Pawel discovers a tuning bug in his Tecsun PL-880

PL-880 (1)

[19 January 2016: Please read this updated post.]

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Pawel (SQ9ZAV), who writes from Poland:

Hello Thomas,

On November 4, 2015, I bought a Tecsun PL-880 from ErcomeR company.

I found an error: the last two digits of hundreds and tens Hz in SSB mode correctly change the direction of rotation of the knob fine tuning, however, the actual frequency varies in the opposite direction.

I reported a bug in the company ErcomeR, and they sent an e-mail to the Tecsun company.

ErcomeR received information from Tecsun that one of the PL-880 integrated circuits had been changed to the one used in Tecsun PL-365; no one checked whether the program was working properly.

The previous version of the radio made in May 2015 does not have this error.

Best regards – Pawel Kita, SQ9ZAV

Pawel also noted that communicating with Tecsun’s Engineering/R&D department is quite difficult since all communications are first passed through the Tecsun Sales department.

I hope that Pawel can keep us apprised of the situation. My Tecsun PL-880 is one of the earliest production runs, so doesn’t have the PL-365 IC Pawel describes.

If you purchased a Tecsun PL-880 recently, you might verify this as well–please comment.

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39 thoughts on “Pawel discovers a tuning bug in his Tecsun PL-880

  1. Pawel Kita SQ9ZAV

    Radio has reference to the dealer.
    I will replace him on the PL-365.
    I hope this is a good decision.
    Best regards – Pawel Kita

    1. Alex

      PL-365 not equivalent replacement: – less sensitivity, SOFT MUTE and not at all convenient in the work.
      Its only advantage -small size.

  2. Jason


    Was it really necessary to spam the review section and various other sites with this “alleged” tuning fault which has not been officially acknowledged by Tecsun ? Furthermore, on Amazon you have also suggested that Ham and SW listeners avoid this radio without considering that such users might not use SSB at all ? Hence, the problem you are highlighting does not affect everyone and does not warrant you slamming the radio with a two star rating which might turn potential buyers sway.

    And yes, FYI I do have a PL-880 and no – the tuning issue you describe cannot be duplicated exactly on my end. USB/LSB fine tunes as expected with a slight frequency offset.

    1. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

      Hi Jason,

      If a problem is recognized, why hide it ?
      It’s the responsibility of Tecsun to correct it, not to say it don’t exist, when many users have recent PL-880 with this bug.
      Anon-Co team perfectly acknowledged it and is loading new firmware to correct it.
      Why should users be plageg with this bug because some Hams would have hide it ?
      Jason, are you a distributor and do you prefer to make money than to sell perfectly working PL-880 ?
      Large information is the only way to make Tecsun correct this problem.

      Best regards

      Georges F6DFZ

      1. robert

        I discovered something on my tecson pl 880.its a newer 8820 version.
        When on sideband and on the 90 meter band it doesnt show 90 meters in the display but does on other bands.has anybody else noticed that?
        Was tuning in on 90 meter band and noticed that yesterday,not a big deal but thought its sorta odd,when on other bands it shows what band then goes to signal strength db dba.
        So let me know if anybody else sees this.
        Otherwise no flaws except a month ago my keyboard froze up.after many resets with no results, i removed the battery and let it sit day put battery back in and its worked just fine to date

    2. alex

      > Was it really necessary to spam the review section and various other sites with this “alleged”
      > tuning fault which has not been officially acknowledged by Tecsun ?

      What a bizarre question! Don’t mention problems with products in reviews? That’s pretty much the main reason for reading reviews in the first place. It barely interests me that the manufacturer acknowledges them. It’s especially important for companies like tecsun which make great, cheap products but have an absolutely dreadful reputation in terms of quality control, changing the software but not the revision number, replying to customer questions etc.

  3. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

    Hi Pawel,

    Thanks for information.
    My PL-880 is in Hong-Kong at the present time.
    A version of 8820, but, I do hope, without the bug, will be uploaded.
    I shall report when I get it back.
    Best regards.

    Georges F6DFZ

  4. Pawel Kita SQ9ZAV

    Hello Georges F6DFZ.

    In addition to my previous entry: I have a guaranteed exchange receiver PL-880 with another of similar price and capabilities.
    The company ErcomeR is very OK since agreed to such a solution.
    The final date is the end of January.

    Consider please: buy an item that you want to be great, but you are unlucky and hit a defect of the product, you feel slighted.
    At the beginning of the seller you are surprised that discovered the bug product, but later takes note and contact the manufacturer.
    The manufacturer has a problem with understanding the essence of a bug or just pretending he did not know what it is.

    And I get angry more and more because the receiver PL-880 that I bought is unused and packaged and nearly three months – could not be traces of use – it can not be damaged – is a condition of return.

    Best regards – Pawel Kita SQ9ZAV

  5. Pawel Kita SQ9ZAV

    Slowly losing hope for a solution to the problem of a bug in the PL-880.
    A bug in version 8819 waiting for repair 3 months.
    First possibility: current bug in 8820 is unlikely to improve because the Chinese themselves poorly understand its real meaning and think to themselves “why the Europeans / Americans cling to such detail, yet receiver generally works”.
    Another possibility: problem with understanding the essence of the bug is make-believe and already know what it is, but a good brand PL-880 can not be broken and why you need to say “we do not know what you mean.”
    But I know perfectly well what I mean: I bought the receiver for a high amount in relation to their earnings and do not like me, that it has any bugs.
    Fortunately, I have an alternative possibility: wait until the end of January and will either bug solution, or when it when it does not have a guaranteed return of the defective receiver to the distributor.
    I’m disappointed TECSUN company.

  6. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

    Hi Pawel Kita SQ9ZAV,

    Do you have news from ErcomeR ?
    What solution do they propose ?
    From what I understand, Tecsun is not very cooperative with its distributors, and it even seems that they don’t easily acknowledge this problem.


    Georges F6DFZ

  7. Rod

    I watched the videos, all three, and tried to duplicate them on my Tecsun PL-880. My finding were much different and my PL-880 seemed to work as it should and very much as my Kenwood TS-2000 and Icom IC-746.
    I could not duplicate Georges’ PL-880 and the way it tunes. To me it seems as if on Georges’ PL-880, the BFO is controlled by both the main VFO and the fine tune VFO and self centers only on the main VFO even when the fine tune is tuned .99 kHz off, with a bump of the main VFO goes back to center as if the fine tune IS backwards at 1.99 kHz low!
    As a test, Georges should try and calibrate the fine tune on both USB and LSB to see if the digital incremental of the fine tune is not off by 180 degrees.

    73 Rod KB8DNS

    1. Rod

      One other thought is that the fine tune encoder could be wired backwards or out of sequence, I had done this one with a SONY ICF-2010 when I re-soldered the VFO encoder incorrectly. There is no fine tune knob on the SONY, the out of step wiring made for odd frequency steps!

      73 Rod KB8DNS

    2. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

      Hi Rod,
      Upon receiving my PL-880, I done a calibration of USB and LSB using the snooze button.
      As the PL-880 uses a DSP, I believe that the BFO is not directly involved in the frequency setting.
      On many cheap radios, the Fine Tuning is called BFO but is in fact a way to shift one of the oscillators used to do the frequency conversions, and the BFO is an other different oscillator, connected to the product detector, and with 2 frequency positions for USB and LSB.
      Happy 2016 and best regards.
      Georges F6DFZ

  8. Pawel Kita SQ9ZAV

    Today I received a message from the company ErcomeR.
    It shows that the Chinese could hardly understand what we mean.
    They sent him an e-mail, Annex added video.
    In this film he was presented PL-880 with Fine Tuning Bug.
    They asked whether it should be.
    In response, the representative of ErcomeR sent them a video in which the example of the FT-991 transceiver showed how it should look correct fine tuning.
    The problem is serious because February 8 Chinese celebrate their New Year – are then 2 weeks off from work.
    Best regards – Paul SQ9ZAV

  9. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

    Hi to the group,

    I have posted a new video about this important bug of the PL-880 :

    I did so because it seems some people doesn’t understand this very important issue.

    This video shows the Tecsun PL-880 tuning bug which is present on SSB when using the Fine Tuning knob.
    The PL-880 is tuned to the Shannon Volmet on 5,505 MHz USB.
    At the beginning, I use the coarse Tuning knob to shows the effect of tuning 1 kHz down ; the pitch of the voice increases as we are on USB.
    Then, I tune down 1 kHz using the Fine Tuning knob, and now the pitch of the voice decreases, indicating the bug with the reverse tuning using the Fine Tuning knob on SSB.
    At the end, I use the coarse Tuning knob to hear the voice with a normal pitch, and you can see that the displayed frequency is 5,503.01 MHz, a difference of nearly 2 kHz versus the true frequency.

    Best regards, and a Happy New Year

    Georges F6DFZ

  10. Mick

    Having said how good my PL-880 is I now have a problem !
    The radio is still working but the display back light has gone out, has anyone had this problem ?

  11. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

    Today I had many exchanges with Anna from Anon-Co.
    I did 2 videos, one in USB, tuning downward, one in LSB tuning upward.
    The PL-880 was connected to my HP RF signal generator on 20 m.
    The bug is very easy to see and listen.
    If someone want one of the videos ( over 5 MB) send me a private mail. You can get my email address on my page at F6DFZ.
    Anna is helpful and want to give as much as possible information to Tecsun.
    I shall give any information, if I get them!
    Georges F6DFZ

  12. Pawel Kita SQ9ZAV

    I wanted to clarify the issue.
    After I noticed the bug I reported it ErcomeR company from which I bought TECSUN PL-880.
    The company Ercomer contact with our Sales Department TECSUN.
    In contact with Thomas I did not give too many details so as not to obscure the description of the problem.
    Now is the time to give other details.
    As described by Georges Ringotte F6DFZ: “The frequency resets when you pass over the next kHz.”
    Just like robert wrote: “Radio reset in several time.”
    On the other hand, Mick wrote: “I Purchased we PL-880 very recently, latest software version and no tuning problems.” – Probably the radio you bought has been produced much earlier and it was long kept in store, just you were lucky.
    I greet all those who read it (in particular Thomas, thank you for placing this message on the website) and I wish you all the best for the New Year in 2016.

  13. Mick

    I have already said that I have no tuning problems with my PL-880, however, I would like to add to the general comments. My interest in amateur radio began back in the late 1960’s, but I have been away from the hobby for the last fifteen years.

    A few weeks ago I purchased the PL-880 and what a surprise it is ! In my view the stability and selectivity are superior to anything we had in the past and the sensitivity is near impossible to believe ! I have a poor quality external aerial, about 25m of wire at only 2.5m high. It was put up quickly and not matched, hope to get an atu next week. The wire gives little improvement over the whip, a little extra signal but an increase in noise as well.

    I use the radio on ssb, usually the crowded 40m band. The broadcast bands seem to be good as well. FM offers superb sensitivity and audio quality. I have not really used it on MW so I cannot comment on that band.

    I totally recommend the radio and the price (UK £169) seems very reasonable. Try comparing the specification / results / price with the products of the big three producers !

    1. robert

      Mick, I’d have to agree with you 100% other than the keyboard glitch, this is about as good as I have seen a band is great too.I live in a metal sided and roofed recieves better than any other radio inside.I have a 65′ long wire outside and it shines hooked to the wire.I compared my old vrundig yachtboy 400 pe to my pl 880 .it leaves the yachtboy in the weeds.sideband is best I ever used in the 880 also

      1. Mick

        Robert, not sure where you are. If you are in the UK then perhaps you purchased the radio from Nevada Radio, have you asked them about the problem ?

        1. robert

          No in usa, its working fine now.talked to kaito and I have to call them tomorrow as I wasready to ship It back.they know.but got 9 months left with warrenty so I running It some more.If It acts up again Its going back.

  14. Rod

    My version is an older one so I do not have this tuning problem. I do want to comment on the usability of the PL-880, as it is quite different from older and ‘normal’ receivers.
    The ergonomics and the implementation of the receiver makes it very different from what many are used to and I found that once I worked with it and had lots of input from other users, the rig became ‘friendly’ and works very well. Seems to me that it has aspects of a professional receiver blended with a portable.
    Anna at Anon Co. has been very helpful and I am sure any faulty units will be replaced.
    I am an amateur radio operator and the PL-880 is to me a communication receiver rather than a radio!
    73 Rod KB8DNS

  15. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

    I have this same problem with mine as I reported on the PL-880 Yahoo Reflector.
    It’s very annoying.
    The frequency resets when you pass over the next kHz.
    The read frequency can be off 1 kHz from the actual frequency.
    I received mine from Anon Co at the beginning of December.
    Georges F6DFZ

  16. Doyle W. Simmons

    I am so disappointed with my PL-880 for various reasons, that I have packed it away for the time being and dragged out my Grundig-G5. I admit that some of this could be the operators fault.

  17. robert

    Other than the keyboard lockup, this radio has surpassed my thoughts.clear and great reception.never expected it to be this good.putsmy yachtboy 400 pe Iin the weeds.real good on ssb.hope everybody else has great results with theirs.after mastering those hidden features its an amazing radio

  18. Marcus Leatham

    My PL-880 has the reverse tuning for SSB as Pawel reported. I bought it in August 2015. I would like to have the tuning fixed.

  19. Edward

    I might actually now consider a Tecsun since there is a real person in the sales dept. Keep us posted on your results.

  20. robert

    Mine is latest version, but it developed a bug.keyboard acted up.on n off, memory was only buttons that worked.reset it several times.was about to send it back.but let it set all nite with battery out and put it back in next fine now?


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