Dan reviews latest firmware version of the Tecsun PL-368 and shares list of hidden features

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares the following guest post:

Revisiting the Tecsun PL-368:  Assessing a Later Firmware Unit

by Dan Robinson

This past April, I reviewed Tecsun’s PL-368, the update of the PL-365 (also sold by CountyComm as the GP5).  There were some major changes:  Tecsun shifted from AA batteries to a flat BL-5C cellphone type battery, and of course the marquee design change was the addition of a keypad.

The keypad is a night and day change – whereas before the PL-365 was a handy receiver but hobbled by archaic tuning limited to memory access and the side thumb wheel, the 368 provides easy instant frequency selection.

In my previous review, I mentioned the well-known characteristic of the 360 and 365 models which exhibited over-sensitivity to the touch.  When removing your hand, signal levels plummeted – usually, a full grip was necessary and any variation caused reduced sensitivity – noticed mostly in shortwave mode.

The PL-368 I reviewed was from among the first versions of the receiver.  It had a firmware of 3681, from a 2020 production run.  Recently, I received from Anon-Co – the most reliable supplier of Tecsun receivers – an updated unit, with firmware 3684.

Please see my previous review for comments on various aspects of the 368: the longer but less robust telescopic antenna, addition of detents on the volume wheel, and the welcome addition of adjustable bandwidths, synchronous detection, and ability to tune in 10 hz increments, and other changes.


SYNCHRONOUS DETECTION:  As with the 909x and H-501, the upgraded 368 now has Synchronous Detection.  I did not expect any change in the 3684 firmware – SYNC still has some distortion and loss of lock.

As with the 330, 990x, and 501x successful use of this mode requires a delicate dance involving careful selection of various bandwidths while in SYNC mode and fine tuning.

However, whereas on the previous 3681 unit there was significant “warbling” when in SSB and SYNC, and phonics when touching the keypad, the 3684 unit has little to no such warbling and the phonics appear to be gone, or minimized.

It’s not known what Tecsun may have done to address these issues – my review of a previous 3681 firmware unit was published in April, so it’s hard to think that Tecsun made any major physical changes to the PCB/keypad and radio body.  But there does seem to be some improvement.

I had no expectation that a firmware change would result in any improvement in the other major issue common to the 360 series – reduction of sensitivity when the receiver is not being held in the hand.

The 368 still shows a noticeable reduction in signal strength, visible on the display, when left standing on its own versus being fully gripped.  But the problem does not seem to be as serious as it was with the PL-360/365.

And since my first review of the 368, I have done some additional comparisons with older portables which were constructed with more robust cabinets.  Some of those also exhibited reduced sensitivity when not being held.

For the PL-368 with firmware 3684, the headline really has to be the apparent disappearance of the “phonics” when tapping the keypad and cabinet top surface.  This was the elephant in the room on the first very early sample of the PL-368.

While there is still distortion using SYNC mode, this issue seems to have been slightly reduced with the latest firmware.  Without confirmation by Tecsun, there is no way to know what specifically may have been done to impact the SYNC issue in a positive direction.

A major disappointment is confirmation from Anon-Co via Tecsun that the re-calibration function seen in the PL-330, 990x and H-501x is absent from the PL-368.

That leaves a user with only the fine tuning option in SSB.  This is a real puzzler, since surely Tecsun could have enabled re-calibration on the 368 in the same way it did with the other receivers.


I stated in my first review of the 368 that this receiver would be an automatic must-buy in my book, were it not for the earlier issues of cabinet phonics and signal level reduction when the radio isn’t being fully gripped in hand.

One hopes that the phonics issue has been fully addressed by Tecsun.  It’s possible that my initial early unit of the 368 had some weakness in the PCB for the keypad, and LCD display that has been recognized and corrected.

Without confirmation from Tecsun, it’s also difficult to declare that the 3684 firmware has truly brought about a measurable improvement in SYNC and SSB.  But based on my testing of this particular 3684 firmware unit, the radio is more usable and tolerable in SYNC and SSB.

And of course, addition of the keypad along with multi-bandwidth options moves the 368 firmly into the same zone as Tecsun’s other portables, albeit perhaps more in the “prepper” category.

There are so many offerings now from Tecsun in portables that it’s hard for me to place the PL-368 in the “must-buy” category, especially since the PL-330, 990x and H-501x bring so many superb features to the game.

But the PL-368 has a certain appeal – its walkie-talkie style design makes it an easy quick-grab for trips, similar to the PL-330, though the 368 can not really be safely balanced on a flat surface and is best used with some kind of stand.

In terms of raw performance, one has to observe that the wonderful Belka DX has to be considered as a top choice and major competition when it comes to extreme portability and top performance, especially with the available speaker/battery backs.

And the PL-368 still has major competition from the XHDATA D-808 (now appearing under the RADIWOW SIHUADON label) with excellent AIR band capability and multiple bandwidths, though no synchronous detection.

To “save” the PL-36xx series, Tecsun will have to ensure steady QC (quality control) in manufacturing and when possible, further firmware updates of the 368, as with all Tecsun receivers.

Preliminary List of Hidden Features for PL-368

Source: Anna at Anon-Co

Switch between internal ferrite rod and whip on AM (MW & LW)

1. Select the MW or LW band.
2. Press and hold key ‘3’ for about 2 seconds.

When the display briefly shows “CH-5” this means that the device is set to MW/LW reception using the telescopic antenna. The display shows MW (or LW) and SW on the left side of the screen.

When the display briefly shows “CH-A” this means that the device is set to MW/LW reception using the internal ferrite antenna. The display shows only MW (or LW) on the left side of the screen.

Adjusting the maximum volume level

Select the frequency band, then press and hold key ‘7’ for 2 seconds until a number is displayed. At this moment, rotate the [ TUNING ] knob to adjust and press the key ‘7’ again to save and exit.

Firmware Version

In power-off mode, press and hold [ VF/VM ] for 0.5 seconds until all characters on the display are shown, then wait a few seconds until the firmware version is briefly displayed at upper right of the display.

Extend SW-range for European setting (1621-29999 kHz)

1. In power-off mode, press and hold the [ 3 ] key to set the MW tuning steps to 9kHz.
2. Select the SW band, and then press and hold the [ 5 ] key for 10 seconds to enable/disable the SW frequency extension.

The starting point of the SW frequency range will become 1621 or 1711 kHz.

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13 thoughts on “Dan reviews latest firmware version of the Tecsun PL-368 and shares list of hidden features

  1. RadioJim

    The drop in sensitivity when not hand held is not a “problem”. It is an inherent characteristic of hand held portable radios. They capacitively couple to your body and you become part of the antenna system. That’s just the way it is. To eliminate this effect the ground plane of the radio chassis would have to be increased in size. Which of course would make the radio larger. You could potentially improve the sensitivity by adding a counterpoise, or “tiger tail”, wire attached to a ground point in the radio. A possible point of connection could be the shell of the USB charge connector. You could also try wrapping the end of a length of wire around the body of the radio similar to the way we used to improve our loopstick sensitivity but around the middle of the radio away from the loopstick. But that would interfere with usage of the keypad of course. Or you cold just make a desk stand for it out of a big chunk of steel, copper, etc. Bottom line, to eliminate the sensitivity reduction when nor being hand held you either need a counterpoise or the overall sensitivity of the radio needs to be reduced. I don’t think we want the latter.

  2. Barry

    I just received the new PL-368 version 3684 and tried to input freq.2500khz into memory but defaults to 2300khz ?

  3. Magnetic

    I have the pl-368 fw version 3682, I took it off batt charge and since then the AM section (SW, MW, LW) no longer functions while FM is unaffected. I tried the long press of key 3 to change antenna but this has made no difference, AM is completely dead on my 368…anyone have any ideas on how to reset the radio or how to get AM back? The radio is useless to me without the AM functionality.

  4. Golan Klinger

    Can anyone confirm that the firmware is not user ugpradeable? I too have firmware 3682 and there’s no way to know what version of the firmware I’d get if I bought a new unit.


    Got my pl-368 today via aliexpress. Came with 3682 firmware. Do anyone knows diferrences of 3681,3682, 3684? Firmware is not user upgradable as shop got the radio told me:(

    1. Dan

      Phonics means when you tap the cabinet or otherwise handle it, there is an echo
      or warbling from the speaker, usually pointing to poor printed circuit board on the

    2. Patrick

      I recently discovered that my Countycomm Marathon am/fm/shortwave radio died. I kept it in my hiking pack. And for emergencies.

      I am, I guess, what you would call a prepper. I hate that term. As it it implies a tinfoil hat with matching goggles. 😉 I basically prepare for disasters and emergencies. And also use my radio for hiking and hunting.

      My level of proficiency with radios is basically being a long term scanner listener.

      I’m trying to decide between the Tecsun pl360 and pl368.

      1) I prefer the pl360 for its use of AA batteries. I already carry a solar panel and AA battery charger. That charges 4 AA batteries. But also has power out. So I could plug the pl368 into the charger (or even solar panel) to charge the radio.

      But using plain old AA alkalines is out with the pl368. Which kind of goes against basic prepping logic. “Always carry gear that runs off of standard, widely available, batteries.”. I guess I could always buy spares of the battery the pl368 comes with. Any recommendations for aftermarket batteries? Are there any with greater capacity that fit?

      2) The pl368 has ssb. And better auto tuning(?). How much would that help a prepper? As opposed to the abilities of the 360? I’m still not sure what broadcasts would be important to me on ssb. Of course auto scanning features would be good. I imagine I could simply let it auto tune all the stations I’m able to receive and then be able to scan those?

      3) Any suggestion for another radio in this price range ($50-$75) that might better suit my needs? Or an article addressing ultra portable, emergency radios, for preppers and the like? I would love to find something as small as the Tecsun pl368, with similar specs, that ran on AA’s.

      4) Any advice for storing radios long term? My last one sat in my backpack in a plastic bag most of the time. And got barely used. But after a few years it just died.

      Thank you for any help you might have. 🙂

      1. PC

        There are USB chargers out there that utilize off the shelf AA batteries – alleviating the pl368 issue.
        You get the best of both worlds


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