WP 34S - A Beginners Guide

Hi folks
I stumbled onto the WP34S some 2 months ago. I now have three machines that I can flash to any version of firmware (for comparison), and I've even mastered sticking on the overlay fairly successfully. The overriding problem for me was the user guide. Starting with the machine from scratch was in my experience quite hard - and that's speaking as a die hard HP fan with experience of a great many of their machines. Anyway the long and short of this posting is that I wrote a beginners guide which some of you folks might be interested in. It's 180 pages long and takes a new user through the steps required to use the machine from first principals. It is peppered with examples and lots of screen grabs. It's posted on my site at the following link and it is also completely free.

WP 34S - A Beginners Guide


I have had a quick look and it looks really good, very nicely explaining concepts with loads of screen graphics. Thank you for the effort - I will use it a lot!



announcing something already done is a very welcome contribution. I have yet to look at your work but I'm pretty sure we can include it in the distribution. Contact Pauli for details how to access our SourceForge site as a contributor.


P.S: First thing noticed: It's 2's complement notation, not compliment. ;-)

A short skim over the table of contents is very promising. :-)

Edited: 19 May 2012, 6:02 a.m.



Thanks for taking that work supplementing our manual (which is, as stated on p. 7, clearly intended being a reference manual). I started reading right away, and my first impression is very positive. Please note, however, that was a compliment while two modes of WP 34S are spelled complement instead ;-)


Ciaran, there's some more I want to report to you but don't want to spoil this thread. Please tell me an email address to send it. TIA.


Use cb1@conehead.org. Interesting gaff with the spelling of compliment / complement. No doubt there will be more :-)


Thank you very much Ciaran. Very well done.



You've got mail ;-)



Thank you and congratulation on this labor of love that will benefit the community here. I will certainly read it and use it. I browsed through it and I love your layout and formatting.


Edited: 19 May 2012, 7:34 a.m.


Thanks for this, an amazing effort and very definitely a welcome addition. Especially in such a short time.

Although Walter's manual is comprehensive, it isn't the easiest document to learn how to use the 34S. Your document is great in this regard.

- Pauli


Thank you very much for your effort and this wonderful piece of work!

P.S. It's 'Marcus' not 'Marchus' ;-)


as beginner thanks a lot, Ciaran, for your work.



I found your guide a couple of weeks ago while Googling and I was extremely impressed. It's great for me as a beginner and I want to thank you for all the hard work you've obviously put into it.


Thank you for the effort, sure I'll read it, a very useful job!


I've added a link to this great document from the wiki4hp site as well.




Fabulous job! I know how difficult and time consuming it is to make a manual like this.

Just curious about one thing. You mention that the 49g+/50g don't have the rotate and click keys. The mechanism internally is *identical* to the 30b mechanism. If there is any difference in feel, it is that the key travel is slightly less then the 30b keyboard.

Does it really feel that different to you? Or is it the fact that the keys are flat rather then having the double break shape?



Just spotted this question Tim. Wildly diferent would be my estimation. I own both 49g+ and 50g machines, and both have an almost legendary inability to properly register keystrokes no matter how you program the key scanning delays - to the point where the 49g is in my view completely unusable and sits at the bottom of the cupboard as a result. The 50g was better, but only marginally so, and it is quite routine for me to enter 1000, and end up with the machine showing 100. Functionally - they are great machines don't get me wrong but I bought them after using the wonderful 48GX through a 6 year open university degree course, and found them to be a huge dissapointment in comparison - but based purely on the keyboard alone. I'm thinking now of all the machines where HP got it right - and which I own. A 1978 HP32E (my first), the HP 15C, the HP 35, the HP 41CV, the HP 48GX, HP 32Sii and the HP 42S and I can't help thinking of the 49g+ and 50g as an aberation.


Good. Thanks Bart. I'll probably get lots of corrections etc, so do keep an eye on the site for new versions.


Oops - one of the many corrections needed!! Humble appologies, and that change will be in the next draft. Thanks again :-)


Interesting - I deliberately posted it and waited for a couple of weeks to see who would pick up on it vie SE's. It really didn't take too long to get something like 100 downloads. Hopefully folks will find it useful.


Thanks Bruce


Incredible work, a pleasure to peruse and so many winks to the old style... thanks! (it´s worth getting a 34S for :-)


A really outstanding effort! A must have for anyone who has or is interested in a WP34s. Thank you so much for this increadible User's Guide!


Yes you're 100% right regarding the winks to the old style. I cut my teeth on a HP 32E which I still own, and use daily (although less so now, given the WP 34S has gently pushed it to one side). The manuals for the HP32E and also the HP 41CV and all the other HP machines I own were always written with a particular style that I liked. Not too verbose, and lots of pictures and examples to help orientate your exploration of the machine. A credit to good HP work - something we probably all know and love here on this forum


Thanks Steve. Its a fabulous machine.


I think Walter, Pauli, et al have done a remarkable job with the WP-34S, and your beginner's guide is "the icing on the cake." I come to this forum daily, and this has caused me more excitement than any other post in a long time. Great job and thank you!


Incredible work, ... (it´s worth getting a 34S for :-)

Just did, couldn't resist any more ;)

I second that!


Excellent, another convert. My scheme for universal domination progresses further.

- Pauli


Excellent, another convert.

And there will be more to follow - I know a few ;)

My scheme for universal domination progresses further.

It certainly does;

Excellant work. I'm sure I will find this a great help in getting to know the WP34S. Thanks for making this available, Ciaran.




Thank you Ed. You're comments are very kind. Exploring the machine was sometimes frustrating due to the difficulty of finding information, but was also oddly satisfying and it didn't take long before the collection of self help notes I had scattered all over my desk starting taking on the form of something larger. Anyway - there's work still to be done (corrections and the like) as my effort is not perfect by any means. I'll aim to get the next round of changes from comments on this forum posted in the next week or two.


Hello Ciaran,

as far I know, it is possible to change the keystroke delay time in the HP 50g. In connection with a startup variable you can change it for your needs always.

The keyboard of the 50g isn't mechanical good as the keyboard of the 30b...Sorry, WP 34s. But changing delay time may perhaps help.



Thanks James - I often feel exactly the same "thank you" in my mind aimed at Paul, Walter and all the team. Their work to deliver this machine (everything from figuring out the hardware, to creating the base code, the amazingly good overlay, and then keeping on top of bug fixes and new features) is really quite astonishing and the more I explored the machine the more I appreciated that. It is by any measure a pretty amazing project :-)


Good stuff - and do enjoy the machine. My first arrived at the tail end of March and was held in my hands with a certain amount of awe on that first day. I remember deliberately switching it into integer mode (I do a lot of work with microcontrollers, so the logic ops and bit shifting functions etc are really interesting for me) and getting completely stuck on why the display was showing the hex number 2C64 (and then not being sure how to clear that number) - something I explain in the getting started section. Make a note as you work through the machine of anything I could add to the manual that would have helped you. Starting from scratch is a good reference point for things I may have missed. Good luck


This is wonderful, exactly what was needed for this project. I really missed a "step-by-step" manual with examples. The reference manual is great but tough.

Do you plan keeping it updated when the team adds features?



Short answer is yes - only subject to my time availability.


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Starting from scratch is a good reference point for things I may have missed.


Users' manuals should be written by beginners on whatever system is being discussed (with a seasoned user sitting by their side). Manuals written by experienced users or original developers often make subtle assumptions that they are so familiar with that they don't even think about any more.


This is a wonderful addition to the WP-34s. I for one have struggled to understand the 34s manual so I'm quite excited to read this beginner's guide. Today, I printed it out so I can read it anywhere. As the beginner's guide and the WP-34s manual are revised, I should buy a tablet to save some trees.



I should buy a tablet to save some trees.

:D Gerry, you use whatever excuse you need :D

Actually you remind me of a suggestion I wanted to make to Ciaran to save on paper. Can you make the font size consistent between the text and figures? For example the register diagram for Roll up/down is something massive!

Edited: 21 May 2012, 10:08 p.m.


I am a newbie as far as WP 34S is concerned.

Where are the financial calculator functions of the original HP 30b or 20b calculator? are they gone when these machines are made into WP 34S?

I searched the WP 34S Beginners Guide and User Manual 3.0 but couldn't find any references to PV, PMT, FV etc

thanks for any answers.


Yes, the firmware is erased and replaced by the WP34s one. So the financial functions are gone and there is not enough memory to add them... At least inside the firmware.
Library is another story. See Franz post.

Edited: 22 May 2012, 7:34 a.m.


Where are the financial calculator functions of the original HP 30b or 20b calculator? are they gone when these machines are made into WP 34S?

They are in the library program TVM.

If you use the emulator you need the file 'wp34s-lib.dat', and on a real calc you should use any of the 'calc???_full.bin' where this library is included.

If you want to know how to use it, you should also download the sourcefile which contains a description - easiest way is directly from my folder:




Am I that transparent? It will be a good excuse to use on my wife as I'm not getting any support here :-). I gave her an iPad2 last year and now it's practically glued to her hand. But when I mention I want one, she just rolls her eyes. Crap!



I searched the WP 34S Beginners Guide and User Manual 3.0 but couldn't find any references to PV, PMT, FV etc

I remember it taking me a while to figure out how to use invoke TVM, even once I had found the instructions in the TVM.wp34s file on sourceforge. I still have no clue how to use 90% of the programs that are included in calc_full.bin

In 3.0 or 3.1, just scroll through the CAT until you see TVM and press XEQ, then follow the instructions in the TVM.wp34s file.

The TVM would be a good example to document in the beginner's guide - perhaps written by Franz himself.

Ciaran, if you were to take contributions for sections or chapters, what format would you like them in? I was thinking of taking the couple of sections I wrote in the still-born sourgeforge wiki user's manual and submitting those.




The TVM would be a good example to document in the beginner's guide - perhaps written by Franz himself.

By me? With my bad English? You're joking! ;-)

I don't think that a comprehensive description for the TVM solver would be necesary at all, I'm quite sure that everyone who has ever used such a TVM application on any financial calculator will intuitively know how to use my program, too.

The few differences to other TVM apps (different key assignment, additional functions like NP/NI etc.) and the meanings and allowed values of all variables are explained in the sourcefile.



Don't be so modest, your English is superb!

TVM is a good example of a library and although "we" all know how to use it, beginners do not necessarily. The section should be written like the HP-20b section on TVM - makes no assumption about the reader's background or experience.

Edited: 22 May 2012, 6:53 p.m.



Incidentally - I noticed your comment above (regarding the shall we say, rather large font used I used in some of my examples). In the next draft which I've now 99% finished that issue (along with 14 other issues) is addressed (both for the RPN stack diagrams and also the bitwise logic operations (and, nand, or, nor, xor, xnor).

Regarding the preferred format issue I don't mind too much. Word is fine, RTF or PDF would work. The key thing is the content. I'd really want at least one or two worked examples perhaps demonstrating extremes of function behaviour and any abbreviations explained well enough so that I could understand more or less what was going on.

Its quite a difficult thing to do. I suspect I might be the same as you guys in the sense that I have a particular specialist area, which probably doesn't overlap with some of the library functions. So being able to articulate how they work well enough to explain the issue to a new user may need some hand holding

But - I'm definately up for the task - because it means I'll explore areas of the machine I haven't thus far looked at :-)

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