AIH6 DX-pedition report
Valentine’s Day Event 2011 DXing
Aihkiniemi, February 11-28, 2011

Olli Kilpeläinen (OK), Helsinki
Tapio Kalmi (TAK), Helsinki

New place to check, many Beverage-antennas and many SDR radios - high expectations if we would have luck as well as high risk if we wouldn’t. This was the ground for AIH6 DX-pedition and this was the reason why we decided to stay there 16 full days. It was our risk management plan: In 16 days we should have some nice conditions in any case. And we had so many nice conditions that it will take years to go through all recordings.

Travel

When you decide to go to Lapland for DX-pedition, it will be a great experience in many various ways. It will be real travelling even if you live in Central Finland. And from Helsinki, it is about 1200 kilometers (750 miles) to Aihkiniemi village in Inari municipality in the northernmost part of Finland. It would take about 16 hours to drive that trip, so we decided to take car-carrier train which leaves about 7.30PM from Helsinki and arrives about 8AM to Rovaniemi. At that point there is only about 390 kilometers (240 miles) to our target. And that took only 6 hours to drive 

The Route, the driver Olli Kilpeläinen   
and the co-driver Tapio Kalmi 
       

Weather was fine and the sun was shining whole day when we drove through the hills and forests of Lapland. We had the lunch over the top of fell Kaunispää and enjoyed the views over the UKK National Park to our eastern neighbor Russia (in the far horizon of the pictures above). There were also some shopping and other arrangements to do in Ivalo, so the sun was setting down when we finally arrived to Aihkiniemi.

Weather

Winter and Lapland is the combination which makes men talk about weather – no matter if it’s nice or not. February is one of the coldest months in this part of Europe and year 2011 didn’t make any exception in this. Some days it was so cold that you had to start the car just to make sure it will start. And even we had had prepared for cold, it had some effects on our antenna building and checking plans.

Date

Olli’s Diary Notes

11-13th

Bright sunshine, temperature -15 .. -20 Celcius and only one fog bank. Outdoors very beautiful.

14-15th

At sunrise -38 Celcius, bright sunshine. Outdoors very beautiful.

16-20th

About -27 .. -40 Celcius. Grrrrrr... Outdoors very beautiful.

21st

In the afternoon -12 Celcius, nice weather for skiing. Outdoors very beautiful.

22-25th

Still cold and now also windy, so it was nearly impossible to do anything outside. In open places the snow comes down from the trees. In the forest still very beautiful.

26th

First day when the antenna installation work outside is decent.

27th

In the afternoon 0 Celcius.

   

 
 
“Outdoors very beautiful”


 

Summary of solar weather indices during AIH6

These indices are extracted from Jan Alvestad’s Archive of Solar Terrestrial Activity Reports at http://www.solen.info/solar/old_reports/ The color codes are added by the AIH6 crew. Green for the best days and red for the worst ones. Other days were moderate ones.

Date

Measured
solar flux

Sunspot number

Planetary A index

K indices (3-hour intervals)

Min-max solar wind speed (km/sec)

Number of flares (events)

STAR SDO

NOAA

STAR

NOAA

Daily ap range

Planetary

Boulder

C

M

X

20110211

91.2

87

54

3.6

4

0-9

11000122

01011222

320-411

 

 

 

20110212

95.6

130

63

4.3

4

2-7

12211101

11212110

348-417

1

 

 

20110213

106.8

165

84

1.9

2

0-4

00100011

00201200

286-360

4

1

 

20110214

112.6

174

90

7.5

8

0-32

00000344

00111343

279-411

9

1

 

20110215

112.8

177

100

3.9

4

3-7

11112112

11121222

345-472

5

 

1

20110216

114.1

143

60

1.5

2

0-6

02000001

02111110

350-459

12

3

 

20110217

110.9

140

51

2.0

2

0-5

00000111

00000122

300-348

11

 

 

20110218

124.8

159

101

17.4

17

5-39

34533321

34433332

298-644

15

5

 

20110219

109.4

151

79

5.1

5

3-7

22211111

22312111

390-577

12

 

 

20110220

104.6

92

103

7.0

7

4-12

11231222

12321232

368-484

3

 

 

20110221

96.7

71

60

6.8

7

4-9

22122222

23132321

331-429

10

 

 

20110222

90.9

53

34

1.3

1

0-5

10010000

10020101

356-431

 

 

 

20110223

89.3

41

27

4.0

4

0-9

00001222

00102310

301-353

1

 

 

20110224

88.9

29

23

2.8

3

0-5

01000111

01011210

297-348

2

1

 

20110225

88.2

84

31

2.6

3

0-5

00001111

00111111

294-357

3

 

 

20110226

90.2

62

49

3.5

4

2-5

01111111

01221222

297-326

1

 

 

20110227

90.4

56

44

1.8

2

0-5

10001101

10001110

282-329

1

 

 

20110228

95.8

95

54

2.6

3

0-5

00101011

00111121

274-299

8

1

 

 

Summary of the News Stories from Space Weather Prediction Center of NOAA

These news have been extracted from the NOAA site at http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/WhatsNew.html

February 14, 2011 -- The largest xray flare in over one year occurred yesterday at 1737 UTC. Region 1158 produced the impulsive R2 (Moderate) xray burst, part of the full eruption that also included a faint, earth-directed CME plus radio bursts across the spectrum. The region, still hot and flaring, yielded a small R1 (Minor) level xray burst today at 1726 UTC. Expect additional fireworks from this site over the next few days.

February 15, 2011 -- The hits just keep on coming! Region 1158 produced the largest  xray flare in more than 4 years, an X2.2, earlier today at 0156 UTC reaching the R3 (Strong) NOAA Scale level. A Coronal Mass Ejection occurred too, now lined up in the queue with the CME from Sunday's event and possibly another associated with the R1 Radio Blackout yesterday. Look for enhanced solar wind to begin later today, and become increasingly disturbed with the CME arrival(s) about 17 February.

February 16, 2011 -- The calm before the storm. Three CMEs are enroute, all a part of the Radio Blackout events on February 13, 14, and 15 (UTC). The last of the three seems to be the fastest and may catch both of the forerunners about mid to late day tomorrow, February 17. Watch this space for updates on the impending -- G2, possibly periods of G3 -- geomagnetic storming.

February 17, 2011 -- The first interplanetary shock, driven by the CME from Sunday, is expected any time. Soon thereafter, the shock from Monday evening's R3/CME is due. Look for G1-G2 (and maybe periods of G3 if the following shock compresses and enhances the CME magnetic field). Geomagnetic storming should persist 24- 48 hours. Back at the Sun, Region 1158 is still hot and fast-growing, Region 1161 is producing small flares.

February 18, 2011 -- A long-awaited interplanetary shock, perhaps one of an ensemble of shocks, passed the ACE spacecraft about 0045 UTC on February 18. A sudden impulse followed about one hour later, measuring about 30 nT at Boulder. The storming is quite modest so far (0430 UTC), but likely to intensify as additional shocks pass by. Watch here for updates.

February 18, 2011 -- A G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm continues. What might have been three hits of shocks/CMEs seems to have merged to be just one interplanetary shock/CME structure. Look for about another day's worth of geomagnetic activity, pending additional treats in the solar wind. Elsewhere Region 1158 had another R2 (moderate) radio blackout, and fast-growing new Region 1162 likely generated an R1 (minor) event.

February 19, 2011 -- The geomagnetic storm has ended. The observations of the CME and the models of this solar eruption were unprecedented. Watch the literature in the future for studies of what will surely come to be known as the "Valentine's Day Event, 2011".

  

Antennas

 

Receivers

6 Perseus SDR Receivers
Preamplifiers for all Perseus receivers
9 Laptops
1 NRD 535D Receiver

Thanks JHU, JSN, MJ and VJR


 

Summary  of  the Logbook

It still is too early to give the full log report, but here are some notes and we will be updating the loggings as we pick up some new goodies from our SDR files.

Friday, February 11th

The whole evening went when settling down and learning the antenna arrangements inside the hut.

Saturday, February 12th

Disturbed radio conditions and weak morning opening towards North America.

Sunday, February 13th

Sharp morning opening towards North America. Here sharp means short, but quite good conditions.

West Coast of North America came through, but the evening opening towards East Coast didn’t happen at all. So we concentrated to listen to Spain at that time.

Monday, February 14th – Valentine’s Day

Very nice morning opening towards North America. One new US state for both listeners were found when KCKN Roswell NM 1020 AM was heard. Very strong signals from all over North America were received today and this opening made our Valentine’s Day just perfect one!

Also good opening towards Asia in the afternoon. So we had a real party today. But as usual, the day after the party is something else. At this time we didn’t know that there will be five days as “day after”.

Tuesday, February 15th

Bad disturbance wiped all North American stations away from the AM band. Still Europe and especially Spain in the evening hours.

Wednesday, February 16th

Disturbances still on. Nothing to mention about Americas, but China was audible from Asia. And Europe again in the evening.

Thursday, February 17th

X-ray disturbances continue day after day. Otherwise the indices were good … Also magnetic field turned a bit, so we had morning opening towards Argentina and Brazil. In the afternoon again opening towards China and this time we received powerful signals. Europe and especially Spain was audible in the evening.

Friday, February 18th

The day of geomagnetic shocks and bad radio listening conditions. Only Europe and Thailand  were noticed but there is nothing else to tell. Some radio blackouts also noticed. Below a diagram about the solar wind speed and the shock. There you can see what really happened.


Saturday, February 19th

Radio blackuots continued. In the morning only Europe was audible, so after sunrise we went to Kirkenäs, Norway to have pizza for lunch. It was just too cold to check antennas and we just needed a little break from the radio listening, so the best idea was to visit the closest town.

In the evening when we came back we noticed Japan, North America and Brazil. And of course the northern lights were seen from late evening through the night. And when you see northern lights, the conditions towards northern hemisphere in Asia and Americas is known to be poor.

Sunday, February 20th

In the morning some North American signals in the upper part of AM band and Brazil in the lower part of the AM band. Asian signals were strong in the afternoon twilight.

Still northern lights …

Monday, February 21st

Quite good morning opening and the first day opening (around 10.00 UTC) towards North America. It was weak opening, but still some signals came through. Very strong signals from Asia in the afternoon and in the evening, some Brazil too in the evening but nearly nothing from North America.

Still northern lights late in the evening, but weaker than before.

Tuesday, February 22nd

Long morning opening towards North America and it lasted after the sunrise until 07 UTC. Very nice indeed. Also day opening towards North America and strong Asian signals in the afternoon. The radio conditions are still quite unstable with lot of fading and sudden direction changes.

Wednesday, February 23rd

In the morning the strongest North America opening of the whole DX pedition so far. And 11 UTC the first Hawaian station came through when we heard KKNE Waipahu HI 940 AM.

North America came through nearly all day long until 1.45 PM UTC when X-Ray event cut all distant western signals from the AM band. Later we heard although some stations from Alaska in the lower frequencies.

In the afternoon very good conditions towards Japan, but still unstable signals. This time the unstable conditions wiped out some dominant stations and this gave us possibility to listen to something else, for example NHK2 Aomori on 1377 kHz. This station is not logged in Finland in many years.

And later in the evening Japan and Taiwan had strong signals. But no signals from North America.

Thursday, February 24th

The morning conditions to North America were weak, audio was like filtered with thick curtain. Conditions got better around sunrise at  0705 UTC. All North AQmerica and Asia antennas (305, 325, 345, 30 and 50 degrees) received signals from North America for hours. 30 degrees antenna received California and Mexico,  50 degrees antenna received Washington and Oregon. Even if there were many X-ray peaks, the conditions continued.

In the afternoon strong signals from all over Asia and in the evening especially India and Sri Lanka.


 

Friday, February 25th

At night some signals from Brazil until 03 UTC when the X-Ray event came. Later in the night disturbed conditions to North America and in the morning good conditions to North America until noon.

In the afternoon Japan, Taiwan and Korea with occasional short signals from Hawaii. Strong signals from Alaska also in the afternoon. At 1800 UTC X-Ray Event and conditions turned to Iran.

Saturday, February 26th

The conditions were from poor to mediocre whole day because of X-Ray events coming one after another. Some signals from North America in the morning and only powerhouses from Asia in the afternoon. And nothing to report about the evening conditions.

Sunday, February 27th

Because of the poor conditions we slept over night until 04.00 UTC. Then there were some signals from North America and some from Venezuelaa among them. 06.30 UTC the conditions improved very quickly and we had nice conditions towards North America. And maybe the best day conditions towards North America followed the morning opening. The signals from Asia rose to audible levels around 10.50 UTC and in the afternoon we enjoyed of many signals from Japanese maritime stations with power of 50 watts. This was in the X-band, where the Europeans are not disturbing at all. But also other ways  the conditions towards Asia were good and signals were strong.

Monday, February 28th

We slept whole night and packed our car in the morning, so all loggings of the last night and morning will come later.

Back Home

On 28th of February at 5.11AM UTC we unplugged the last receivers from the antennas. The last morning didn’t give anything extraordinary, so it was easy to head back home. At first we drove to Oulu where Olli would stay overnight and work the next day.

Tapio continued with train from Oulu to Helsinki and arrived at 6.30PM UTC home for the evening news. The train trip was very easy and relaxing, when you can sleep when you want and take a walk if you want etc. But Olli needed to drive after working day 600 kilometers from Oulu back to Helsinki. So it was hard job, but everything went well. So in the evening of March 1st we both were back home.

Summary

All in all we were very satisfied with the conditions to Asia and North America. There were many good openings towards both directions and these directions were our main targets.

The only disappointment was Pacific, but it is quite logic with the indices we had. The time of the year is good and the conditions could have been better. So with a lot of listening we can find something from the files anyhow, but we can’t expect any jackpot from that direction. Some Hawaiian stations cheered us and saved us from zero result with Pacific.