N9EWO Reviews :
Tecsun PL-330
LW / MW / SW / FM Portable DSP Receiver
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Digitech AR1780
DESHIBO RD1780

LW / MW / SW / FM / AIR Portable DSP Receiver
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 CC Skywave (CCrane)
MW / SW /  FM / AIR /  WX  Portable DSP Receiver
HUGE "Thank You" to Dean B. as without his help, this review would NOT be here.


The stellar Tecsun PL-330 pocket portable. Sensitive with good dynamic range. (N9EWO Photo)
Never before have we tested a low cost set that provides very good SSB and Sync detection.
Small bug with test sample where the tuning / volume encoders scrape on the case.
A simple fix can be easily be done by most (see text). Recessed buttons are a ergonomic bug-a-boo.

Country of Origin  : China
"Test Sample" Serial Number : 4842021030057x (made in March 2021)
Firmware Version Tested : 3305 (major bugs fixed from 3302).

Reported that the later 3306 firmware was full of bugs at one time (or still does) ?

Test Antenna's (outdoor) :
RF Systems MLBA-MK2 long wire (55 ft length - 24 ft height at peak)
Comet H-422 Dipole (24 ft height - Straight Configuration)
(indoor : 20 foot wire clipped to whip)

N9EWO's Review on the Tecsun PL-330 DSP Receiver

PRO :
- Best Low Cost "Pocket SSB Portable" Tested to Date.
- Excellent Sensitivity.
- Excellent DSP Selectivity.
- 10 hz Tuning Step AND Display.
- External Antenna Jack that can also be used on MW.
- Very Good Dynamic Range (external antenna).
- Decent Performing Selectable Sideband Synchronous Detector.
- Near Excellent ECSS Performance.
- ETM / ETM+ Scanning and Automatic Memory Storage System
- Up- Down Paused Car Radio Style band scanning that works well.
- Large Frequency Digits With GOOD Contrast and Backlight.
- Excellent battery Life
- Calibration Feature (see text).
- Very Good Stability.
- Decent Hiss Free Audio.
- Above average Headphone Audio Quality.

- Built in Thermometer.
- Clock that can also display seconds and Independent of frequency.
- Whip antenna Rotates and Swivels

CON :
- Powered by the dreaded BL-5C Lithium ion battery.
- Generally Poor Ergonomics Due To Buttons that are Flush with Cabinet.
- Tuning and Volume Encoder Knobs Scrape on the Case (easy fix, see text).
- No Fixed Audio Line Audio "Record" Jack.
- Excessive Tuning Muting (chuffing).
- No Attenuator.
- AM and Sync Modes Lack Wider Bandwidths.
- No Frequency Slewing Up-Down buttons.
- No Tilt Stand (use after market one).
- Sync Can Loose Lock Depending on Fading Level (see text)
- Calibration Feature Needs Constant Fiddling If you Desire Dead On SSB / ECSS Readout.
- Battery Cover Not Hinged.

Size / Cabinet / No Tilt Stand / Nice Zippered Case

PL-330 case measures 139 85 26 millimeters (5.5 x 3.3 x 1 inches), That makes it nearly identical to the tested PL-380, expect for the depth (PL-330 is thinner).

Buttons are all of a hard plastic variety, but are disconcertingly flush with the cabinet, which makes for difficult ergonomics. There is no rear tilt stand at all,  so one will have to make use of an aftermarket one.


LCD is typical Tecsun. Nice large frequency digits and easy to read good contrast / orange back light. One can keep the normally timed backight on full time by holding the "5" key for a second when ON or OFF.

The test sample included a nice zippered carrying case. Early samples came with one of those brown cloth bags that offers little protection. Also included was a pair of medicore earbuds and a SHORT micro USB cable. As usual the USB charger is NOT included. Normally includes a .BL-5C battery, but that varies with the vendor (some do not).

Being a small receiver, the whip antenna extends to a short 19.5 inches (49.5 cm).

We have a 3.5 mm MONO external antenna jack on the right side and can operate on ALL bands (see the bottom of this review for more inforation on this). Of course this important jack is missing on the Tecsun PL-380 model.


Uses Dreaded BL-5C Battery / Excellent Battery Life / Way to Power it off a AC adapter

Yes sadly Tecsun made use of the BL-5C Lithium Ion battery for operation of the the PL-330. Many of course like this choice and gives for a stable long operation time. We would have preferred the use of three common AAA batteries which have near the same 1000 mah capacity and area. Lithium Ion batteries have a much greater risk of explosion and fire plus are not going to be so good in any emergency situation when you are unable to recharge it.

After a 4 cycle conditioning period (it took 2 hours and 45 minutes to fully charge the battery), run time until it automatically shut off (SW Band / Sync or SSB with mid-low speaker volume) was a decent 24 hours and 35 minutes in our testing. This is most impressive indeed.


Trying to operate the PL-330 off of the 5V Micro USB port is going to be near impossible as most (if not near ALL) of power adapters are going to be a switching type and are extremely RF noisy. Might be OK for FM band use. but for LW / MW / SW bands forget it (even if connected to a external antenna using coax cable)! Good news if you are located in the USA, is the regulated linear CCrane adapter we have recommended over the past years (+ an adapter to USB Micro) was still available as this report was complied.

Frequency Coverage / Tuning - Frequency Display Down to 10 hz

PL-330 has all of the the important frequencies covered including no gaps on SW. Unheard of in a low cost portable, we have tuning and display down to 10 hertz.

PL-330 Frequency Coverage
Long Wave  (LW) : 153-513 kHz (band select off by holding button 2 when OFF)
Medium Wave (MW) : 520-1710 kHz (or 522-1620 kHz depending on selected 9/10 khz tuning step)
FMBC : 64-108 MHz (coverage can be set fo start at 64, 76, 87 or 88 MHz , select with radio OFF press and hold button 0)
Short Wave (SW) : 1711-29999 kHz continuous (no gaps).

Generally Decent Ergonomics  / Recessed Buttons


Direct keyboard entry is a ergonomic gem. No buttons to have to press before and no additional after. Punch in a frequency or memory channel number and BOOM it's there. Logical mode selections.

The major downside (yes repeating the info as it's a major bug) here is the use of a totally FLAT keys with recessed button activation. This makes it a major chore to push any buttons as your finger has to near dig into the receivers cabinet to activate. All being very tiny does not help the situation.


Sensitivity / No Attenuator / DSP Filtering

Sensitivity is very good including on the FM band. No different to other receivers compared to. Whip sensitivity also good even with the whip only being 19.5 inches (49.5 cm) long. A bit of thin wire clipped to the whip helps greatly.

As with any Si473x based receiver, selectivity was excellent. Wide limitations are only up to 5 kHz on SW AM and SSB and Sync to 4 kHz band were disappointments.

PL-330 DSP Bandwidth Selections
MW/LW :  2.5 kHz, 3.5 kHz, 9.0 kHz
SW :  2.5 kHz, 3.5 kHz, 5.0 kHz
SSB :  0.5 kHz, 1.2 kHz, 2.2 kHz, 3.0 kHz, 4.0 kHz
FMBC : One (unkown)

Tuning Steps / Excessive Muting "Chuffing" Present / No FM RDS

PL-330 Tuning Steps (Step Button, NOTE : If you hold it too long LOCK will be switched in):
MW : 10 / 9 or 1KHz (select 9 or 10 KHz step / Radio OFF press and hold 3 on keypad)
SW : 5KHz / 1KHz
SSB : 1KHz / 10 Hz
Sync :  5KHz / 1KHz / 100 Hz
FMBC : 100 KHz / 10 KHz

When tuning in the 1 or 5 kHz steps on LW / MW / SW and the 100 or 10 Khz  steps on FM band there is nasty tuning muting (or some may call this chuffing). Amazing that with the tested ATS-25 that had this same irritating trait, this was near cleared up with the proper firmware. Tecsun should be able to fix this just the same !

There is no RDS and Tecsun has yet to offer such with any product.  See the DigiTech AR1780 review below if RDS is a requirement.


Good Dynamic Range / Local Han Signal Intrusion Issues (SW)
 

Having decent sensitivity and no dynamic range does not work so well. So good to report that the PL-330 behaves itself for any overload issues with the test outdoor antennas. In fact better than most sets tested of late (Malahit / Malachite and ATS-25 to name 2). However the local Ham radio saturation issues that plagued the ATS-25 and Malachite / Malahit also happen with the PL-330 . There is no attenuator switch available and was not needed at our test location and outdoor antennas.

Decent SSB and Selectable Sideband Synchronous Detection / ECSS Also Very Worthy / But Has Some Bugs Anyway


After Tecsun disasters including the PL-880 / PL-990 models with downright POOR Synchronous Detection and unusable SSB nasty BAD  clipping distortion, it's a royal treat that they have done a yeoman's job with the PL-330. ONLY clipping distortion that was heard with a extremely local Ham about 1.5 miles away. (and that was only at a minor level).

Yes with the test sample the Synchronous Detection was quite usable and pleasant. Downside here is of course the limitation is only a 4 kHz maximum bandwidth. Even with that minor bug, it helps audio recovery like no one's business.

UPDATE : Appears that Sync performance (including lock stability) may be variable from sample to sample (see the you tube video here) ?

Even with the SSB modes and Sync working decently, it's not perfect. Sync looses lock with certain signals with just the right signal fading. Appears more of a problem with STRONGER signals with sharp fades. Additionally we easily detected a nasty and disconcerting whooshing background sound on CERTAIN signals with the Sync on. Also sometimes if we tapped the rear panel a bit of warbling was detected usually on higher frequencies (but other times it was not a problem at all), But any of these bugs were not considered to be major drawbacks at it's price point. These issues are signal to signal variable gremlins (just as with the ATS-25).

Stability is near excellent for very good ECSS (if the Sync does give decent lock). NOTE : Other reviews say that the Sync is not good at all. So again we have to wonder if sync performance varies from sample to sample ?

Audio Quality Good / Electronic Adjusted Volume / FM Headphone Audio Excellent / No Tone Controls / Still Some Minor AGC issues

Audio quality is very clean on all covered bands. Because of its small speaker it's comes over shrill with no real bass response. There are no tone controls what so ever.

When headphones / ear buds are used the bass response increases dramatically. This is so much more than with other portables over the years. It's really decent ! The volume adjustment is electronic so stereo is dead equal balance on FM.


It takes a STRONG FM signal for Stereo to happen. Pressing the FM ST band button also toggles FM Stereo for those strong stations.

Even with the SSB working more properly with the PL-330, some AGC weirdness still occurs (slight pumping ?), but was hardly any real issue. However we wonder if SSB AGC clipping distortion is variable from sample to sample as other user reports vary greatly here ?

Sadly Tecsun left out a fixed audio level "Line Out " Jack. Even the classic super tiny Sony ICF-SW1 had a line out jack. However with the headphone output being so clean, one can CAREFULLY connect this into an external recorder "line in". Just watch the output level.

850 Total Memories / Tuning

There are 850 total memory channels with the PL-330. 100 LW, 150 MW, 300 SW, 100 FM, 100 SSB, 100 SYNC (having separate SYNC memories is a bit strange to me). Also is Enhanced Tuning Mode Plus (ETM+) that stores stations found by automatic scanning, divided up by band and for some bands by time of day. On shortwave, a separate bank of memories for each hour of the day plus 6 time banks with their own memory bank. FM has one bank of 100 memories (which is overkill).

Manual entry is of course possible. Typical Tecsun procedure using VM button (memory). As usual all memory channels are tunable.

Press and hold the VF button allows for paused scanning up and down the band. Lands on a AM mode channel for 5 seconds and then continues like a car radio. This was a very welcomed feature as provided on other Tecsun receivers. A great way to scan the bands for activity and for not having to use the ETM modes. This not scanned very fast however.

There are no UP - DOWN slewing buttons unlike the DigiTech AR1780 (as tested below).

VF (VFO) SW band presets work identical to other Tecsun receivers. Hitting the SW "< and  >" buttons gives SWBC band presets in AM and Sync modes and the Ham Radio band presets while in SSB modes.

SWBC : 120m, 90m, 75m, 60m, 49m, 41m, 31m, 25m, 22m, 19m, 16m, 15m, 13m, 11m AM
SSB (Amateur) : 160m, 80m, * 60m, 40m LSB, 30m, 24m ?, 20m ,17m, 15m, 12m, 10m USB
(* - The 60 meter MODE preset is WRONG ! Should be USB of course.)

Encoders / Test Sample Suffered from "Casey Scrapey" Tuning Knob - Simple Easy Fix !

Two mechanical encoders on the cabinets right side are used for the TUNING and VOLUME adjustments. Both of these "push on" type knobs actually have a good feel with very soft detents (no CLACKY ones used here) and have no rotational play but so be it have a wobbly feeling. The real stinker is that with the test samples TUNING top encoder knob scraped on the radios cabinet when rotated. This was very disconcerting feel and made the detents not to be felt along with uneven resistance as it scraped on the case.

I will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !

Thankfully there is easy way around this little bug. After removing the knobs we CAREFULLY took a single edge razor blade and slid it in-between the black and silver parts and pried the 2 pieces apart. There is no glue used and separate easily (you can see the 4 tiny plastic pins that hold these together). Pop the knobs back in place and this fixes the scraping issue completely. This process is of course fully reversible provided you do not break the 4 little pins. PLEASE NOTE : One thing to keep in mind here is that the knob will wobble around just bit a more this way and now one should always grasp the knob using BOTH fingers (one in the front and the other one the rear) If you do much of the one finger thing on the front, this could now make the knob to fall off a bit easier in time ?


Test sample suffered from "Casey Scrapey" Tuning Knob.
Simple easy fix (see text above). Shown above
(right) with the silver decorative rings removed. (N9EWO photo)

Undocumented Features

There are a number of undocumented toggles (features) available on the PL-330 just as with many other Tecsun receivers. Some of these have made it's way into later owner manuals.

Display Firmware version: With the receiver OFF press and hold "VF/VM" key and after the LCD is finished with test screen of all for a second then look at the upper right corner for the firmware version after.

Calibrate Frequency Display (USB/LSB/ECSS) : With the receiver ON, (MW/LW/SW bands), Tune in a strong well known on frequency AM mode station, press SSB and then USB or LSB key, adjust until zero-beat, press and hold "LSB" or "USB" key until LCD display flashes.

When the Rose is NOT a Rose : While this is a very useful and welcomed feature, however in practice it's sort of a PITA as one must recalibrate as you move up and down frequency / bands. Just as with many less-expensive tabletop receivers, the frequency error does NOT stay consistent across the tuning range. Some have said that it stores different calibration settings for each SW band. I have found this NOT to be valid in our testing / test sample, firmware 3305 !

Toggle internal ferrite antenna and external antenna jack / telescopic antenna: With the receiver ON in MW/LW bands, press and hold the "3" key, LCD display shows CH-A (Internal antenna), CH-5 (External antenna,SW in addition to MW and SW bands here).

FM De-emphasis : Receiver ON, press and hold "4" key to toggle between 75 S (USA) and 50 S (Europe),

Maximum Audio Level : Receiver ON, press and hold "7" key, adjust level with Volume encoder, press "7" key again to store. Each band / mode has it's own dedicated setting. Default level is 58.

Display Seconds on Clock: Receiver OFF, press and hold "8" key to toggle the seconds digits.

Muting Threshold (this one appears not to do anything / non-functional with the PL-330 in testing): Receiver ON, press and hold "9" key, use tuning encoder to set the value at the upper left corner, press Enter to store. Each band / mode have dedicated settings. Default value is 01.

Amazing SW Portable for the Price / Not Going To Replace More Expensive Set

The Tecsun PL-330 is clearly a best bang for the buck available in a SW coverage extremely compact size portable. SW performance has finally been greatly improved over earlier Tecsun attempts that gave nasty SSB clipping distortion and sour useless Sync performance. Not that it's perfect (it's not), but with all things considered this is a winner overall. If you desire better audio quality from a compact set using the built in speaker (and better ergonomics and or RDS), please see the Digitech AR1780 review below.

Dave N9EWO
N9EWO, all rights reserved
ver 2.6

Tecsun PL-330 LINKS (All Subject To Change Without Notice)

eham reviews : Tecsun PL-330 Receiver

Jay Allen's Tecsun PL-330 Review

PL-330 Owners Manual


You Tube Video's

PL 330 Multiple Bandwidths and Re Calibration

Tecsun PL-330 - Todderbert Review


N9EWO Review :
Digitech AR1780
DESHIBO RD1780
(variant to  :  XHDATA / Sihuadon D-808)

LW / MW / SW / FM / AIR Portable DSP Receiver
HUGE "Thank You" to Dean B. as without his help, this review would NOT be here.


  The excellent Digitech AR1780 (DESHIBO RD1780) DSP / SSB portable.
Sold only in Australia / New Zealand. (N9EWO Photo)
One of the few small DSP portables that features FOUR SW front end bandpass filters.
Our test sample arrived with a defective whip antenna (a common QC issue that also includes the D-808 variant).
Uses common 4 AA batteries (XHDATA / Sihuadon D-808 variant uses a 18650 lithium ion cell, not tested).
CCrane Skywave SSB is another more expensive variant, No RDS, smaller size and operates on 2 AA batteries (not tested).


Country of Origin  : China
"Test Sample" Serial Number : None to be found
Firmware Version Tested :  Unknown (no indicator of firmware version)

Test Antenna's :
RF Systems MLBA-MK2 long wire (55 ft length - 24 ft height at peak)
Comet H-422 Dipole (24 ft height - Straight Configuration)
(indoor : 20 foot wire clipped to whip)

N9EWO's Review on the Digitech AR1780 / DESHIBO RD1780 DSP Receiver

PRO :
- Excellent Overall Sensitivity (see con).
- Excellent Overall Selectivity.
- Decent Stability.
- Near Excellent ECSS Performance.
- Excellent Ergonomics (see con).
- External Antenna Jack (see con).
- Powered by 4 AA Standard Batteries..
- Standard DC Input Jack.
- All Buttons Are Raised From Cabinet and Have Excellent Tactile Feel.
- 4 Front End SW Bandpass Filters. .
- UP - DOWN Slewing Buttons.
- RDS (Radio Data System)
- ATS (Auto Tuning System).
- All Mode Squelch.
- Tilt Stand.
- Very Good Speaker Audio For Size.
- Decent Hiss Free Audio.
- Above average Headphone Audio Quality.

- Excellent Separate "Fine Tune" Control Wheel.
- Quality Control Generally OK (see Con).
- Built in Thermometer.
- 500 Total Memory Channels.
- VHF Aircraft coverage (see con).
- Clock that can display Independent of frequency.
- Whip Antenna Rotates and Swivels

- Reset Button (located on cabinet bottom).

CON :
- Extremely Limited Availability (Australia and New Zealand, see text).
- Limited Dynamic Range.
- Air Shipping Can Cost Near What The Receiver Is Worth.
- No Attenuator.
- No Tone Control.
- Excessive Tuning Muting (Chuffing).
- LCD has very light contrast when viewed straight on (not adjustable).
- Sub "orange" front panel markings hard to see.
- Tuning Knob is Thin (Hard to Grab)
- Old School Volume Control (Not Electronic).
- No Fixed Audio "Line Output"  Jack
- Nasty AGC Clipping in SSB Modes (see text).
- Direct Frequency Entry Requires FREQ Button to Be Pressed Twice (frequencies below 10 MHz).
- Poor Air Band Sensitivity.
- Painted Case and Buttons.
- Battery Cover Not Hinged.
- External Antenna jack does not operate in the LW / MW bands.
- Excessive OFF stand by current (remove batteries if not used for awhile).
- Test Sample Whip Antenna Arrived Defective - Had loose Crimped Whip Base.

Only Sold in Australia and New Zealand / Ebay / Also Sold as the DESHIBO RD1780

DigiTech is a brand name only sold in Australia and New Zealand. So availability is extremely limited. One can ONLY order direct from dealers on ebay that are offering export of the AR1780 (at the time this report was compiled, do your own internet searches). Downside is the cost of express shipping can almost equal what the receiver is worth. To make matters worse actual availability can vary at any given time. So if it shows up "nada", try again days / weeks later. Another concern is if a DOA sample is received, makes it extremely difficult (and expensive) for a return.

The DESHIBO RD1780 badge of this receiver is also normally sold via ebay and can be usually be purchased for a bit lower price via China direct.  We have not had our hands on this version, but will assume that it is identical except for the backlight color (which can vary with the RD1780).

Variants are the XHDATA / Sihuadon D-808 (CCrane Skywave SSB 2 distant variant) / Uses 4 AA Batteries / Excessive OFF Stand By Current / Uses Sony Size Standard AC Adapter Jack

The DigiTech AR1780 is also sold in a variant as the XHDATA  / Sihuadon D-808 (or one could say it's the other way around). Button layout is a bit different and the huge difference that it uses a single 18650 lithium ion battery. AR1780 uses the much more desirable 4 standard size AA type batteries. If one uses nickel metal hydride (Ni-Mh) type rechargeable cells, these can be recharged within the receiver. Of course standard alkaline type batteries can also be used. Owners manual clearly states that lithium type AA batteries should NOT be used. Battery life is similar to the PL-330 above (excellent).

However just as with it's XHData variants, the OFF stand by current is excessive and will drain any installed batteries down to nothing even if not used at all for long periods (say 60 days). So one needs to remove the batteries to avoid this disconcerting gremlin when not being used for awhile.

Good news is that we have a standard coaxial DC input jack (1.7 mm ID x 4.0 mm OD). Voltage marked on our later production test sample as marked on the cabinet : 6 to 7 VDC (positive tip). Earlier production (as marked on the cabinet) indicated the input voltage only as 7 VDC. Even with this desirable DC input configuration, finding a clean non-switching type REGULATED commercially manufactured 6V adapter is difficult to find if near impossible (good luck in your hunt for one of these).

CCrane Skywave SSB 2 is another more expensive and distant variant, No RDS, smaller size and operates on 2 AA batteries (not tested). Unknown if the front end filtering exists (as we cover in the review below) ?

Size / Cabinet / Nice Tilt Stand / No Carrying Case Included / Arrived With Defective Whip Antenna

Cabinet size measures at 150 x 95 x 30 mm (5.90  x 3.74  x 1.18 inches). Unlike the Tecsun PL-330, we have a nice sturdy pop out tilt stand on the rear panel. Only accessory included is a wrist strap (that is easily removable). NO case, earbuds or wire antenna. The tiny included 16 page owners manual gives general operation information (but nothing more). Using the memory channels was near nada information !

Our test sample arrived with a broken whip antenna (loose base). It does swivel and rotate, however rotation was on the VERY tight side with the test sample. This bug has also been reported with it's variants. TIP : One should avoid swiveling the antenna as it turns that stiff. Like most of these pocket DSP sets, the cabinet and buttons are painted (flat black). For the most part it has very sturdy construction, minus the whip antenna.


Frequency Coverage / Tuning

The AR1780 also has all of the the important frequencies covered including no gaps on SW. Short wave coverage is incorrectly marked on the rear panel and owners manual. It indeed has full SW coverage.

AR1780 Frequency Coverage
Long Wave  (LW) : 150 – 450 kHz
Medium Wave (MW) : 520-1710 kHz / 520-1620 kHz
FMBC : 87.5–108 MHz / 64-108 MHz
Short Wave (SW, incorrectly marked on rear cabinet and manual) : 1711 – 29999 kHz
AIRCRAFT : 118-137 MHz

Better Ergonomics Over PL-330 Except For Keyboard Entry / LCD Contrast - Backlighting


All front panel buttons are raised from the cabinet body for easy activation (unlike with the Tecsun PL-330 above and it's D-808 variants). They also have excellent tactile response. The fine tune control wheel located just below the tuning knob is another plus. General use was a more pleasant experience over the PL-330.

However there is one fly in the pudding. For direct keyboard entry below 10 MHz one must press the FREQ button, enter the frequency and hit FREQ button AGAIN. Extra effort to make it happen is a chore. To view the digital signal indicator takes THREE presses of the DISPLAY button every time you switch it on. The tuning know would have been more pleasant if a bit thicker, more grab surface.


LCD not only has much smaller frequency digits over the Tecsun PL-330, the contrast is best from reading from way below the display. If one looks straight on, it's light and for some with not so great vision a bit changeling to see. There is no contrast adjustment either.

The extremely BRIGHT orange back iight is either timed function or can be bypassed for continuous ON by hitting the LIGHT button.


Tuning Steps / Excellent Fine Tune Wheel / Scanning / Excessive Muting "Chuffing" Present / Has FM RDS

AR1780's tuning steps are most proper. LCD icons also tell you if you are in FAST / SLOW or LOCK. These steps are selected by pressing in the tuning knob.  Even better there is excellent feeling thumb wheel just below the tuning knob that allows you to fine tune without much effort and or having to fiddle with some other button. A very nice touch indeed !

AR1780 Tuning Steps
MW : 10 kHz / 9 kHz / 1 kHz
LW : 9 kHz / 1 kHz
SW : 5 kHz / 1 kHz
FMBC : 100 kHz / 10 kHz
AIRCRAFT : 250 kHz / 1 kHz

The biggest bug-a-boo with the receiver is the totally insane audio muting when tuning with the main encoder knob (some call this "Chuffing""). So it's tune wait and tune wait affair. At the price point the set is at is tolerable, but just barely. Using it's excellent UP-DOWN slewing buttons this is slightly less noticable. One also uses these UP-DOWN buttons to start the band scanning feature. It functions properly, however unlike the PL-330 when it finds a active channel, the scanning stops and the UP-DOWN buttons needs to be pressed and held again to resume. The PL-330 has a timed resume feature with band scanning so is much better here.

Main tuning encoder has a good feel (plus has no excessive slop) with soft detents. There is some sluggish operation when tuning and mode selection etc.. But we did not find this to be a drawback.

A HUGE feature lacking on ALL Tecsun sets, is the AR1780 has RDS (Radio Data System). It is most sensitive too, so does not require a SUPER STRONG signal as with the ATS-25. RDS can also be used to set the internal clock. Sadly it's only available in 24 hour format, but thank goodness the auto set feature can be turned OFF (as most will probably do).


Excellent Sensitivity (External or Whip) / OK Dynamic Range / Local Signal Intrusion Issues (SW) /
FOUR SW Front End Bandpass Filters

We have excellent sensitivity with all covered ranges of the receiver (whip or external). The exception is with the aircraft bands were it was poor with our test sample. The above average length internal MW loopstick antenna clearly gave above average performance.

Dynamic range while decent with the tested external antennas, overloading was experienced. There is no attenuator to help tame the beast. Only way we were able to fix this was to switch to a lesser antenna or the use of a external variable attenuator (NOTE : Only took a bit less than 10 db of attenuation with the RF Systems MLB outdoor antenna at 55 feet long). However this was not as bad of an issue as it might seem. It took prime night time conditions for this to happen with outdoor external antennas and certain exceptional STONG stations (example : WBCQ's power house 500 kw signal on 9330 kHz). Additionally
the local SUPER STRONG Ham radio saturation issues that plagued the ATS-25 and Malachite / Malahit receivers also happened with our test AR1780 sample. In this case using an attenuator or diferent antennas did not help.

Something totally missing in most low cost SW receivers, the AR1
780 (and including older manufactured XHDATA D-808 variants) has FOUR SW front end bandpass filters. Being the receiver exhibited decent spurious signal rejection (aside from the overloading) and this is most likely the reason why. On the other hand we cannot expect these filters to give communications receiver quality filtering either (it doesn't). But it was good to see this in a low cost price point receiver.

SW Bandpass Filters
1711 to 2999 kHz
3000 to 6280 kHz
6281 to 12900 kHz
12901 to 29999 kHz


Something totally missing in most low cost SW receivers, the AR1780
 (and including OLDER XHDATA D-808 variant samples, newer ones do not)
 has FOUR SW front end bandpass filters. (N9EWO Photo Edit)

DSP Bandwidths Aplenty


We have the typical excellent selectivity performance that the si473x chips provide.  One just tap of AM SW / FM ST button and it changes the LW / MW and SW bandwidth and displays the selection on the alpha part of the LCD for second. NO press of a button and THEN rotation of the VOL encoder like with the PL-330 is required.

AR1780 Bandwidth Selections
LW/MW/SW/AIR :  6 kHz, 4 kHz, 3 kHz, 2.5 kHz, 2 kHz, 1.8 kHz and 1 kHz
SSB :  4 kHz, 3 kHz, 2.2 kHz, 1.2 kHz, 1 kHz and 500 Hz
FMBC : One (unknown)

Very Good SSB and ECSS  / Clipping Distortion / Typical Sour AGC Performance

We have very generally pleasant SSB modes. However there is some of the dreaded AGC clipping distortion (whereas the with the PL-330 is excellent in comparison). If one keeps the bandwidth on widest 4 kHz setting this clipping distortion is reduced. TIP : So the narrower bandwidth you go the worse this disconcerting clipping gets.
Also the stronger the signal is the more of a chance this distortion will appear !

ECSS fairs much better with near zero AGC distortion. However we experienced the whooshing background trait that can also happen with the Tecsun PL-330 sometimes. Even with the AR1780 lacking Synchronous Detection, the EXCELLENT ECSS performance is a worthy alternative (plus greatly improving audio recovery). TIP : When switching from USB to LSB we needed to retune slightly. Also it's frequency display is SOMETIMES a bit inconsistent with the fine tune control. It can take fiddling even with stations that are known to be dead on frequency when tuning AM stations using ECSS mode.

Speaker Audio Quality Better over PL-330 / Non-Electronic Volume Control / FM Headphone Audio Excellent / No Tone Controls / All Mode Squelch

Overall audio quality was a pleasure with the AR1780 on all bands. The larger speaker (especially when compared to the PL-330 above) certainly helps the cause. No excessive hissy sounds and has decent punch. Just as it is with the PL-330 as reviewed above the headphone audio is a aural treat (very nice and proper added bass boost). There is no tone control of any kind (unlike with the untested CCRANE Skywave SSB variant), but we did not miss it.

Separate thumb wheel volume control is on the LEFT side of the cabinet and is of "old school" carbon resistor type (is not a electronic type volume encoder like the PL-330). This gives for more linear sounding / feeling operation. Downside is the left and right balance when using headphones was slightly uneven with the test sample.

The skimpy owners manual indicated the Squelch only works in the AIRCRAFT band. Good news here is that is DEAD WRONG ! With our test sample squelch worked on all bands including SW and in SSB modes. Its a bit strange how it's activated (push in the tuning knob for a second and rotate, value and activation shown on LCD). A rare thing to see on a receiver in this price point !


500 Total Memories / Preset Ranges / ATS

The AR1780 has 500 total memories channels (100 on LW, 100 on MW , 100 on SW , 100 on FMBC and 100 for the AIRCRAFT band.These are grouped in 10 pages of 10 memories in each page. No alpha tagging is provided. On LW / MW and SW the bandwidth selection is stored in the memory data (however it does NOT store the mode). Yes having 100 memory channels on the FMBC band is way overkill !

Accessing the pages if done by first pressing the PAGE key followed by the page number on the keypad (1 thru 0). The page number will be indicated in the text part of the LCD for a second.

As with most portable receivers there are shortwave BROADCASTING band presets. Accessed by hitting the SW band button (goes in a loop).

SWBC :120m, 90m, 75m, 60m, 49m, 41m, 31m, 25m, 22m, 19m, 16m, 15m, 13m, 11m AM
(Note : Has no amateur band presets in SSB modes as with the Tecsun PL-330, see review above).

The provided ATS feature uses normal memory channels, so will rewrite whatever you have stored previously.

I will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !

Great Full Sounding SW Portable for the Price / Not Easy To Purchase

We very much enjoyed the DigiTech AR-1780. It's another very worthy low cost portable. Has it's own PRO's and CON's over the PL-330 as reviewed above. However as covered it is not so easy to purchase. Much prefer the use of 4 AA batteries over the lithium ion 18650 with the XHDATA D808 variant (MUCH less of a FIRE issue and better in a emergency situation). Also the AR1780 buttons are NOT recessed as with the D-808 and Tecsun PL-330 (as tested above), which is HUGE plus !

For customers in the USA and still desire the use of AA batteries, one may wish to consider the "CCRane Skywave SSB 2" model variant (sorry not tested). Downsides are it has no RDS, lesser audio quality, no separate fine tune control and is overpriced (even more than importing a AR1780 direct from Australia). But much easier to return if you receive a dud.


Dave N9EWO
N9EWO, all rights reserved
ver 3.1


 DigiTech AR1780 vs. CCrane Skywave SSB 2
AR1780 has 6 things going for it over the CCrane Skywave SSB 2 in our view.
 
- Standard DC power input jack.
(6~7 volts is now marked on cabinet of current production)
- Excellent SEPARATE fine tune control.
- 4 front end SW bandpass filters.
(left out in the CCrane sets that I'm aware of)
- Cost less in the USA (even after the shipping costs from Australia).
- Larger speaker / better audio quality.
- RDS on FM.

6 Pluses to the CCrane Skywave SSB 2 variant (not tested).
- Smaller size.
- Covers the USA VHF weather channels.
- USA warranty (provided one lives in the USA).
- Simple "Hi-Cut" Tone control.
(should help it's shrill audio as with tested standard CCrane Skywave model...see below).
- Larger frequency digits.
- 2 AA Battery Operation.


Digitech AR1780 LINKS (All Subject To Change Without Notice)

eham reviews : Digitech AR-1780 Receiver

AR-1780 Owners Manual

Jay Allen's XHDATA D-808 / Sihuadon D-808 Review


You Tube Video's

What is inside of XHDATA D-808 (covers the SW front end bandpass filtering)

HOW TO Enable or disable Sleep timer on XHDATA D808

XHDATA D808 Review of Memories

Digitech AR-1780 - Todderbert Review


I will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !

N9EWO Review :
  CC Skywave (CCrane)
MW / SW /  FM / AIR /  WX  Portable DSP Receiver

N9EWO Review on the CC "Skywave" AM/FM/SW/AIR/WX Portable Pocket Radio.
Country of Manufacture : China

Serial Number (approx.) of Test Sample : 190400183x (Manufactured in April 2019)
Firmware Version of Test Sample : CSF14 (To display firmware version : With radio OFF, press and HOLD #1 key for a few seconds)


The CC "Skywave" MW/SW/FM/AIR/WX pocket portable receiver.
Generally decent performance, however we feel is on the overpriced side of the fence for what it is.
Just as with ALL other radios, it has it's Pro's and Con's. Custom manufactured in China by Redsun.
The excessively expensive variant called the C.Crane "Skywave SSB" adds SSB modes / finer tuning
 steps and improved SW coverage (not tested). (N9EWO Photo).

PRO :
- Decent tactile keys that includes proper telephone layout (see Con)
- Above average sensitivity on all bands (However the Tecsun PL-380 FM sensitivity is better in our comparasions)
- Free from any microprocessor generated noise.
- Non finicky and excellent ANALOG volume control that also allows for very low adjustments for nighttime use.
- UP / DOWN frequency slewing buttons (something that Tecsun just does not offer at all).
- Excellent DSP selectivity (except FM) with user adjustment for MW / SW and AIR bands (also stores this data in memory channels).
- 2 properly chosen "Knob Tuning" steps of 1 and 5 kHz (see Con).
- Microprocessor selected two step tone control that helps tame it's shrill audio quality trait.
- Good SW Dynamic Range using it's attached whip antenna (firmware CSF14).
- 400 Memory channels (10 pages / 10 channels each page / 4 Bands).  
- 12 or 24 hour clock format.
- AIR band squelch function.
- Lock Function.
- Sleep Timer (15, 30, 45, 60, 90 and 120 minutes),
- Timed Backlight can be switched on full time when AC Adapter is in use (is not possible with battery use).
- Excellent audio recovery for spoken words (see con).      
- Above average included earbuds with nice voice spoken word audio quality (that also uses gel tips).
- Nice included carrying case that does not smell like tire factory.
- Low current consumption (100 ma using internal speaker).
- Easy to follow owners manual.
- Uses 2 AA batteries ,not the weird 3 that seems to be the normal for many Chinese sets.
- "SKWVP" AC adapter accessory option is of no noise design (Regulated linear transformer type ?) (see Con).

CON :
- Steep USD price for features offered.
- "Shrill" sharp audio quality become tiring after awhile.  
- Tuning Knob has wobble, rotational play, also undesirable HARD CLACK trait between detented steps.
- Build quality fair to our feel and eyes.
- Reliability track record appears fair.
- Annoying Muting when tuned.
- No External Antenna Jack.
- FM Band Selectivity and Sensitivity only "so-so" on test sample.
- No audio line "Record" output jack.
- Somewhat short 16 inch whip antenna.
- No RF attenuator switch.

- LCD Backlight is very uneven (very bright on the left side).
- Direct Frequency entry requires extra button before use.
- Audio amplifier lacks output (more noticed on the SW bands).
- Somewhat limited SW coverage stopping at 26100 kHz (more expensive SSB/SSB2 models go up to 29999 kHz). Still wider coverage over some Tecsun models.
- No SSB modes. (the much more expensive SSB and SSB 2 models provide this)
- Uses Mini-USB type connector for external power / charging.
- Battery door can get easily lost (is not hinged).
- Keys are near flush with cabinet (not so easy to use)
- "SKWVP" AC adapter is a extra cost option and also has two ferrite filters molded into it's STIFF cable which makes for difficult use.

The C.Crane "Skywave" receiver coverage is (Note : No LW coverage) :
MW / AM : 520 to 1710 kHz
FM : 76 to 108 MHz (Stereo with Headphones / Earbuds in use, selectable that also includes a STEREO indicator on the LCD)
SW : 2300 to 26100 kHz
AIRcraft : 118 to 137 MHz
USA NOAA Weather : 7 Channels from 162.400 to 162.550 Mhz (with alert function however no S.A.M.E. feature is provided)

Operates on 2 AA batteries and when Ni-Mh rechargeable batteries are used can be charged in the radio when the "SKWVP" "Mini-USB" 5 volt AC Adapter accessory is plugged in (sold separately). Size is 4.75″ W x 3″ H x 1.1″ D inches and weight is a very light 5.5 ounces without batteries, so can fit in most shirt pockets so be a bit chubby.

It's use of a DSP design allows for user adjustable bandwidth settings in MW and SW of 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1 kHz. AIR allows for 6, 4 and 3 kHz adjustment that all work well. SW sensitivity comparisons with a early production Tecsun PL-380 were dead equal (using attached whip antenna's). MW band was also very close. FM sensitivity and selectivity was better on the Tecsun PL-380 test sample in our view .The AIR band was not tested.

Audio quality suffers BAD with the "Skywave" for any music listening. It's ghastly shrill with ZERO bass response and makes for brain pain after awhile. The electronically switched 2 step tone control helps control this to an extent. It has independent settings for FM and  SW/MW bands, a nice touch (Note : It does not function in the AIR and WX bands). However its audio amplifier also lacks audio punch, more noticed in the SWBC bands. In our view the early production test sample of the Tecsun PL-380 faired MUCH better here for audio quality (has some bass response) and with a more powerful audio amplifier to boot.

C.Crane appears to target this radio more for the "talk radio" listening crowd, so it seems. In any event the C.Crane "Skywave" is a decent performing pocket set. The normal retail price is just bit high in our view for what it is / features provided.

Dave N9EWO
 N9EWO, all rights reserved
ver 1.8

For More Information Links [all subject to change without notice] :
Jay Allen's Review on the Skywave
SWLing Blog Review on the Skywave
Owners Manual , later version (in PDF)


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