17 Meters - an excellent QRP resource

Jim Kortge, K8IQY specifically built the 4017 Transverter to take advantage of that band's unique opportunities.  The 17m band is wedged in between 18.106 and 18.168 MHz is a lightly used WARC band.  Jim knows a good thing when he sees it - in addition to being a prolific homebrewer he is also an avid bicyclist, and he likes to combine his ham radio hobby with cycling.  It turns out that 17m is a good choice for that, and some of the same things that make it good as a two-wheeled mobile band carry over for general QRP operation.

First off, it is a good DX band - not only for international contacts, but also to cover long distances within a continent.  In general, HF propagation favors the highest frequency band that happens to be "open" at a given time.  In this part of the sunspot cycle the MUF is often high enough to make 17m useful.  And while 20m is probably the overall best DX band, 17m is even better when it is open. 

Carrying the same line of thought 15m and 10m are even better when the ionosphere cooperates but 17m opens up more frequently.  Practically speaking 17m is like a cross between 20m and 15m without the QRM.

Secondly, efficient antennas are practical on 17m.  Jim uses a mobile whip on his bike so his results depend on an antenna that radiates well.  He can't have a huge whip on his bike so he suffers the loss that comes along with a shortened "stick."  Since a quarter wavelength is about 13 feet on 17 meters, something on the order of a hamstick is about 1/8 wavelength which means that it is not too short to be efficient.

Fixed stations generally use horizontal antennas, and a half-wave dipole on 17m is only about 26 feet, which would fit on most small lots or even in an attic.  For best results, horizontal antennas should be at least a half wavelength high, so again the 26 foot number is much easier to attain than 66 feet on 40 meters!

Finally there is the matter of band occupancy.  Like many of the WARC bands, 17m is often underutilized.  This means that you might have to call CQ much more on 17m than on 40 in order to make a QSO, but that's not really too bad.  Contesting is not permitted on the WARC bands, so during the DX slugfests there will be plenty of folks trying to escape the din.  Further, because it is a lightly loaded band, the inhabitants are typically friendly and more willing to ragchew.

Have you listened to 3580 KHz in the 80m band lately?  Since the Warbler came into being, activity down there is way up and lots of the activity is QRP.  With the K8IQY “4017 Transverter”,  we could easily start the same trend on 17m!


Joe Everhart, N2CX 

Last Modified:  January 14, 2001