Forcing the Tecsun PL-880 to use an external antenna on MW/LW

For those of you who aren’t satisfied with the PL-880’s internal ferrite antenna for mediumwave and longwave reception, here is a video explaining a work-around that will force the PL-880 to use an external antenna on those bands:

Many thanks to YouTube user pesnyaozemle for posting this video and to SWLing Post reader Jon for sharing.

23 thoughts on “Forcing the Tecsun PL-880 to use an external antenna on MW/LW

    1. Dirk Piorr

      mine 880 (8820) refused to use an external antenna on MW/LW untill I pressed the reset button about a week ago.

  1. russ bunyas

    I have tried many times to do this and have not been able to replicate the same behavior as shown in the video. I never get a leading zero showing on the frequency which is supposedly the indication that the external antenna is in use. I have reset my radio many different times. My unit has 8820 firmware. It would be helpful if firmware version in this video was mentioned. Assuming the radio in the video has same firmware level as mine, then something is different in the radio’s setup or my radio has a defect. I’ve tried with and without an external antenna plugged in.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Russ, I’m going to try this myself when I’m back home. Just need to remember. Honestly, I’ve read enough comments of discrepancies between 880 owners that have the “same” firmware, that I wonder if there are even minor changes within firmware versions on different manufacturing dates. Curious what date of manufacture yours has. There’s a hidden feature to find this:


  2. Pingback: Complete list of Tecsun PL-880 hidden features | The SWLing Post

  3. R W

    FYI, vids that have “0” narration are on no use to a lot of us out there, wish you tube would ban that waist of time. An explanation is needed as button pushes in the dark are hard to follow. but thanks for the efferet

  4. Furoido

    Well now – it works immediately after you’ve pressed the reset button on mine (and reset was required), but “blows out” as soon as you make the mistake of touching the tuning dial – necessitating another reset to recover the ability. That’s mean, Tecsun!

    You also have to cycle in and out of sideband on the LW frequency you want before toggling back to FM or it’ll recover the “old” frequency rather than the one you wanted. But with “don’t touch that dial” in mind, I can now get it to give it to me reliably (skipping that cycle through the shortwave band on subsequent tuning, just [LW], [sideband on], [sideband off], [FM], [sideband]).

    Good luck, folks! Mine is someone’s used off eBay (if this was yours, how’d you scuff up the bottom of a $150 radio so badly?), firmware 8820.

    Now what was the trick for doing this on the DE1103?

  5. Furoido

    Realized you might have follow-up notification on. Check out my clearer instructions lower in the thread – a reset is required and (as far as I can tell so far) touching the tuning knob once while in the special mode will prevent you from doing it again until another reset.

    1. Furoido

      ^ Sorry, that was my attempt to try to flag down the unlucky folks at the top of the thread. Too many awful reCAPTCHAs and I somehow fell out of ‘reply’ mode and wound up down here. Oh well, hope y’all find it!

  6. Andrew

    I received my Tecsun PL 880 thus past week. This feature does work. If you view the video at YouTube with a Computer or tablet.The instructions are embedded in the video. But you won’t be able to see to see these instructions if you view the video with your smart phone ??? Any way just follow each step and it wiil work. I also seem to have a problem with the direct keypad entry. On the SW only.I’m able to enter 3000 kHz to 299999 kHz on the keypad, but can not enter 1711 kHz to 29999 kHz? I don’t know if this is is a defect in the radio. Does anyone else have an issue with this? I’m directing this question (problem) toward Thomas. Thanks for any response.

    1. Andrew

      Sorry typo. I meant that on SW I can not enter 1711 kHz to 2999 kHz using the direct keypad entry. But I am able to enter 3000 kHz to 29999 kHz using the direct keypad entry.

      1. Sergio Daher

        Digite a frequência de 1711 a 2999 em seguida um toque rápido na tecla “enter” ou “del”. Abraço.

          1. Thomas Post author

            Hi, Andrew,

            Here’s Google Translate: “Enter the fast frequency from 1711 to 2999 and then a tap on the “enter” or “del” key.”

  7. Bertrand

    Hi, on version 8820 it works… But sometimes it does not….anymore….!
    In this special case… take a little screwdriver and do a reset on the front …there is a little whole called reset, on the right side of the set…

    Switch the set on again …. it works again….

    A little bit complicated, the sofware switching, but permits the use of an ALA-100HG Loop on LW and MW…with superb results… but put the attenuator in the middle position…so the rx will not overload….!!!!!


  8. Matt

    For the love of all that is holy, would someone please type out/describe the sequence necessary to accomplish this. Tried over and over to follow the video, reset the thing many times and re-tried… and nothing. If in fact my google box isn’t picking up a text description of how to do this and it does in fact exist on the interwebs somewhere, please forgive my rant and please provide a link. Pretty please.

    I’ve got version 8820 purchased May of 2015 by the way.

    Thank you all!

  9. Crow

    Seconded, that call for concise, precise instructions to make this happen, in plain text.

    On a PL-390 I wound 100 turns of enamelled wire onto the ferrite rod, and used the unused ‘ring’ connection on the antenna jack, other end of winding to local ground in the radio. This works wonders for NDB hunting with a longwire input, but if the PL-880 really does allow such tricks without me opening up and making modifications, so much the better. (It’s still worth doing if you have a PL-380 or PL-390 because its 1KHz AM bandwidth setting makes it extremely good at this, and may also be useful on a PL-880 for those willing to risk it. To disable the added coil for normal use, just leave the input end open circuit, meaning, use a stereo mini jack with the ring unconnected for normal input.).

  10. TOM

    Tecsun PL-880 version 8820/09.2015-radio excellent! -and I need help!
    What can you recommend for receiving stations antenu on SW zone including radioamatér bandwidth!
    Universal does not exist?!
    Affordable interest-to 100 EUROS? Hii
    It is possible to apply to the entry of 50 Ohm and antenu more?!?!?!
    There is nothing stated in the operating manual!
    I’m listening in Europe-CZ-HO.
    Thank you for your advice and help!

  11. Mark

    Can’t quite work out what your doing. I would like to set mine up for the best reception for 490 – 518 kHz for navtex reception. Any advise would be helpful i.e external aerial , I’m a complete novice


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