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the HP11C & the Sewage Pump Station

Posted by Wayne Stephens on 28 Jan 2004, 1:26 p.m.

It is 1989. I am working as a Civil Engineer in Virginia. We are testing a new sewage pump station in preparation for official start-up. My HP11C (purchased while in college in 1982) is in my shirt pocket. I lean over the wet well hatch... I see a dark shadow-like thing fluttering downward... it is my 11C dropping into the wet well. We shut off the pumps. I climb down the ladder into the wet well. Fortunately, since this is a test, we are using "clean" water. I retrieve my 11C. It is soaked and of course will not power up.

I take it home, disassemble it (or at any rate I remove the rear cover) and spray/soak it with distilled water. I leave it disassembled and "bake" it in an oven at 90 degrees for two or three days (I don't remember exactly how long). When I am confident I have driven out all the moisture, I reassemble the calculator. With hopeful thoughts I install the batteries and press the ON button. It powers up. It passes all tests. IT WORKS...

In fact, it still works, although it has been retired and now resides in a quiet corner of my "electronics closet". I use a 48GX, 42S or a 32SII today depending upon what I am doing, but I will always be most impressed with the durability of my 11C. Oh, and after the "wet well incident" I stopped carrying it in my front shirt pocket.


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