Tag Archives: Tecsun PL-880 Hidden Features

Gary discovers a way to lock narrow filters on the Tecsun PL-880

PL-880 (1)

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Gary (WN9U) who writes:

Just an FYI comment about the narrow filters NOT staying on while tuning. I read about the similar problem that you encountered during the initial testing of the PL-880.

While tuning CW stations with the 500 Hz filter turned on (fast or fine tuning), the filter would always revert back to the 3.0 wider setting. It had never done this before. I tried several resets with no cure.

After further testing I found the fix: I had turned on the Hidden Menu Noise Reduction (switch 6) and did not realize it was on.

After turning off the Noise Reduction, I was able to tune with the narrow filters set at any band width. Evidently, the filter opens up to 3.0 when tuning with the Noise Reduction turned on & reset does not turn off this function.

Thanks so much for the tip, Gary! I’ll add this to our (still) growing list of PL-880 hidden features and tips. Seems there’s always something to discover on the Tecsun PL-880.

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Tecsun PL-880: Evans notes signal meter and other discrepencies

PL-880 (1)

SWLing Post reader, Evans (in Greece) writes:

I would like your opinion regarding two strange points we noticed in two different Tecsun PL-880 models, which a friend and I have recently purchased. In particular:

  1. The signal meter is supposed to measure up to 99dBu (my Tecsun PL-390 s-meter goes indeed up to 95-97dBu for very strong amateur signals in my area included mine in mw zone). The point is that for both devices (both of which have 8820 firmware) the signal meter does not exceed 85 dBu and in particular my Tecsun PL-880 signal meter does not goes over 70dBu (ie. even lower measurement). Why this behaviour?

  2. Another strange point is that my friend’s Tecsun receiver displays for a “quiet” frequency (mw) a noise level of about 10-12dBu, while my Tecsun device shows only 2-3dBu noise (same frequency in the same spot!). We both tried the threshold muting adjustment (key 9) and this worked a bit but with minor results in sensitivity, especially for my Tecsun PL-880 receiver. Is it possible to adjust the noise level so that it can be 10-12dBu instead of being only 2-3dBu and hence better sensitivity? And is it possible to adjust the maximum signal level (99dBu instead of 85dBu or even worse 70dBu for my device)?

  3. I have noticed that the hidden feature regarding the external mw antenna didn’t work in my case, even though I did resets an tried many times. I pressume, hence, that maybe Tecsun disabled this hidden feature. Is there any modification available to “add something” into the radio hardware in order to be able to listen mw/lw frequences with external antenna and thus, increase sensitivity?

Many thanks for your questions, Evans. Since my PL-880 is a first production run unit, I’m hoping readers who’ve recently purchased the Tecsun PL-880 might comment.

I suspect Tecsun engineers give little thought to calibrating the S meters. I’m very curious if there is a hidden feature to do this, but I’m guessing this is limited only to those who can program the DSP functionality of the chip inside.

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Complete list of Tecsun PL-880 hidden features


On the advice of several SWLing Post readers, I have compiled a complete list of Tecsun PL-880 hidden features with how-to links:

Tecsun PL-880 Hidden Features:

New: Click here to download Cap Tux’s reference sheet as a PDF.

Click here to download Troy Riedel’s update to the reference sheet [09 February 2017].

If you notice a missing hidden feature or know of an alternate version, please contact me or comment on this post and I will add it. I will continue to add to this post over time. Many thanks!

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Hidden feature: Calibrating the Tecsun PL-880 for zero-beat operation

Tecsun-SSB-QRG-1Many thanks to Dan who learned, via the Tecsun PL-880 group, of another way to calibrate the PL-880 in upper and lower sideband. This method seems to be a little easier than a previously posted procedure.

Anna, with Anon-Co, translates this procedure given to her by Tecsun technicians:

  1. Place the Tecsun PL-880 in LSB or USB mode
  2. Tune to an AM broadcast station and zero-beat the signal (fine tune it until the signal has no SSB distortion and voices/music sound natural)
  3. If the last two digits of the frequency are not “00”, this means there is some display deviation
  4. Simply press and hold the [SNOOZE] button for about one second or so to calibrate the last two frequency digits, which will show “00” when successful.

I will try this procedure later today by re-calibrating my PL-880.

Dan has also noted what many others have–that the PL-880 “is sensitive to both power levels, and time in the powered on state, and will vary by some hz up and down the bands
no matter what one does to zero at any particular point.”

Has anyone else experienced this?

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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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