The *REAL* Self Tests For the 15C LE
#1

In the midst of the discussion about invalid self tests for the HP 15C LE that are described in its manual, it is worth pointing out that new self tests are available in the 15C LE firmware. But, AFAIK there's nothing in the 15C LE manual that says how to perform them. They are the same tests that are used for the two-cell HP 12C. This HP website describes access and use of the new self tests for the 12C+ (and 15C LE).

Edited: 9 Sept 2011, 11:18 p.m.

#2

So, it appears it's just a matter of updating the manual. Has the battery changing section been modified accordingly? I still haven't found the online version of the new manual.

Edited: 10 Sept 2011, 12:02 a.m.

#3

Yes, Appendix F was updated for the new 2032 cells. That's also the section that describes the old original 15C self tests. It should be altered to describe the new self tests. More importantly, the firmware should disable the old tests to prevent inadvertent program memory corruption which the 'ON plus *' and 'ON plus +' tests can cause.

Now that I've played around with the 15C-LE for a few hours, I'm quite satisfied with the value presented for the cost. I was unfair in having an initial negative outlook after the self tests failed. In truth, the 15C-LE is not at all a bad effort. I'd buy it again, but I'd still much much rather see a 42S-LE.

There was some talk that the famous HP-15C Advanced Functions Handbook was to be included on the CD-ROM that is included with the 15C-LE. Alas...it's not there. It's still referenced in the manual included with the 15C-LE. (I've got my old hard copy, but a pdf of the original would be great to have on the CD-ROM.)

BTW, buy.com shipped my two 15C-LE units from Olive Branch, Mississippi, only about 180 miles west of me. Without expedited shipping, they still arrived 23 hours after ordering! But...how did a shipment of 15C-LE units get to Mississippi ahead of every other place in the USA?

Edited: 10 Sept 2011, 1:11 a.m.

#4

by fast Mississippi river boat? :-)

#5

AFH simply wasn't ready in time. Rather then wait even longer, the decision was made to have it be a download PDF.


When it is to the level we are happy with, it will be released.

TW

#6

Wise decision. The proletariat was getting impatient. You have tossed a bone to the animals. We are content for now.

#7

Not just impatience, that was pure greed, and just because of some whistleblowers at HP! ;-)

#8

Quote:
They are the same tests that are used for the two-cell HP 12C. This HP website describes access and use of the new self tests for the 12C+ (and 15C LE).

One question arises when I look at the HP web page I cited above. It's actually for the HP 12C+, and it tells the user to use the new self test procedure if an Error 9 is received (after performing the traditional Voyager self tests).

That implies that the HP 12C+ retains the old self tests, which fail and generate Error 9. Has memory corruption been noted on the 12C+ following the 'ON plus *' or the 'ON plus +" tests? That's what occurs in the 15C-LE.

The 15C-LE firmware should be modified to prevent inadvertent performance of the destructive old self tests. If the tests are not "locked out", then those old self tests should be modified to not disrupt memory.

The new tests are described as generating an error message if an error is detected, but the web page does not say what that message contains. I'm assuming the message is not Error 9. Then disabling the old self tests completely would result in nothing that generates Error 9. In addition to references in the manual, the calculator back plate should be modified to eliminate the Error 9 entry.


Edited: 11 Sept 2011, 11:06 p.m.

#9

The latest 12C+ firmware, or at least what I believe to be the latest firmware, dated 2009-11-19, does indeed retain the original self tests. Behavior is as follows:

'ON plus /' : Works fine if you start pressing keys quickly enough. If you press the keys out of order or wait too long, Error 9 is displayed.

'ON plus x' : Display flashes "running" once, then lights all segments except low-battery.

'ON plus +' : Display flashes "running" somewhat erratically. I got various results after pressing "any" key to stop the test, including Error 2, Error 6, and all segments lit, most often the latter.

To test for memory corruption with the latter two tests, I entered the following program:

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
ENTER
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
+
GTO 00

This simple program was not corrupted by the self tests, I don't know if that proves that other programs would not be corrupted.

By the way, 'ON plus -' clears memory and resets the calculator as it has always done.

#10

"In addition to references in the manual, the calculator back plate should be modified to eliminate the Error 9 entry."


Gene: THAT I can probably safely say will not happen. To do so would require re-doing the assembly line and production, and my guess is that HP would throw everything away rather than go through the trouble to re-do any production of this limited edition / limited run of machines.

If they are making only 10K of these, firmware updates...sure. Changes to a manual made available as a PDF...sure. Reprinting of a physical manual...less likely. Change to the physical unit requiring a new production run...not likely at all.

It is what it is.

#11

I know it would not happen with current LE production. But if the 15C-LE became a standard product, the back plate design would need to be modified to eliminate the limited edition serial. One might then wish to correct the Error 9 information. Obviously, such a change to the back plate could only happen if 15C-LE production became a recurring event. I doubt that general consumer demand will cause that to happen.

I suspect that the writer of Appendix F in the Owner's Handbook "Verifying Proper Operation" never tried any self test (old or new) on a real 15C-LE. The text is copied from an old HP-12C manual, because it says a "12" will appear at the end of the old keyboard test.

#12

Interesting. The 15C-LE behaves differently from the 12C+ when the old 'ON plus *' and 'ON plus +" tests are attempted. They terminate immediately with Error 9, and alter program memory as I described Friday.

Does the HP 12C+ Owner's Handbook describe the old tests or the new tests?


Edited: 12 Sept 2011, 12:27 p.m.

#13

Yes. The communication was "Take the new 12c battery info and put it into the manual. Remove the information regarding the self tests."

1 out of 2 isn't that bad I guess. . . :~|

TW

#14

Nothing is ever perfect. One can only catalog the issues identified by us gamma-testers for possible implementation in future production (if any).

It would be very appropriate, given the typical characteristics of a 15C-LE purchaser compared to the general customer-base, to describe in Appendix F the new 'ON plus g plus ENTER' tests, including a description of what is actually being tested and what error messages can be generated under what conditions. Even though no customer has any real need to know this, the typical 15C-LE purchaser would doubtless appreciate the information.

I'm pretty happy with my LE units. I have no regrets. Let's hope there's such a large demand that subsequent production runs (with bugs removed from manual and machine) become irresistible for HP. It's a lot more exciting than yet another HP-12C reincarnation. (I hate financial calculators, except the 30b.)

Now that I've given my 15C-LE a workout, it's time to get back to the personal computer I was using when I bought my first 15C. I just hope that 180 kB floppy drive in the expansion box of my 48 kB RAM TI-99/4A will still work! :-)

#15

Quote:
...There was some talk that the famous HP-15C Advanced Functions Handbook was to be included on the CD-ROM that is included with the 15C-LE. Alas...it's not there. It's still referenced in the manual included with the 15C-LE. (I've got my old hard copy, but a pdf of the original would be great to have on the CD-ROM.)
The original Advanced Functions Handbook IS on the CD. Just install the emulator and look in C:\Program Files\Hewlett-Packard\HP 15C Emulator\ when you're done, or open it from the Help menu in the emulator.
#16

Thank you, I would have never figured this by myself. "Manuals" folder in the CD only contains Owners Handbook.



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