Tag Archives: Tecsun

Photos of the Tecsun PL-990

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, George Joachim, who shares the following photo of his recently acquired Tecsun PL-990. George also shared the following comment:

I have just received my PL 990 from Ali Express. Suitably impressed everything works as advertised and yes it is the newer (TIME TIMER A TIMER B) version. The serial number shows a production of July 2020. Comes in the usual box with all accessories as the PL -880. They even include a Micro SD card with prerecorded songs. Well done again Tecsun!!!

Photos


Thank you, George. You’re obviously not only a fan of shortwave and rails, but also the Queen of the Skies!

A quick update about my Tecsun PL-990 review

Hopefully in the next week or two, I will be receiving a pre-production export version of the PL-990 that will eventually be sold by Anon-Co. I should have received a model a couple weeks ago, but they discovered a last-minute issue they had to address in the firmware. Once this is sorted, I will receive a pre-production model to carefully test. I’m guessing the model I’m testing will have some slight differences with that of George’s above only because it’s my understanding Tecsun hasn’t made a production run of the variant Anon-Co plans to sell yet.  Cosmetically, I’m sure they’re near-identical. I’ll certainly post an update when I receive the test model. Thanks for your patience!

 

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Converting Tecsun signal meter numbers into five strength units?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Chris Rolfe (M3OZP), who writes with the following inquiry:

Don’t know if anyone can help.

I have a Tecsun PL-880, and it shows signal strength in db. How can I work out the signal strength as 1 to 5? All my other radio have 1 to 5 signal strength meters which is what I have always been used to.

Many thanks.

Chris Rolfe
M3OZP

Thank you for your question, Chris. The signal meter on the PL-880 and a number of other late-model Tecsuns that use similar DSP chips share the signal display which indicates both the signal strength and signal-to-noise ratio.  I believe the dBu number indicates the conducted voltage across the receiver’s internal resistance.

It’s perhaps one of my quirks, but as a listener I actually pay little attention to signal displays on portables unless I’m evaluating signal strength for a report or even using it to locate a local noise. Converting those numbers into an S1 to S5 number is simply something I would do by “guesstimating.” Yeah, not terribly scientific.

There are folks in the SWLing Post community who can do a much better job explaining the readout and how to interpret/convert signal strength across the MW, SW and FM bands.

Post Readers: Please comment if you can shed some light on simplifying signal strength for Chris.

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Tecsun PL-330: A quick update and an important note before you buy

We posted an update about the new Tecsun PL-330 in late April 2020. While we didn’t have a lot of details, it’s worth reading.

We still don’t have a lot of details (as of today, July 3, 2020) but readers have been contacting me and commenting recently with links to online retailers who are already selling the PL-330.

SWLing Post contributor, Babis, shared a link to retailer (Taoboa.com, see above), this website with more information, and a review on this page.

Before you buy

To be clear: I am not placing an order for the Tecun PL-330 yet.

Indeed, as I mentioned in a previous post, my trusted Tecsun contact informed me that all of the new portables–the PL-990, H-501, and PL-330–are first being released as a “domestic” or pilot version in China. The pilot version is not the final and fully-updated/upgraded international/export version.

I will make an announcement here on the SWLing Post when the international/export versions are available for purchase.

To be clear, I can’t comment on the performance of the domestic models, but I do understand that the export models will likely have better specifications and even updated front panels/functions.

I also understand that the PL-990 will likely be the first export model in terms of availability.

Stay tuned! I’ll post any/all updates here on the Post.


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Tecsun PL-365 now in stock at Anon-Co

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gareth Buxton, who writes:

I “watch” the Anon-Co new additions page for changes and this morning I received an update that the PL-365 has been added. I think they only used to stock the non-usb Pl-360 version.

Click here to view the PL-365 page at Anon-Co.

Thanks for the tip, Gareth! The PL-365 is a very sensitive portable receiver and one of the least expensive with a proper SSB mode. I’m happy Anon-Co has added them to their inventory.

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The Tecsun PL-330: Some details about this compact shortwave portable in development

Source: tecsun.com.cn

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post readers who shared a link to this website (in Chinese) with photos and details of the new Tecsun PL-330. Note: The server hosting the PL-330 page has been unreliable the past few days.

Some of you might recall the PL-330 in photos of the new Tecsun product line we posted last year. Recently, a handful of preliminary working prototypes have been produced,  so I reached out to my trusted Tecsun contact for more information. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Position in Tecsun product line

In terms of the Tecsun product line, the PL-330 appears to be the successor to the venerable Tecsun PL-310ET and/or PL-380.

The PL-330 will have features these legacy Tecsun models do not have, namely:

  • synchronous detection,
  • single-sideband reception,
  • and an upgraded ETM (auto tune and store) feature.

It also appears the SSB tuning steps could be as fine as 10 Hz. Most impressive, if true.

Size

Size comparison: PL-330 (left), PL-990 (middle), H-501 (right)

I refer to radios in this size class as “ultra-compact.”

The PL-330 measures 139 × 85 × 26 millimeters (5.5 x 3.3 x 1 inches). Its form factor is very similar to the PL-310ET, but much thinner in profile. The total depth of the radio is only 26 mm.

I love the idea of an even thinner profile, although this certainly limits the type of internal battery that can be used.

Battery

The PL-330 is powered by a single BL-5C lithium battery.

In my world, this is a bit of a negative, but I’m sure the BL-5C was one of the only viable battery options for a radio that’s only 26mm thick.

On the plus side, the BL-5C is widely available, affordable, and can be charged internally.

On the negative side?

Well, I find that the overall capacity doesn’t match that of, say, three AA batteries. Also, I find that the battery’s longevity (meaning, how many charge cycles it can handle) is not that impressive–arguably worse than any other rechargeable battery system I’ve used.

Another reason I prefer AA batteries in compact portables is I know no matter where I travel, I can easily purchase them at almost any retailer, airport, or even hotel, in a pinch. In the past, when I’ve traveled with radios that use the BL-5C, I simply carried a fully-charged spare in a poly zip-lock bag (to protect the battery contacts from inadvertently shorting.

In addition, when I fly, I like to carry as few Lithium batteries as possible.

Perhaps, however, I can find a very high quality BL-5C to use in the PL-330? I would appreciate any leads from readers.

Performance

Since the preliminary prototypes were more or less mechanical prototypes and lacked most of the features planned for this model, there are no performance reports as of yet. In fact, I would be skeptical of any reports you might read in advance of the final production model.

Availability

Like the PL-990 and H-501, there are no reliable estimates for availability or shipping yet. The Covid-19 pandemic has slowed down this process. Most likely, the PL-330 will be released after the PL-990 and H-501, but that isn’t even certain.

Stay tuned!

The PL-330 will have a number of other features and specs, but these are early days and I prefer sticking with what we do know now. As soon as I learn more, I’ll post updates–bookmark the tag PL-330.

Note this reddit thread with an English translation of the Chinese page I mentioned at the beginning of this article (thanks, Tom Daly). It mentions more details, but again, it’s such early days I prefer to stick with what has been confirmed. As with any product in development, a number of changes could occur before the first production run.

Of course, I will review and evaluate the export version of the PL-330 when as soon as it’s available. Stay tuned!


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Tecsun PL-990: How to distinguish pilot run and final export versions

The Tecsun PL-990

As I suspected, it appears the Tecsun PL-990 batch that showed up recently on AliExpress for $399 each are the preliminary pilot run units that Tecsun offered in China last year. The final export version of the PL-990 is not ready for production yet and has been severely delayed by Covid-19 quarantines.

Anna at Anon-Co reports that Tecsun factories have been closed since mid-January 2020 and have only recently recommenced production, “but at a very slow pace.”

Since there will eventually be two different versions of the Tecsun PL-990 in the wild–the pilot run for China, and the finalized export version–I thought I’d share a trick Anna has described to tell the difference between the two.

Anna notes:

One way to easily see this is from the labels for the buttons above the keypad, these should be

[ TIME ], [ TIMER A ], and [ TIMER B ] (see picture below)

Tecsun PL-990 Final Export Version:

Tecsun PL-990 Final Export version

Tecsun PL-990 Final Export Version

Pilot Tecsun PL-990 (preliminary China domestic version):

Preliminary Pilot Tecsun PL-990 distributed in China — image from AliExpress.

Anna adds:

I highly recommend [no one] buy these pilot versions, because the software on those devices is also not developed.

There still isn’t a final version or any price indication available yet, but it will definitely not be US$399.99.

So in case it’s not clear: don’t purchase a PL-990 until you can confirm you’re receiving a final export version which has the TIME, TIMER A, and TIMER B labels.

Again, at time of posting, the final PL-990 export version is not yet in production.

When the final export PL-990 is available, I will announce it here on the SWLing Post with links to authorized retailers like Anon-Co.

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Tecsun PL-990 (pilot run) now on AliExpress

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who notes that the Tecsun PL-990 has now appeared on AliExpress.com.

The price is a steep $399 US shipped via DHL with an estimated delivery of late March. They claim to have about 900 units available.

You can check out the PL-990 on the AliExpress website, but it might require registration even via this direct link.

Frankly, I would wait until the PL-990 is available at Anon-Co since they’re an authorized Tecsun distributor, have proven customer service, and will likely have a more competitive price. I would also question if the AliExpress units are the new export version we’ve been waiting for, or simply the units that were available within China last year. The AliExpress page gives us no clear indication of the production version at time of posting.

UPDATE: Turns out, these are the pilot Chinese versions of the PL-990. I can’t recommend purchasing one–especially at this price.

I hope this might indicate that the PL-990 is close to release. Covid-19 has certainly stopped much production and development in China. Thanks again for the tip, Dan!

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