17m QRPGuys No-Tune EFHW - Can't tune

I’m having issues trying to get the QRPGuys No-Tune EFHW to work on 17m. When I purchased a radio the guy threw in the antenna configured for 40m. I bought a kit and built a 20/30/40 linked dipole and both work well. However, I recently built a QCX Mini in 17m so I decided to repurpose the circuit board that had a 40m wire for 17m. They recommended a starting wire length of 22ft 4in, so I started with 25ft. It was resonant around 14500, which seemed odd, so I started trimming. I got down to 16ft of wire and the thing is STILL resonant well below 17m.

No counterpoise or grounding, and using a 15’ RG174 feedline.

Any ideas on what could be wrong?

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A radiator length of approximately 7.70-7.90 m (25.2-25.92 ft) should work fine with this type of coupler (the exact length may depend on the type of antenna radiator (cross section, structure and material of radiator, insulation).
Be aware that shortening the radiator by approx. 4.4 cm (1.7 ") increases the resonance frequency by approx. 100 kHz!

So, the only “wrong” thing at the moment seems to be with the user … and that we can’t see a plot 15-33 MHz (…) from an antenna analyzer?

Could we see on a photo what the impedance coupler you built looks like inside?

73 HNY, Heinz

I think that can be your problem. Even when manufacturers say “no counterpoise needed” - what they mean is “length and type of feedline coax critical as we are using its screen as the counterpoise”. Did you change the length or type of coax on the antenna perhaps?
Going from 40m to 17m, that feed line (counterpoise) length may well need to change in any case. Remember the counterpoise (in this case the shield of the feedline) is part of the antenna.

73 Ed.


No, same 15ft coax as the 40m. I’m going to try a 25ft coax and take a coupler so I can extend it to 40ft for testing. I’d like to keep using the 15ft coax, though, to keep the weight down. If extending coax helps I could add a counterpoise attachment point bonded to the ground.

This was the SWR plot at 25’ IIRC. The recommend a starting length of 22.3’ for 17m. As you can see, it’s WAAAAY off. NanoVNA has been calibrated and verified against a WRC tuned for 17m.

No photo handy of the coupler, here is a “stock” photo. Windings have been triple checked.

I’ll bet your coax is causing the problem. Try it without, or with a shorter piece.

FWIW, I always build and tune my EFHWs with no counterpoise, and I use no coax - direct attach to the radio. They work great that way.



Adding a separate counterpoise wire, so that the coax shield is not used is always a better option. Transmit performance often improves as well as you can lay the wire away from where you are sitting rather than having your movements affect the antenna.


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They’ll work OK as long as there is a suitably big sack of salty lard close enough to sink the current. :slight_smile:


By the way the QRP-GUYs antenna and some problems with it were diocumented by me some time ago on this reflector - here’s a link:
Interesting new SOTA Vertical Antenna - Equipment / Antennas - SOTA Reflector

Based on the SWR plot for the antenna length of 25 ft the following could be checked:

Test 1
Instead of the antenna, connect a resistor of approx. 3200 +/- 100 ohms to ground on the coupler and at the end of the 15 ft coaxial cable on the VNA view the SWR plot in the range of approx. 3-30 MHz.
The curve should run below SWR 2 in the entire area.
This test should be done again without the coaxial cable to see if anything changes.

Test 2
Repeat the test with an antenna length of approx. 7.90 m (26 ft) and observe the resulting difference to the antenna length 25 ft.



Please read EA2BV’S current thread on this Reflector. His tuner is similar to my more complex tuners, and he’s getting good results with his basic circuit with one tuning capacitor. If you get your wire to be resonant and use his circuit, you should be OK.

You may be able to get the QRP Guys tuner to work also, by trial and error. I agree with others that getting rid of the coax and maybe the counterpoise is worth trying.

It is very tricky to use any kind of analyzer designed to work near 50 ohms to analyze a high-Z end-fed wire. The wire does need to be adjusted closely for good results with a no-tune matching circuit. However, with just one variable capacitor and a parallel-resonant circuit, as used in EA2BV’s tuner, you can compensate for small errors in cutting the wire, as well as variables on your site up on the mountain.

I mostly use a more complex tuner, with the same BASIC basic circuit as EA2BD, just many more variables, and I can tell you that there are CHANGES in the matches from one SOTA site to another that really do affect the matches I must use to get perfect SWR to me radio, almost always:

Ground effects
Capacitance at the feed end
Capacitance at the far end
Height of the wire
Running the wire close to rocks
Bends in the wire
Tree limbs
Carbon pole or not

A single variable capacitor gives you some control and ability to correct for many minor changes.

If you want to run a single wire on many bands, in many configurations, with no links and no counterpoise, you need a tuner with more variables. This is what I use, and I think it makes SOTA much easier. A auto-tuner in your radio can help, and it may provide all you need for some wires. An auto-tuner combined with a broadband step-up matching device to an end-fed wire is another effective way to deal with the realities of getting a signal into the air on various bands.

A quick word on counterpoises used with resonant, end-fed antennas:

If the antenna is really resonant and high-Z, fed at one end, near ground, a counterpoise usually has almost no effect on the match. I have done this experiment many times when using my own high-Z tuners. This means you don’t need a counterpoise in that situation, and it adds no value.

On the other hand, if your antenna is not actually high-Z resonant, a counterpoise may have some effect. In particular, if your end-fed antenna is low -Z resonant, such as a quarter-wave, or 3/4 wave, a counterpoise of about 1/4 wave will have a large effect, because it creates a low-impedance feed. The counterpoise is the second wire of your antenna system. However, for this special case, you MUST have a low-Z tuner designed to feed the new configuration. If you adjust the lengths of one or both wires, you should end up with a nice, low-reactance match for your low-Z tuner, and it will be very effective on the band(s) for which it is resonant.

In order to use more bands with a single wire, counterpoise or not, a more complex tuner should be used, and there are many designs that will work, depending on all the variables and details.

The really cool thing here is that a less simple tuner with several variables, like the tuners I use, will actually match the complex impedances presented by a single wire on many wavelengths, even without a counterpoise, and the radio sits there looking at 50 ohms, and the signals go out with surprising efficiency. For most SOTA activations, I feed a 65-foot wire on 7.030 and 14.060 MHz, where the antenna is approximately resonant and a half wave or full wave. Then I QSY to 10.110, change the settings only a tiny bit from the settings I use on 14.060, only a little less tuning capacitance in the resonant circuit, just change ONE VARIABLE, and I’m on 10.110 with a perfect SWR, even with no counterpoise. This is a happy good-luck thing. The 65-foot antenna is very reactive on 10.110 MHz, it is NOT RESONANT by itself, but with the tuner adjusted, the SYSTEM IS RESONANT, and there is enough capacitance to ground in my wiring and body for the reactive currents to complete the circuit with the tuner. It all works even sitting on top of 4 or 5 feet of snow.

F4WBN can contact me from EU when I am running this system in the middle of the day on 10.113 MHz. He has done it several times.

Resonant low-Z antennas may work without a tuner when center-fed.

Resonant high-Z antennas may work with only a simple tuner or matching transformer, when end-fed.

Non-resonant antennas may work with only a simple tuner when used with a matching resonant counterpoise, or even without a tuner, in special cases.

Non-resonant antennas can work well with more complex tuners, with or without a counterpoise, over a broad range of frequencies. This includes both balanced and end-fed designs.

End-fed designs that use more than a few feet of coax are special cases, and the entire system must be included in the analysis, including RF currents on the outside of the coax, as well as inside the line.

Any design that includes a conventional transformer made of type 43 ferrite may have significant loss on some bands. When people mention that the core may become warm or hot, we are talking about significant loss.

Resonant tuned circuits help avoid RF loss in the toroid core, IF they use type 2 or type 6 powdered iron cores. Circuit loss can be reduced by not using too much capacitance, using the correct amount of coupling (another variable), and by using slightly larger cores than what is needed for the power level.

That’s enough to get started. Beware of simple answers for a complex system.

Complex numbers describe the reactive currents we deal with in our portable antennas for SOTA. The voltage and the current are seldom in phase! To change the resistive in-phase 50-ohm output of a radio to force a non-resonant wire to radiate efficiently, we need several components adjusted to produce the correct voltage, current, and phase to drive the wire with a complex signal - voltage and current are NOT in phase - and we want to do this over a wide range of frequencies as well.

A small tuner that can do this well is a real magic box!

Happy New Year!



Came here for the same reason.

I’m on my 3rd QRP Guys EFHW to rule out issues on the build since I’m not very tech savvy and don’t have a good grasp on what parts effect what.

Trimming my antenna wire to the lowest SWR has me around 1-2 feet off from what is printed on the transformer.

I can get my 20m to around 1.2:1 SWR but can’t get my 17m antenna to get me better than a 2.5:1 SWR.

That being said - the RBN’s pick me up pretty well enough on 17m despite the 2.5 SWR reading.

I don’t use a counterpoise and my experimenting with different length Co-Ax has yielded no difference in reading.

What wound up working for you?

Brian W6BFT
Icom 705 5w

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Now you know why they call it ‘no tune’ :laughing:

I have one as well, and managed to make it work… but I used a counterpoise. I also installed another switch so that I could switch out some of the C - that made it MUCH easier to tune on some bands where it was too touchy.

I have not used it in a long time. Have been using a 20/30/40 trapped EFHW lately, and it works GREAT with my KH1 on all 5 bands. When I’m using my KX2 I usually go with the 41’ with 17’ counterpoise “Random” end fed. That antenna works great on 10 thru 40.

Good luck!


My SOTA 40m EFHW has 1 link so I can shorten up the overall radiator for 9.5 mhz. This give me a VSWR in 30m of 1.7 t1. My FT 817 works fine with that KX3 loves it. The up shot of that is I get a perfect VSWR on 18mhz and have had several QSO to JA S2S back to me in VK5. If you make the antenna shorter to get closer resonance for 30m it puts the next sweet spot in 19 or 20mhz. I claim no expertise just seat of the pants experimenting and lots of SOTA activations.
Ian vk5cz …

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there is a lot of good advice on here! Read what Carey, KX0R, has to say carefully! The single most important thing you can do to start is DITCH that RG174. Even a short piece is significantly lossy at 14mhz and above, not to mention screws everything up.

Avoid calling the ground wire a counterpoise. It is RF hot. It is a radial. It is akin to laying part of your antenna on the ground and introduces loss to the ground. That is why a better way to deploy such is elevated. A resonant halfwave needs very little such, on 14 mhz only six inches, less on 17, and the radio/headphone wire can serve the purpose. This is also known as RF feedback, so running QRP power levels is why it is tolerable. If 100 watts, probably not!

the broadband matching unit you have built is convenient, but IF the antenna is not resonant, it is lossy. when off resonance it becomes almost a dummy load. - fred kt5x


Is this some new definition of “significant”?

1ft of RG-174 at 10MHz has a loss of 0.033dB.
1ft of RG-174 at 50MHz had a loss of 0.066dB.


I really don’t know why it is so difficult to understand the following publication by Owen Duffy, which has already been referenced several times on the SOTA reflector:

“The magic of the End Fed Halve Wave antenna / EFHW”


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A person with enough RF engineering background and understanding of Owen Duffy’s articles would not use 49:1 transformers, period. Also, very unlikely to use “end-fed” antennas. Duffy says on his website, “Everything works in amateur radio.” That sums it up.