise. Jean was
a never-ending source of information, and I'm grateful
that he'd point out interesting stations, even if
many were 'old-hat' to him. In '95, Jean and George
Hakiel were 'bird dogging' many of the TA's which
we logged. Now I consider myself a pretty good medium-wave
DXer, and I've logged my share over time, however,
I don't have experience in logging much of the stuff
that's heard by coastal DXers like Jean.
Al Merriman joined us on Thursday Oct. 8, and now
I had another experienced coastal DXer, whose brain
I could pick [Hi!]. Al brought with him, his version
of the K9AY Terminated Loops antenna. The performance
of this antenna, compared to our Beverages, was
exceptional. I could go on about its impressive
performance, but I'll let Jean or Al write about
that. Sufficient to say that, it wasn't long before
the K9AY Loops fed the antenna splitter system,
along with the Beverages, and Jean and I also shared
in some of the superior performance.
DX aside, going to "away" places is fun
just to see countryside and to meet folks. Having
a car made it easy. At the rental rate that I had
to pay, I was going to use up every one of the 700
"free" km that came with the rental. I
twice visited the museum located at the archeological
site of Lord Baltimore's 1632 colony at Ferryland.
Their dockside café served up the best pea
soup I'd ever tasted. The friendly waitress who
served me told me the secret of its fine taste was
"beef bellies." Elsewhere, they use ham
chunks in split pea soup. Yummmm...beef bellies.
I'd spend at least a couple of hours driving about
each day, visiting the little communities up or
down "The Irish Loop" as Highway 10 was
marked. North or south was the only direction I
could drive, because there are no roads into the
interior of the Avalon Peninsula. But, I did manage
to run out of road once or twice in the small communities
that I visited. A couple of times I walked the wires
with Jean, and also alone. During one such walk,
the Lawlor's dog amused us by 'fetching' and carrying
in his mouth a fist-sized rock that he'd recovered
from the water. He also accompanied me, leading
the way along the rocky ocean side, as I checked
the 1-km Brazilian Beverage.
I took photos during all of my outings, some of
which unfortunately didn't turn out as well as I
expected. I was using my wife's little auto-focus
Fuji, and my hands might have been a bit shaky.
I guess that was from slaving over a hot Icom most
of the previous night, or perhaps the odd tot or
two, of Newfie Screech, which I occasionally sampled
as a nightcap. Anyway, next time I'll bring along
my heavier, but easier to handle, Nikon, which gave
me some excellent pictures during the May '95 event.
On Saturday night - my last DX evening, I knew that
all too soon it was going to be over. Near midnight,
I was feeling wistful, even sad, that I was leaving
my friends and their camaraderie. I soon packed
my gear, because I was no longer in a mood to DX.
A couple of final photos of Al and Jean, the inevitable
last-minute checks of my bags, and I found myself
driving back to St. John's airport at 2:30 in the
morning. My flight out was at 8:15. It was a long
wait! However, as the big Austrian guy says, "I'll
A Novice in Newfoundland, or
How I Managed to Avoid the Moose on the Way to Cappahayden!
"A World of Difference." This is the slogan
you will see on the Newfoundland & Labrador
license plates. One evening at the dials will convince
you that what they had in mind was ... DX!
For several years I've wanted to make this trip
but never had. This year - with the added incentive
of a new antenna system I wanted to test against
some real DXpedition antennas - I decided to go.
I believe it is safe to say it will not be the last.
Think I am the first DXer, at least from the USA,
to drive. I left home on Sunday, October 4 and after
wandering 2500 miles through the Canadian Maritimes,
including a detour to go across the new Confederation
Bridge to Prince Edward Island, I arrived at the
DX Inn in Cappahayden at about 1 p.m. on Thursday,
October 8. No one was around so I started getting
the equipment set up. While installing the antenna
system - a pair of K9AY Terminated Loops - Werner
Funkenhauser returned from lunch to lend a welcome
hand. Everything was up and ready to go before 3
p.m. Back in the shack it was noted that Iceland
on 189 kHz, which is a day-time regular, was stronger
on the loops than it was on a 1800-foot Beverage.
Later that same afternoon we had readable TA's on
the loops while the same stations were just weak
carriers in the noise on the Beverage.
The first evening at the dials was a real eye opener.
The signals from the TA's were just unbelievable.
It was difficult to spend any time on one frequency
for fear of missing something better somewhere else.
With the exception of a half dozen or so Newfoundland
locals, you can forget about North American stations
- particularly when using antennas like the K9AY
Loops that produce an excellent cardiod pattern
with 25-40 db nulls off the back. All the "biggies"
that are such pests down here cease to exist for
all practical purposes.
The next day, in the guise of checking out the 1
kilometer long Brazilian Beverage, Werner and I
found out the real reason Jean had lured us to Cappahayden
- to help pick wild cranberries! The antenna, of
course, was fine, but I will admit it was nice to
stretch the legs a bit after all the driving of
the previous five days. The walk along a very rocky
beach was a good workout.
Saturday's highlight was watching the locals use
the area where the antenna farm was for some rifle
practice prior to going out looking for moose.
Early on Sunday, Werner left to fly back to Ontario.
Later in the afternoon, Jean and I took a little
tour around the southern end of the Avalon Peninsula
through South Portugal Cove, Trepassey and a number
of other small villages. I had the opportunity to
see the Cape Race Loran C station, which causes
some problems at the DX Inn, and on the way back
we managed to spot some caribou. The hunting season
was in full swing and most of the wildlife was staying
well hidden. There is also some great scenery through
this area. In fact, the Province of Newfoundland
is just one great scene after another - it changes
around almost every corner.
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - four nights
of fantastic DX, but like all good things it had
to end. On Thursday morning I packed everything
up and hit the road for the drive back across Newfoundland
and the ferry to Nova Scotia. I stopped in Glovertown
on the way back to hunt up the 40-watt LPRT, CBNG-1090.
It was nice to see one of these at last. I stayed
in Corner Brook on Thursday night and woke up Friday
to terrible weather - high winds and heavy rain.
The trip back to Port aux Basques was not that pleasant,
but I did get in a bit of sightseeing including
a trip around the very scenic Port Au Port peninsula.
At about 6 p.m. - 2 hours late - the ferry pulled
out and ended my visit to Newfoundland.
Oh, yeah, the moose I mentioned above. Actually
I didn't see any - they were all in hiding - but
there were plenty of signs warning you to look out
for them. In Terra Nova National Park there was
a big sign giving the moose/vehicle accident stats
for the year to date which was 10. The sign didn't
mention what won most of these - the vehicle or
I've submitted only a sample of the stations logged
in the loggings section. This is by no means even
close to all. After over 40 years in this hobby
I find it difficult to keep much in the way of records
anymore - in fact, it has turned into a real chore.
I like to spend some time listening from time to
time, but I no longer send reports, and station
or country totals no longer hold much interest.
What I heard was also heard by others so you probably
won't miss much.
Last but not least, a big thank you to Jean Burnell
for all his hard work in arranging the DXpedition.
Know it is a "Labor of Love" with him,
but it still takes a lot of time and effort. I'm
already looking forward to - next year? We'll see.
It all went by so fast. It's hard to believe that
another Newfoundland DX session has come and gone.
All of the anticipation and planning leading up
to 36 hours of intense DX'ing.
Planning for the event was made somewhat easier
by the fact that this year I was able to combine
my listening with a business trip to Germany. St.
John's then became just a convenient stop-over on
the way to Europe. Tickets were purchased, plans
were made but there was always that dark cloud hanging
over the trip. What if my trip was canceled at the
last minute, could I arrange (or afford from Calgary)
for a back-up plan? Fortunately, everything came
together, and on Wednesday night I left Calgary
en route to an overnight in Toronto and a morning
flight to St. John's.
Once again the east coast of
Newfoundland confirmed its place as my favorite
site for MW DX'ing. The west coast of North America
is good for Asian DX, but, because of darkness patterns,
it has a relatively short window of opportunity
in the early morning. The rest of the time, you
are DX'ing domestics and a few Latins. However,
from the east coast you have a long opening to Europe,
Africa and Central Asia starting in the late afternoon
and continuing on till the early morning hours.
Combined with the open water path to Latin America,
DX is available for up to 18 hours. I found myself
actually passing by many Latin stations simply because
there were so many European signals to be heard.
Overall, reception was not quite as good as it was
two years ago. (That's like saying a Lexus is not
as luxurious as a Mercedes when you spend your time
driving a Ford Tempo.) Reception to the Middle East
was so-so, Central and Southern Africa non-existent
and South America not bad. The highlights for me
were the large number of low-powered British regional
stations that were heard including Classic Gold
on 954 kHz with 160 watts. The other reception goodie
was the incredible strength of the All India Radio
regional station at Nagpur on 1566 kHz, which was
heard at levels better than its short-wave parallels.
Hearing this station on MW with English news at
0030 UTC that was so clear, that you could take
the headphones off and listen was remarkable. But
still in a little under two days, I was able to
log stations from just over 60 countries including
such new ones (for me) as Yemen, Rhodes and Crete.
By the last night we were in
the midst of a torrential gale. The wind was whipping
at about 80 km/h, and the rain was falling, as Jean
would say, horizontally. This foul weather led to
one of the more humorous aspects of my visit.
The owners of the DX Inn, the
Lawlors, are gracious enough to allow us the use
of their phone for the occasional call home to let
our spouses etc. know that we have not fallen off
the face of the earth while we have our headphones
glued to our heads. Well, on Friday night during
this rainstorm, they had left the DX Inn to head
to one of their other properties, so Jean and I
were all alone at the Inn. As soon as I pressed
the "0" to start a phone call, all of
the other phones in the house started ringing. No
amount of pushing buttons, hanging up or even disconnecting
the offending phone from the wall would stop the
other phones from their non-stop ringing. It must
have seemed humorous to see Jean and me disconnecting
all of the phones in the house in a vain attempt
to stop the noise. Nothing seemed to work, until
we finally found one phone that we could disconnect
and keep the other phones from ringing as long as
it was not re-connected.
So there we were with a phone
system that nobody could call out on, and no way
to reach the phone company to tell them that we
had a problem. We left the Lawlors a note explaining
the problem, and hoping that the phone was not connected
to an open long distance line. By the next morning,
the Lawlor's son, who also lives at the house, told
us that he had contacted the phone company, and
they had said that the problem was likely caused
by water in the lines from the heavy rain and that
they would be able to look at it in a couple of
After Jean and I had closed up
shop on Saturday morning, we headed back to St.
John's where I joined Jean, his wife Stephanie and
children for a Thanksgiving dinner before I caught
the midnight flight to Germany. Fortunately, with
the late nights of DX'ing, I had no difficulty adjusting
my body's internal clock to the late night flight.
Oh yes, as part of the Thanksgiving dinner, we had
wild cranberries. So, a great big thanks to those
of you who helped pick them earlier in the week!
Cappahayden has to be my favorite DX location. The
great radio conditions, the rugged scenery and the
hospitality of our host (and the understanding of
his wife and children) all go together to make it
a very enjoyable experience each time I go back.
I am already thinking about when that next time
on DXing.info on August 14, 2005