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HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
07-15-2016, 08:21 AM (This post was last modified: 07-15-2016 08:39 AM by JDW.)
Post: #1
HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
To those of you who own a 50g and use an SD card, I have 3 questions:

1. Does the SD card speed matter? Is there any discernible speed difference between the cheapest SD card available versus a fast card? (I am thinking about getting a 1GB card. I assume this is a better way to transfer to/from a computer than using USB connectivity (Hoppi/KERMIT), correct? I use a Mac.)

2. The HP 50g User's Guide says, "The HP 50g will only work with cards in the FAT16 or FAT32 format." but this HP Forum thread says, "If you place a new SD card into the HP 50g and it is not recognized, it should probably be reformatted under FAT16." This appears to be conflicting information. What is correct?

3. Rather than key-in long text notes on the calculator, is it possible to save notes as a *.txt file via PC to the SD card, then insert the SD in the calculator and either use the notes directly off the SD or save them (STO) to internal memory?

Thank you.
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07-15-2016, 08:37 PM (This post was last modified: 07-15-2016 08:40 PM by John Colvin.)
Post: #2
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
1) Considering that the file sizes you will be using, I don't think there would be any significant difference in SD speeds.

3) You can transfer plain text from your PC to your 50G. The text appears as a string object on the 50G. You can easily view it in the Files menu by using the View soft menu key. You can also move/copy the text file from the SD to any directory on the 50G using the MOVE or COPY soft menu keys in the Files menu.
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07-15-2016, 09:06 PM
Post: #3
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
In my experience, the smaller the better. Large ones tends to lag the 50g boot up/ or opening the FILES browser.

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07-16-2016, 02:43 AM (This post was last modified: 07-16-2016 02:44 AM by JDW.)
Post: #4
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
(07-15-2016 08:37 PM)John Colvin Wrote:  3) You can transfer plain text from your PC to your 50G.

I only recently ordered a 50g and it hasn't arrived yet, but I've been running a 50g emulator on my iMac via Crossover. Using TextWrangler, I typed in some text, with each line being no more than 18 characters, and then I saved the file as Western (Windows Latin 1), with UNIX line breaks and a *.txt file extension. Dragging and dropping that atop the emulated 50g displayed it onscreen. And due to each line being only 18 characters, all the text can be displayed without horizontal scrolling.

So I would assume that I can just copy these *.txt files to an SD on my iMac, then insert than into the calculator and be able to access it without problem, correct?

Next...

If "smaller is better" then what do you 50g users put on your SD cards, and how big are your cards?

Thanks.
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07-16-2016, 03:06 AM
Post: #5
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
(07-15-2016 08:21 AM)JDW Wrote:  To those of you who own a 50g and use an SD card, I have 3 questions:

1. Does the SD card speed matter? Is there any discernible speed difference between the cheapest SD card available versus a fast card? (I am thinking about getting a 1GB card. I assume this is a better way to transfer to/from a computer than using USB connectivity (Hoppi/KERMIT), correct? I use a Mac.)
Card speed is much more than what the 50g can handle, therefore it doesn't matter. The 50g will clock the card at 20 MHz, which gives you around 2 MB/s of maximum sustained transfer speed. That's all you are going to get, no matter how fast is the card you use.
SD cards are the best way to transfer data to/from the calculator. There's no software to install so it's portable and reliable.

(07-15-2016 08:21 AM)JDW Wrote:  2. The HP 50g User's Guide says, "The HP 50g will only work with cards in the FAT16 or FAT32 format." but this HP Forum thread says, "If you place a new SD card into the HP 50g and it is not recognized, it should probably be reformatted under FAT16." This appears to be conflicting information. What is correct?
Older ROM versions only supported FAT16, later FAT32 was supported, so those apparently contradicting comments are probably taken from 2 different times.
The boot loader only works with FAT16, so in order to flash firmware to the calculator you'll need to have a FAT16 format, but for normal calculator operation either FAT16 or FAT32 work well.
For speed reasons, I recommend you use a smaller card (or a big card with a small first partition, you can create a second partition and use the rest of the card for non-calculator data).
50g creates very small files, so it will work best with a small cluster size (I'm assuming you are familiar with the FAT file system here). You'll get the optimum speed from your card when you use:
a) Smaller clusters
b) Small number of clusters.

If you have a big card (I'd say 1 GB is big), it will probably be formatted FAT32 with 4kbyte clusters. This will create many small clusters, and will make your calculator very slow to startup (it will take a second or more to wake up from OFF).
To reduce the number of clusters, you can format the card with larger clusters, and this will speed up your ON time, but now you have to write larger chunks of data for each tiny file, which slows down all your STO/RCL operations.
The ideal point is a reasonable number of small clusters, in other words, a smaller card or a card with a smaller partition.
I have a 64 MB card and hasn't filled up in 10 years.

(07-15-2016 08:21 AM)JDW Wrote:  3. Rather than key-in long text notes on the calculator, is it possible to save notes as a *.txt file via PC to the SD card, then insert the SD in the calculator and either use the notes directly off the SD or save them (STO) to internal memory?

Thank you.

Others have already replied to this one better than I can.
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07-16-2016, 03:55 AM
Post: #6
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
(07-16-2016 03:06 AM)Claudio L. Wrote:  The boot loader only works with FAT16, so in order to flash firmware to the calculator you'll need to have a FAT16 format, but for normal calculator operation either FAT16 or FAT32 work well...
The ideal point is a reasonable number of small clusters, in other words, a smaller card or a card with a smaller partition.
I have a 64 MB card and hasn't filled up in 10 years.

Thank you for your detailed advice.

I have an old SD video camera which used a 256MB SD formatted FAT16. I will use that.
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07-16-2016, 06:56 AM
Post: #7
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
I use good quality 2 GB SD cards in my various HP50G calculators without any issues. However, I always format the cards in FAT16 as in FAT32 the calculators take too long to start (as others have already indicated) so suggest you do the same.

Cheers,

Michael
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07-16-2016, 07:13 AM
Post: #8
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
(07-16-2016 06:56 AM)Michael Lopez Wrote:  I use good quality 2 GB SD cards in my various HP50G calculators without any issues. However, I always format the cards in FAT16 as in FAT32 the calculators take too long to start (as others have already indicated) so suggest you do the same.

Michael, Claudio explained that cluster size and quantity affects performance. So while there may be some improvement with FAT16 over FAT32 in regards to speed, the fact remains that if you reduced the size and quantity of clusters (e.g., partitioning your big cards or use smaller cards) you would see even greater performance gains. At least, that is how I interpret what Claudio said.
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07-16-2016, 02:37 PM (This post was last modified: 07-16-2016 02:39 PM by Sylvain Cote.)
Post: #9
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
For the Mac OS/X or should I say the macOS users ...

How to format a SD card in FAT16 from the command line using the diskutil command.

At the command line given by the Terminal application

To list the available supported partition types, type: diskutil listFilesystems [enter]
Code:
 
Formattable file systems

These file system personalities can be used for erasing and partitioning.
When specifying a personality as a parameter to a verb, case is not considered.
Certain common aliases (also case-insensitive) are listed below as well.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PERSONALITY                     USER VISIBLE NAME                               
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ExFAT                           ExFAT                                           
UFSD_EXTFS                      Extended Filesystem 2                           
UFSD_EXTFS3                     Extended Filesystem 3                           
UFSD_EXTFS4                     Extended Filesystem 4                           
Free Space                      Free Space                                      
  (or) free
MS-DOS                          MS-DOS (FAT)                                    
MS-DOS FAT12                    MS-DOS (FAT12)                                  
MS-DOS FAT16                    MS-DOS (FAT16)                                  
MS-DOS FAT32                    MS-DOS (FAT32)                                  
  (or) fat32
HFS+                            Mac OS Extended                                 
Case-sensitive HFS+             Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive)                
  (or) hfsx
Case-sensitive Journaled HFS+   Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled)     
  (or) jhfsx
Journaled HFS+                  Mac OS Extended (Journaled)                     
  (or) jhfs+
UFSD_NTFS                       Windows NT Filesystem                           
UFSD_NTFSCOMPR                  Windows NT Filesystem (compressed)

To list the available disks, type: diskutil list [enter]
Code:
/dev/disk0 (internal, physical):
...
/dev/disk3 (external, physical):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:     FDisk_partition_scheme                        *507.4 MB   disk3
   1:                 DOS_FAT_32 MSDDATA                 507.3 MB   disk3s1
...

Identify the SD card
Code:
a) diskutil list [enter] (without the SD inserted) -> take note of the disks available and their numbers
b) diskutil list [enter] (SD inserted)             -> take note of the disks available and their numbers
c) diskutil list [enter] (without the SD inserted) -> take note of the disks available and their numbers
d) compare the disks numbers for all lists and one of them should only appears as (external,physical) at step (b)

WARNING: be sure to identify the correct disk for the SD card else you could erase your internal hard disk.

The diskutil partitionDisk command:
Code:
diskutil partitionDisk MountPoint|DiskIdentifier|DeviceNode [numberOfPartitions] [APM[Format]|MBR[Format]|GPT[Format]] [part1Format part1Name part1Size part2Format part2Name part2Size part3Format part3Name part3Size ...]

Tool.......: diskutil
Command....: partitionDisk
Where......: MountPoint|DiskIdentifier|DeviceNode      (/dev/disk?)
Partitions.: [numberOfPartitions]                      (1, 2, 3, ... )
Part.Type..: [APM[Format]|MBR[Format]|GPT[Format]]     (one of the following: APM, APMFormat, MBR, MBRFormat, GPT, GPTFormat)
Partition 1: [part1Format part1Name part1Size]         (supported formats as by listFilesystems)
Partition X: [partXFormat partXName partXSize]

Formatting example using a 500MB SD card mounted at /dev/disk3
Example: diskutil partitiondisk /dev/disk3 1 MBRFormat "MS-DOS FAT16" "HP50G01" 507M [ENTER]
Code:
Started partitioning on disk3
Unmounting disk
Creating the partition map
Waiting for the disks to reappear
Formatting disk3s1 as MS-DOS (FAT16) with name HP50G01
512 bytes per physical sector
/dev/rdisk3s1: 990336 sectors in 61896 FAT16 clusters (8192 bytes/cluster)
bps=512 spc=16 res=1 nft=2 rde=512 mid=0xf8 spf=242 spt=32 hds=54 hid=63 drv=0x80 bsec=990864
Mounting disk
Finished partitioning on disk3
/dev/disk3 (external, physical):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:     FDisk_partition_scheme                        *507.4 MB   disk3
   1:                 DOS_FAT_16 HP50G01                 507.3 MB   disk3s1

You have now a SD card FAT16 formatted ready to be used Smile

Sylvain

edit: typo
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07-16-2016, 03:01 PM (This post was last modified: 07-16-2016 03:05 PM by matthiaspaul.)
Post: #10
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
(07-15-2016 08:21 AM)JDW Wrote:  1. Does the SD card speed matter? Is there any discernible speed difference between the cheapest SD card available versus a fast card?
Inserted into the calculator, the card's speed doesn't matter, but speed counts when you insert the card into a card reader and make bulk transfers of files to or from the card (although, in practise, this is only an issue with larger cards).

It is, however, important to note that the calculator only supports SDSC and MMC cards (as well as miniSD / microSD / TransFlash with adapter). SDHC and SDXC (and their mini and micro variants) are not supported by the calculator.

Quote:I am thinking about getting a 1GB card.
You can use cards up to 2 GB, but cards larger than 1 GB need to be formatted externally and sizes larger 1 GB wouldn't be displayed correctly by the calculator (this is a cosmetical problem only, the calculator will still handle them correctly).

(If you'd find one of those rare non-standard SDSC cards with more than 2 GB, there's a slight chance that cards up to 4 GB could be used as well - I never tried and it very much depends on the firmware implementation. Does someone know if the firmware can handle those cards with 2 to 4 GB as well? And does the firmware support non-standard 64 KB clusters, as would be required if FAT16B rather than FAT32 should be used for such larger volumes?)

Quote:2. The HP 50g User's Guide says, "The HP 50g will only work with cards in the FAT16 or FAT32 format." but this HP Forum thread says, "If you place a new SD card into the HP 50g and it is not recognized, it should probably be reformatted under FAT16." This appears to be conflicting information. What is correct?
The HP 50g (at least with firmware 2.15, probably also 2.16) supports FAT12, FAT16, FAT16B and FAT32. FAT32 was not supported by firmware 1.xx, and some early firmware 2.xx left out support for FAT12 until it was retrofitted, so if the calculator comes with a really old firmware you might initially need a card formatted as FAT16 or FAT16B to upgrade the firmware.

The calculator ignores VFAT LFNs as well, so only the 8.3 SFNs are used.

(For completeness: The calculator neither supports FAT32+, FAT32B nor exFAT, but this is a non-issue here as the largest file and volume sizes supported by the calculator are 2 GB (or possibly 4 GB, see above), anyway.)

Greetings,

Matthias

EDIT: I should have pressed the refresh button before posting - this was already answered half a day ago... ;-)


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07-17-2016, 05:58 AM (This post was last modified: 07-18-2016 04:23 AM by Joe Horn.)
Post: #11
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
Everybody is saying that speed doesn't matter? Well, it doesn't matter when the 50g is storing small objects, BUT it DOES matter if you plan on doing frequent memory backups to the card (e.g. while developing software). One of my 50g's has a Pretec SD card marked "60X"; it performs a backup of 200MB (EDIT: oops! I meant 200KB!) in 1.5 seconds. Sweet. Another 50g has a PNY card whose speed is not mentioned on its label; it takes over 10 seconds to perform the same backup. Awful! Ok, that difference might not bother people with more patience than I have, but please be aware that card speed DOES make a difference when storing large objects such as memory backups.

X<> c
-Joe-
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07-17-2016, 07:03 AM
Post: #12
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
Hi Joe,

Understand & is partially the reason why I prefer to use good quality cards (high speed such as Scandisk Ultra 15MB/s) but format in FAT16 to deal with the other end of the speed equation (during calculator start-ups). I am also not the most patient person in the World :-).

Practically the cost for these now small SD cards is so low anyway (assuming you can find them) that there is little to be gained by over-analysing. So my advice remains to purchase the best quality card you can find up to 2GB & yes smaller capacity cards of the same quality may be faster again.

Cheers,

Michael
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07-17-2016, 09:20 AM
Post: #13
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
(07-17-2016 05:58 AM)Joe Horn Wrote:  Everybody is saying that speed doesn't matter? Well, it doesn't matter when the 50g is storing small objects, BUT it DOES matter if you plan on doing frequent memory backups to the card...

That's honestly what I was thinking before I read the earlier comments.

Card speed DOES matter.

Thanks.
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07-17-2016, 11:29 PM (This post was last modified: 07-17-2016 11:46 PM by Vtile.)
Post: #14
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
Does the case and card type Joe Horn mentions give speed in every aspect of usage or is the speed gain only in memory dumps / backups, or do we come to the typical trade off situations where the user needs to decide what is the most common situation for speed need to his / her usage.
I'm not partially interested of this matter, but I thought some clarification might be useful for random reader?

That said I'm satisfied with my kingston Transcent 2GB SD card I did happen to find from local store, supposedly for some industrial application (or calculator) where old pure SD cards are needed.
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07-18-2016, 12:56 AM
Post: #15
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
Points I've gleaned from this thread with additional questions:

1. FAT32 is supported only in newer 50g firmware versions, so use FAT16 for compatibility.
2. The boot loader only supports FAT16. Yet another reason to use FAT16 instead of FAT32.
3. Smaller and fewer clusters = faster speed. That means the smaller the SD the better. But small SD cards aren't sold anymore, and small SD cards usually mean slower flash tech too. No win situation here?
4. Large cards (1GB and larger?) slow 50g boot speeds and make the file browser laggy. Logic dictates one should use a card smaller than 1GB, but those aren't sold in most places anymore.
5. The 50g can't transfer faster than 2MB/s. But does that mean an SD card capable of significantly faster speeds will see zero difference inside a 50g versus a 2MB/s card? Does it really matter "when doing backups"?
6. SD card speed matters a lot after you remove it from your 50g and insert it into your computer to transfer files. But fast cards are usually 1GB or larger, which means bigger clusters in larger quantities, potentially cancelling out speed gains from a fast card!
7. It seems the name of the SD card and all files on it should be restricted to 8 characters, with a 3 character file name extension. But are spaces allowed? And is the 3 character extension optional?
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07-18-2016, 03:34 AM
Post: #16
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
(07-18-2016 12:56 AM)JDW Wrote:  4. Large cards (1GB and larger?) slow 50g boot speeds and make the file browser laggy. Logic dictates one should use a card smaller than 1GB, but those aren't sold in most places anymore.

You can find for ...
$9 USD + $5 USD shipping -> 5 x 256MB MicroSD SANDISK cards with SD Adapter
$10 USD + $5 USD shipping -> 5 x 512MB MicroSD NOKIA cards with SD Adapter
Sylvain
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07-18-2016, 03:42 AM
Post: #17
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
(07-18-2016 03:34 AM)Sylvain Cote Wrote:  You can find for ...
$9 USD + $5 USD shipping -> 5 x 256MB MicroSD SANDISK cards with SD Adapter
$10 USD + $5 USD shipping -> 5 x 512MB MicroSD NOKIA cards with SD Adapter

Yes, EBAY sells interesting stuff. And I've been an active member there for over a decade. But a couple weeks ago, I placed an order for "new in box HP 28S" only to find the seller never accepted my payment or responded to me. I was able to determine their GMAIL address via Paypal and found their real name by adding them to my Google+ Circles, which led me to their FaceBook page. Despite multiple messages to them via EBAY, multiple messages to their GMAIL address, and even after spending them a FaceBook message, they never accepted my payment or replied to me once. So I cancelled my payment and now am waiting for the 32 day expiration period to conclude so I can be done with this nightmare. I should add that I Googled the seller's name and location -- EBAY gives their city and state -- and found the individual had been arrested earlier this year. I also found they listed the same 28S on Craig's List at the same time their listed it on EBAY. Suffice it to say, I'm a bit leery of EBAY at the moment.

With that said, I already have a 256MB slow-poke SD card from an old video camera which I intend to use. Even so, the questions put forth in my previous post remain. Still curious about Joe's comment...

"BUT it DOES matter if you plan on doing frequent memory backups to the card..."

Does the 50g somehow go FASTER than 2MB/s during backups? :-) If not, how would a faster card then matter?
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07-18-2016, 04:29 AM
Post: #18
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
(07-18-2016 03:42 AM)JDW Wrote:  ... Still curious about Joe's comment...

"BUT it DOES matter if you plan on doing frequent memory backups to the card..."

Does the 50g somehow go FASTER than 2MB/s during backups? :-) If not, how would a faster card then matter?

Sorry... that was a typo in my posting. It should have said 200KB, not 200MB, of course. A 50g with 200MB of RAM would be sweet indeed!

X<> c
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07-18-2016, 04:33 AM
Post: #19
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
Joe,

If your Pretec SD card marked "60X" performs a backup of 200kb in 1.5 seconds, then please use a slower card (say an old 128MB or so that runs at 2MB/s) to perform the same backup and then tell us how fast it copies. If a 2MB/s card backs up 200kb in 1.5 seconds just like a 15MB/s card, then such confirms there is truly no meaning to use a faster card. And such will also tell us that it would be prudent to use something smaller than 1GB for the sake of smaller and fewer clusters, to further boost card performance.
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07-18-2016, 04:46 AM
Post: #20
RE: HP 50g & SD Cards: Performance, Format, Notes
(07-18-2016 03:42 AM)JDW Wrote:  With that said, I already have a 256MB slow-poke SD card from an old video camera which I intend to use. Even so, the questions put forth in my previous post remain. Still curious about Joe's comment...

"BUT it DOES matter if you plan on doing frequent memory backups to the card..."

Does the 50g somehow go FASTER than 2MB/s during backups? :-) If not, how would a faster card then matter?

You do the math... Joe said 200 kb in 10 seconds? That's 20 kb/sec, I don't know any SD card that slow. What is most likely happening is that some compatibility problem is forcing the card to reset after each read/write transaction, and the card might be taking a few milliseconds to "reboot". I'd stick with the "speed doesn't matter" since almost every SD card (except the really old ones) should be capable of doing 2 MB/s. However, a good brand DOES matter! Compatiblity was an issue back in the day, almost a non-issue with more modern SD cards.
For compatibility reasons, you should buy a modern 2 GB card, just create a 256 MB partition to keep the calculator boot times reasonable (or better off, try different sizes and combinations of partition size/cluster size until you find the best for you). The rest of the card is not going to be unused, as SD cards have internal level-wearing. This means you will use the whole 2 GB of flash, just that your card will last much longer than a smaller card.
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