Tecsun PL-880 fine tuning bug solved by Anon-Co

PL-880-Tuning-BugMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Georges (F6DFZ), who writes:

As you may know, a few [of us PL-880 owners] have documented the extremely annoying bug that affect the Tecsun PL-880 during Fine Tuning of SSB signals.

To sum it up, recently manufactured Tecsun PL-880 tune backward when using the Fine Tuning knob in SSB mode. This result in a very bad tuning feeling, especially for SWL and Ham radio operators, 1 kHz frequency jumps each kHz and a displayed frequency that can be off as much as 2 kHz.

Anna from Anon-Co has been very cooperative, serious, kind, in short: an outstanding person. She never denied the problem, and found a solution to correct it by loading a 8820 firmware just anterior to the buggy one.

Now, all PL-880 sold by Anon-Co have the corrected firmware.

I am extremely pleased with my PL-880 and I need to add that the tuning experience with the corrected firmware is night and day. Now, you can tune continuously using the Fine Tuning knob, without hitch and very smoothly ; the lack of shuffling is also very welcome, as is the Variable Rate Tuning (10 Hz or 50 Hz tuning steps).
This makes the PL-880 an outstanding receiver for its price, considering the 10 Hz fine steps, the choice of selectivity, the long life on its battery, etc…

Be sure to choose a distributor that sells PL-880 with the tuning bug corrected.

Click here to purchase a PL-880 via Anon-Co.

Many thanks, Georges, for the follow-up. I’m very happy to hear that PL-880 retailers like Anon-Co are assisting in such a helpful and effective way.

No doubt, other PL-880 retailers will also begin to offer a firmware upgrade to fix the fine tuning bug. As Georges notes, please check before purchasing!

Reders/Retailers: Please comment if you can confirm that others are now shipping PL-880s with the fine tuning control fix.

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39 thoughts on “Tecsun PL-880 fine tuning bug solved by Anon-Co

  1. BobbyC777

    I heard back very promptly from kaitousa.com. They said that their PL-880 inventory was received directly from Tecsun just before the Chinese New Year. They said that these radios all have the SSB fix but that the firmware revision still says 8820. They did acknowledge the SSB fine tuning problem and even provided a link to the video of Georges which demonstrates the problem.

    That is all good news. I don’t understand if a fix was made the firmware why they would not have updated the revision #. Having two versions with the same # is asking for trouble.

    I have not heard back from Universal-Radio yet.

    Bob

    Reply
    1. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

      Hi Bob,

      This is good news.
      I believe that you can trust them as they are precise.
      This is only a correction so it appears normal to keep the same firmware number

      I do hope you will enjoy your PL-880.

      Regards

      Georges F6DFZ

      Reply
    2. BobbyC777

      I never heard back from my email inquiry to Universal Radio so I called them. They were not aware of the SSB fine tuning problem. They are a retailer and get their Tecsun radios from Kaito. So if Kaito has made the fix then the radios they receive should have it. But since apparently the firmware revision # is the same for both radios with and without the fix there is no easy way to know whether a particular unit has the fix or not.

      I am looking forward to Anna (Anon-Co) returning after Chinese New Year celebrations conclude.

      Reply
      1. BobbyC777

        I got a very informative email explanation from Anna at Anon-Co regarding the PL-880 SSB fine tuning bug. In summary Tecsun made a firmware change to Rev 8820 at some point in 2015 which introduced the bug. Anon-Co, in working with Tecsun, realized that going back to the earlier version of the 8820 firmware resolved that problem. Anon-Co ships all their radios with that earlier properly working version of 8820.

        The interpretation of what the date field represented was problematic also. Tecsun decided to remove that at some point – probably in late 2014.

        I think that most people hope that going forward Tecsun is more rigorous in maintaining firmware revision numbers no matter how small the changes are.

        Anna at Anon-Co is a great communicator and truly inspires my confidence.

        Bob

        Reply
          1. Georges Ringotte

            Hi Pawel,
            If you buy from Anna of Anon-Co, for sure the bug is solved, at least by herself.
            I don’t know from other sellers.
            Best regards
            Georges F6DFZ

  2. BobbyC777

    Thomas & Georges,

    Thanks for your work on helping to resolve the PL-880 SSB fine tuning issues. I am still waiting to hear back from Universal-Radio re. whether their stock has the fix. And Chinese New Year continues so I have not contacted Anon-Co. I may get in touch with Kaito USA to see what they have to say on this.

    It seems strange that if Anon-Co has fixed the problem that Tecsun would not incorporate it into the products they distribute. Perhaps they will.

    Thanks again!

    Bob

    Reply
  3. BobbyC777

    Is there a US source (Universal Radio?) for getting a new Tecsun PL-880 with the fix? I am just not comfortable with ordering from Hong Kong and the Anon-Co site says “product unavailable”.. And since there is a lithiuim-ion battery involved I’m not sure how they air freight it. If there is updated firmware to fix this problem it should really have its own revision number and not use the same one as an older revision BTW I love this site !!

    BobC.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Bob,

      Universal Radio does sell the PL-880, but you would ned to contact them to see if they have the stock with updated firmware.

      With that said, if Anon-Co has the PL-880 in stock, receiving it via the post or Fedex isn’t a problem. They’re also a very trustworthy company. They are celebrating Chinese New YEar right now, so are out for the week.

      -Thomas

      Reply
    2. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

      Hi Bob and Thomas,

      I could not say better than Thomas.
      Anna took care that its existing stock was modified before shipping.
      She also wanted Tecsun to deliver corrected PL-880 for her next order, but they don’t seem very cooperative.
      The bug is well documented and Universal are competent, so they could probably tell you if it is corrected or not.
      About Anon-Co, it was one of my best experience for ordering abroad. The parcel took 4 days to come from HK to France (first order, then new shipment after correction of bug by Anna). No problem with duty or VAT, all was done by Fedex.
      Make sure you order a PL-880 without bug as it makes a big difference.

      Best regards

      Georges F6DFZ

      Reply
  4. 13dka

    I’m a bit confused now…. are the affected 880s running on firmware 8819, and the fix is getting FW 8820 installed (like that fixed many other problems with the 880), or are there recently sold 880s running FW 8820 affected, and the fix is getting 8820 with small changes to the code (which is not reflected by the version number, which would be very unusual)?

    Anyway, having to return it to the dealer for an upgrade is IMO less than ideal. For example, if you live in Europe you’re stuck with whatever FW you got when you purchased the 880 since we only have small import firms (with no technical expertise whatsoever) offering the Tecsun receivers via Amazon etc., all they can do is swapping your unit for a revised one, and given the age of 880s delivered with 8819 it’s very unlikely they’ll do that. The very definition of “up the creek without a paddle”. 🙁

    Tecsun should publish the update procedure and make any files available to the public. Considering the badlly slanted distribution/dealer situation in the US vs. Europe, the PL-890 should utilize the already existing USB jack for easy firmware updates, as it is the standard on plenty of other receivers and other devices.

    Reply
    1. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

      They are recently sold 880s running FW 8820 affected, and the fix is getting 8820 with small changes to the code

      Reply
  5. Mick

    Has anyone compared the sensitivity of the Tecsun PL-880 against the Comm Radio CR1a, or the PL-880 against the AOR AR-DV1 ?

    I would also like to know how to start a new thread on this site.

    Thanks for any help.

    Reply
      1. Mick

        Forgive me, I have sinned. So sorry you are offended. I have asked several times how to start a thread / blog but no one will tell me, I will give this site a miss.

        Reply
        1. Thomas Post author

          Hi, Mick! No worries. I struggle to keep up with comments when my life gets hectic. I’m catching up a bit this morning.

          In terms of sensitivity, it’s comparing apples to oranges in many ways. You see, the PL-880 is designed to operate as a handheld portable, primarily. The receiver is built to work with the telescopic antenna and, perhaps, a 30’ish long wire.

          The CR-1a, on the other hand, is really designed to be hooked up to an external antenna. While the CR-1a can work with a shorter telescopic whip, it really “sings” when hooked up to a much larger antenna.

          If you compared the PL-880 to the CR-1a using a whip antenna, I imagine the PL-880 might have an edge in terms of sensitivity.

          If, however, you connect the CR-1a to a decent external antenna, it will receive circles around the PL-880. It has excellent sensitivity and selectivity.

          As for the AOR AR-DV1, I can’t comment. I would expect, however, that it would be far superior to the PL-880 (like the CR-1a) if hooked up to a good external antenna.

          As for hooking the PL-880 up to an external antenna, I would be cautious. The front end of the PL-880’s receiver was never designed to handle a large outdoor antenna. You could possible damage your receiver (especially if near electrical storms, or during cold, dry, windy winter conditions).

          That’s my 2 cents: I hope this helps!

          Best,
          Thomas

          Reply
        2. Ken Hansen n2vip

          To ‘start a new topic’ you send a question/article to Thomas, the blog owner, and he’ll respond as appropriate – that’s what Georges, F6DFZ did to start this thread.

          Reply
  6. Steve Lebkuecher

    I have nothing but good to say about Anna. She has helped me every time I’ve ask for it and has never failed to return an email. I have bought about six receivers from her in the past and never a problem. She has also helped some friends of mine as well with the same professionalism. It’s good to know when you buy from her she will be there if you need her.

    Reply
  7. Marcus Leatham

    My PL-880 came from Anon-Co with the bug. Anon-Co fixed it. It works like a champ. It tunes correctly, does not jump at a 1 kHz boundary, and I even calibrated the SSB tuning to .00 on a MW BC station. For the money, this radio is very very good.

    Reply
    1. Darshan M Dave

      Marcus,

      May be you already know this but It is generally not a good idea to zero your SSB to a MW station unless you have prior knowledge that the frequency is very accurate.

      It is better to use a standard reference like WWV, WWVH or a military frequency or an aircraft frequency llike VOLMET or MWARA.

      Darshan

      Reply
      1. Marcus Leatham

        Darshan: Thanks for the information. I will try using WWV. The only reason I used a MW BC station was because I read a post saying to do it that way. I just assumed it only worked on the MW band. It makes sense that the frequency standard stations would be better. –Marcus–

        By the way, my new, corrected firmware still says 8820. It leads me to believe Anon-Co started with the released 8820 and just tweaked the SSB tuning portion. If there are future updates, this may cause confusion because now there are really two versions of 8820 in the field.

        Reply
      2. Marcus Leatham

        Another point: It could be that the firmware being fixed for the SSB fine tuning resides in the actual part that does the tuning (the PLL). In this case, my firmware would still be the standard version 8820 but with a re-programmed PLL??? I don’t know exactly how the bug was fixed. Has anybody seen which parts are programmable, or heard how it was fixed, exactly?

        Reply
  8. Mick

    I do not know how to start a new thread on this site. I would like to ask if anyone is using the AOR AR-DV1 ? Help with either subject would be welcome. Thanks

    Reply
  9. Pingback: George demonstrates the Tecsun PL-880 tuning bug | The SWLing Post

  10. Pingback: Pawel discovers a tuning bug in his Tecsun PL-880 | The SWLing Post

  11. Ken Hansen n2vip

    How are retailers flashing new firmware, and can a consumer do it themselves?

    Also, I wonder what is lost by rolling back one revision of firmware?

    Reply
    1. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

      The loading of a new firmware necessitate to connect a special interface inside the radio.
      I checked all functions and didn’t saw any problem with this firmware.
      I don’t know if you are an experienced Ham radio operator, but the corrected firmware makes a huge difference in tuning experience.

      Reply
    1. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

      Hi Mike,
      You can check the date of manufacturing inside the battery compartment, or with the first digit of the serial number.
      Mine is 11/2015, can you please give yours ?
      Regards
      Georges F6DFZ

      Reply
      1. Mick

        Georges. No date in the battery compartment. I tried the advice on this site re hold down AM/BW button but that only goes to software version, the extra press for production date does not work, it just switches the display back to time.

        Reply
        1. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

          Hi Mike, the first 9 digits give the date (after the 3 at the beginning).
          This serial number is under the back hinge or on the box.

          G

          Reply
          1. Georges Ringotte F6DFZ

            The complete serial number is 14 digits.
            For exemple mine is 42620151100090.
            The date is after 426

            G

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