Tecsun PL-990X/PL-330 New Hidden Feature
Switch From The Ferrite Rod to the Whip for AM and LW
A new Hidden feature, allowing you to switch from the internal ferrite rod to the whip for AM and LW has been discovered and it is very easy to use. (It also applies to the new PL-330).
In AM or LW mode, Press and Hold for two seconds the Number 3 Key. The display will read CH-5 (standing for CH-S for SW which means the whip) and you are now using the telescoping whip for that band. The display will also show AM or LW and SW on the left-hand side.
Press and Hold the Number 3 Key for two seconds again and the display will show CH-A (for AM) and you will be back to the ferrite rod. The display will read AM or LW (no SW).
This setting is retained after Power Off/On cycles.
As we’ve discussed before, news of new Hidden Features always causes an internet buzz, but now the important question is, how important is this? My take it that it is great for people who like to experiment and in my own tests it did improve AM reception in some cases, but in general the ferrite rod was superior. (I didn’t test it on LW).
When you compare a whip antenna to a ferrite rod antenna you discover why ferrite rods were put into use in the first place. They are compact. Being a form of loop antenna they often suppress noise better than a whip (or wire) antenna and they are directional which often helps to null out an offending signal or noise and peak the desired signal. But a whip can be a good signal grabber when it is long enough and when local RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) is low, and in my own tests there were some AM signals that were actually stronger and clearer with the whip. But on the majority of signals reception was similar or worse on the whip. This will come as no surprise to people who own the (excellent) Eton E1. One of the major criticisms of that radio was its use of the whip antenna for AM. We soon discovered though that in low noise environments (such as outdoors) the E1 with its whip was a formidable DXer, but in most people’s homes the noise desensitized the radio and made AM reception less good than on most ferrite rod equipped radios.
So enjoy this new feature of the PL-990 and PL-330, but know what to expect. It may work well for you or it may not. The lower the noise level in your setting the more you are likely to benefit from it but hey…it’s a fun thing to try out!