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Author Topic: Thoughts on Tecsun PL-310ET?  (Read 22735 times)
JAYMOT
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« on: December 28, 2015, 06:31:10 PM »

First, I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday and stays safe during the upcoming one.

I'm considering buying a Tecsun PL-310ET for general-purpose SWLing. I've read the reviews on eHam and elsewhere but I have a few questions, if anyone is familiar with this radio and can answer them. *fingers crossed*

Is this radio susceptible to picking up harmonics from local AM broadcast stations? I've never owned a DSP radio before, so I have no idea how well they reject spurs from nearby (in the same city, not right in my neighborhood) transmitters.

How well is it shielded? Our house is full of fluorescent lights, mostly of the screw-in bulb type but one circular tube with a ballast coil. Would I be able to listen indoors in the evenings as I plan to, or would I just hear a lot of buzzing from my lights?

Does it preform pretty well on SW with its own antenna, or would I need an external random wire? If the latter, what would its maximum length be before the radio starts getting overloaded (if it even does)?

Sellers on eBay refer to the tuning dial as a "jog tuning dial." What does that mean?

They come in black or silver, and perhaps grey though no grey ones are currently listed on eBay. Which color is easier to see in somewhat low light by someone with old eyes? I mean the labels on the buttons and dials, not the LCD screen.

Has anyone had issues with the button labels wearing off from long-term use, or do they seem to last OK?

Does anyone have any other tips, pointers, good and bad things about this radio, etc. I should consider besides what's in the reviews?

Thanks in advance.
-Jay
« Last Edit: December 28, 2015, 06:35:16 PM by JAYMOT » Logged
RENTON481
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Posts: 124




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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2016, 01:24:05 AM »

I don't have a Tecsun.

But if you have RFI in your house, interior shielding of the radio won't make much difference. Any radio, from an R75 to a Tecsun or Grundig will pick up RFI through its antenna if the RFI is present.

Some lights are worse than others. If you already have a portable SW radio, you should already be able to tell how bad the RFI will be. Chances are with a Tecsun it won't be any better or any worse. My home RFI problem is the same on all my radios, from DSP chipped ones to the older fashioned, analog IF chip ones.
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JAYMOT
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2016, 05:49:18 AM »

I don't currently own a shortwave radio. I should have thought of the antenna picking up RFI rather than the IF or RF stage of the radio. Silly of me for forgetting. Guess I'll need to also invest in LED light bulbs and replace that one light fixture. *sigh*

Thanks for your input (reminding me of what I should have known. *grin*)
« Last Edit: January 07, 2016, 12:30:34 AM by JAYMOT » Logged
N8FVJ
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Posts: 128




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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2016, 01:25:29 PM »

Here is a useful reply. I own the radio and it performs well. I find the tuning inconvenient compared to an older large desk top receiver with a digital display. However, the Tecsun PL-310ET is not any more difficult to use than any other current portable receivers. The analog type tuning knob is better than an up/down button arrangement used on some current radios. The built-in DSP does reduce noise. The memories are great for storing stations. The tiny speakers is surprisingly good with clear audio. Dual conversion design blocks out images for less overall band interference. The Tecsun does blank out reception in-between 'clicks' (tuning steps) while tuning so slow tuning is the only semi-comfortable option.

I would rather use a Drake R8 or even a Collins 51J-4 with its accurate analog dial to find stations. But, these radios costs over $500.
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JAYMOT
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2016, 07:02:46 AM »

Thanks, N8FVJ. It's looking more and more like this is one of the best <$50 radios currently available. If I had my druthers I'd like a Kenwood R-1000, but beggars can't be choosers. I can't afford the KW. I just want something that will perform and sound OK on HF to give me something else to do in the evenings, besides the Internet or re-watching old movies, when my wife's at work. It sounds like the 310 might fill the bill.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2016, 12:29:24 AM by JAYMOT » Logged
RENTON481
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2016, 09:28:31 AM »

I don't currently own a shortwave radio. I should have thought of the antenna picking up RFI. Silly of me for forgetting. Guess I'll need to also invest in LED light bulbs and replace that one light fixture. *sigh*

Thanks for your input (reminding me of what I should have known. *grin*)

Don't worry about CFL's, if they're the screw in type. They don't necessarily make that much noise. It seems to depend on the bulb.

I have a large one in my kitchen that wreaks havoc on MW if a radio is within 10 ft. or so. Otherwise, no problem. Some LED's put out some noise, but the biggest RFI generators are CFL's when they go bad (one on my porch still worked fine but sprayed RFI hash all over the lower MW band from 680 down to LW), routers and their cables (the switching power supply is the culprit), my printer when it's plugged into an outlet (sometimes even when it's off it switches its electronics on and makes noise up the HF band), etc.

What I do is unplug stuff if I'm going to DX. Or, if it's MW, go to another room. My router's power supply only messes with the lower MW channels which are often dead, anyway. Haven't noticed too much problem on HF with it.
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JAYMOT
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2016, 12:23:09 AM »

Thanks for the info. RENTON481. (I take it you're from Renton WA? Ex-Ballardonian here.)

I think I'll go ahead and get a PL-310ET when I get the time, unless someone here pops in with horror stories about this radio. Smiley
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JAYMOT
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« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2016, 05:15:01 AM »

I just ordered a silver PL-310ET and a 7 meter long external antenna (reel-type) from Anon-Co's website as prices there were slightly lower than their eBay store.

I chose silver because this radio is only available in that color or black. I woke up early this morning just after sunrise and went to check something on the computer, which has a black keyboard and I had trouble seeing its keys in the slightly dim light from the windows,so I decided a silver radio was the way to go as I'll be using it in even dimmer lighting conditions. Otherwise I would have chosen the black one just for aesthetics as I think they look nicer.

I actually could have (barely) afforded a PL-660 with SSB but that isn't a DSP radio, so I decided SSB isn't as important as the various filters ad other features that the DSP chip offers, not to mention the lower price (almost half of what the 660 costs.)

I forgot to ask: if I were to buy rechargeable batteries should I get lithium ion, NiMH or nicads?
« Last Edit: January 08, 2016, 05:27:52 AM by JAYMOT » Logged
JAYMOT
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2016, 12:41:56 AM »

Anna at Anon-Co answered my battery question: NiMH is the way to go, said she. I'll let y'all know how the 310ET works out for me after I get it, if there's any interest.
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RENTON481
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2016, 06:47:12 PM »

FYI on DSP SW radios: I have one, a Grundig G2. Very sensitive and about 6 khz or so selectivity.

On some occasions I get minor overload from local MW stations. Most times I don't. When I do, I just shorten the whip antenna, and it goes away. The radio is sensitive enough to pull in a lot of Asia even with 8 or less inches of whip (when conditions are right).

So, if your radio happens to overload, just shorten the whip and see how that works. I think most of the SiLabs DSP chips have similar specs on SW.
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JAYMOT
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« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2016, 02:52:26 AM »

Thanks, RENTON481. That's helpful information.
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KA0SBL
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« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2016, 11:51:06 AM »

Anna at Anon-Co answered my battery question: NiMH is the way to go, said she. I'll let y'all know how the 310ET works out for me after I get it, if there's any interest.


Jaymot,

Things you can do to up the performance of any SW receiver regardless of price:

Antenna: A simple dipole or long wire helps a lot. If possible, get it outdoors, as high as possible and as away from potential noise sources such power lines, lights, HVAC's, etc. as you can get it.

Antenna Tuner: doesn't need to be fancy for SWL just something to match the antenna impedence to the radio's impedence. Yes, an antenna designed for the frequency you're using is ideal, but with SWL we're usually tuning around all over the place.

Grounding: To reduce static.

Power Supply: An often overlooked factor, the little wal-worts that come with most portable radios often lack filtering or are of a low-buck switching design that introduce a lot of noise, especially in the lower bands. This is often where that nasty buzzing comes in across the band at regular frequency intervals. That noise is called hash. Sometimes their voltage is too low or high or they don't provide enough current. You don't need a monster supply for a portable receiver, but a filtered regulated linear 1amp or greater supply makes a noticable difference.

Eliminate in-house noise sources: This might be as simple as using an incandescent bulb when listening or you may have to hunt down other sources of noise such as computers, light dimmers, network routers, etc.


Good luck and let us know how it goes.


-Kenn
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N8FVJ
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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2016, 07:49:21 PM »

Congrats on the PL-310ET
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JAYMOT
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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2016, 05:22:41 AM »

I received my radio on the 4h of this month. It actually arrived at the local post office on January 29th but they neglected to inform me that I had a package as they normally do, despite my phone number being on the shipping label. It worked out OK because I had other errands in the area that day anyway.

I've been having a blast with this radio! Especially tonight, after I jury-rigged an external antenna for it this afternoon. We live on a 425 square meter lot, surrounded (except for gates) by an 8-plus foot concrete hollow-block fence or wall which is topped by 4 strands of barbed wire mounted to rebar that's sticking out of the wall. There's also barbed wire over the two gates. I scraped then sanded a piece of the topmost strand of barbed wire to shine it up and remove rust then attached a length of insulated copper wire to it, strung that in through the nearest window and terminated it in an alligator clip (they call them "crocodile clips" here) which I clipped onto the end of my whip antenna. Basically I have 4 strands or wire in a 425 sq m rectangle, about 10 feet up, as my antenna. Whatever works, right?

It seems to work pretty well compared to the whip. I've just been listening to Radio Bangladesh on 15105KHz (nice music but they ID'd and signed off at 1300 UTC, just a few minutes ago.) Signals that were only fair come booming in with this set-up, and I hear weak signals that aren't even audible with just the whip.

I get lots of Chinese stations (also Japan and Malaysia), which is to be expected considering my QTH, but also Saudi Arabia, Qatar (once), All-India Radio, Australia and New Zealand sometimes (and I heard Radio Free Asia from Tajikstan tonight, in Tibetan.) One of these days, when my XYL (AKA She Who Must Be Obeyed) is out overnight on one of her occasional marathons or trekking trips, I'll get to stay up until the wee hours and maybe snag some African DX when greyline conditions permit. It's funny, but stations that I used to listen to regularly like HCJB in Quito, Ecuador and Radio Nacional d'Amazonia in Brazil would be considered rare DX catches now, not to mention anything transmitting from the USA.

I have had zero issues with this radio so far. Low noise threshold, no birdies, no overloading, no spurious MW broadcast band signals, even with this antenna-like thing connected. Smiley. I still haven't learned how to store freqs in permanent memory, but I will when I get time. Anna at Anon-Co has been exellent about answering questions and providing information. She'll be contacting Tecsun regarding a question I have about the "pin out" of the external antenna jack, but Tecsun's closed until the 28th for Chinese New Year celebrations. It must be nice to get a month off of work like that, huh?
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