Best calculator for the working engineer

02252016, 08:35 PM
(This post was last modified: 08162016 05:37 PM by Ron Ross.)
Post: #20




RE: Best calculator for the working engineer
I haven’t posted for a while, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put in my 2 cents. 1st, are you going to take the FE exam? What is your engineering major?
. If you plan to take the FE or PE exam, the only Hp allowed is the Hp 35s (and the long discontinued Hp 33s). And the Hp 35s is a pretty good calc which seems to be 23X better quality than the WP 34s (a reflashed Hp 30b). While the WP 34s is an excellent RPN calculator in features, it aint that great on build quality ie under heavy use, it might only last 12 years (I keep wanting to buy one, but I have a couple of Hp 30b’s and from both personal experience and the feedback I get from people that flash these calcs is a full third of these calculators suffer from QC issues). . Getting back to the Quality of an Hp 35s, it seems to be built to last thru 23 years of heavy use (or 35 years of professional use). It DOES not compare in quality to the older LCD Hp calculators such as the Voyager (Hp11c, Hp 12c, Hp 15c etc) or Pioneer (Hp 20s, Hp 32s – Hp 32sii, Hp 42s, and Hp 17bii) lines which can last decades. Sadly, if you plan to take the FE or PE exams, you should just buy an Hp 35s for $5060 while you still can. The NCEES will likely allow this calculator for the next decade (whether it’s readily available or not, you cannot rely upon Hp to continue to sell anything RPN but the Hp12c and the Hp Prime). . Talking about the Hp Prime, it is a good graphing calculator for the student but I am not a fan as it is more of an algebraic calculator with RPN stuck on as an afterthought. However, it has the best build quality of anything currently available from Hp for the last 1015 years. . You did NOT mention which engineering major you are. If you are an EE or ME with machine design, the Hp 42s is the calculator of choice. It is worth the $$$ you will spend on it. If you are any other engineer even an ME in building design (HVAC), you would be happy with nearly any of Hp’s RPN scientifics, but I would suggest the easiest to find, an Hp 32sii. These are easy to find and if in good shape, should last you another ten years or so (keep in mind, these are already 1520 years old). This is the predecessor to the Hp 35s now available. It has a better keyboard layout and is much more durable and of unmeasurable quality over the current Hp 35s. Its drawbacks? Skimpy memory, no real matrix support and poor implementation of complex numbers. But it is what I use as my travel calc. . If you are not taking the PE exam in your future and want a great calculator (but on the cheap), I would suggest an Hp 48G (or the new Hp 50G now on sale). I prefer the older Hp 48G as any high end math that I do, generally needs to be documented hence the really advance functionality of the Hp 50G is wasted and the graphing aspect isn’t used either. Both are available for $5070 (the Hp48G would be used but should be in Great shape of course). My impression of the Hp 48G is that if the foam compression under the LCD screen lasts, the calculator will last. The Hp 50G will probably last 510 years under moderate to heavy use. . As many here have said, once you graduate, you may not need much. In that respect, I actually have my Hp 48g tucked away in my desk so as to not look like the calculator NERD I truly am and have a plain Hp 12c on my desk (they are cheap and easy to find used). . If you find an Hp 11c or 15c, these are very nice too (and of even top notch superior quality), but they are not as straight forward to program or use as the more recent Hp 32sii. You might also come across an Hp 41C (several flavors, any of which is good). These are often found in the $150 range and while they are great calculators and even pocketable. However given their age and how their previous owners will have used them A LOT, you can buy a much less used Hp 48G for less than half of that and have a better made calculator. . So, to summarize my suggestions (for a pocket calculator), 1st recommendation would be an Hp 32ii. All other calculators mentioned are 2nd best candidates (aside from an Hp 42s iif you are an EE, otherwise, there are many here who still prefer the Hp 32sii) . If you are planning to take an FE or PE exam, buy an Hp 35s too (I don’t really consider the Hp 35s to be a true pocket calc, it’s not that much smaller than an Hp 48G!!!). . If you want a pocket calc with plenty of features, the WP 34s or the Hp 42s are the next steps up in power. Before you hunt down a WP 34s, you can buy an Hp 30b to check quality (they are cheap, because they are Cheap!). But the Hp 30b does have trig functions and is usable as a scientific calculator right out of the blister pack. However, its menu system is poorly arranged for a scientific calculator (it is a business calculator with trig after all). . One last consideration that was loved by an EE that used to visit this forum, the Hp 17Bii. These are often fairly cheap, have excellent build quality and their built in solver allows for you to add any functions not already built in (ie adding trig functions as this is a business calculator w/o any trig). This calculator is fairly easy to find in near new condition for around $50. It offers selectable rpn or chain logic (ie algebraic w/o precedence). . One last comment. Maybe you don’t really need an RPN calculator, just a really nice quality calculator. Buy an Hp 20s. This should be easy to find for about $50 in excellent condition and will last you a long time. Yeah, it has its shortcomings, but it is of excellent build quality and is very similar in functions to your original calculator but with more functions and programmable. 

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