Guy discovers the $13.99 Basbon DS-858 shortwave radio

Babson-ShortwaveSWLing Post contributor, Guy Atkins, writes:

I spotted this new listing on Ebay today, and was wondering if it’s a new model, or perhaps a repackaged Tecsun PL-606? It’s lacking the rotary tuning knob and has a smaller display than the 606 however. It also has two rows of main buttons rather than three:

Curiously, the seller doesn’t even list the brand name in their auction title; it’s only noted in the pictures. However, “Basbon” isn’t exactly a brand of communications receivers with a long, proud tradition :^)

For $13.99 including shipping the the USA it’s hard to go wrong, so I’ve ordered one.

[…]Three features that caught my eye with the little Basbon radio are that it’s DSP based, it has LCD backlighting, and shortwave frequency coverage down to 3200 kHz. There are 20 memories and a sturdy-looking whip antenna that rotates 360 degrees, too.

I can’t wait to get ahold of this and open it up! I wonder which SiLabs chip it uses?

Thanks for the tip, Guy! I’m also very curious about this little portable–indeed, curious enough, I purchased one, too. Guy and I will compare notes and I’ll post an update after I receive the radio. It’s being shipped via ePacket from China, so transit time will be roughly two weeks if not held up in customs.

Frankly, my expectations are very low, but like Guy, it’s a little too tempting at $13.99 shipped!

Click here for a direct link to the Basbson DS-858 on eBayclick here to search for the DS-858 should the current item number expire or sell out.

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16 thoughts on “Guy discovers the $13.99 Basbon DS-858 shortwave radio

  1. Bill L

    I got one from Ebay, via ShenZhen China.
    Tunes AM perfectly find in that 4 digits display picks up all local stations.
    Mine was labelled VITE 111 brand. Manual in poor English and has to be read twice to find all the features.
    No 9 hertz steps visible in my set
    Has several FM bands
    FM frequencies also go into the low FM bands 75 Mhz and high ones 179.2 Mhz. with starts in repeating presses of the FM button. These will catch (according to manual), TV sound (though obviously only analogue sound, not where TV has been converted to digital). Manual gives frequencies.

    Claims that the microUSB socket will recharge batteries (rechargeable ones), or supply power to the radio from the mains-to-USB cable.

    I am quite displease by the lack of battery holder/tunnel for the AA batteries. I can see a future problem with leakage into the works. The batteries just lay beside the circuits.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Bill, Yes, it appears this model is very poorly designed. After Guy’s review, I haven’t even bothered taking mine out of the package! I suppose I will someday.

      Thanks for your feedback.


  2. joe strain AKA Yodar

    s’Me again
    (Tongue in cheek)
    I use the DS-858 daily, mainly on AM and FM, I ma nt unhappy with the radio, but we Americans have been indoctrinated to always seek the greener grass!

    This Basbon DS=858 product s a PLOT by TECSUN to get you salivating for a radio with English instructions and more features so you’ll go out and BUY the Mo’Bettah big bruddah to the DS-858 and get a Tecsun PL – 606 !

    I found a little unexpected cash in my paypal acct and found a vendor (clawing to be US) for the PL – 606 delivered for $39.xx !

    Amazon , my favorite vendor wanted almost $50.xx

    I am looking forward to getting a radio whose drill for use of memories in in “Engrish” so I can use all the features in the dark ;>)


  3. joe strain AKA Yodar

    MINE’S been here a week . From what I can do with no “destructions”, the radio does work fairly well.
    Station scanning details imperfect
    THE CHINESE only manual is worthless
    I need to get the instruction sheet in English and especially how to convert the AM 9KHz Europe station INDICATOR to 10KHz US

  4. Pingback: Guy’s review of the Babson DS-858 | The SWLing Post

  5. Paul McDonough

    I also bought this radio but the lack of an English language manual is hindering my enjoyment of the radio. I, like Buck above, would like somebody who can read Chinese to post a translation of the directions (or at least the Chinese written on the front of the radio from the photo.) Any help appreciated. Thanks. 73.

  6. David Korchin

    I’m tempted to throw down for this little rig, too!—though the fine (red) print in the auction listing notes it’s 9 kHz MW tuning only. Still, might be a great bargain if the SW performs!

  7. Michael Black

    But is price going to be an indicator of performance anymore?

    In the old days, there was a limit on what fifteen dollars could buy. It would be a minimal number of stages, and at very best a very vague dial.

    Even fifteen years ago, I remember some very cheap digitally tuned radios from Radio Shack, but they had to have been analog and likely discrete design other than the synthesizer. The latter gave far better readout and ability, but otherwise the radio couldn’t have been any better than my awful Hallicrafters S-120A that I got in 1971.

    But now there’s the shift to DSP receivers, more important ICs that do it cheaply. That’s such a change that Collins just announced that they’d be phasing out their mechanical filters, something incredibly hard to adjust to. The same core to many receivers, there will be variation but a lot less of it. So long as the IC(s) used are good, any given deign can’t muck it up much.

    Even “bad” ones will only be relative. That S-120A had no selectivity, no sensitivity, a weak BFO so it didn’t tune SSB well, awful image rejection, and overloaded badly. I could have modified it greatly, and still had a bad receiver, complete with lousy dial. A DSP receiver might need more front end selectivity, but that’s easy to add, there were endless preselector projects in the old days. The worst a cheap receiver may do is not implement a feature on the IC, so you don’t have the same selectivity as a more expensive receiver using the same IC.

    So we probably get a better quality of cheap receiver, but may start to see less difference between receivers.


    1. Tomas

      Sure, the performance of the DSP chip will be the same but obviously the display is much worse and there are probably lots of bugs and many features we are used to will not be there. The software is actually much more important than the hardware.

  8. Tomas

    Yep, a cheap ripoff of PL-606 with much worse display and to Europe it’s an additional $2 in shipping. I Think I can hold off on this one…

  9. Paul

    I like it how, in case you miss it, the LCD is marked in big letters as “DISPLAY” 🙂

    Would be great to hear both of your opinions of the radio once you receive it.


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