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HP50g FrankenCalc
01-23-2018, 11:48 PM
Post: #1
HP50g FrankenCalc
Hi everyone,

I thought I'd post pictures of an oddity I ran across this weekend. I found a local green-waste dealer advertising a lot of four HP50g calculators on TAS, all missing battery doors and with a warning that keys or displays might not work. What caught my eye was the light color of one of the four calculators. The opening bid was $30, so I placed a bid. Good price for a supply of parts, and I wanted to see that weird calc.

I searched but couldn't find a picture of a similar 50g, but it looked a good deal like a 49G+. No one else challenged my bid, so I now have this odd 50g at hand for closer examination. The picture below shows my 49G+ on the left and two of the 50g calculators on the right.

[Image: uc?export=view&id=16MglXY_oouJWM...vcBzWgw9uF]

The calculator in the center certainly appears to be a 49G+, right down to the blue background on the HP logo. The result of a VERSION command, followed by VIEW and TEXT confirms that it is. Yet I don't see how the 50g script appears in the upper left. No sign of the faceplate being lifted off. The back photo below shows that the battery compartment matches the 49G+ as well, and I don't see any sign of tampering.

[Image: uc?export=view&id=1NGBbVtlMi6Xos...JatHpWoPmt]

Any thoughts on what the previous (mad scientist?) owner might have had in mind, and how they went about this alteration? Assuming it's an alteration! Perhaps this was a mistake on the production line. Any chance I might be able to flash the 50g OS and have a really unique FrankenCalc to show off?

Looks like it might pay to cruise the discard bins,
~Mark

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01-23-2018, 11:54 PM
Post: #2
RE: HP50g FrankenCalc
(01-23-2018 11:48 PM)mfleming Wrote:  No sign of the faceplate being lifted off.

Maybe it fell off from weakened adhesive. If it happened to a couple of calculators, they might have gotten stuck back on the wrong bodies. Of course, production line (or refurbishing) errors aren't out of the question.
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01-24-2018, 12:09 AM
Post: #3
RE: HP50g FrankenCalc
The faceplates can be removed using strong suction cup grippers with no damage or pry marks left behind. This listing caught my eye too, but when I saw it had only a 3-battery bay, I realized it was a 49g+ with a 50g nametag. But definitely grabs ones attention.

And like most frankencalcs, it does make for an interesting conversation starter.

--Bob Prosperi
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01-24-2018, 12:45 AM
Post: #4
RE: HP50g FrankenCalc
(01-24-2018 12:09 AM)rprosperi Wrote:  The faceplates can be removed using strong suction cup grippers with no damage or pry marks left behind.

I can confirm that, because I have detached the screen faceplate to remove an annoying particle of dust. There are no visible marks after this operation.
Here is a good link about the procedure:
http://hhuc.us/2006/dust/

Since I have several black and blue models, perhaps I should switch the faceplates between calculators to design new versions of the 50G. Smile

Jean-Charles
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01-24-2018, 01:04 AM
Post: #5
RE: HP50g FrankenCalc
(01-24-2018 12:45 AM)Helix Wrote:  I can confirm that, because I have detached the screen faceplate to remove an annoying particle of dust. There are no visible marks after this operation.
Here is a good link about the procedure:
http://hhuc.us/2006/dust/

Thanks for that link, I forgot all about it.

And a photo on that page reveals why the HP badge retained it's original colors!

--Bob Prosperi
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01-24-2018, 01:58 AM
Post: #6
RE: HP50g FrankenCalc
As you've probably surmised by now, that is almost certainly a 49g+ that has the wrong faceplate attached. If you're still not 100% convinced, try this simple test:

1) Power on the calculator
2) Press and hold the ON/Cancel key
3) Press and release the F6/F Key
4) Release the ON key

You'll be prompted with a menu of options for testing the calculator. Press "8" for the power test. You should now see something like the following:
Code:
NOW FULLY RUN
1-OFF
2-IDLE
PRESS ON TO WAKE UP

BATTERY NORMAL


0X00000363
PRESS ENTER TO EXIT

The hexadecimal number at the bottom will be different than the one shown above, and represents the current status of your batteries. Here's the crucial part: plug in a USB cable that is attached to either a running computer or a USB power source of some kind. If you do this with a 50g, the "BATTERY NORMAL" indication will change to "USB POWER WORK". On a 49g+, the "BATTERY NORMAL" indicator will not change. I think you'll find that your FrankenCalc behaves like the 49g+ in this instance, which means that the indicator will not change to indicate the calculator drawing power from the USB port after the cable is attached.

Also, note that you can (and probably should) update both the FrankenCalc and the 49g+ to firmware version 2.15 as well.

The other interesting thing to me about this FrankenCalc is that the printed serial number on the back starts with "CAN" instead of "CNA". I thought all of these units were made by KINPO in China. Has anyone ever heard of 49g+/50g units with serial numbers beginning with those letters? Was KINPO really that sloppy with their label printing? Note: it's normal for the printed serial number on that label to be different than the "soft" serial number returned by the SERIAL command, so don't be alarmed if you find them to be different on all of these units.
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01-24-2018, 03:04 AM
Post: #7
RE: HP50g FrankenCalc
(01-24-2018 01:58 AM)DavidM Wrote:  Also, note that you can (and probably should) update both the FrankenCalc and the 49g+ to firmware version 2.15 as well.

The other interesting thing to me about this FrankenCalc is that the printed serial number on the back starts with "CAN" instead of "CNA". I thought all of these units were made by KINPO in China. Has anyone ever heard of 49g+/50g units with serial numbers beginning with those letters? Was KINPO really that sloppy with their label printing? Note: it's normal for the printed serial number on that label to be different than the "soft" serial number returned by the SERIAL command, so don't be alarmed if you find them to be different on all of these units.
Behaves exactly as you noted with the power test. Definitely a 49g+. Does your update suggestion imply both 49g+ & 50g use the same OS?

I noticed the difference in the serial number too. I remember Tim W. noting the different China prefixes, and I thought they just differ in the last letter (CNA, CNB, etc). Perhaps this calculator is an after-hours production run for the black market, or again just something someone else thought would be cool.

I definitely like the color scheme!
~Mark
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01-24-2018, 03:49 AM (This post was last modified: 01-24-2018 03:50 AM by Joe Horn.)
Post: #8
RE: HP50g FrankenCalc
(01-24-2018 03:04 AM)mfleming Wrote:  Behaves exactly as you noted with the power test. Definitely a 49g+. Does your update suggestion imply both 49g+ & 50g use the same OS?

Yes. As you implied in the first posting, a very easy way to test whether an RPL machine is a 48gII or a 49g+ or a 50g is with the VERSION command. VERSION's internal code actually determines which model it's on, and will return "HP48" or "HP49" or "HP50" in the VERSION output, even when their OS versions are identical.

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