Complete list of Tecsun PL-880 hidden features


On the advice of several SWLing Post readers, I have compiled a complete list of Tecsun PL-880 hidden features with how-to links:

Tecsun PL-880 Hidden Features:

New: Click here to download Cap Tux’s reference sheet as a PDF.

Click here to download Troy Riedel’s update to the reference sheet [09 February 2017].

Click here to download S. Thomas Bradley’s hidden features booklet. [06 October 2019]

If you notice a missing hidden feature or know of an alternate version, please contact me or comment on this post and I will add it. I will continue to add to this post over time. Many thanks!

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74 thoughts on “Complete list of Tecsun PL-880 hidden features

  1. SG

    After recharging the battery, 10-30 seconds after turning it on, lo appears and it shut-off. Threshhold is 3.4V
    Battery voltage is 3.91. Batteries (2) BRC 18650 3000mAh. Anybody know what’s happening?

  2. Still

    BTW, the battery low voltage shutdown limit is a tricky setting. In my case I could not use 3.4V if I don’t want to face sound distortion on last days before threshold triggers. It looks like we have some slight auto volume limiter when the voltage drops below some point, then the battery voltage restores above that limit and volume goes back up. It happens like in 10 Hz frequency and ads some square shaped ripple modulation to the voice (its not that noticeable on the music, but clearly distinguishable on FM voice). This can be easily mitigated by changing volume up or down, but suddenly you will find that you have to deviate from your sweet point for volume just to avoid/mitigate that issue. O course it’s entirely specific of the battery, but in my case 3.4V and 3.5V were to low for threshold despite it gives some 3…4 extra listening hours. Of course this might be unique to every battery, but in my case LG cell acted like this. So opted out to 30 distortion-free listening hours instead of 34 hours having 4 last hours that ripple modulated voice that sounds a bit robotic 🙂

    PS, this is only spotted on FM.

  3. J Mark Barfield

    Great page! Glad I found you. I have a PL-880 which I’m still learning. I prefer 12-hr time. Is it possible to switch from 24-hr?

    1. StratMan

      No, unfortunately the midrange and upper end Tecsuns don’t have the 12 hour format display option. You can tell if a Tecsun has the 12/24hr time format though:

      1. One of the keypad buttons has “12/24” marked on it and;
      2. The LCD display has an “AM/PM” icon in it.

      For example the Tecsun PL-380 and PL-310ET pocket receivers have the 12/24 hour time display options but the PL-330 doesn’t.

      Hope this helps. ??

  4. Tom Stiles

    I just got a question from one of my YouTube subscribers which maybe someone here could answer. He had to take his radio apart to replace the bezel. He found a button battery on the keyboard circuit board and was wondering what it was for and what happens when it dies.

    Thanks for your time,

    Tom Stiles (hamrad88)

    1. Manuel Schneider

      The button battery probably powers the keyboard memory, so that if the main batteries need to be replaced, information stored in memory will not be lost. I have had digital cameras like that: lithium batteries for the motordrives and a button battery for programming info. Hope that helps!

  5. Leonard Hacker

    It worked well when I first got it. Now, however, no matter how long I charge the battery it runs out very quickly. My charging cord is ripped and I don’t know wherr I can get another one.

  6. CynicalLogic

    I read your hold the “delete key’ and when it says “ALL” press the “delete” key again and it wipes out all the stored stations.

  7. Ray K

    My 880 was manufactured in July 2016.

    With the power off – holding the DELETE key displays ‘ALL’ in the upper right and ‘DELETE’ in the lower left. After a few seconds, the screen clears and returns to the clock display.

    What is this command, a prompt or ?

    I was hoping that it was a way to wipe all of the stored stations – it however does nothing.

    1. CynicalLogic

      I read your hold the “delete key’ and when it says “ALL” press the “delete” key again and it wipes out all the stored stations.

  8. alex

    Great hidden feature sheet (Troy Riedel’s update, 09 February 2017). One thing, though – in the row for Additional Features the instructions explain how to use the synchronous detection toggle. It should really just say “hold 4 to toggle additional features”.

  9. BillvLe

    This article needs FORWARD links to
    “Troy updates the Tecsun PL-880 hidden features reference sheet”
    “This entry was posted in How To, News, Portable Radio, Radios, Shortwave Radio, Uncategorized and tagged PL-880, Tecsun PL-880, Tecsun PL-880 Hidden Feature, Troy Riedel on February 9, 2017 by Thomas. ”
    Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, who has recently added the hidden bandwidth adjustment feature to Cap Tux’s excellent PL-880 reference sheet.
    Here are links to download the updated sheet:

    MS Word
    I will also add this to the Complete list of Tecsun PL-880 hidden features page: a place where you can comment if you note any previously unpublished PL-880 hidden features.

  10. Jim

    I just purchased a pl880 and really like it. I held the number nine and changed my muting threshold.
    It now goes into FM and shortwave ok, but not AM. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  11. Stelios

    Hello, i bought a PL-880 from anon-co, product day 07/2016.
    Unfortunately the signal strength meter goes until 44 even in
    very strong signals. For me that is a problem, can we do something for that.
    Thank you in advance.

  12. Doyle W. Simmons

    I have a PL-880 for approx 2 yrs. All of sudden I cannot hear the mw band. All I get is loud static which is loud enough to vibrate the radio off the desk. I will appreciate any advise. The FM Band is ok.

  13. Lars Rydén

    Re hidden feature Power Off, push Page+, the number “1000” (in my case, others report “1001”) appears. Has someone yet found out the meaning/purpose of this figure? Lars (Sweden)

      1. Larry Z

        Mine has the 8820 firmware, but does not display the production date. It also displays “1000” with the Page+. I wonder if users with the “1001” display the DoM and 1000 do not? I’m thinking that could be the minor update.

  14. Mick

    I have found another hidden feature, unless I have not noticed any other comment about it.

    The display light bulb on my PL-880 went out. By chance I looked at a photo of an earlier Tecsun model and under the “5” button was the word “light”, this is not printed on the PL-880 but I gave it a try.

    Turn the radio off. Press and hold “5”, it will toggle between on and off.
    Switch it to on. Turn the radio on. Bulb will light up, subject to the position of the usual “on or auto” position of the switch on the right hand side of the radio.

    Very pleased my light is back on, however, I only found it by luck. Why is there no printing under the button or no instructions given ? If I have failed to spot this information before now then please correct me.

    1. robert

      I call my 880 a mystery radio,many hidden features,but i realy like mine.dont know why my keyboard messed up but otherwise its great.just hope they last like my yacht boy 400 pe was used hard and was 1 of the first pe’s universal sold

    2. KK

      Your luck is mine too! Thanks for the tip as my light has not worked until I read your comment and procedure! AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. robert

    On am and fm press 7.numbers come up top set is 63 and dials down to 30.another squelch setting . 30 hides weak stations 63 opens them up.
    Its simular to pressing 9 but coveres both am and fm.
    Almost 2 months and lots of hours on my radio, I’m very satisfied with it.some day we will find all the hidden features.

  16. Brian L.

    Tecsun PL-880. Anyone had a problem with direct frequency key-pad, when 3Mhz is the lowest limit that can be input, so manual tuning is required to tune down further.

    Tried a reset and removed the battery, but no change in this situation… also went back to set key 4 to (ON) and reset again, still no change; very odd since any other frequency can be input.

    1. robert

      Mine does that when trying to go lower than 3120.figured its some kind of limit built in.mine is made this year so surely has latest old is yours brian l.?
      So far in happy with house has metal roof and siding so I have a 50′ and a 30′ wires outdoors for antennas.however took mine for a walk yesterday outdoors and amazing how well it does out of my house on the stick antenna

      1. Brian L.

        Hi Robert. thanks for your reply to my question Tecsun PL-880 and it’s 3 Mhz direct input limit from the key-pad. Mine also is current 8820, so it looks like a possible software problem ? or maybe as you say, a limit; that’s a little odd ! but otherwise, I am highly pleased with this radio, so much that I recently sold my Icom IC-R75 to have portability, and reduce my clutter from external power supply and speaker, plus other tuned low frequency aerial-antenna.

        I see your use a long-wire aerial-antenna; that should bring in a hell of a signal, due the receivers very good sensitivity across the HF band. I use a homebrew small magnetic balanced loop, H-Field type, due living in a small flat here in Jersey the Channel Islands, between France and England the UK… lots of QRN-M noise, so magnetic aerial-antenna is the only way to go and provides some directional reduction of QRN-M.

        Thanks again for confirming this 3Mhz limit, it’s good to know I am not the only one.

        1. robert

          Hey anytime brian, I like the size for what it does.
          Where I live, the 30′ wire works best some days, others the 50′ is better.
          I just wish there was a way to increase the charge rate.but i can live with it like it is

          1. Brian L.

            Hi Robert… regarding the charge rate, it seems fixed as such, but you can reduce the battery low voltage shutdown level e.g. from 3.7 to 3.4 so, with the radio OFF, press and hold key 4 until display shows voltage, then adjustment via tuning knob to lowest voltage, and then press 4 again, to save the setting.

            I did this, and it gives some extra useable time; but also decided to buy larger battery capacity for the radio and my aerial-antenna loop design; as I was powering it remotely and stepping up the 3V7 to 12 volt. It worked out fine giving many months of antenna use, the radio if used daily provides a good week or a little more.

            The ones I used are re-badged Panasonic with protection cut-out and over charge: 18650 type by Foxnovo 2.600mA or 9.6Wh, also purchased the charger unit too, model: F-2 this gives a full charge within two hours or less… Amazon UK but USA is…


            There are larger capacity batteries also, if you decide to go down that way; anyway it speeds-up the re-charging and provides a spare if you buy two for exchange, to keep your radio running.

          2. robert

            Thank you brian, I did the battery set, just wondered about speeding charge up.its ok though as I just alternate batterys every other day n keep 1 fully charged all the time.
            But all in I’m very happy with my 880.glad I didn’t go with the sangean 909.I don’t like the clicks on the tune wheel, and crom what Ive read a 880 outperforms a 909 for less money

          3. Brian L.

            Ah-yes Robert, battery exchange is a good way to go… as for the Sangean ATS-909X, it’s a little deaf signal wise, and some individuals have hacked the tune knob to remove the clicks… I had this radio some years ago, a nice look and layout but, also had an odd lock-up with the DSP, that set a low filter band-pass when changing frequencies; this required powering down and up again. The Tecsun PL-880 is far FAR better receiver, well worth it’s money even with the odd direct input 3Mhz frequency limit, and with un-official key tweak’s provides a more personal preference for one’s listening pleasure. 73’s

    2. Josué Pereira - Brazil

      Hello, Brian L.! Below 3 MHz, enter the frequency and press the “delete” button. this solves the problem.

    3. N2ERI

      Enter the 4 numeral frequency you want to tune to (2500) and press the Delete key near the lower right corner.

  17. robert

    I’m about to buy a pl 880 to replace my wore out yb 400 pe and that disgusting dx 450.
    I see great info here.from what I gather from all you it must be a great radio.and hope it outlives my yb 400 pe

  18. stan

    Anyone have this problem?
    When I switch from 3khz to 4 kHz in ssb I hear no audio difference.
    I know 4khz is very wide for ssb but I would like to have it to receive ESSB.


    1. Alexander

      There is no difference . The BW at 3K and 4K the same. With 4K in the signal spectrum parasite appears at a frequency of 4 kHz, which is bad.

  19. Evans

    Hi everyone. I would like your help. A friend of mine and me have bought two Tecsun PL-880. There is something strange.
    i) The signal meter is supposed to measure up to 99dBu (my PL-390 tecsun s-meter goes up to 95-97dBu for very strong amateur signals in my area included mine in mw zone). The point is that for both devices (mine and my friend’s are 8820 firmware) the signal meter does not exceed 85 dBu and in particular my tecsun PL-880 signal meter does not goes over 70dBu (ie. even lower measurement). Why this behaviour?
    ii) Another strange point is that my friend’s tecsun receiver displays for a “quiet” frequency (mw) a noise level of about 10-12dBu, while my tecsun device shows only 2-3dBu noise (same frequency and same spot!). We both tried the threshold muting adjustment (key 9) and worked a bit but with minor results in sensitivity, especially for my tecsun PL-880 receiver. Is it possible to adjust the noise level so that it can be 10-12dBu instead of being only 2-3dBu and hence better sensitivity? And is it possible to adjust the maximum signal level (99dBu instead of 85dBu or even worse 70dBu for miy device)??
    Thanking you in advance.

  20. Dmitry

    I have found out one more secret. When the receiver is off, click the button “VF/VM-SCAN” and hold, numbers-time appear.When you quickly click this button again and hold, another big and small numbers occur.I think in the first case it means the time of work during the last day. In the second case, hours, minutes and days of work in general.

    1. Barry

      In the first case, it is total on-time and days since last battery charge.

      In second case, the top number is total days since you got the radio new and put into operation.
      Bottom number still a mystery.

      1. Jorma

        Maybe the bottom number is power on hours for the radio? So you can count your daily average usage with those two values. Example: top number is 1350 and bottom 3600. So 1350 days in use and 3600 hours listened, so 2,66h/day average use.


  21. Kaerou

    I’ve just ordered a PL880, now in the mail.
    I am impatient to open the packet and all the secret packages inside.. Looks like there is no end to it 🙂 No wonder it’s supposed to be a good radio, keeps you busy 24/7..
    I’m really interested in its SSB reception. So I’ll try to keep this post informed.
    Cheers to all ye PL880’ers

  22. Mister Skee

    Can anyone tell me if their intelligent light function comes on when the volume control knob is rotated? The manual suggests it operates with any button or knob activation. Thank you!

    1. Curt W Schwarzwalder

      The backlight stays off when the volume control is adjusted, whether the radio is on or off. The backlight will come on for three seconds with radio on or off when either tuning or fine tuning is adjusted, or any button is pressed. This assumes the ‘light’ switch is in the ‘auto off’ position.

  23. Andrew Webber

    I’ve owned the Tecsun Pl-880 Firmware Version 8820 Manufacture Date 140430 about 6 months. I discovered another hidden feature but don’t know what it means? With the POWER OFF press the page + button for 3 seconds and a display of 1001 on the screen. Anyone knows what this means or if your radio shows the same or different display???

    1. Dmitry

      When I hold the ‘Page +’ key I get ‘1000’, no idea what it is.
      I have firmware 8820.Have you found out what it means?Do you know any other hidden possibilities except those that are known by all?

  24. Joao Fonseca

    Also looking for a PL-880 for HF aero comms listening.
    Looking forward to hear how the new versions of the radio are performing very well on SSB.

  25. Bob Heller

    I plan on purchasing a Tensun PL-880 in the very near future. I would really appreciate it If I could be kept in the loop of incoming blogged comments from others who currently own this radio and are discovering “new” features that they would like to share with other radio enthusiasts to better help them obtain the maximum benefit from this neat new offering from Tecsun.

  26. Hector

    Thanks for posting my discover but I want you to correct the description, it say now:
    Now press the key #9 to display the squelch value……….”
    It should say “Now press the key #9 for more than 2 seconds to display the squelch value…..”

  27. Gary

    Just received my 880 from Anon-co yesterday and have been playing with the “hidden features.” Firmware is 8820 and manufacture date is 140430. Pressing the “6” key yields no result but pressing the “4” turns some feature ON and OFF. Pressing “9” only allows adjustment of muting threshold when I am in the FM mode. If I am in AM or SSB, nothing happens. I’ve not listened long or well enough to know if DNR or muting adjustment works, but access points are in different places than listed here.

    1. Gary

      Well, discovered what “4” was for. Just reading the above posts would have helped! Geesh. Anyway, “6” does not turn on DNR in any mode or status that I can find. After holding down the key for a while, the numeral “6” comes up and then disappears and the frequency reappears. So, DNR isn’t available in my radio and from listening to the effect on a few videos, I’m not missing anything. Since the yahoo group no longer exists, is there another forum to share information?

      1. John


        In recent Tecsun radios, the 4 key has a dual function. With power off, it sets the low battery voltage. With power on, it evidently enables the DNR and soft mute functions of keys 6 and 9. That is what I think is going on.

        If you press and hold the 4 key (with the power ON) on a recent release Tecsun PL-880, it will toggle to “On”, and you can now use the 6 and 9 keys as described for the DNR and soft mute. If you press and hold the 4 key again (with the power ON) until it says “Off” , pressing and holding the 4 or 6 keys (with the power ON) will then do nothing.
        The firmware on my radio still shows 8820, but something has changed. Whether it is a hardware revision, or a firmware revision, I don’t know. The SSB performance is also greatly improved on this most recent sample, leading me to believe there have been hardware changes (for the better).


        1. Gary

          Thank you John. This makes sense and well stated. I’m trying to figure out what “5” turns ON and OFF when the power is off.

          1. John C

            When the power is off, pressing and holding the 5 key toggles the display backlight on or off.


        2. Darek-

          And I found something strange with “4 key when power on” in my radio. If 4 key func. is “on” then tuning reset bandwidth to 5.0 on SW and 3.0 on SSB – but this not happend if 4 key func. is “off”.

  28. WA3YAY

    Thanks for providing this information. I’ll be picking up a 880 soon and this is the kind of stuff you really need to get the most out of the radio.

  29. Pedro

    Tecsun PL-880 is like a grab bag!. Pressing (and hold) 4 will toggle between “ON” and “OFF”,..but I don’t know what this really do!,..I wonder if anybody know something about it? I haven’t found this feature on the “Complete list of Tecsun PL-880 hidden features” Thanks and 73’s!

    1. Pedro

      SOLVED!,..pressing 4 let you choose between down (3.4v) or upper (3.7v) Li-Ion battery limit,..woooh! this radio is like wearing a tailor-made jacket !

  30. A. Black

    I don’t have a PL-880 but I understand that on recent PL-880 versions that with the radio off pressing 5 will toggle the intelligent lighting. By default intelligent lighting is on (i.e. any control will turn the light on for a short period of time) but with this feature you can disable that so that the light will only come on when you specifically turn it on. (This ability to disable intelligent lighting is also on the PL-660 and certain other Tecsun radios.)


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