Tag Archives: PL-330

Michael’s impressions of the Tecsun PL-330

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Michael Sharpe, who writes:

Hi Thomas,

Here are some personal observations after playing with the Tecsun PL-330 for a couple weeks, maybe an hour or two a day. I made a point of picking up the 310ET , the CCrane Skywave SSB and the G6 Aviator at the same time for some comparisons.

These comments are in no particular order.

The PL330 is very lightweight compared to the other three. This could be perceived in two ways.

A. The case seems less sturdy than it could be, it creaks and ‘gives’ a little when operating some of the controls that require ‘squeezing’ to activate a button. I would prefer a more solid feel.

B. The radio is very light which is a plus for travelling with hand luggage. You’ll like that 🙂

The backlight can be set to permanently ‘on’, I really like this. None of the other radios do this when on battery power only. I don’t consider any radio ‘portable’ if it is tethered to a power supply. It would be nice if the buttons lit up but let’s stay real here !

Tuning: I am not crazy about the detented operation of the tuning knob, but I recognise that this is a requirement on the lower cost portables that use digital tuning. However…the PL-330 scores highly because the detent clicking is soft and silent. When compared to the Skywave SSB, there is a world of difference. For me, a clicking knob eliminates the option to tune around the ham bands when my wife is trying to sleep. I did email CCrane to ask if a solution may be suggested, but the response was negative. The G6 Aviator wins hands down in this area, but apples to pears !

Memory Tuning: I really like the options here, easy to use and the time selective ETM+ is genius. I also like the easy ‘delete all memories’ option which enables a fresh start at any time.

Audio: It’s not a PL-880 but its Ok for a small portable and the bandwidth option is a big plus. I’m no expert here because I do a fair proportion of my listening with a mono single side earpiece at night.

AM: Seems to work fine. Pulls in everything I normally listen to and seems sensitive and stable enough.

FM: Seems to work fine. Pulls in everything I normally listen to (not much!) and seems sensitive enough. Brilliant that it will suppress stereo unless the headphone socket is used.

SW: I spend a lot of time here and it seems good enough. I did compare reception with the Belka DX and had nothing to complain about. I have learned that keyboard tuning to a frequency near the frequency of interest and then final tuning with the annoying detent knob is the way to go. Also, memory tuning is easy and makes the detent truly functional.

SSB: This my main area of interest as I love to tune around the ham bands, especially when travelling with no access to real ham gear. The fine tuning at 10 Hz with suppressed soft muting is a real winner. It would be nice if soft mute could be disabled completely but I understand this is limitation of the DSP hardware.

Calibration seems easy too with just a long press on the USB button when the audio is zero beat (note the calibration option is for the AM band but utilizes the USB or LSB to zero beat and set). I don’t do this any more, after all, what’s the point when tuning around to listen 🙂 Just twiddle the knob until it sounds good and Bob’s your uncle. I think the ‘Step’ button should replace the ‘Sync’ button and not be shared with the sunken ‘lock’ button. Too squeezy.

SYNC: Don’t bother. I tried it several times, not so much any more. Waste of a perfectly good button. (See SSB above.)

Battery: I actually like the battery choice. I get that AA’s or AAA’s are a good choice for emergency use because of availability but in an emergency you would probably have your phone with you, and some means of charging it. Just have an appropriate cable or adapter in the bag and you are good to go. My current phone uses the usb micro, as does the PL330 so I may be a little biased at this time.

Antenna: For portable use, the existing antennas work fine. The SW input jack works and the ability to switch the AM signal source between the internal ferrite and the external jack is a nice touch if you want to experiment.

I cut the wrist strap off, not sure what benefit this offers but they all have them. I must be missing something ?

A rear stand would be nice but it stands on its base reasonably well.

So….for around $60, it’s a no-brainer in my book.

Hope this helps. I’m no expert when it comes to deviation ratios, 3rd order intercepts, microvolt sensitivity etc. etc. but these are my impressions from a guy who just likes to play with radios.

Best wishes

Michael (N9YZM)

Thank you for sharing your impressions of the Tecsun PL-330, Michael! I’ve also been testing the PL-330 and find that it is a great value for $60–certainly a low-cost alternative to the C.Crane CC Skywave SSB (although I much prefer the build quality of the Skywave). My family life has been so busy this past month, I’ve had little dedicated time to do comparisons, but it appears to me that the PL-330 is a solid performer.

Thanks again for sharing your assessment, Michael!

Click here to check out the Tecsun PL-330 (export version) at Anon-Co.

Spread the radio love

The export version of the Tecsun PL-330 has landed

Tuesday evening, I picked up a package from Anon-Co with the new export version of the Tecsun PL-330 inside. Anon-Co sent this unit to me for evaluation at no charge to me. Anon-Co will start shipping the PL-330 next week and the price will be $59.99.

By request, I took a few photos of the PL-330 as I unpacked it. This should give you an idea about how the radio is packed and what is included in the Anon-Co package:

The Anon-Co PL-330 package includes:

  • Tecsun PL-330 receiver
  • an English owner’s manual
  • a brown synthetic velveteen carry pouch
  • MicroUSB charging cable
  • earphones

My first thought? It looks like a mini PL-990!

The PL-330 is powered by one BL-5C battery pack. To meet shipping regulations, the BL-5C is not pre-installed–you’ll need to do that yourself.

Note that the PL-330 lacks a fold-out back stand. That is unfortunate

On the air

Unfortunately, I’ve had no proper time to evaluate the PL-330 (comparisons) yet as this is an incredibly busy week for me.

I did, however, listen to the PL-330 as I worked outside all day Wednesday. Sadly, there was a lot of news to follow here in the States that day.

I was able to receive all of my benchmark local and regional AM and FM stations with no problem. For day-to-day broadcast listening, it seems to be a solid portable.

It’s still early days, but I think the PL-330 may be one of the best portables for FM I’ve tested in a while. On Wednesday, I tuned to WFAE in Charlotte a number of times throughout the day and the PL-330’s lock on the station was rock-solid. WFAE’s transmitter is just over one hundred miles from my home, so this is typically a tough catch if I’m inside my home or my car, etc.

The real test? I can also receive WFAE with the PL-330 in my kitchen window. Again, only a small number of portables can reliably grab WFAE’s signal from that spot. Indeed, the PL-330 almost receives WFAE as if were a local station.

While this is far from a laboratory test, it is certainly a real-world test for this radio enthusiast.

I’ve yet to dive into the shortwaves, although I’m incredibly curious how well the sync lock might work. I’m keeping expectations low–after all, this is a $60 radio. The price point is quite good for sporting upper and lower sideband reception, let alone synchronous detection.

For more information about the PL-330, I’d encourage you to check out the following posts:

Spread the radio love

Frank translates the Tecsun PL-330 manual into German

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Frank, who writes:

Hi there,

I have written a manual for the Tecsun PL-330 in German after getting only a Chinese one. Perhaps it is helpful for somebody?

With friendly regards
Frank from Germany

Click here to download Tecsun PL-330 Deutsche Bedienungsanleitung (PDF 1.8 MB)

Thanks so much for sharing this, Frank!

Spread the radio love

Tecsun PL-330 fine tuning bug

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Pawel Kita, who writes:

Good morning Thomas.

I bought a Tecsun PL-330 firmware 3303.

Do you remember when I once reported a bug in one of the versions of the
Tecsun PL-880 radio? This error was later named as “fine tuning TECSUN reversed bug”

The same error occurs in the following Tecsun radios: PL-365 and PL-330
firmware version 3303.

Thank you for the tip, Pawel. That is an odd and slightly obscure bug that Tecsun obviously has yet to address.

Spread the radio love

How to find the Tecsun PL-330’s firmware version

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jaap de Goede, who shares the following note:

Thanks for posting the hidden feature table to the Tecscun PL-330.

I see more and more videos of the PL-330 popping up on YouTube. I’m wondering what firmware they run. It’s easy to identify the firmware version.

Press and hold the VM/VF button when the radio is off. Release the button when all icons are displayed. Next, the display will briefly show the firmware version in the upper right corner. As you can see in the picture (above), mine has version 3302.

Thanks so much for the tip, Jaap! I am curious, too, if Tecsun is updating the firmware version with each release/update of the PL-330. With the PL-880, there were a number of iterations all carrying the same version number (8820, if memory serves).

It would be great for comparison purposes to check the firmware number.

Spread the radio love

A Tecsun PL-330 features reference sheet

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor,  Jaap de Goede, who shares the following as an update to his Tecsun PL-330 review. Jack writes:

I discovered several features that are not displayed on the keyboard both on the Internet and by fiddling with the radio. Maybe these features are in the Chinese manual but I simply can’t read that language. What became clear is that the PL-330 resembles the PL-990x. But I couldn’t find if DNR and Muting Threshold are supported in the firmware I have (3302). Here is a table with the features and how to operate:

Click here to download as a PDF.

Many thanks for creating and sharing this excellent reference sheet, Jaap!

Spread the radio love