Tag Archives: Tecsun PL-880 Availability

Kaito able to update PL-880 firmware in-house

Click here to learn how to display your PL-880's firmware version.

Earlier we posted that Tecsun PL-880s being sold by Kaito Electronics had an older firmware version (#8819) than those being sold by Anon-Co on eBay (#8820).

Fortunately SWLing Post reader, Tim, has been working directly with Kaito in California. Yesterday, he visited their headquarters where they updated his PL-880 from firmware version 8819 to 8820.

Tim writes:

“Just got back with my PL-880 from Kaito. It took about 5 seconds to update the firmware (they let me watch). Tecsun sent them a little silver box with a cord that plugs into the radio just below the LCD screen. After removing the face plate, they merely plug in the cord, press a button and voilà, the firmware is upgraded to 8820, and no more soft mute problems. They told me mine is the first one to get the update and it seems just great so far!

I asked if they will be updating new radios before they ship, and they said, “of course, by all means.” [T]hey are now selling the radio with 8820 firmware. People who bought the radio before are also welcome to send theirs back for the upgrade.”

The review of the Tecsun PL-880 we posted two weeks ago was purchased from Anon-Co and has the newer 8820 firmware version.

Tim, many thanks for the report!

Spread the radio love

Important note about Tecsun PL-880 firmware versions

Click here to learn how to display your PL-880's firmware version.

Click here to learn how to display your PL-880’s firmware version.

It seems that there are some important differences emerging between PL-880 firmware versions.

You may have noted that the PL-880 I reviewed yesterday has a firmware version of 8820. I purchased my PL-880 through eBay seller, Anon-Co. As far as I can tell, most, if not all of the units Anon-Co has sold have the same (i.e. latest) firmware version: 8820.

Several readers have contacted me with concern about units they’ve purchased from Kaito Electronics and from their Amazon.com vendor account Electronnix which have firmware version 8819. (Not sure what firmware version you have? Click here to discover.)

It seems that firmware version 8819 lacks a few features that I mentioned in the review I posted yesterday:

  • The muting threshold cannot be properly adjusted as I describe in this post. To be clear, this would lead to a very annoying and constant shift in audio level while listening to all but the strongest of AM/SW signals. I would recommend returning your PL-880 if the muting threshold cannot be adjusted.
  • Bandwidth cannot be adjusted using the tuning or fine tuning controls. You can only cycle through filters by continuously press the AM BW button.

It also seems that Kaito’s PL-880s are not shipping with the same carrying case Anon-Co ships.

On a side note, I don’t think Kaito is to blame for this as they probably had no idea there were different versions of the PL-880 firmware. I’m sure they will work with their customers to correct this.

If we found that the PL-880 firmware could be updated by users it would eliminate this problem.  So far, I have not heard that this is the case.

Please comment if you notice other differences in firmware versions and I will amend the list above.

You can follow all Tecsun PL-880 updates by bookmarking/checking this link.

Spread the radio love

Tecsun PL-880: How to fix the audio level problem

photo (5)As more and more people are beginning to receive their Tecsun PL-880s, I’m receiving emails and noticing comments regarding an “audio level problem.”

Here’s the symptom: when you tune your brand new PL-880 to a relatively weak station on AM or shortwave, the audio level jumps from low to high in what seems like a random pattern.  It’s very annoying. Like me, many assume they have received a faulty unit–some have even sent their new PL-880 back for refund.

In reality, the PL-880 is simply following a default muting threshold level and the audio is responding accordingly. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for this–you won’t find it in your owner’s manual, but you will find it in one of the first PL-880 posts I published:

Hidden feature: Adjusting the Tecsun PL-880 muting threshold

I hope Tecsun will start shipping their PL-880s with the threshold set to “00” or off.  It would certainly lead to less confusion and frustration.

You can follow all Tecsun PL-880 updates by bookmarking/checking this link.

Spread the radio love

Hidden feature: Adding seconds to the Tecsun PL-880 clock

A very simple hidden feature: by turning off your Tecsun PL-880, then pressing and holding the number 8 on the keypad, you can turn on the PL-880 clock seconds display. Use the same process to toggle between settings.

Tecsun PL-880 clock display showing seconds

Be warned that this free feature will not buy you extra time. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

You can follow all Tecsun PL-880 updates by bookmarking/checking this link.

Spread the radio love

Hidden feature: Adjusting the Tecsun PL-880 FM de-emphasis

Photo source: Tecsun PL-880 Yahoo Group

Photo source: Tecsun PL-880 Yahoo Group

There has been some confusion (mainly on my part) about the hidden feature behind button number 5.

Pressing and holding the number 5 will toggle the radio between 50 and 75 uS.

But what, exactly, is this function?

Thankfully, Eric Cottrell has the answer:

“The 50/75 uS setting is the FM De-emphasis. 75 uS in the US and 50 uS in Europe.”

Eric then pointed to a discussion about de-emphasis on DIY Audio’s website.

Many thanks, Eric, for clarifying this (and thanks to others SWLing Post readers who pointed this out in comments as well).

You can follow all Tecsun PL-880 updates by bookmarking/checking this link.

Spread the radio love

The Tecsun PL-880 charger and battery

The supplied Tecsun PL-880 charger/power supply (Click to enlarge)

The supplied Tecsun PL-880 charger/power supply (Click to enlarge)

I’ve had a lot of questions and comments about whether the Tecsun PL-880 is supplied with a power supply/battery charger.  I purchased my PL-880 from from Anon-Co on eBay and they sent a charger along with the radio.

The charger was not in the actual PL-880 (OEM) box, but wrapped up inside Anon’s FedEx shipping package. I found it instantly.

I mention this because I’m not sure if other vendors are supplying a charger as well–perhaps other PL-880 owners can comment?

The charger has two ports where the supplied USB cable can be plugged in–both 5 VDC, but one rated at 1000mA and the other at 2400 mA. Either would work to power the PL-880 as it only requires 300 mA. For charging, I would use the 2400 mA port–though the 1000 mA port may work as well.  You certainly can’t hurt the radio by using the higher mA port as the radio will only use the amount of amperage it requires.


I will also note that while I prefer portables having the more standard AA cells, the supplied PL-880 rechargeable battery (see below) has superb capacity.  With all of the listening time I’ve been logging, I still haven’t needed to recharge it yet. I suspect its capacity is superior to that of most AA rechargeables.


You can follow all Tecsun PL-880 updates by bookmarking/checking this link.

Spread the radio love

Video: Tecsun PL-880 vs. PL-660 and coping with interference

Tecsun-PL880-SWLing-Post-0526I normally like to do in-line recordings for audio comparisons of radios, but my digital recorder is non-functional at the moment. This fact–coupled with a bit of reader peer pressure–prompted me to take a short video with my iPhone of the PL880 and PL660 in action. While this will not be a true representation of the PL-880’s audio, of course, it should serve as some point of comparison in terms of function.

In this (very basic) video, you can hear the difference between the PL-880 and PL-660 when both radios are coping with adjacent signal interference. In this case, I tuned to Radio Australia on 9580 kHz–typically a blow-torch signal here in eastern North America. I wanted to gauge how each radio coped with adjacent signal from China Radio International broadcasting out of Cuba on 9570 kHz,  which can cause major adjacent signal problems, even though it’s a full 10 kHz below Radio Australia.

In this video, I tried to use both radios’ bandwidth controls and (upper side-band) sync lock to cope with the interference. Forgive the lack of tripod. Here you go:

You can follow all Tecsun PL-880 updates by bookmarking/checking this link.

Spread the radio love