HP Forums

Full Version: Perfect Programming PDA/Palmtop/Calc
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Hello, everyone. This is my first thread and I wanted to hear some advice and opinions of everyone on the forums. My main objective here is to get a portable pda of sorts that can do some form of scripting or programming. I aspire to be a computer scientist and enjoy programming with core batch and TI-BASIC and sometimes I even do a little bit of dabbling in Java. Unfortunately, I am 14, meaning I was a bit late to the party and don't have as much money and only enough knowledge to understand basic ideas and know-hows of binary searches, standard syntax, and mathematical concepts. My only portable programming device is the ti 89 titanium , and while very powerful, I feel the need to expand my "Library". I have a couple of devices I've considered, one actually Hewlett Packard. I have a couple of questions as well. Feel free to suggest any device that might suit me considering my little bio above.

(1)HP 95lx - my only question is can it create executable dos files by itself (stand alone)?
(2)TRS 80- Only issue is that these aren't cheap but are otherwise acceptable
(3)Tandy PC 7- While there are some big disadvantages, I could still use it for some basic scripting and get by with the small tasks I'm doing.
(4)Psion organizer II- from what I've heard its compatible with BASIC syntax or atleast a similar interface(ide), I'll just need some clarification and if I get more into it, I'll get a manual (pdf).

I might add, depending on the way things go ,and also, thanks for all the support and advice
-Bas
The HP palmtops will run lots of different compilers and IDEs. I've got TurboC on my 200LX, and I've written a few assorted programs with it (some useful, some less so), and it'll compile native DOS .exe files. You can also run various forms of BASIC: QuickBasic, GW-BASIC, etc. I believe the 95LX will handle most of that as well, but anything bigger than GW-BASIC would be a tight fit without a big storage card that will work with the 95LX.

The Tandy Model 100 is cool, but pretty bulky, and doesn't have anywhere near as much memory as even a 95LX. It does have a nice big keyboard, though, and the capabilities are pretty much on par with GW-BASIC.

The Psion II is neat, but pretty clumsy to type on. Also, the version of OPL in the 3 or 5 series is a lot more mature.

Honestly, I'd recommend that you look at getting either an iPod Touch or iPad Mini with a bluetooth keyboard, and download Pythonista from the app store (which I think costs somewhere around $10). It's a really great Python 2.7 IDE that you can rig up to sync your source files with Dropbox. Python is a lot nicer to work with than BASIC or C for knocking out programs quickly, and also has a lot more object-oriented capabilities than either of those launguages. To put it in perspective, I once wrote a program directly on my iPhone to solve one of those little triangular peg jump solitaire games, without a bluetooth keyboard, entirely during a family dinner gathering, so it's really great for doing that kind of ad-hoc tinkering.

There may be an older DOS version of Python you could try running on the 95LX, but I have no idea how it would compare to current versions.

The advantage to using Python is that it's extremely popular in both desktop and server environments these days.
I suggest you also consider an HP-71B. It's the ultimate BASIC machine in many ways, but it has a limited display compared to some of the machines (1-line LCD 22-chars wide) you listed. It has about the most powerful variation of interpreted BASIC in any handheld. You can get one in good+ condition for under $200 on eBay, and there are MANY options for add-on program ROMs, peripherals, enhanced memory, etc., etc.

Since the platform options you have suggested are so diverse, maybe some more info. about the kinds of programs you want to write could help us give you more/better advice. For example, if you are mostly interested in math and calculating, the 71B is likely your best choice, but if you want to develop database/info programs, something like the 95LX with it's much larger screen would be better.
Thanks for all the help so far. From what I have gathered, I think I should consider working with the HP 95lx through 200lx range according to what I can afford. I already have a calculator at top specs for various programs that cover numerous algebraic functions and graphical regions. I guess I was looking for something more development oriented. Having new gained knowledge of knowing I can add in ide's is like a miracle. I also like its design with the 90's aesthetic and how it's DOS 3.2 (I believe atleast for 95lx) because from what I heard, DOS 4 was a mess. However, I will look into the app you have suggested, as well because I might have difficulty with serial ports, but worst case scenario, I use my windows 2000 if most modern computers don't have serial ports. Python is a popular if not major language worth learning so I'll check if there are any versions of it that are DOS compatible and also look for particularly cheap ipods. Sorry for droning on and thanks for the suggestions. I think I know what I want but I'll keep an open mind. I'll also keep an eye on the hp 71B for its superiority to most BASIC device since you mentioned it. Sadly, it is wait out of what I can afford with my own money so it might not be an option because ebay prices now are particularly expensive. Thank you, gentlemen.
If your budget is limited, an Android tablet may be more affordable. In the US a new "Kindle Fire" Android tablet starts at $49 (plus tax). As far as programming language IDEs there is QPython for Python, BASIC! for BASIC and CppDroid for C++, among others. I have not used any of these Apps so I can't comment on their functionality.
I have messed around with all sorts of programmable portable devices. Older ones - like the Psion Organiser 2 - present you with the problem of inconvenient connectivity, though I remember that the OPL language was easy to get into and you can pick up a Psion for very little money.

Language wise, for a long time I had a sort of C phobia, working mostly with Borland Delphi, and prior to that Turbo Pascal. Then I got into Arduino and actually found the transition straightforward. My Arduino C listings tend to have a Pascal look and feel but I get by.

The good things about Arduino:

Simple USB connectivity
Cheap hardware - Arduino Uno for 10 dollars, LCD display for similar amount
Free IDE, with loads of code libraries support forums, etc.
The C programming skills acquired are transferable to hundreds of other systems/scenarios (micro controller programmers make the world go around)

The only drawback is that you have to build your own portable gizmos - but that is also a good thing for an aspiring computer scientist to do.

My other low cost suggestion is to buy an old Texas TI57/58/59 programmable calculator. This would definitely widen you coding experience in the direction of quasi-assembly language. The manuals for these calculators are very good for learners. Getting a TI 5x up and running will almost certainly involve some kind of rechargeable battery transplant and you have to be sure that the one you buy hasn't been trashed by battery leakage.
(03-27-2016 09:09 AM)Chasfield Wrote: [ -> ]My other low cost suggestion is to buy an old Texas TI57/58/59 programmable calculator. This would definitely widen you coding experience in the direction of quasi-assembly language. The manuals for these calculators are very good for learners. Getting a TI 5x up and running will almost certainly involve some kind of rechargeable battery transplant and you have to be sure that the one you buy hasn't been trashed by battery leakage.

Unless you need to be able to use ROM modules, the TI-66 would be a better choice. Much better battery life, runs on plain old LR44s, and the keyboard isn't atrocious.

Or get the TI-95 if you want the king of algebraic keystroke programmables (it actually outdoes the HP 41 in several respects), or the TI-74 if you want something programmable in BASIC with that same form factor.

But really, if you've already got an 89 Titanium, those probably won't bring much to the table as far as programming. As clumsy as the 89 is for daily number crunching, it's got a really nice programming system. If you want to get into RPN keystroke programming, look into the Swiss Micros DM-41L, or wait for the 42S clone they've announced for this summer.

I forgot to mention this earlier, but PocketCHIP is probably a great option. It's due out sometime around May - I've had my Kickstarter order in since last spring. For well under $100, you get a single-board computer that runs Linux, which you can pop into that handheld chassis with touch screen, keyboard, and battery, and also yank the CHIP back out and attach an HDMI adapter to use it as a desktop. Since it runs Linux, you can do C, Python, Scratch, or anything else. It's got GPIO pins in case you want to play with controlling other devices or adding sensors, and the basic CHIP is only about $9 in case you blow it up. Smile
When I did any programming in Java, I used Processing, and Arduino's ide is literally a spin off of that. I'm pretty good with Java on the processing ide, and I've even had some past experiences with Arduino itself on a (unfortunately, it was sold) windows 7. I have the uno on my desk and a duemilanove somewhere else. The only reason I gave up with working on those is because I failed very badly when trying to install drivers for them on Windows 8. I do have a new Windows 10 PC though, so I'll see it's driver compatibility. If any of you have advice for driver installation that would be great. I'll try finding some links.
(03-26-2016 10:25 PM)BASICProgrammer Wrote: [ -> ]Hello, everyone. This is my first thread and I wanted to hear some advice and opinions of everyone on the forums. My main objective here is to get a portable pda of sorts that can do some form of scripting or programming.

Most of the old Palms are cheap now and there is quite a selection in the way of languages available. There is C, M68K assembly, ARM assembly (for the Tungsten models), FORTH ($$), LISP, Java. I believe there is also Lua. There was good developer support for these devices and at one time there was a lot of code around. I'm not sure how easy it will be to find now though.

But, since this is an HP forum we would be remiss if we didn't suggest an HP 50g. You can program the 50g in HP's RPL (two variants- user and system), Saturn assembly (an assembly language for the proprietary CPU in HP's previous range of calcs including the beloved HP48), ARM assembly (since the HP 50g is implemented in ARM running Saturn emulation) and C. There might be more. It's cheap on scamazon and good prices can sometimes be had on the bay also.
(03-27-2016 05:58 AM)Steve Simpkin Wrote: [ -> ]If your budget is limited, an Android tablet may be more affordable. In the US a new "Kindle Fire" Android tablet starts at $49 (plus tax). As far as programming language IDEs there is QPython for Python, BASIC! for BASIC and CppDroid for C++, among others. I have not used any of these Apps so I can't comment on their functionality.

And you can install DOS-Box which gives you a nice DOS emulator, where you can use a number of DOS compilers.

G√ľnter
(03-27-2016 05:58 AM)Steve Simpkin Wrote: [ -> ]If your budget is limited, an Android tablet may be more affordable. In the US a new "Kindle Fire" Android tablet starts at $49 (plus tax). As far as programming language IDEs there is QPython for Python, BASIC! for BASIC and CppDroid for C++, among others. I have not used any of these Apps so I can't comment on their functionality.

Basic! for Android is a very nice basic. It has extensions to make good use of all the Android Hardware options, including voice, GPS, vibrate, etc.

There are several other good languages for Android:

X11-Basic
PascalGUI
Pepe - another Pascal for Android

For C, there's
C4DROID
CCTOOLS

For Fortran, CCTOOLS with gfortran add-on.
For Lua, CCTOOLS with LuaJIT add-on.


And of course, AnDOSBox will allow you to run almost any language. The downside is that you probably won't be able to make use of lot of the Android hardware options.

If you go the Android route, you will need to install a better soft keyboard - I recommend "Hacker's Keyboard". It will give you the special PC function keys.

And some of the above languages do not have a built-in editor, so a nice simple editor for Android will be needed. I use "TED" for Android.

I'm sure I have missed some other programming languages that can be done on the Android. All-in-all, I find the Android tablet has a rich set of options for programming.

Bill
Smithville, NJ
I should probably mention that a fairly typical TurboC 2.01 installation takes just over 2 MB, so if you're intending to cram that onto a 95LX, plan accordingly. You'll need a pretty big SRAM card, or one of the few compact flash cards that can be made to work with a 95 LX. You can probably slim down the installation some by leaving out the IDE, and libraries you don't need (like the larger memory models).

GW-BASIC is a mere 80 KB, and it looks like you can probably get QuickBASIC 4.5 to fit in under 0.5 MB by leaving out some of the extras (.exe compiler among them). Otherwise you're probably looking at about 1 MB.
(03-26-2016 10:25 PM)BASICProgrammer Wrote: [ -> ](1)HP 95lx - my only question is can it create executable dos files by itself (stand alone)?
(2)TRS 80- Only issue is that these aren't cheap but are otherwise acceptable
(3)Tandy PC 7- While there are some big disadvantages, I could still use it for some basic scripting and get by with the small tasks I'm doing.

For the HP-95LX, you should spend some time on the Palmtop Paper site:

Palmtop Paper

Also, look at the HP-95LX programming section of the HP200LX.Net. Be sure to download the "HP95LX Developer's kit":

HP95LX Programming

All of the TRS-80 pocket computers are great little handheld's that run a very good basic. Likewise there are a series of Sharp handheld computers that are very powerful. Several of the Sharp units have a Z-80 processor that will allow you do Z-80 Assembly as well as Basic. Likewise, several have the 'C' language built-in.

To get a good feel for all the handheld computers that have been made, spend some time in the Museum site of:

Pocket Computer Museum

The main thing is to have lots of fun with whatever you choose.

Bill
Smithville, NJ
(03-30-2016 01:57 AM)Bill (Smithville NJ) Wrote: [ -> ]All of the TRS-80 pocket computers are great little handheld's that run a very good basic. Likewise there are a series of Sharp handheld computers that are very powerful. Several of the Sharp units have a Z-80 processor that will allow you do Z-80 Assembly as well as Basic. Likewise, several have the 'C' language built-in.

Personally, I would almost always recommend the Casios over the Sharps, simply because they give you multiple program spaces. You can have more than one fully independent program in memory, each reusing the same line numbers. They typically support calling the other programs as subroutines, too.

For example, the Casio FX-702P, which is the first one they made, and is still labeled simply "Programmable Calculator", has a mere 1,680 bytes of RAM, but allows you to do a surprising amount with it, due to the tokenized BASIC and ten independent program spaces.

Storing multiple programs in a Sharp requires carefully ensuring the line numbers don't conflict. Same deal with the TI-74, as I recall.

The TRS-80 pocket computer line is an assortment of rebranded Casios and Sharps, sometimes with slightly altered keyboard layouts (and occasionally lower price tags on ebay):

PC-1 = Sharp PC-1211
PC-2 = Sharp PC-1500
PC-3 = Sharp PC-1250 (There's a later model based on the PC-1250A, with more memory)
PC-4 = Casio PB-100
PC-5 = Casio FX-780P
PC-6 = Casio FX-790P
PC-7 = Casio FX-5200P
PC-8 = Sharp PC-1246
(03-30-2016 01:57 AM)Bill (Smithville NJ) Wrote: [ -> ]All of the TRS-80 pocket computers are great little handheld's that run a very good basic. Likewise there are a series of Sharp handheld computers that are very powerful. Several of the Sharp units have a Z-80 processor that will allow you do Z-80 Assembly as well as Basic. Likewise, several have the 'C' language built-in.

The TI calcs also offer programming in Z80 assembly and BASIC but they're priced so high you could probably get quite a bit more for the programming buck (think 3 HP 50gs etc.)

(03-30-2016 01:57 AM)Bill (Smithville NJ) Wrote: [ -> ]Pocket Computer Museum

Thanks for the link! I had not seen that before.
If you are really interested in using one of the many Handheld/pocket computers, then I recommend downloading and installing POCKEMUL which will emulate many of these computers. It's a great way to become familiar with them before laying out hard cash buying one.

Pockemul

Bill
Smithville, NJ
Well my final contestants are the hp 95lx, the tungsten c, and the pocket computer, chip. The hp 95 I already assume can run memo files as .bat files. It has a monochrome screen that has some larger text so it won't strain my eyes anymore. I can add ides form palm os and can communicate over wifi and send emails on tungsten c. The chip is great and all but has a long release date. I might check for those vhs sized lenovos but I'm getting really close to my desicion. Thanks, all.
(04-03-2016 05:32 PM)BASICProgrammer Wrote: [ -> ]Well my final contestants are the hp 95lx, the tungsten c, and the pocket computer, chip. The hp 95 I already assume can run memo files as .bat files. It has a monochrome screen that has some larger text so it won't strain my eyes anymore. I can add ides form palm os and can communicate over wifi and send emails on tungsten c. The chip is great and all but has a long release date. I might check for those vhs sized lenovos but I'm getting really close to my desicion. Thanks, all.

I always wanted one of those Tungsten Cs. Be aware that given its age, it may not connect to wireless access points using WPA2 encryption. If it doesn't, you'd have to either use weaker encryption on your access point, or some access points will allow you to have a second guest network with weaker/no encryption. Just something to research and consider before spending a lot on one and any accessories.

Of those, I'd say start with a 95LX and GW-BASIC (plus QuickBASIC or TurboC if you can get a decent SRAM card) if you want something now, and keep an eye on the PocketCHIP when it comes out in the next couple of months.

Side note: Lotus 1-2-3 is still the best handheld spreadsheet I've used on any device, and I've tried tons of them ranging from the 95LX up through my iPad. You can make really handy data entry sheets or interactive calculators if you get comfortable with formulas and macros.
(04-03-2016 05:32 PM)BASICProgrammer Wrote: [ -> ]Well my final contestants are the hp 95lx, the tungsten c, and the pocket computer, chip. The hp 95 I already assume can run memo files as .bat files. It has a monochrome screen that has some larger text so it won't strain my eyes anymore. I can add ides form palm os and can communicate over wifi and send emails on tungsten c. The chip is great and all but has a long release date. I might check for those vhs sized lenovos but I'm getting really close to my desicion. Thanks, all.

Since you are looking at the Tungsten C (which I have used), you may want to consider the Sony series of Palm type units - I have used quite a few of them - I especially liked the Sonly Clie Peg NZ-90. Sony made a whole series of Clie PDA's.

Another system which no one has suggested is the Win CE PDA's. HP made a couple of nice ones - the HP-620LX is very nice. The NEC MobilePro series of PDA's are also great. Nice keyboard, color screens and many apps built-in. I've used most of these PDA's over the years. I used a NEC Mobilepro 900 for several years at work. With the large keyboard and Excel built-in, it was great for doing load calc take-offs from drawings. I could enter the data in a spreadsheet, then transfer it to a PC for processing. There were several programming languages that would run on the Win CE units.

One last comment/warning. You may want to stick with a unit that uses replaceable batteries. Almost all the rechargeable batteries will be dead in these older units. And it may be difficult to replace the internal rechargeable battery in a sealed unit. Some of the PDA's had battery holders that could let them use standard AA batteries in lieu of the rechargeable battery. I know the NEC series had these AA battery holders. But finding this battery holder may be difficult.

Oh, Almost forgot. There is the Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 PDA that runs Linux. I always wanted to get one of these to play around with.

So many choices!

Bill
Smithville, NJ
Reference URL's