Tag Archives: Tecsun PL-880 Firmware

Pete gives Kaito high marks for customer service

PL-880 (1)

SWLing Post reader, Pete Jernakoff (K3KMS), writes:

“I purchased two PL-880 radios from Amazon about a year ago and before the soft muting issue became a hot topic. Both of my radios (8819 firmware version) suffered from this most annoying problem but it wasn’t until I started reading your excellent blog that I learned of the cause.

About two weeks ago, I called Kaito Electronics USA and asked if they could upgrade the firmware on my two radios to the 8820 version. The person I spoke to said (paraphrasing) “Sure! Send them to us any we’ll perform the upgrade for free. All you do is pay for the return shipping.”

So off the radios went to Kaito. About 10 days later I had them back with the new firmware installed. The return shipping was $10. Weak MW and SW signals are now easy to listen to: no soft muting issues at all. Kudos to Kaito for agreeing to perform the upgrade for me. My dealings with them were thoroughly pleasurable.”

Thanks for sharing that great experience, Pete! You’re right–the 8820 upgrade is certainly worth the shipping costs and I’m happy to hear Kaito makes the process so easy.

Don’t know the firmware version of your PL-880? Click here to learn how to display the firmware version.

For more information on PL-880 soft muting, click here.

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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!

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Hidden feature: Displaying the Tecsun PL-880 date of manufacture


Thanks to SWLing Post reader, Tim, we know how to display (what we believe is) the date of manufacture for your Tecsun PL-880:

1.) With the radio turned off, simply press and hold the “AM BW” button and the full display panel will turn on.

2.) Then press and hold the “AM BW” again and your 880?s firmware version will display (a four digit number).

3.) Finally, by pressing and holding the “AM BW” button one more time, a date appears in a year-month-day format. For example, my PL-880 (see above) was manufactured on November 13, 2013.

Again, we have no confirmation from Tecsun if this is truly the date of manufacture, but there is a strong possibility.

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

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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.

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Hidden feature: Changing the line-out level on the Tecsun PL-880

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Joost, for discovering and sharing yet another hidden feature of the Tecsun PL-880.

How to change the FM line-out level

1.) Turn on the PL-880 and select the FM radio band.

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2.) Press and hold the number 7 for three seconds, the current line-out level will begin flashing.

3.) Use either tuning control to change the line-out level.

Unfortunately, it seems that the line-out level only works on the FM band (at least, on my firmware version). That’s a shame, too, as my shortwave and AM line-out levels default to a value that is much too high for a recording device, rendering the port useless. I value line-out for making reliable digital recordings while monitoring activity via the radio’s built-in speaker.

I hope this will be fixed in the future as I’m sure it can be addressed with a firmware update.

On a side note, I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about a full PL-880 review. I’m nearing completion of it now–about 75% complete. It’s a rather long review and (I hope) will be useful. The ‘880 has so many features (both documented and hidden) that writing a review is a daunting task! Check back soon!

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

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