Topics

Tecsun PL-310 vs PL-380


dwight richardson
 

I want a UL receiver with the SL chip and the Tecsuns get good reviews. But when I look at 310 vs 380 my untrained eye sees little difference. I remember seeing that the 310 did not have antenna jack. But is 310 whip am? By now I have conflated the two receivers to the point they are identical to me. So bottom line for MW dxing, does either get the nod over the other. To my consumer oriented thinking 380 must be better because it is 70 more than 310, right? Please detect dry humor there.

Thanks


Russ Edmunds
 

The 310 for AM is whip only. It has an external antenna jack for FM & SW ( same jack ). I have 4 of those which I used mostly for FM DX pre-SDR. I have no experience with  the 380.

Russ Edmunds

WB2BJH

Blue Bell, PA

Grid FN20id


From: main@UltralightDX.groups.io <main@UltralightDX.groups.io> on behalf of dwight richardson via groups.io <rdrala77@...>
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2020 12:11 PM
To: main@ultralightdx.groups.io <main@ultralightdx.groups.io>
Subject: [UltralightDX] Tecsun PL-310 vs PL-380
 
I want a UL receiver with the SL chip and the Tecsuns get good reviews. But when I look at 310 vs 380 my untrained eye sees little difference. I remember seeing that the 310 did not have antenna jack. But is 310 whip am?  By now I have conflated the two receivers to the point they are identical to me. So bottom line for MW dxing, does either get the nod over the other.  To my consumer oriented thinking 380 must be better because it is 70 more than 310, right?  Please detect dry humor there.

Thanks




C B
 

Dwight,

Welcome to the group! Gary DeBock is our resident Ultralight guru. I suggest you check out his excellent article titled "Gary DeBock's 2015 Ultralight Radio Shootout Review" found on SWLing.com. In later articles Gary also reviews the CCrane Skywave. I have all 3. I think the Skywave provides to most bang for the buck. Just my 2 cents worth.

73,

Craig Barnes
Wheat Ridge, CO

On Friday, May 15, 2020, 10:16:19 AM MDT, Russ Edmunds <wb2bjh@...> wrote:


The 310 for AM is whip only. It has an external antenna jack for FM & SW ( same jack ). I have 4 of those which I used mostly for FM DX pre-SDR. I have no experience with  the 380.

Russ Edmunds

WB2BJH

Blue Bell, PA

Grid FN20id


From: main@UltralightDX.groups.io <main@UltralightDX.groups.io> on behalf of dwight richardson via groups.io <rdrala77@...>
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2020 12:11 PM
To: main@ultralightdx.groups.io <main@ultralightdx.groups.io>
Subject: [UltralightDX] Tecsun PL-310 vs PL-380
 
I want a UL receiver with the SL chip and the Tecsuns get good reviews. But when I look at 310 vs 380 my untrained eye sees little difference. I remember seeing that the 310 did not have antenna jack. But is 310 whip am?  By now I have conflated the two receivers to the point they are identical to me. So bottom line for MW dxing, does either get the nod over the other.  To my consumer oriented thinking 380 must be better because it is 70 more than 310, right?  Please detect dry humor there.

Thanks




Nick B.
 

By 310 I presume you mean the PL-310ET, which is the model currently available.


I own three of the cheaper Tecsun DSP models – PL-310ET, PL-380 and PL-606. Out of the three, the PL-310ET is the worst performer on MW (AM Broadcast band). It seems prone to pickup from the internal electronics and weaker stations which are audible on the other two sets are buried in the noise on the 310ET (at my location that’s 558, 648, 873, 1152). On LW it is practically unusable.


The PL-310ET and PL-606 have an external antenna jack, although this is only used for SW and FM.

If you look in the files section here there is an article by Laurie Mann in section 6 showing how to use the spare contacts on the jack to connect an external loopstick, disconnecting the internal one. I’ve carried out that mod on mine this week, using an external 10-inch loopstick which was recovered from an older 1970s set. I’m very happy with the results so far, all I need to do now is figure out how to package up the loopstick to protect it from damage. The loopstick has two coils, MW and LW, the longwave performance is now like having a whole new radio.


I’ve shared my mods at https://nickb333.blogspot.com/search/label/PL-310ET I'll upload them to the file section if they are of ineterest to group members.


Thanks for all the useful information I've found here in the past.

73

Nick G4IRX

Nottingham/UK

 


Marc Coevoet
 

Op 16/05/2020 om 11:56 schreef Nick B.:

If you look in the files section here there is an article by Laurie Mann in section 6 showing how to use the spare contacts on the jack to connect an external loopstick, disconnecting the internal one. I’ve carried out that mod on mine this week, using an external 10-inch loopstick which was recovered from an older 1970s set. I’m very happy with the results so far, all I need to do now is figure out how to package up the loopstick to protect it from damage. The loopstick has two coils, MW and LW, the longwave performance is now like having a whole new radio.
There is a nice made antenna made for the silabs chip, one for AM, the other for LW, "made in Greece".

AM: https://www.sv2czf.com/rla200.html
LW: https://www.sv2czf.com/rlw200.html


A tunable stick for joining the internal ferrite is this one:

AM: https://www.sv2czf.com/rfa200.html
LW: https://www.sv2czf.com/rfl200.html


The whole list of RX antennas:
https://www.sv2czf.com/rxantennas.html


I own the rfa200, gives a good result on the Tecsun pl660.

And yes, I adapted the pl380 for an external antenna, but I forgot it in the garden, and after a rainfall it was dead.


Marc
--
The "Penguin" has arrived - and he's not going away - ever.
For former Apple users: Xubuntu.org (menu's up left)
For former Windows users: Lubuntu.org (menu's down left)


Rémy Friess
 

Le 17/05/2020 à 03:16, DXer a écrit :

Both the volume and tuning encoders became 'independent' of me very early on. I want to increase the volume, it decreases it and vice-versa.

The tuning encoder is the same, but also decides the tuning speed rate. I want to go slow, it goes faster and vice-versa._._,_._,_
I had a similar problem with the tuning knob of my Tecsun PL-660 once. It seems this happens if the set (or the knob) has not been used for a while.

I turned the knob for about 15 minutes at high speed in both directions with power on and then it worked again.

I don't know if this will work with your 310ET, but you might want to try.

And yes the ET is not as good as the original 310. I replaced the 310 with the 310ET only to find that it was much less sensitive and the audio was ghastly.

I then bought a PL-380 and I'm very pleased with it.

73, Rémy.


h. garcia
 

Here's what I recall, but please, double check it... This is top of my head:

PL-310

Goods: antenna jack; real, external tuning knob (you can use two fingers)

Not so good: noticeable soft-mute, in severe fading you need to detune by 1KHz to avoid the audio 'pumping' effect.


PL-380

Good: very little or no soft-mute

Not-so-good: no antenna jack; tuning knob is recessed, you can only use one finger, akin to the volume knob we're used to see with UL receivers.



On Sun, May 17, 2020, 07:15 Rémy Friess <rfriess@...> wrote:

Le 17/05/2020 à 03:16, DXer a écrit :
>
> Both the volume and tuning encoders became 'independent' of me very
> early on. I want to increase the volume, it decreases it and vice-versa.
>
> The tuning encoder is the same, but also decides the tuning speed
> rate. I want to go slow, it goes faster and vice-versa._._,_._,_

I had a similar problem with the tuning knob of my Tecsun PL-660 once.
It seems this happens if the set (or the knob) has not been used for a
while.

I turned the knob for about 15 minutes at high speed in both directions
with power on and then it worked again.

I don't know if this will work with your 310ET, but you might want to try.

And yes the ET is not as good as the original 310. I replaced the 310
with the 310ET only to find that it was much less sensitive and the
audio was ghastly.

I then bought a PL-380 and I'm very pleased with it.

73, Rémy.






Rémy Friess
 

As far as I know soft-mute can be de-activated on both receivers.

I find the recessed tuning-knob to be advantage rather. If you travel a lot and take your pl-310 in an out of your suitcase or move it around a lot the tuning-knob can easily fall off. I lost mine twice. This cannot happen with the PL-380.

Le 17/05/2020 à 14:01, h. garcia a écrit :

Here's what I recall, but please, double check it... This is top of my head:

PL-310

Goods: antenna jack; real, external tuning knob (you can use two fingers)

Not so good: noticeable soft-mute, in severe fading you need to detune by 1KHz to avoid the audio 'pumping' effect.


PL-380

Good: very little or no soft-mute

Not-so-good: no antenna jack; tuning knob is recessed, you can only use one finger, akin to the volume knob we're used to see with UL receivers.



On Sun, May 17, 2020, 07:15 Rémy Friess <rfriess@...> wrote:

Le 17/05/2020 à 03:16, DXer a écrit :
>
> Both the volume and tuning encoders became 'independent' of me very
> early on. I want to increase the volume, it decreases it and vice-versa.
>
> The tuning encoder is the same, but also decides the tuning speed


James Fields <james.v.fields@...>
 

I love the "Tecsun way" of tuning - I love the ETM feature on the smaller models, which basically works like "Page 0" on the bigger ones.  Love that you can switch between dedicated VF/VM modes so you don't have to push a frequency button every time you enter a frequency.  I was really excited back when I got my 310ET to find that it had all that and for about $40.  Unfortunately it just isn't a great performer.  It's suitable for picking up strong locals so it's ok to take out to the driveway when I wash the car but I never use it for SWL or for nighttime MW DX.

I do so wish I could get a tiny radio with the Tecsun tuning and memory schemes combined with the performance of a Skywave SSB.  It's dreams like that which keep guys like me racking up a closet full of radios.

On Sat, May 16, 2020 at 7:17 PM DXer <hfdxmonitor@...> wrote:

I own three of the cheaper Tecsun DSP models – PL-310ET, PL-380 and PL-606.
I had the PL-606 for a while, good radio BUT, unless you are a fix frequency listener, changing frequency 'gets old' quickly.

I gave it to my mother. She has been tuning to the same station for 50+ years. Actually, it changed recently, when the station moved from AM to FM. I then gave her a Sangean PR-D5.  :^)

My memory is not what it used to be, but wasn't the PL310ET the 'victim' of some 'improvements' that negatively impacted its performance?

I still have the PL-390, but I'm not sure it meets the Ultralight standards. If it does, it's a very nice radio as well.

Regards,

Vince
Ottawa, ON



--
James V. Fields
james.v.fields@...


Gord Seifert
 


    I do love the preset tuning on the 310et! Press a button to get into VM mode and tune through them with the tuning knob. So much quicker and more intuitive than the banks (Pages) of seven presets each on the Eton Satellit Grundig Edition that need to be accessed individually using the Up and Down arrow keys to access the desired bank (after pressing the Page/Time button) and then one of seven function keys to chose the station within that bank. It does allow saving tons of stations, organized by band, or type of music, or whatever you choose. Still, I like the 310et's presets much more, for the simplicity and speed.

    But, I really dislike the 310et tuning in that it tunes VERY slowly (1 khz per notch) by default. When I want to tune at a more reasonable speed I have to spin the tuning knob way to fast to get it into fast tuning mode. Then it suddenly jumps into fast mode (5 khz per notch on SW and 10 on MW) and, since I am spinning the knob so quickly to get it into fast mode, it winds up far beyond where I wanted to be. Then, once I have it in the more reasonable fast mode, it falls back to slow mode far too quickly. The default should be 5 khz on SW and 10 khz on MW since that is the normal station spacing. Slow tuning should be an option under control of a switch. On the Eton the tuning speed is chosen by pressing the tuning knob in against a switch. Perfect!

    No complaints with reception with my 310et, other than an overactive AVC, but the tone is pretty poor.
     


Gary DeBock
 

Hello All,

When both the original PL-310 and PL-380 were introduced by Tecsun in 2009-2010 they were fully reviewed (at http://www.mediafire.com/file/w4yuzhj2kyz/Tecsun_PL-380_Review.pdf/file   for the PL-380, and http://www.mediafire.com/file/q8pbn34i1nangl4/The_Tecsun_PL-310.pdf/file  for the PL-310. Unfortunately, since that time Tecsun has followed the tendency of many Chinese companies to cut the quality of their products in order to increase profits, resulting in new digital quirks (and other issues) in these models.

In 2012 Tecsun removed the shielding around the Si4734 DSP chips in their PL-380 models (and probably in their PL-310's and PL-606 models as well), resulting in a digital whine whenever the display is grasped by the hand. The PL-310 was stripped down into a completely different model to make the lower quality PL-310ET, as described in the 2015 Ultralight Radio Shootout (posted at https://swling.com/blog/2015/03/gary-debocks-2015-ultralight-radio-shootout-review/
In my opinion neither the newer PL-380's nor the PL-310ET are really suitable for important overseas DXpeditions, which are much more demanding because of the rough environments, temperature extremes and travel bumps. The newer C.Crane Skywave and Skywave SSB models lack some of the digital search features of the Tecsun models but have much higher quality overall, including a new DSP chip which outperforms the Tecsun Ultralights in the most important categories (MW sensitivity, freedom from internally generated heterodynes and superior 1 kHz DSP audio). Whenever a friend goes with me on an important overseas DXpedition I always provide them with a "supercharged" CC Skywave model, which is fully capable of tracking down great DX all by itself (such as 1000-Radio Record in the Cook Islands, 1431-Djibouti in Hong Kong, etc.). Unfortunately the CC Skywave models do cost significantly more than the Tecsun Ultralights, but the increased cost is worth it, in my opinion. For someone who cannot afford US $90 for a new Ultralight, the newer PL-380 would be OK if you don't mind the significant digital quirks.

73, Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)
  


C B
 

Thus spake our resident Ultralight and FSL experimenter/developer extraordinaire. I can happily attest to Gary’s Ultralight and FSL prowess.

73,

Craig Barnes
Wheat Ridge, CO


On May 17, 2020, at 1:36 PM, Gary DeBock via groups.io <D1028Gary@...> wrote:

Hello All,

When both the original PL-310 and PL-380 were introduced by Tecsun in 2009-2010 they were fully reviewed (at http://www.mediafire.com/file/w4yuzhj2kyz/Tecsun_PL-380_Review.pdf/file   for the PL-380, and http://www.mediafire.com/file/q8pbn34i1nangl4/The_Tecsun_PL-310.pdf/file  for the PL-310. Unfortunately, since that time Tecsun has followed the tendency of many Chinese companies to cut the quality of their products in order to increase profits, resulting in new digital quirks (and other issues) in these models.

In 2012 Tecsun removed the shielding around the Si4734 DSP chips in their PL-380 models (and probably in their PL-310's and PL-606 models as well), resulting in a digital whine whenever the display is grasped by the hand. The PL-310 was stripped down into a completely different model to make the lower quality PL-310ET, as described in the 2015 Ultralight Radio Shootout (posted at https://swling.com/blog/2015/03/gary-debocks-2015-ultralight-radio-shootout-review/
In my opinion neither the newer PL-380's nor the PL-310ET are really suitable for important overseas DXpeditions, which are much more demanding because of the rough environments, temperature extremes and travel bumps. The newer C.Crane Skywave and Skywave SSB models lack some of the digital search features of the Tecsun models but have much higher quality overall, including a new DSP chip which outperforms the Tecsun Ultralights in the most important categories (MW sensitivity, freedom from internally generated heterodynes and superior 1 kHz DSP audio). Whenever a friend goes with me on an important overseas DXpedition I always provide them with a "supercharged" CC Skywave model, which is fully capable of tracking down great DX all by itself (such as 1000-Radio Record in the Cook Islands, 1431-Djibouti in Hong Kong, etc.). Unfortunately the CC Skywave models do cost significantly more than the Tecsun Ultralights, but the increased cost is worth it, in my opinion. For someone who cannot afford US $90 for a new Ultralight, the newer PL-380 would be OK if you don't mind the significant digital quirks.

73, Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)
  


jcfontario
 

Hi Gary,

I have a CC Skywave portable radio, but I am not familiar with what a "supercharged" Skywave receiver has that I don't have. What do I need to add to my travel portable?

Thanks

John Fisher


On 05/17/20, "Gary DeBock via groups.io" <D1028Gary@...> wrote:
Hello All,

When both the original PL-310 and PL-380 were introduced by Tecsun in 2009-2010 they were fully reviewed (at http://www.mediafire.com/file/w4yuzhj2kyz/Tecsun_PL-380_Review.pdf/file   for the PL-380, and http://www.mediafire.com/file/q8pbn34i1nangl4/The_Tecsun_PL-310.pdf/file  for the PL-310. Unfortunately, since that time Tecsun has followed the tendency of many Chinese companies to cut the quality of their products in order to increase profits, resulting in new digital quirks (and other issues) in these models.

In 2012 Tecsun removed the shielding around the Si4734 DSP chips in their PL-380 models (and probably in their PL-310's and PL-606 models as well), resulting in a digital whine whenever the display is grasped by the hand. The PL-310 was stripped down into a completely different model to make the lower quality PL-310ET, as described in the 2015 Ultralight Radio Shootout (posted at https://swling.com/blog/2015/03/gary-debocks-2015-ultralight-radio-shootout-review/
In my opinion neither the newer PL-380's nor the PL-310ET are really suitable for important overseas DXpeditions, which are much more demanding because of the rough environments, temperature extremes and travel bumps. The newer C.Crane Skywave and Skywave SSB models lack some of the digital search features of the Tecsun models but have much higher quality overall, including a new DSP chip which outperforms the Tecsun Ultralights in the most important categories (MW sensitivity, freedom from internally generated heterodynes and superior 1 kHz DSP audio). Whenever a friend goes with me on an important overseas DXpedition I always provide them with a "supercharged" CC Skywave model, which is fully capable of tracking down great DX all by itself (such as 1000-Radio Record in the Cook Islands, 1431-Djibouti in Hong Kong, etc.). Unfortunately the CC Skywave models do cost significantly more than the Tecsun Ultralights, but the increased cost is worth it, in my opinion. For someone who cannot afford US $90 for a new Ultralight, the newer PL-380 would be OK if you don't mind the significant digital quirks.

73, Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)
  


Gary DeBock
 

On Sun, May 17, 2020 at 03:09 PM, jcfontario wrote:
I have a CC Skywave portable radio, but I am not familiar with what a "supercharged" Skywave receiver has that I don't have. What do I need to add to my travel portable?
Hi John,

A "supercharged" Skywave refers to a model with a 7.5 inch transplanted loopstick. This modification greatly increases MW band sensitivity compared to the stock CC Skywave, transforming the radio into something like a dream travel portable.

Unfortunately, the technical procedure for creating this "dream travel portable" is somewhat of a nightmare. The Skywave portable is extremely compact, and crammed with components which fit together like a twisted puzzle. In addition, the RF circuit board connections for the loopstick Litz wire leads are in the worst possible place for this type of modification, making the entire procedure a very demanding test of close-order soldering, sharp eyesight and steady nerves. For this reason the modification procedure has never been written up in article form, although about 5 of these models have been constructed and given to friends in the US, Japan and Australia.

Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)  
 


jcfontario
 

Thanks Gary, that's good to know for the future (not that I am planning to do any travelling for a while, due to COVID).

j


On 05/18/20, "Gary DeBock via groups.io" <D1028Gary@...> wrote:
On Sun, May 17, 2020 at 03:09 PM, jcfontario wrote:
I have a CC Skywave portable radio, but I am not familiar with what a "supercharged" Skywave receiver has that I don't have. What do I need to add to my travel portable?
Hi John,

A "supercharged" Skywave refers to a model with a 7.5 inch transplanted loopstick. This modification greatly increases MW band sensitivity compared to the stock CC Skywave, transforming the radio into something like a dream travel portable.

Unfortunately, the technical procedure for creating this "dream travel portable" is somewhat of a nightmare. The Skywave portable is extremely compact, and crammed with components which fit together like a twisted puzzle. In addition, the RF circuit board connections for the loopstick Litz wire leads are in the worst possible place for this type of modification, making the entire procedure a very demanding test of close-order soldering, sharp eyesight and steady nerves. For this reason the modification procedure has never been written up in article form, although about 5 of these models have been constructed and given to friends in the US, Japan and Australia.

Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)  


dwight richardson
 

Thanks for the input. I like the antenna jack on the PL-310. But a simple induction loop would do the same. Non recessed tuning knob sounds good too. 
--
Bob Richardson


Richard Allen <dx747j@...>
 


From: "Richard N. Allen" <dx747j@...>
Date: May 18, 2020 at 08:50:44 CDT
To: "Gary DeBock via groups.io" <D1028Gary@...>
Subject: Re: [UltralightDX] Tecsun PL-310 vs PL-380

I still occasionally use my PL-310 and PL-380.  Both are of the originally incarnation of the receivers.  When new the PL-310 was unbeatable for receiving Asian stations barefoot.  It offered selectivity not seen in earlier handheld receivers, and had a slight edge over the PL-380 in receiving weak signals.  However, when used in conjunction with a FSL antenna the PL-380 shined.  The evidence is my reception of station 3LO at 14592 km (9067 miles) on a PL-380 with an 8-inch FSL in 2016.  

But, because the controls on the Tecsun receivers became trickier to use over time I turned to using a Skywave receiver.  It is every bit as good as the Tecsuns with fewer of their problems.   It works well when coupled to a FSL or Wellbrook ALA1530LNP antenna.  Last winter I was able to add three new Japanese stations to my log and again hear 2BL on the Skywave.  Overall, it’s the best URL presently available.

Good DX all.

Richard Allen,
near Perry OK USA

_,_._,_


dwight richardson
 

Thanks Gary. I happened across your excellent discussion of ultralights a few weeks back. Reading again just now, I might have to rethink the Tecsun only agenda. Or have some fun finding an original 310 (non-et) on eBay and compare against the Skywave. Or just try them all. Runner ups might make nice gifts for my cronies. But the Traveller III might need more consideration. At any rate, I am reminded of the folly of trying to pick “the best” of anything. After all - beauty is in the eye. Thanks again. This group is great. I imagine myself as a rookie kid who has happened On to a good bunch of radio guys to learn from. At 66 I’m good with that. I might have something to offer one day. But for now I’m a sponge. 
--
Bob Richardson


dwight richardson
 

Thanks Gary.  Excellent information. For domestic MW fans like myself, the Traveler III is looking good. 
--
Bob Richardson