A little brother for the WP 34s? Any need for that?
#1

The last few days I got infected by the WP 34s virus, played with the simulator and skipped through the manual, planning on doing the flashing myself. Luckily or unfortunately, depending on the perspective, I was cured from the virus pretty fast. Why? Not because the WP 34s was not done well. In the contrary, I think the WP 34s is a wonderful thing! But to me it's completely overwhelming: too much on the keyboard, too many functions in the manual, too much of everything.

I realized I'm looking for a 42s kind of machine, which, at least to me, can be operated nearly intuitively. I wouldn't put one more function in my dream machine just because it can be done. Is there an interest for what I would call the little brother of the WP 34s among my fellow afficionados? Could there be a 'WP34s lite'-firmware with a corresponding keyboard overlay?

#2

A 10C version ? ;-)

#3

Yeah, I was wondering when someone was going to mention that. ;-)

I was thinking the same thing back a few months ago. I'd like to see a couple variations of the WP 34S around. We already the amazing full scientific, but what about that "-lite" version? Maybe a version that does nothing but statistics? Oooh, I'd like that! It wouldn't be able to graph much, but if it had a good capability for higher level stats, that might be fun.

For that matter, what about classic emulations? A pure 25c or 34c?

There are so many possibilities! :-)

#4

Quote:
I realized I'm looking for a 42s kind of machine, which, at least to me, can be operated nearly intuitively.

Just for understanding, are you asking for a machine which "only" has the functionality of the 42S, or are you asking for a machine with a 42S-like user interface? Of course, the part I enjoy the most about the UI of the 42S is the availability of a full two-line dot-matrix display and top-row soft keys. This was obviously not available due to the "hampered" (sorry Tim and Cyrille) LCD of the 20b/30b platform (and I understand why it was designed that way intentionally). Personally, I think the 42S is hampered by not having at least one more shift key and at least one additional shift-key plane of functions. As a result, lots more keystrokes are required to do things than ultimately necessary (which is bad IMO). Abandoning the keys with the slanted fronts (like the 41 series and virtually everything prior to the Pioneer-series models) forced the high clutter in those two-shift units (such as on the 21S or 32SII) which would have been less intimidating otherwise. Also the ALPHA system in the 42S pales in comparison (again, in my humble opinion) to the single-key-per-letter method of the 34S and the 41 series (not to mention the 48/49/50). If you are referring to 42S functionality, I am curious which functions you would consider to be unnecessary in the 34S? The programming capabilities of the 42 were fantastic and has no equal in either the 34S or any "native" HP pure-RPN programmable.

Thanks,
Jake

#5

Quote:
A 10C version ? ;-)

Something like that, but more like the 11c compared to the 15c.

I like most about the 42s the uncluttered keyboard, much better than the 32s's keyboard in my eyes - and the 43s's for that matter.

Sure, there is no 'unnecessary' function in the WP 34s, but I(!) could live without most of them in my everyday life.

So, again, I wouldn't change anything in the 43s, but would like to see a lite version of it with corresponding overlay.

...

Or I will just use my 35s. Maybe that's the smart thing to do ;)

#6

George, I agree with you that the 34s' keyboard layout is busy and intimidating. Many of the functions I don't understand and would probably never use but I wouldn't change it one bit! HP hasn't made a new scientific calculator since the 50G. They have produced financial calculators as that's where they make the most money. I think having Marcus, Pauli and Walter (the Gang of Three) donate their free time, step up, design and write a scientific calculator using HP's hardware is a great blessing to the whole community. I also thank both Cryille and Tim of HP with the foresight to build the 20b and 30b with field re-flashing and making an SDK available. The time and energy the Gang of Three have put into this project is staggering to me. I barely have any time to play with the 34s.

Anyway, I'm getting off my main point. With no new HP Scientific calculators on the horizon, the Gang of Three designed an all encompassing scientific calculator to satisfy most people's engineering needs; with limited flash memory and a limited LCD display. So, even though I don't understand most of the functions on this calculator, it forces me to expand my world to make use of this new tool. Or else I'll just ignore them and use what I know. One of the things that I like is that the 34s has the functions of the 16c built in so that forces me to go read the 16c manual and have a calculator to see how that works.

Given the time and energy to get the 34s to this point, will the Gang of Three want to build a lite version of the firmware? I would think they will want to finish this project first, take a month off in the south of France, and then look at the possibility of doing a lite version of the 34s. Of course, then the debate of how many different lite versions are needed, how will the functions be split up into which lite version, debugging and adding new features to fill out the subset calculator... I'd say expect these in 2015 to 2020. Oh, and lets start an escrow account so the Gang of Three can be paid since they will be working for the community and to help them justify all the time away from their family. I'm sorry that I sound sarcastic. If these guys are willing, I will try and help in my own small way.

Thank you to the whole community. See you in September in San Diego,

Gerry

Edited: 15 July 2011, 7:35 p.m.

#7

Quote:
I would think they will want to finish this project first, take a month off in the south of France...

Definitely correct about the month off.

As for the South of France ... not for me I'm afraid. It is halfway round the world and we've better beaches here :-)


- Pauli

#8

Quote:
For that matter, what about classic emulations? A pure 25c or 34c?

Port Nonpareil, it will be far easier.


- Pauli

#9

If you want a 34S-lite, make it. The full source code is freely available to one and all.

You don't need to be an expert programmer to make changes, the majority of the code is straightforward. You'd likely get away with just a passing knowledge of C, again the more obscure language features aren't being used and none of the standard library is. If you can write in a structured programming language, you're well over half way already.


Personally, I'm not going to make a lite version. This one was hard enough and I find it easy and natural to use. Once you get used to the layout and get beyond the information overload stage, it really is a very nice calculator.


- Pauli

#10

Quote:
As for the South of France ... not for me I'm afraid. It is halfway round the world and we've better beaches here :-)

And better-looking beach-goers!
#11

Quote:
... to me it's completely overwhelming: too much on the keyboard, too many functions in the manual, too much of everything.

It was designed by a committee.

And I don't mean the Gang of Three, I mean the Committee of the Whole.
#12

I suspect you'd be disappointed by the beach goers here too.

At least it is still possible to be the only person on the beach.


- Pauli

#13

I wouldn't call it 34S lite. Since we're repeatedly running out of code space, shuffling features in and out, it may make sense to do specializations of the current function set. I would prefer a machine with more programming features and I can live without most of the high level math and statistics stuff. Others will want more math functions and don't care about programmers' dreams. Some people may want the financial stuff of the 30b back with the programmability of the 34S.

YMMV.

#14

I find that a very interesting idea, if it could be combined with matching overlays. Would that even be possible?

#15

Quote:
I wouldn't call it 34S lite.

Me either. 13s has a nice ring :-)


Quote:
I would prefer a machine with more programming features

I must admit that I'm at a bit of a loss thinking about what additional programming features could reasonably be added. The machine as it stands is already a programmers' dream.


Quote:
Some people may want the financial stuff of the 30b back with the programmability of the 34S.

Never! :-)


- Pauli

#16

Marcus or Paul; I've only followed less than half the threads on your marvelous design, so this may already have been asked. If a function is removed, is there more program or data memory?

I really like using my 34s but i must admit that i haven't printed out the manual yet. I'm waiting for the final version.

#17

Program and data memory is limited to 2k due to the hardware design. The program space limit has been addressed by the library spaces which depend on the amount of flash not occupied by the firmware. So there is some dependency between the function set and the amount of space for user programs. I had to remove a program page (506 steps) because of the addition of a set of I/O functions that I believe are of enough importance.

The most recent discussions address some features which take a considerable amount of firmware space but which are of questionable use or quality. We're in a state of moving things back and forth until we're satisfied with the results. We - the developers - are a bit picky about the quality of what we are doing, so things seem to be wage for the public at the time being. I hope most of it will settle in the near future.

#18

At the time we set up the project - not knowing yet it will turn out as WP 34S - the majority of forumers definitively did prefer the 32sii over the 32s or 42s. I.e. our potential customers didn't want a clean keyboard then. That said and taking into account the LCD of the 20b (the 30b wasn't available yet) not allowing for menus with softkeys, Pauli and me started with one menu only (X.FCN).

There is a limited number of keys, and we strived putting maximum functionality on them. OTOH, the layout had to be as simple as possible, consistent, or - as Karl would say - well thought through.

Now, different blends are certainly feasible, bringing some function (sets) to the surface for the cost of others being pushed in menus. I admit I'm not too keen on doing this, since - as Pauli and others wrote earlier - the WP 34S as is is the best we can imagine and make within the given limits so far. This assessment may change with time, of course. And everyone is free to take the data publicly available and make (!) something better, taking more care of his/her personal preferences.

Just my 20 m€

Walter

#19

Marcus;
Thank you for the time you took in answering. I think i understand it conceptually now. This of course leads to another question, a hypothetical one only:
Lets say that someone with enough knowledge of C wants that 506 lines of program space but could do without something fairly large that he doesn't use. Might he loose the library and firmware code for something about that size (say Hyperbolics for instance), then move the I/O functions into the flash area thereby freeing up that page for program memory?
Is that a plausible course of action for someone who wants more program memory and doesn't need cosh?

#20

We've only a limited amount of storage for rapidly changing data, say registers. I wouldn't consider user program space "rapidly changing" and it therefore might go to flash memory instead of SRAM. What we have now is a "make a copy of what's in RAM" functionality for our library regions but that may be changed in future versions to a "edit programs directly in flash" scheme. This is certainly evolved because we need to make sure that the flash memory isn't worn out too quickly, but it can be done.

With such a scheme, memory for registers AND user program space is vastly increased, if we can only save enough flash space by condensing the math functionality, or, as you propose, by removing some of the features. At the moment, reducing the flash footprint of the firmware can only give us more library regions which are less flexible then what I was just talking about.

#21

Forgot mentioning Etienne's 14-year-old daughter thinks our keyboard layout is cool. So it can't be too complicated, can it? d:-)

Walter

#22

Thanks again Marcus. You guys are way ahead of me on what i wish for on the 34. I should have known that.

I remember when i got my cx in 83. I thought 2K was e n d l e s s. That didn't last long. Then i got a 42 and put 6K of programs into it with almost 2K of data storage (that i didn't really use much) and twentysome registers for constants, azimuth, begining coordinates, scratch, etc. That was about right. Maybe i just need three WP-34Ss, with the full 2K, if that happens.

Whatever you guys end up doing though; it's almost unbelievable. Take a bow.

#23

I think you're underestimating the 34S a bit :-)

There are 506 program steps in RAM plus another 2024 steps in flash. The latter cannot be directly modified but can be copied to RAM and back or swapped with RAM. Every step except commands using alpha labels are fully merged so that works out as being quite a bit more than the same number of bytes on the 41 or 42. Programs with alpha labels can be accessed directly from flash.

As for data registers, there are 112 in RAM (which includes the stack and last X) and the same again in flash. Individual registers can be recalled (including recall arithmetic) via the RCF commands and the entire flash register set can be recalled or saved to RAM. There is also a block register copy command (R-COPY) that can copy registers from flash to RAM (as well as RAM to RAM).

So, the 34S isn't quite as capable as a 42S but it is beyond the 41 series in programability (but nothing like it in terms of IO or expandability).

- Pauli

#24

Quote:
"....nothing like it in terms of IO or expandability"

it never can be, but you guys aren't done yet either.

So the 34 has a bit more program memory and is more efficient with it than the 41cv or cx. I'll accept that it's not as easy, or i guess the word is "automatic", to use as the 41 is. I'm sure that John Rusch's surveying package "Xtratra" was not the only program to use every single line of program memory the 41 had, and have to resort to local labels to save space at that. There must be a law of human nature that says: what we have is never quite enough.

#25

Quote:
There must be a law of human nature that says: what we have is never quite enough.

For sure. History is full of examples. Look at the USA in the 19th century, for instance.

Walter

#26

Or the Third Reich betwen 1933 and 1945 Walter?

Keep it on topic Walter. Some of us take offense my friend and, in this case, you cannot hide behind it being differences in culture and language.

#27

For sure, Mark. As said, history is full of examples ...



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