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HP Forum Archive 17

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Open45s: Functionality
Message #1 Posted by Pavneet Arora on 6 Nov 2007, 7:39 p.m.

While the work is afoot on selecting a suitable display, we seem to have modest convergence on a Voyager form factor. Assuming for the moment that we are looking at a 4-line LCD display with 36 keys as Walter has surmised, what would be the desired functionality?

Let's break our own wishlist into: "have to haves", "love to have", and "even if it had it I wouldn't care" ;).

From the polling results at HHC2007, the 42s seemed to be the retro calculator most attendees wanted to see released. It follows that the appeal of the various 45s designs offered encapsulate its functionality.

Do we dare dream of a solver? CAS, I imagine is out for a first cut. Graphics is out as well? So what is in?

In my world, which has modest compute requirements compared to those discussed in this forum, two mundane pieces but absolutely critical for me in order for the device to be a "daily drive" are unit conversions and fractions. Matrices and trig would be in hot pursuit behind them. Alpha is also essential to me.

Even thought this has a 's' suffix and implies a scientific calculator, I feel that TVM should be standard on every calculator with modest functionality. Even engineering projects have TVM cost analysis.

How about everyone else?

      
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #2 Posted by DaveJ on 6 Nov 2007, 9:55 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Pavneet Arora

There are several essentials I think it must have. All of the functions can be dealt with in software, so do not affect the physical design at this stage.

Important functions to consider right now are:

1) Battery life. In my opinion the calc must have a long battery life. By that I mean at least a years use at say 1 hour per day from a set of primary batteries (either Alkaline or Lithium coin cell). A rechargeable solution would be horrid, and should not even considered in my opinion. I won't ever touch a calculator that needs rechargable batteries. This does not preclude an OLED display however, but it makes that option trickier.

2) Memory and Expansion. SD card seems like a sensible thing to have. Although the machine should have sufficient built in program memory as well, say 64KB. Program memory must be non-volatile EEPROM or FLASH. Volatile memory is not an option.

3) A hidden reset button is a must. Although on my uWatch this is achieved easily by briefly shorting out the power on the I/O connector.

4) I/O. A serial general purpose I/O interface is a must. For example, on my uWatch I have a 5pin general purpose I/O port that can be used as an RS232, SPI, IrDA, USB or any custom serial interface using the desired external adapter. This port also has external direct battery power available for driving low power external modules. This allows the calc to be used as an industrial controller for example.

5) Firmware Programming. The calc must have an externally accessible debug/programming port. If it uses say a Microchip processor then an ICSP port is a must. Using a bootloader via the serial port is also possible for firmware upgrades, but that doesn't help the developers with debugging. Internal or external JTAG port would be nice as well.

Dave.

            
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #3 Posted by Paul Dale on 7 Nov 2007, 3:44 p.m.,
in response to message #2 by DaveJ

Quote:
2) Memory and Expansion. SD card seems like a sensible thing to have. Although the machine should have sufficient built in program memory as well, say 64KB. Program memory must be non-volatile EEPROM or FLASH. Volatile memory is not an option.

Have you considered a real time clock chip with 32kb of battery backed RAM in this role? We'd still need some other RAM of course but we'd gain a clock.

- Pauli

                  
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #4 Posted by DaveJ on 7 Nov 2007, 4:50 p.m.,
in response to message #3 by Paul Dale

Quote:
Have you considered a real time clock chip with 32kb of battery backed RAM in this role? We'd still need some other RAM of course but we'd gain a clock.

Forgot about that, an RTC is essential of course. No need for an external chip or RAM, you'd simply choose a micro that has these built in. The PIC24F series chip I used in my uWatch has a full hardware RTCC and 8KB of SRAM built in.

Dave.

      
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #5 Posted by Pal G. on 6 Nov 2007, 11:56 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Pavneet Arora

Well I took some time today to cram that "MDLS40263-01 REV 1" 40X2 LCD into a Voyager. Please have a look and give me a few days off. I'm trying to get Jean-Michel's HP41CX converted from ProE to something I can render.

Cheers, Pal

            
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #6 Posted by Walter B on 7 Nov 2007, 12:43 a.m.,
in response to message #5 by Pal G.

This is looking great, Pal! Thanks for your work!! Please, if your time allows, mail me a vertical view on the keyboard.

Best regards,

Walter

Edited: 7 Nov 2007, 12:50 a.m.

            
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #7 Posted by Pavneet Arora on 7 Nov 2007, 5:13 a.m.,
in response to message #5 by Pal G.

My thanks as well Pal. This is great. After you catch your breath (and in your copious free time as one boss of mine would say mirthfully) can you drop in the 40x4 display using the specific part no. specs as well?

                  
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #8 Posted by Walter B on 7 Nov 2007, 5:20 a.m.,
in response to message #7 by Pavneet Arora

40x4 ???

                        
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #9 Posted by Pavneet Arora on 7 Nov 2007, 5:30 a.m.,
in response to message #8 by Walter B

Or any 4-line display that is readily available. I still would like us to see if a 4-line display can be used? For me, this greatly enhances the appeal of the calculator.

Cheers.

                              
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #10 Posted by Walter B on 7 Nov 2007, 5:37 a.m.,
in response to message #9 by Pavneet Arora

IIRC, only a 20x4 LCD is available fitting in a Voyager. Data are in the display-thread.

                              
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #11 Posted by DaveJ on 7 Nov 2007, 6:37 a.m.,
in response to message #9 by Pavneet Arora

Quote:
Or any 4-line display that is readily available. I still would like us to see if a 4-line display can be used? For me, this greatly enhances the appeal of the calculator. Cheers.

A 4 line display is much better suited to a Portrait Pioneer form factor.

A "fat" display on a landscape Voyager just doesn't "look right" IMHO

Dave.

      
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #12 Posted by Jim Creybohm on 7 Nov 2007, 12:03 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Pavneet Arora

Good call Pavneet! I agree that even an engineering calculator needs to have TVM on it in addition to the scientific functions.

In all honesty, graphics is something I have little time to learn, and less desire as I grow older. I never used the graphics on my 48, and for most calculations, I maintain that the 42's function set (dare an oldie like me dream of a 41?) would suffice for most of my real world chores.

Other nice to have is an RPN subset of the RPL, so that RPL-less bozos like myself might be able to program a calculator without having to carry a friggin' manual around. If I could just program a repetitive series of keystrokes with some conditionals, I would be a happy engineer. Having said that however, without trying to engage feature creep, a way of communicating with a computer so that I could conceivably write my programs on a text editor or perhaps download someone else's more easily. I have a fair library of programs that I have photocopied over the years that I don't (again) have time to enter in. IR?

if you must select the voyager form factor, then so be it. I personally never really cared for it, although it seems to have garnered significant support - so perhaps I need more time with it. I am not very enthusiastic about my 12C though. The four line 45s display makes the whole thing a little more tractable to me.

Nevertheless, I will support this effort in any way I can. It is exciting to watch the e-geniuses on this forum work.

      
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #13 Posted by sylvandb on 6 Nov 2007, 8:48 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Pavneet Arora

Quote:
what would be the desired functionality?

Flash update capability is a must.

keyboard overlay is a high want.

Give me those, and I don't care your functionality today, because I can have whatever functionality I want, and something different tomorrow.

sdb

      
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #14 Posted by Walter B on 7 Nov 2007, 1:44 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Pavneet Arora

Here is my wishlist:

  1. RPN (must have)
  2. Keystroke programming (must have)
  3. Battery life as Dave pointed out (must have)
  4. I/O for data transfer and backup (maybe USB is a good interface, at least almost everybody can deal with it) (must have)
  5. Soft keys (must have)
  6. Alpha-functionality like in 42S (must have)
  7. On top of 42S functionality I'd love to see an EQN-mode like in 35s (desperately love to have)
  8. Useful functions on the keys for direct access (as many as possible). Leave the key plate for menus and the more arcane functions. Let the user customize the calc by creating his/her own functions/menus and changing assignments on the keyplate. Supply overlays (love to have)
  9. 4 ... 8 levels in a stack of settable depth (love to have)
  10. Timer functions like in the 55 (love to have)
  11. Decent implementation of integer functions like in 16C, NOT like in 35s (nice to have)
  12. Unit conversions buried in 1 menu (nice to have, I don't think we should spend more space for this)
  13. Fractions (nice to have)
  14. A more structured programming paradigm than in 42S (nice to have)
I'd second it shall have TVM, but I don't care much if it will not. Same for ALG. As Jim, I don't need graphics. What I didn't mention here shall be like in 42S and I'd be content.

BTW, if it has a RESET-button, I'd judge this as a sign of low reliability (only Window$ driven devices need this ;), no vintage calc ever had one).

Best regards,

Walter

Edited: 7 Nov 2007, 2:30 a.m.

            
Re: Open45s: Functionality
Message #15 Posted by DaveJ on 7 Nov 2007, 4:58 a.m.,
in response to message #14 by Walter B

Quote:
Here is my wishlist:[ol]
  • RPN (must have)
  • Keystroke programming (must have)
  • Battery life as Dave pointed out (must have)
  • I/O for data transfer and backup (maybe USB is a good interface, at least almost everybody can deal with it) (must have)
  • USB requires extra $$, power and complexity. SD card is just a dumb socket, much easier. Sockets are cheap and easy, add plenty - SD card, TTL I/O, flash/debug port, JTAG port. Make this a beast that has plenty of ways to prod and poke it.

    But lets not get carried away and make this a USB/graphing/high performance beast that can play space invaders. A regular scientific calc will do just fine.

    Quote:
    BTW, if it has a RESET-button, I'd judge this as a sign of low reliability (only Window$ driven devices need this ;), no vintage calc ever had one). Best regards, Walter

    Walter has just agreed to write us some guaranteed lock-up-free software from day one, thanks Walter! ;-)

    Dave.

                      
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #16 Posted by Walter B on 7 Nov 2007, 5:17 a.m.,
    in response to message #15 by DaveJ

    Please read:

    Quote:
    I/O for data transfer and backup (maybe USB is a good interface, at least almost everybody can deal with it) (must have)
    This obviously (?) means I regard I/O as an inevitable feature. Just within parentheses I was pondering that USB maybe (!) is something nice. Do we need enhancement of reading abilities? ;)

    IMHO this holds for your 2nd point, too. But I'm willing to do some thorough checking on the alpha and beta versions of the software, as soon as I get it :)

                            
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #17 Posted by DaveJ on 7 Nov 2007, 3:39 p.m.,
    in response to message #16 by Walter B

    Quote:
    Please read:

    This obviously (?) means I regard I/O as an inevitable feature. Just within parentheses I was pondering that USB maybe (!) is something nice. Do we need enhancement of reading abilities? ;)


    Not at all. This is a design feature discussion is it not? Everything is open to and should be discussed. You mentioned USB as a possibility, and I mentioned why it's probably not the best option from a design point of view.

    Sorry, can't help myself, I do this 10 times a day as an electronics product design engineer. It's my job to weight up and debate the pros and cons of what features go into various electronic products.

    Dave.

                
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #18 Posted by Eric Smith on 7 Nov 2007, 12:55 p.m.,
    in response to message #14 by Walter B

    Quote:
    if it has a RESET-button, I'd judge this as a sign of low reliability (only Window$ driven devices need this ;), no vintage calc ever had one).

    You're claiming that the HP-48 series are of low reliability?

    Later 41C series calculators and all HP-designed calculators from 1981 (Voyager) through the Saturn-based calculators have had a hardware reset mechanism. For most, it was a key combination that would in hardware force a reset. However, without designing custom electronics for the keyboard scanner, it is difficult to do that.

    Apparently HP thought it was important to have a way to force a reset, but if you really need a calculator with no reset capability, I'm sure you can find one. It likely won't satisfy many of your wishlist items.

                      
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #19 Posted by Walter B on 7 Nov 2007, 1:05 p.m.,
    in response to message #18 by Eric Smith

    OK, I solemnly withdraw this statement :)

                
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #20 Posted by Paul Guertin on 7 Nov 2007, 10:57 p.m.,
    in response to message #14 by Walter B

    Quote:
    Alpha-functionality like in 42S (must have)

    One good thing about a Voyager layout is that we can have a QWERTY keyboard instead of alphabetical order.

    Paul Guertin

          
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #21 Posted by Pavneet Arora on 7 Nov 2007, 5:15 a.m.,
    in response to message #1 by Pavneet Arora

    Date Functions...

    I know that I would like to have them. I just don't know which ones would have the broadest appeal.

    I use number of days between dates extensively as well as DOW.

          
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #22 Posted by Pavneet Arora on 7 Nov 2007, 5:19 a.m.,
    in response to message #1 by Pavneet Arora

    Indiglo type backlighting...

    Would there be a desire to have an Indigo type backlighting implemented --- what is the generic term? Since I tend to work in the field and often in areas of poor lighting, I would love to have some sort of backlight implemented. However, I don't want to compromise battery life too much and if it means taking a wind-up crank LED flashlight, then so be it.

                
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #23 Posted by Pal G. on 7 Nov 2007, 10:47 a.m.,
    in response to message #22 by Pavneet Arora

    Quote:
    Indiglo type backlighting...

    You mean like this??

    :) Pal

                      
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #24 Posted by Pavneet Arora on 7 Nov 2007, 11:17 a.m.,
    in response to message #23 by Pal G.

    That is too cool!

    For those who feel that 4-line display doesn't look right, what about the 15cx or whatever it is name that is in the background of Pal's picture. Doesn't that excite the "desire" neurons?

    Quote:

    You mean like this??

    :) Pal


                            
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #25 Posted by DaveJ on 7 Nov 2007, 3:32 p.m.,
    in response to message #24 by Pavneet Arora

    Quote:
    For those who feel that 4-line display doesn't look right, what about the 15cx or whatever it is name that is in the background of Pal's picture. Doesn't that excite the "desire" neurons?

    The 15CX is cool, but doesn't excite me. I think it looks wrong, and I suspect I won't like using it in practice.

    From my engineering design perspective it just feels wrong to have that dimension display in a landscape calculator, when you could easily rotate the same size calculator 90 degrees and have a more traditional portrait design. It's just "the vibe" of it - with apologies to Dennis Denuto from The Castle.

    Dave.

          
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #26 Posted by Maximilian Hohmann on 9 Nov 2007, 8:26 a.m.,
    in response to message #1 by Pavneet Arora

    Hello!

    Quote:
    How about everyone else?

    I wrote a longish answer before, but since I won't get "my" calcualtor anyway (reading the answers from the last days shows me, that the treck seems to be moving n the opposite direction :-( ), I will post a short one now.

    Quote:
    Let's break our own wishlist into:

    1. "have to haves", 2. "love to have", 3. "even if it had it I wouldn't care" ;).


    1.1. Portrait format ("Pioneer" ?). I need to use my calculator handheld and find this impossible with landscape layouts.

    1.2. Rechargeable batteries of standard dimensions (AA or AAA). I won't even touch a calculator that can only be run on disposable batteries. I am not environmentalist enough to try and force my views on other people, therefore "standard size" is important so that anybody can decide for himself what type of batteries to use.

    1.3. Luminous, highest possible contrast display. Nothing else will do in my working environment, therefore I am not interested in anything else.

    1.4. As configurable as possible. Maybe delivered with a blank (metal) faceplate that can be (laser) engraved for everybodies special need.

    1.5. Rugged construction, preferably metal with real glass over the display.

    1.6. USB. Seen as an external hard drive from the computer so that programs written on the computer and data entered on the computer can be dragged and dropped into the device. Just as I do it with my 5-Euro-MP3-player. Don't care if that will add another 3 Euros to the cost. No fuzzing about with memory cards and cryptic commands to access their contents (anybody remembers the horrible way this is done on a 48SX?).

    1.7. Algebraic option. I will need to hand this calculator to a colleague from time to time and don't want to teach them RPN.

    1.8. Date and Time functions, real time clock with timer and alarm and the possibility to make calculations with time values (just like the "H.MS+" key on a '67).

    1.9. Good alphanumeric prompts.

    2.1. A good mathematical library in the background. Not necessarily accessible from the keyboard, but awailable for writing ones own programs.

    2.2. Keystroke programming. But I much prefer to write programs on the computer and transfer them to the calculator for use.

    3.1. Graphics 3.2. Financial functions (I have no money anyway...) 3.3. A solver (never used one, don't even know what it is good for?) 3.4. CAS (I have one from Ti, there's no way to top that with an amateur project, useless to waste time and resources on that). 3.5. Fractions

    Greetings, Max

    NB: Here is an interesting semi-professional device that is also a kind of an amateur project, a flight management system for flight simulator enthusiasts ("simmers"): http://www.flyengravity.com/page/shop/7 It has many things in common with this calculator project, maybe we can learn from those guys? I would very much like a calculator the shape of this thing, with function keys along the sides of a mulit-line screen.

                
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #27 Posted by DaveJ on 10 Nov 2007, 7:06 a.m.,
    in response to message #26 by Maximilian Hohmann

    Quote:
    1.1. Portrait format ("Pioneer" ?). I need to use my calculator handheld and find this impossible with landscape layouts.

    Pioneer portrait format is also more useful and familiar for me. I would prefer that myself.

    Quote:
    1.2. Rechargeable batteries of standard dimensions (AA or AAA). I won't even touch a calculator that can only be run on disposable batteries. I am not environmentalist enough to try and force my views on other people, therefore "standard size" is important so that anybody can decide for himself what type of batteries to use.

    They will be a standard size, I think that is non-negotiable. Whether that is AA, AAA, or lithium coin cell is up for grabs.

    The calculator should be low power, so does not need, and will not be suitable for rechargables. I think that is non-negotiable also, the calc must have a long battery life (1 year+). Although you could use rechargables of course, but they would self discharge before they were used up and would be a poor choice.

    Would you seriously not touch a calculator that uses non-rechargables even if you get several years life out of one or two primary AAA's? Most people appreciate a calc that has long battery life that does not need rechargables.

    Quote:
    1.3. Luminous, highest possible contrast display. Nothing else will do in my working environment, therefore I am not interested in anything else.

    I suspect the first calc (if any) will use LCD. Although like I have mentioned before, there is a Pioneer option that allows the user to choose which display they want (LCD or OLED), without changing any hardware or software. That option has a lot going for it I think.

    Quote:
    1.6. USB. Seen as an external hard drive from the computer so that programs written on the computer and data entered on the computer can be dragged and dropped into the device. Just as I do it with my 5-Euro-MP3-player. Don't care if that will add another 3 Euros to the cost. No fuzzing about with memory cards and cryptic commands to access their contents (anybody remembers the horrible way this is done on a 48SX?).

    There is nothing wrong at all with simply using an SD card and popping that in an SD stick when needed. It's not just a matter of cost for USB, there are other development issues to contend with. Only a fool would put in "cryptic commands" into the format, standard PC readable format is the only option here.

    Dave.

                      
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #28 Posted by Maximilian Hohmann on 10 Nov 2007, 11:44 a.m.,
    in response to message #27 by DaveJ

    Hello!

    Quote:
    Would you seriously not touch a calculator that uses non-rechargables even if you get several years life out of one or two primary AAA's?

    This is not going to happen because the calculator I really need has to have some kind of luminous display, that will drain any kind of batteries within a few dozen hours of use. But maybe, the calculator could be designed in such a way, that it can run for years on one set with the backlight turned off?

    But seriously: I do not think that I bought a dispolsable battery in standard size (AA, AAA and 9V block) during the last ten years. Every single electric/electronic device in our household (from childrens toys to television remote controls) runs on rechargeable batteries, some of which must be 30 years old by now (and still working). If something isn't rechargeable, I don't buy it.

    Quote:
    There is nothing wrong at all with simply using an SD card and popping that in an SD stick when needed. It's not just a matter of cost for USB, there are other development issues to contend with. Only a fool would put in "cryptic commands" into the format, standard PC readable format is the only option here.

    If if can be kept simple from the user's point of view, then it's OK for me!

    Greetings, Max

          
    Re: Open45s: Functionality
    Message #29 Posted by Jeffrey Connor on 9 Nov 2007, 12:46 p.m.,
    in response to message #1 by Pavneet Arora

    First, I have to say how fascinating it has been to watch as this project develops. I hope to be buying one of these calculators in the near future. My two cents are as follows:

    1. Have to have 2. Love to have 3. Like to have (I know that it is a new category, sorry) 4. Donít care

    1.1 Landscape layout 1.2 DMS to DD and back key 1.3 Polar to rectangular and back key 1.4 Keystroke programming

    2.1 SD card slot 2.2 TVM 2.3 Solver 2.4 AA/AAA batteries

    3.1 Clock 3.2 Unit conversions 3.3 Four line display

    4.1 Algebraic 4.2 Graphics 4.3 Fractions


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