DIY calculator: HP30b to WP34S!

Posted: 5/17/2014 12:36:39 AM
ira allen

Joined: 5/5/2014

dewster,

Got the cable in from China yesterday, a package of resistors from Radio Shack today, and just completed the flash of the calculator.  Took several tries, but finally got there.   Can't thank you enough for your help.

I was surprised that the stock 30B is noticably faster than my 33S.  My testing is unscientific, just calculate a factorial of a large number.  I was hoping the new firmware would be comparable to the stock 30B, and I think maybe just a hair slower, almost have to imagine it.  Without a doubt though loads faster than my old 33S which is being retired for worn out keys.

Now just waiting for the keyboard overlay to arrive.

 

Posted: 5/18/2014 5:02:43 PM
dewster

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

"Took several tries, but finally got there."  - ira allen

Glad you were successful!  I flashed mine with the "full" load (or whatever they call it) and I wasn't expecting it to just sit there looking stupid/dead for as long as it apparently takes for the load to be burned to Flash memory once uploaded.  The lack of any feedback and this long period I believe caused me to prematurely abort whatever was going on.

"I was surprised that the stock 30B is noticably faster than my 33S."

They put a 32 bit ARM in there running at 30MHz or so, it should run circles around just about any calculator.  The main thing I don't like about the 30B is the keys: they're not horrible, but they aren't same quality as older classic HPs - I find I have to check my entries after keying them in.  And the 30B case is just too tight, particularly with aftermarket labels on the keys.

Funny how everyone swears by old HP quality.  It's true that the HP21 was build like a tank - mine still works to this day (though one of the display segment rows isn't working).  But my HP34C (the ICs weren't even soldered to the PWB!) was an intermittent POS, my HP11C and HP48SX both mysteriously died after only a few years of mild misuse, and I've lost count of how many HP22s I've seen in the trash at work (including mine).

Posted: 5/19/2014 12:55:22 PM
ira allen

Joined: 5/5/2014

My 11C saw continual daily use from 1986 or 1987 until March of 2007 when the on/off key finally gave up the ghost.  Even the batteries in that machine would go for years before they needed to be replaced. 

Your 30B/WP34S was $18, I got mine for $19.  As a manufacturer I've got to think that you are not going to make any money at that price point if people keep them for 20 years.  I'm afraid they are a commodity now and the days of good solid machines, including keyboards, are long gone.

Be curious to see if the 43S project ever comes up with actual hardware.  If they do I have high hopes that it will be a good quality piece of equipment.

Posted: 5/19/2014 2:20:03 PM
dewster

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

"Be curious to see if the 43S project ever comes up with actual hardware.  If they do I have high hopes that it will be a good quality piece of equipment."  - ira allen

That would be great.  But being out of school (and out of work), and particularly now that I've figured out how to set up quick analyses in Excel, I'm recalibrating my need for a deep, complex calculator.  There's a huge gulf between even a deep calculator and a spread sheet.

The WP34s programmability side is too cumbersome for me to use often (so I never really learn it well enough to effectively use it), the display doesn't show enough of the stack, the keys are sub-optimal, the functions and constants and such are too buried in menus.  Paradoxically, if it were either more or less complex I would probably find it to be more useful.  But it's a great project, and I don't regret for one minute jumping onto it.

It's kind of a shame the PDA movement petered out, a small computing device - larger than a calculator, smaller than a laptop or netbook - and with real keys (not a tablet) is what I believe I'm looking for.  I have this feeling of dread that I'll essentially be forced to build one (and worse, write the OS and software for it) before I'm dead.  If I only had a clone or two at my beck and call...

Posted: 5/20/2014 12:25:16 PM
ira allen

Joined: 5/5/2014

I agree, there is a huge feature and usage difference between a spreadsheet and a calculator.  You can do some amazing things with a spreadsheet.  I find the advantage in the calculator is if you are in a client's office or out in a job trailer somewhere, although lately job trailers are becoming pretty well equipped.

Haven't done much with calculator programming in years, and I'm hoping to program a couple of things I do all the time into the 34S.  The things I've got in mind are too simple for a spreadsheet.  Also saw somewhere a simple frame analysis using the matrix capability of one of the high powered calculators (can't recall if it was TI or HP).  I'd probably never use it, but the programming challenge is intriguing.

If you need a hand with the software end of your device let me know, I ported the WP43S emulator code from QT4.8 to QT5.2 over the weekend.  Need to get on the web site over there to see if anybody is interested in that.

Good luck with job search.  An awful lot of engineers in that boat these days. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted: 5/20/2014 2:51:22 PM
dewster

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

"Good luck with job search.  An awful lot of engineers in that boat these days."  - ira allen

Don't cry for me (Argentina).  I took the layoff when it came around in order to spend more quality time with my extended family (e.g. Theremin designers).  Getting and staying off the pseudo-slavery treadmill has been weird but fun.  If you can wangle it, don't put off retirement until old age.

Posted: 9/29/2015 8:39:26 AM
wohb

Joined: 9/29/2015

"The WP34s programmability side is too cumbersome for me to use often (so I never really learn it well enough to effectively use it), the display doesn't show enough of the stack, the keys are sub-optimal, the functions and constants and such are too buried in menus.  Paradoxically, if it were either more or less complex I would probably find it to be more useful.  But it's a great project, and I don't regret for one minute jumping onto it."

As often, fun comes with doing. WP 34S programming is simple traditional keystroke recording as known since the HP-65. I agree the keys are sub-optimal but I think they are the best what was available at the time the project was done. And featuring some 800 functions etc you can't get along without menus. Alas, the given (and thus fixed) display doesn't allow for showing any softkeys.

For those finding the WP 34S being too complex, the WP 31S is offered by the same people who 'made' the WP 34S.

 

Posted: 9/29/2015 11:07:39 AM
wohb

Joined: 9/29/2015

"Serial programming took all of maybe 10 seconds, ..."

It takes some 23 seconds according to my observations. Don't despair after 10 seconds ;)

 

Posted: 9/29/2015 8:17:40 PM
wohb

Joined: 9/29/2015

""Be curious to see if the 43S project ever comes up with actual hardware.  If they do I have high hopes that it will be a good quality piece of equipment."  - ira allen That would be great." - dewster

Please look here: http://www.hpmuseum.org/forum/thread-593-post-43051.html#pid43051 - seems that project is picking up pace again.

 

Posted: 9/29/2015 10:55:08 PM
dewster

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Hi wohb,

Thanks for the WP31S info!  It looks like more of what I'm looking for in a calculator.  What I use a lot is base 2 / 10 / 16 conversion and the WP34S is fairly clumsy doing this.  It also has significant delay turning on (~3 seconds) not sure what's up with that.  But the worst thing is the keys, they're just barely reliable enough to make me keep using it, but quite unreliable compared to classic HPs I've owned in the past.

Someone needs completely rethink the keys, the display, the form factor, RPN as language, etc. rather than just copying old HPs with more functions crammed in.  I have deep respect for these projects, but they don't seem to be headed in directions I get super excited about.  I want the next level of personal calculating device.

You must be logged in to post a reply. Please log in or register for a new account.