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HP Releases Hackable ARM-Based Calculator

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the turning-tools-to-toys dept.

HP 124

mikeselectricstuff writes "HP's 20b business consultant calculator isn't the sort of thing that would normally interest the average Slashdotter, but HP has released a Devkit for it, including schematics and source for a sample application, and they appear to be actively encouraging people to re-purpose it. Maybe the engineers thought a business calculator was just too boring for their hardware? The calculator is based on an Atmel ARM chip, and it has a bootloader and JTAG interface to allow user applications to be written and downloaded, turning a boring calculator into anything you can do within the constraints of the hardware."

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Sweet (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24626949)

But how do I embed the calculator in my arm? Knife and some glue?

Re:Sweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24626959)

No it is powered by your arm, from your body heat radiation.

Re:Sweet (2, Funny)

edalytical (671270) | more than 6 years ago | (#24626981)

Hacksaw, maybe? I mean the title said it was hackable, I assume that means with a hacksaw. You'd probably want to _integrate_ rather than embed anyway.

Oh! (1)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627125)

I thought it was a breakable arm calculator! Phew!

Re:Sweet (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24627283)

No no, they embed the ARM in the calculator. Put the sharp objects down man.

Re:Sweet (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627325)

so it's like one of those nifty wristwatch-gadgets, but bigger?

get off my veldt! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24628261)

That's the problem with you GUI-raised kids. A knife and arm and cuneiform is all anyone needs.

More Companies Should Do This (4, Informative)

Marillion (33728) | more than 6 years ago | (#24626963)

Of course most customers will use this as is. I'm thankful that HP isn't so paranoid of what their niche customers might do. The right of people to tweak products to suit their needs is a right that needs to be preserved.

Re:More Companies Should Do This (3, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627033)

Its not exactly as if someone can harm HP, or any other hardware company by repurposing their calculators, so yes, more companies should do it.

I suspect what they are hoping is that tech types will play, the calculators name will be thrown around the water cooler, and procurement will find requests to purchase on their desk.

Which is, of course, all well and good.

Re:More Companies Should Do This (3, Informative)

ettlz (639203) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627043)

When it comes to calculators, I don't think HP have ever been at all bad in that respect. It's not for nothing that their calculators are something akin to the "workstations" of their class: there's always been loads of documentation out there for the HP 28, 48, etc. plus a metric ton of third-party software. A HP graphic calculator can expect to be "re-purposed" any number of times in its useful life (which is a very long time) as part of normal use.

Re:More Companies Should Do This (4, Informative)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627265)

I mean consider that the HP49g+ has 3 compilers and deompilers built-in, as well as a debugger for UserRPL and SystemRPL. I also believe it may be the only calculator with an SD card slot. (The hp50g is just a slight hardware revision to the HP49g+, although the keyboard is significantly improved, and the use of 4 AAA is also a notable improvement.)

Consider that it is the hardware platform for the DC-50 [http://www.pssllc.com/] surveying data collector, and it is clear the calc can be re-purposed.

Re:More Companies Should Do This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24627961)

casio also got atleast one model with a sd slot, 9760 or something like that :)

Re:More Companies Should Do This (1)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628039)

And at $120+, the HP 49g+/50g also seems rather overpriced...

Re:More Companies Should Do This (4, Insightful)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628407)

Look at amazon.com

HP top of the line grpahing calculator is Hp50g at $117.95. http://www.amazon.com/50g-Graphing-Calculator-F2229AA-ABA/dp/B000GTPRPS [amazon.com]

Ti's top of the line is the 89 Titanium at $139.95. http://www.amazon.com/Texas-Instruments-TI-89-Titanium-Calculator/dp/B0001EMLZ2/ref=pd_sim_e_6 [amazon.com]

TI's top of the line mainline (83 series) is the 84+SE at $120.21. http://www.amazon.com/Texas-Instruments-TI-84-Graphing-Calculator/dp/B0001EMM0Q/ref=pd_sim_e_5 [amazon.com]

The Hp50g is definitely significantly more powerful than the 84+SE. It arguably has a better CAS than the 89. Yet of the three it is the least expensive.

Re:More Companies Should Do This (3, Interesting)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627791)

Of course most customers will use this as is. I'm thankful that HP isn't so paranoid of what their niche customers might do. The right of people to tweak products to suit their needs is a right that needs to be preserved.

Considering HP has made available the code to a number of their calculators to allow emulators to run on various platforms, such as WinCE and PalmOS; they're pretty good at taking care of their customers and trusting them.

Their calculator division, at least, has always truck me as a group run by engineers and people who understand technology as well as how to make it into useful tools.

I still have my HP-45; and it still runs. The only problem I ever had was trying to use it on a submarine when we rigged for red.

Re:More Companies Should Do This (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629601)

IIRC, HP actually hired the developer of MetaKernel, which was a replacement OS for the HP48 line, to develop the OS for the 49g and newer models - in fact, my 50g has a MetaKernel splash screen.

Re:More Companies Should Do This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24628101)

"I'm thankful that HP isn't so paranoid of what their niche customers might do."

This is HP right? Their sense of calm probably comes from checking on those peoples' phone records ;)

Thank you /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630939)

Hello,

When I first started working on trying to make the 20b hackable and 'lobyed' to make the SDK available to the public, I dreamed of it making it on /. I thought of as being the ultimate sign of suxess....

Today, my dream became real. Thank you all.

regards, cyrille
HP Calculator division

Sorry but I have to ask.. (0, Offtopic)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24626969)

Does it run NetBSD?

I'm sorry, but I have to... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24626985)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these!

I imagine the next few postings will be about hot grits and whatnot.

Re:I'm sorry, but I have to... (0, Offtopic)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627057)

In Soviet Russia, calculators re-purpose you!

Re:I'm sorry, but I have to... (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627341)

nooo! that leg doesn't go there! CRACK!! ouch...

ya know, i'd rather not have that. i'll get a calc proggie for my phone.

Re:Sorry but I have to ask.. (4, Funny)

harrkev (623093) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627425)

Does it run NetBSD?

If you want it to.
Some assembly required... and maybe some C++.

Should have been does it run Vista (n/t) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24627445)

nt.

Re:Sorry but I have to ask.. (1)

T3Tech (1306739) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628561)

Well NetBSD has an ARM port right... hey wait Linux will run on ARM.. sweet! a Beowulf cluster of HP calculators!

Re:Sorry but I have to ask.. (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630735)

Arm covers a very wide range of processors from microcontrollers with no mmu and very little ram or rom like flash to chips with PCI busses and memory controllers that are capable of running a full linux distro at tollerable speeds.

This chip is firmly at the microcontroller end of the scale. It doesn't have anywhere near enough memory to run linux and I very much doubt it has a mmu either.

Re:Sorry but I have to ask.. (1)

T3Tech (1306739) | more than 6 years ago | (#24631031)

Oh bah, you're going let little details, like pointing out that the 30-36Mhz processor only has 128k of flash and 6k of RAM, get in the way of a beowulf cluster? You're no fun... Party pooper. :p

Re:Sorry but I have to ask.. (2, Informative)

rthille (8526) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630667)

No, it's an ARM7, so no MMU, so no NetBSD.

At least I think that's true, based on the Atmel part number quoted in another posting.

Oh dear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24626973)

Now I can't trust my HP 20b Business Consultant Financial Calculator anymore.

How do I know someone didn't add code to my calculator to return the wrong answer on specific inputs?

Re:Oh dear. (1)

zanderredux (564003) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627077)

the only way to be 100.1% sure is to read the source, recompile and upload yourself. if you cannot do that, you should consider returning your geek card....

Re:Oh dear. (4, Informative)

Goaway (82658) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627297)

You should not be so quick to call for others to return their geek card, when you yourself is not even aware of one of the biggest legends in computing [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Oh dear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24628935)

this shit is awesome

Re:Oh dear. (1)

byteschlepper (942284) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627139)

I'm getting one for my boss, preprogrammed to change the result if my current hourly rate is being multiplied by anything like 1.03

HP calculators (3, Interesting)

chrysalis (50680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24626989)

HP calculators have always been hackable. The 48 S/SX/G/GX calculators had a large and active scene. I spent countless hours coding on it. The Saturn processor was very nice to code on.

Re:HP calculators (5, Insightful)

harrkev (623093) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627481)

There is a difference between "programmable" and "hackable," or at least to me...

"Programmable" implies that a programming language is made available. Nothing more, nothing less. You can do what the programming language allows you to do. Of course, certain limits may inherent (or added to) the language. It is like giving you a sandbox to play in.

In this case, "hackable" means that they have thrown the doors wide open, and published almost everything that they know about it (schematics, etc), and are inviting people to dream up new uses (which presumably includes hardware hacks). This is like giving you the keys to the house and saying "It's yours. Make yourself at home. Feel free to paint or remodel if you want."

I happen think that HP makes (or at least made) the best calculators in the world. Then, TI kind of took over after HP rested on their laurels after releasing the 48G series. The 48G firmware, at least to me, was an ugly hack of the 48S code. For example, HP added new units to the 48G. Of course, it would be too easy to add these units to the "units" menu where they belong, so they had to throw them in a "secret" menu that you will only find by reading the manual.

I love RPN, and love my old 48SX. Even the keypad feels nicer than any other calculator in the world.

Re:HP calculators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630351)

HP's 41 and 71 calculators (late '70's - early 80's) WERE indeed hackable, as witnessed by this book which was written way before the modern DIY movement began:

http://friedmanarchives.com/Writings/Control_the_world_with_HP-IL.pdf

Re:HP calculators (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#24631467)

You could/can program the 48 series in assembly language. No sandbox.

Re:HP calculators (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628717)

Not only that, most graphing calculators are programmable. The TI-86 I had to buy for university had a wide selection of user created software for it. Everything from Tetris and Mario Bros, to programs to do more traditional calculations. It was programmable in both its own version of basic and Assembly. The manual even showed how to program in Basic. You could buy a serial cable from TI which allowed you to create assembly and basic programs on the computer, and upload them to your TI-86. I remember I made a basic program which make it quicker to enter matrices, for use in my robotics course. Simple programming that made it about 10 times faster when you had to multiple 4 or 5 matrices together.

Re:HP calculators (1)

ambanmba (857022) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629665)

HP calculators have always been hackable.

The reason that the 12C / 12C Platinum is allowed on exams (e.g. CFP and CFA Certification Exams, and the GARP FRM Exam) is precisely because they are deemed "not hackable" by the people running the exams.

I guess professors today are a bit more savvy, but when the HP28 first came out and I asked my history professor if I could "bring a calculator" he couldn't see why not :)

Re:HP calculators and other exam hacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630597)

I guess professors today are a bit more savvy, but when the HP28 first came out and I asked my history professor if I could "bring a calculator" he couldn't see why not :)

I had a 28C and a similarly state-of-the-art savvy prof.

And some really tough stats exams.

You, errr, can do the math.

Then there was the one about the prof I had for Accounting II. This naive business person allowed everyone to bring a half sheet of 8.5x11 paper to the exam, containing any formulas one wanted to bring to the exam on one side of the paper. As a programmer who translated business rules into formulas all day long, I knew what to do.

Let's see.

Good quality paper. $1.
Bic extra fine point pen, the "accountant" model, to add appropriate humor. $2.
A literal mind which led to the following:

  • Concept of definition as term = phrase.
  • Concept of list as title = item + item + item + item + item.

... $7000 for tuition up until that point, that taught me how to think in formulas.
"ANYTHING I can express as a formula is legal to put on this sheet?" verified by prof... I asked... and the look on her face when she first saw my formula sheet. Priceless. :-)

Add highlighters to break each chapter's worth of formulas into easily-located areas on the page. Combine over the course of several hours.

Results: A work of art that I was thankfully still young enough to read without a magnifying glass, a classroom full of students and a prof whose jaws hit their desks when they observed the ink density of my half sheet of letter size paper and multi-color separator lines splitting the information up into sections (and even more amazement by those who got close enough to see the details), an A on the final, and one prof who would from that point forward supply her OWN formula sheets for her classes. I daresay that nearly all essential informaton in the textbook was replicated as formulas on my formula sheet. Truth be told, the prof got a kick out of it... but didn't want anyone else to do it again in the future. She insisted on my turning over my "formula sheet" to her, as a reminder to herself of why to NEVER let anyone do that again. Who would have ever thought a CS student would out-hack an accounting class full of business students?! Oh... right. Most of the population of /. ;-)

Password-Pad (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24626991)

Might be nice to use it as an password-pad
and still have an RPN calculator at the same time.

it's all and well, but after fiorina... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24627013)

hp calculator division was left to rot. or something like that. anyway, the last decent "portrait format" business calculator was the 17bII... this new one looks so... flimsy....

nothing beats the soviet-build-like 12c, tho'

Re:it's all and well, but after fiorina... (2, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627083)

nothing beats the soviet-build-like 12c, tho'

Remember that John Titor, the guy who travelled back in time to pick up an IBM 5100? You know why we've not heard any more of him? Because he should've picked up a HP 48 instead.

Why? (1, Interesting)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627039)

I can't see the point of it really. 20 years ago it would have been fantastic. 10 years ago it would have been newsworthy. 5 years ago it might have been vaguely interesting. But now everyone's got laptops and smartphones, what's a fancy calculator going to do that they can't?

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627067)

Be allowed into tests at universities.

Re:Why? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627229)

Be allowed into tests at universities.

My university provided calculators if they were needed, you couldn't take your own.

Re:Why? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627679)

My university provided calculators if they were needed, you couldn't take your own.

I have never heard of this being done elsewhere, but at least this means that everyone is a on a level playing field in the exams, well at least when it comes to the calculator in use. One thing here is that it pays to have used the calculator before the exam, so that you aren't also faced with trying to learn how to access some of the advanced functions.

Re:Why? (1)

Beale (676138) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627787)

AFAIK, this is standard practise in UK schools and universities.

Re:Why? (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627985)

Some school districts in the US do so as well. Some only for use on tests, and some for general use in class. Generally they are the same model calculator that they recommend the student purchase.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628425)

It's pretty common now in the UK. When I was at school, you were allowed programmable graphical calculators as long as you reset them and wiped their memory. I wrote a little app for mine and showed it to the teacher that simulated wiping the memory (same UI in every way - it even included a version of the program list and a few other things that simply showed no programs (I had no way of backing it up, so I lost it when I really did reset mine for an exam). Between things like this, and the fact that most include a backup battery so they don't lose data when you pull out the batteries, it's often easier to just have the school provide calculators. Although, to be honest, it would be better if they'd focus instead on designing exams where they aren't testing the sort of thing where taking in notes would give you an advantage.

Re:Why? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630793)

When I was at 6th form collage in the UK were were allowed such calculators in exams and I belive in theory they were supposed to be reset before the exam but in practice noone ever did.

On the other hand in the department i'm in at uni they restrict students to calculators from a small list of very basic models.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24627867)

I've heard of programmable calculators being allowed into exams, but they were all reset by staff by poking at the reset-hole. Some people would insert something under the covers, to prevent the rest button from being pressed when the hole was poked... Not sure whether this is a myth, though.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24629439)

In my class, that would be the test. Failure to modify your HP calculator to allow you to cheat on my EE test == failure of the course.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24628025)

Only a simple 30$ calculator is allowed in my uni, for most math-heavy classes. (ntnu)

They just pick a cheap & simple one to make understanding the math behind it all important, not understandig the latest fancy calculator.

Recommended calculators for exams... (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628763)

Different universities usually have their own preferred calculator for use on their courses and exams. My university has made the Casio FX-85 series as the officially permitted calculator. What are the choices in other universities?

Re:Why? (1)

wjsteele (255130) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629863)

I was allowed to use my Casio FX7000G (yep... 25 years old beauty!) in class once even though someone complained about it because I did program it.

The prof simply said that if I programmed it to do the functions needed, then I obviously understood how to do solve the problem, which in the real world is how we would do it anyway.

The next week, everybody had one!

Bill

Re:Why? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#24631003)

At my Uni, the rule (when I was there, it may have changed since) was "Calculator. No QWERTY Keyboard."

I used my Casio CFX-9850G (with some programs on it) in at least one course.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24627143)

Smaller, lighter, much lower power, and oh yeah, only costs $40.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627151)

Try getting your own code onto your smartphone. Depending on what you have it'll range from merely annoyingly difficult to being expensive beyond the ability of the common man to afford.

Re:Why? (3, Interesting)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627303)

Any Windows mobile phone can easily be programmed for using the SDK. This does require Visual Studio or some ticks to use the free platform SDK, but most windows developers will already have Visual Studio.

Once one has the Windows Mobile SDK, one can compile and install applications with absolutely no difficulty. (Almost no providers choose to required signed apps on Windows Mobile phones, and even when they do, the end user can disable that with slight difficulty.)

Re:Why? (1)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630995)

Program your entire phone now, with down to the metal assembler.

Re:Why? (4, Interesting)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627415)

You must have an iPhone. On every other platform (Windows Mobile, Palm, S60, and BlackBerry) you can easily write and deploy your own code.

Re:Why? (1)

mmu_man (107529) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627699)

While it's true for userland code (apps) it's usually not as easy to replace the actual OS, due to total lack of specs...
Try porting NetBSD or Haiku to them...
Except for the FreeRunner maybe :)

Re:Why? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628439)

On every other platform (Windows Mobile, Palm, S60, and BlackBerry) you can easily write and deploy your own code

With Series 60 it's easy to deploy your code. I don't think I've ever found anyone who'd claim it was easy to write it though...

Re:Why? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630843)

With Series 60 it's easy to deploy your code
That depends on what your code wants to do and where the phone came from.

All apps must be signed. Phones with nokia factory firmware will let you install apps with self signed certs (though finding the docs on how to generate and use them was a PITA) but such apps are limited to a restricted set of "capabilities".

If you need capabilities beyond that or you need to run on more locked down phones then you have to get dev certs for development (IMEI locked) and I can't remember the details of the release signing procedure (I think unless you were a large buisness who they trusted with your own cert you had to send your app to "symbian signed" for aproval and signing)

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

cplusplus (782679) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627579)

It took me about 6 minutes to create a "Hello World" app and deploy it to my Windows Mobile Smartphone, then run it. And it doesn't take a lot of money, either. Go google "Dev Studio Express" and you can find a lite version of Microsoft's Developer Studio, and you can also download the different Windows Mobile SDKs if you look around.

Re:Why? (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627161)

Providing to your opponent before negotiations, interfacing with a laptop, interfacing with a graphing display, interfacing with a network, math tutorials, business how-tos and templates and thats just off the top of my head...

Re:Why? (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627237)

I know I'd enjoy hacking on this thing, changing the microcode and making of it something entirely different from a calculator, or make my own functions, my own interactive system, etc. etc.... So I can see the point. Maybe there are more people like me. Maybe your view of the world is narrow.

Re:Why? (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627531)

Maybe your view of the world is narrow.

Yeah, i guess it is. I must admit, i did enjoy working as an assembler programmer back in the days of the first home computers - for the reasons you mention.

Re:Why? (3, Interesting)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627633)

i did enjoy working as an assembler programmer back in the days of the first home computers

That's exactly the kind of enjoyment I had in mind. Just to be able to get one pixel on that LCD screen to blink would provide me with some fun. Call me nostalgic, I don't mind; coding close to the HW has always been my passion, ever since the 80's.

Re:Why? (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627953)

coding close to the HW has always been my passion, ever since the 80's.

Damn! Now you're making me want to go out and buy one! ;-)

Re:Why? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627323)

The "running for 9 months on a couple of cr2032s" trick is one I'd like to teach my laptop or smartphone. Also, for calculator use, a real calculator keypad is a very nice thing to have.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627457)

Do the batteries in your laptop last for years? I think I replaced the batteries in my HP48G twice during my entire undergraduate career. You can take an HP calculator out into the field on a data-collecting expedition for days or weeks on end without worrying about the charge. And whereas I've worn out the keyboards on a number of laptops over the years, the keys on my 15-year-old HP calculator still work perfectly. There's still a lot to be said in favor of special-purpose hardware.

Re:Why? (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628271)

I do think a capacitive touchscreen (though not the resistive ones) will last at least 15 years (the iphone has one).

The backlight on the lcd might not though, although now with leds this is becoming less and less of a problem. Though, of course, the battery is not going to last.

In 15 years your iphone will still be going strong, keyboard-wise.

Re:Why? (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629713)

But I'd rather have real keys, that click, and you can feel them.

The iPhone doesn't have them, the HPs do.

Re:Why? (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630985)

I do love them. But I'd have to take 50 calculators with me. I mean at least one with a big display, a basic scientific one, and one that can easily work with hex & binary, for starters. Add to that a good unit converter with a lot of tables built in.

And an ebook reader.

Not the 50g (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630579)

Under heavy use (e.g. chemistry class), the four AAAs in my HP 50g calculator will last maybe a month. I use rechargeables, which have come a long way since the old days, but it's still a drag. I love the calculator, though.

Re:Why? (1)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627471)

By that argument this calculator shouldn't even exist - why don't people just do their business calculations on their laptops or smartphones?

Re:Why? (3, Informative)

lm317t (971782) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627523)

Aside from power, weight and poor tolerance to extreme temperature changes, try controlling a servo or stepper with a laptop in a critical realtime environment, like with sensors. You might be able to do this with a parallel port, but it would be extremely unreliable without a true realtime OS and alot of hacking, also expensive. Unless you admire Rube Goldberg this would be foolish. You can actually guarantee better response time with a fairly slow embedded processor.

There's much more to the computing world than X86 processors. In fact laptops, desktop, and servers are in the minority as far as computing chips are concerned.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24628335)

It would remove the problem of traffic wardens using calculators to determine ticket times. It could be made to run in base 60 and 24.

Music (1)

rocketman768 (838734) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627129)

But can it play Van Halen's "Eruption"?

Re:Music (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628647)

close, but no cigar [youtube.com]

Good on 'em (5, Insightful)

Anastomosis (1102421) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627269)

Whoever is in charge of decisions like this at HP really needs to be hired at Apple.

Re:Good on 'em (3, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629127)

Whoever is in charge of decisions like this at HP really needs to be hired at Apple.

Right...Like anyone who worked at HP would ever get very far at Apple...

Re:Good on 'em (1)

kabz (770151) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629271)

Dude, you're wasted on this crowd.

Great post!

Re:Good on 'em (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630371)

Mod Parent Up (+5 Funny)

Great Policy, Poor Display (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24627347)

The display is not even as good as the old 42S. There's no mini-USB to talk to it, recharge it, and push code with.

For the US$11.70 unit CPU cost, they could have bagged a uC with integrated USB. But they were smart to stick with the single differentiating factor: multimonth battery life.

They preferred to let it be hacked now, instead of after the improvements. The policy is brave and speaks volumes.

Embedded Hardware (4, Interesting)

lm317t (971782) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627375)

The L series is a typical AT91SAM7 32bit chip that should work with the usual openocd toolset [sparkfun.com] . It does not look like HP is using an RTOS like FreeRTOS [freertos.org] which, among other things, has a udp/tcp/ip stack that I like to use on the AT91SAM7X series which contain an embedded MAC (no apple fanbois, thats a Medium Access Controller). The code is using IAR compilers :( so you can't just dive in to using the Gnu arm toolchain [gnuarm.org] without some serious homework 1st creating a makefile and tweeking various files.

The engineers did populate the connectors for the JTAG and provide unpopulated pads for ADC, PWM, SPI, and basic digital I/O, so I would say that anyone looking to get started in embedded electronics could start here, they'd just be locked into using IAR. Also a display is awesome for providing a UI, something most embedded dev kits lack!

Thanks HP, it really is nice that you guys considered the hacker community as customers.

Brick! (5, Funny)

cplusplus (782679) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627589)

I bet the first thing I'd turn it into would be a brick.

NOT hardhack (1)

sd.fhasldff (833645) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627617)

Some people need to learn that a hardhack is not the same as a difficult hack or a hack that involves something running on hardware. If that were the case, all hacking could be considered a hardhack.

Altair 8800 (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#24627901)

Maybe after I figure out what actual purpose my Altair 8800 can serve, I'll try to figure this one out

This could be quite usefull (1)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628177)

With multiple ADC channels this thing would make a nice data logger. Hopefully, someone with time on their hands will add WiFi and TCP/IP stack. I would like to track a few key parameters in my vehicle and having a cheap data logger phone home via WiFi each time I pull into the garage would be sweet.

HP Hardware Engineering (2, Interesting)

DeathOverlord3 (645635) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628411)

To me, the most interesting aspect of the dev kit is that the HP calculator group did not even have the engineering resources available internally to draw that simple little schematic and instead outsourced the hardware design to the Taiwanese design and manufacturing house Inventec. Pretty sad that HP - once a premier engineering company - does not even design their own hardware anymore. I also like how they created the pdf version of the schematic with a trial version of some pdf writer.

Re:HP Hardware Engineering (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628683)

It is pretty normal that companies outsource the technology that is not their core competence. It makes economic sense to have your engineers work on innovative tech instead of old tech.

Re:HP Hardware Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630895)

Yeah, nobody uses calculators anymore. Like math itself, it's too old school.

Why can't HP be developing cutting edge technology like iPods and video games instead?

uClinux might be fun for this device (1)

kwabbles (259554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628545)

Re:uClinux might be fun for this device (1)

lm317t (971782) | more than 6 years ago | (#24628821)

I don't believe linux will run on this device, not without some majorly difficult hacks. There is no external memory interface, which you need for Linux b/c of its very limited RAM. Only the sam9x series will run linux.

Noteworthy: the NEW HP35s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630835)

The NEW HP35s [hp.com] is the first classic RPN calc released by HP in years. It is a pretty good calculator, not without its own quirks. But it is the first HP calculator in years that is truly in the spirit of its illustrious ancestors.
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