Searching for a modern solution



#14

Lately I've been prototyping some molded polyurethane items. I've programmed my trusty 41CX to prompt me for various dimensions and mixture information, then using the I/R printer it prints out the amount of prepolymer and curative I need to weigh out.

I've now handed the process on to others, but I'm still making the printouts for them. I'm not about to let them take my 41. That's lead me to thinking about what is currently available in the market place to do the same task.

Where they are set up it is not convenient to put a computer, and even then, there's a lot more effort involved in making a program for them to run. I can't think of anything that comes natively with Windows anymore that allows for programming. At least QBASIC or GWBASIC allowed for quick and dirty custom apps. For the printout, most every printer is sheet fed, so you need to print an entire page just for a couple of numbers. Not very efficient.

I think I've decided on the 30b, since it has has alpha prompts and messages. It's just that awkward <shift>-hold-<(> sequence for the R/S function that is a bit off-putting. They'll have to write the number down themselves too I guess. - What I would really like to do is have the calculator connect directly to the scale and set the amount that needs to be poured, something that may have been possible with the right accessories on the 41.

With the predicted demise of the desktop in favor of tablets and iDevices, it's only going to get worse for folks doing something other than email and browsing. Can you even connect a 50g to an iPad? Consider what special versions of software and hardware ports are required to flash a 34s.

The 41 is over 30 years old, and who would have thought at the time that in 30 years nothing else would have come along to expand on its concepts. Enough ranting, but if anyone has any other suggestions I'd like to hear them.


#15

A few (not fully formed) ideas:

1. Excel with VBA.

2. PowerBASIC

A couple thoughts/questions:

a. The cost/'green-ness' of a single 8x10 sheet of paper is not likely much worse than a small strip of thermal paper.

b. Does the scale have an RS232 port?

TomC


#16

Quote:
a. The cost/'green-ness' of a single 8x10 sheet of paper is not likely much worse than a small strip of thermal paper.
This is partly why I still use a dot-matrix impact printer with pin feed and fanfold paper, even with my HP41 and 71 (going through an interface converter for the Centronics parallel). You can print out just a line or two and cut off a fraction of a sheet if you like. 20 years later it will look a lot better than the thermal paper too. If you need compactness, you can get tiny dot-matrix impact printers intended for printing things like receipts on non-thermal adding-machine paper. (I do use the laser printer if I want to print something like a data sheet though.)

This application is one of the reasons I say the newer calcs fall short. Unlike the 41, they are unable to interface to the printer and the scales and other lab instruments all at the same time, acting as the controller to replace laptops and other computers that are big and not nearly as quick to program.

Edited: 4 Sept 2011, 3:52 p.m.


#17

Excellent Points!!!

#18

Quote:
This is partly why I still use a dot-matrix impact printer with pin feed and fanfold paper

This is not a bad way to go. A 50g (modern) has a serial port and should be able to print to any serial printer. Serial dot-matrix printers are still available and office supply stores still sell the paper.
#19

Quote:
That's lead me to thinking about what is currently available in the market place to do the same task.

Almost any off-the-shelf calculator by Ti, Casio or Sharp I would say. Very easy to use, very easy to program. You can find a Ti85 that's perfectly adequate for the job for 1 Euro/$ on eBay any day. I have one of those on "my" aeroplane for routine calculations. If someone breaks it or it gets lost, I couldn't care less. I have three more at home that I got for 1 Euro each...

Regards,
max


#20

Fully agree, any ti 85/86, albeit slow, would do. If you need a better basic, bbc has been ported to 83/84 plus. Casio is not that bad either, 4500p is a keystroke one easy to program, and 5800p or any of the graphing cheap ones have a rudimentary basic to get things done.

#21

Microsoft made Visual Studio Express 2010 available last year. It is free (with registration) and can be used for commercial purposes. There are Visual Basic, C# and C++ versions.

Visual Studio Express 2010

#22

Instead of the 30b, the 34S could be an alternative. Just write a program that can be put in flash so it won't get lost on a battery change or power loss. Create a custom overlay for the four top left keys (A to D) and R/S (right to the decimal point). For this application there is no need for the full keyboard overlay.

With a modified version of the programming cable, you can even connect a serial printer (those used for cash registers)(*) and at the same time feed external power to the calculator. Mount the modified device to a fixed stand and you have the custom device you need. We can add the user mode serial commands back in so that you can print arbitrary information via the serial interface.

(*) Edit: Or a serially controlled industrial scale.


Edited: 4 Sept 2011, 3:49 p.m.

#23

Can you use a 50g and an 82240B printer?


#24

Quote:
Can you use a 50g and an 82240B printer?

Yes.

Getting the calculator that does the required task is not the problem nowadays, as also the 17BII+ for instance prints with the IR printer. But getting a new printer for it is.

Edited: 5 Sept 2011, 2:10 a.m.

#25

Quote:
What I would really like to do is have the calculator connect directly to the scale and set the amount that needs to be poured, something that may have been possible with the right accessories on the 41.

When you talk about connecting to a scale you are now in the realm of industrial controls. While most of these are probably more pricey than you are willing to go, but there are some lower cost options.

You can try some of these links:
http://cubloc.com/index.php
http://www.automationdirect.com
http://www.entertron.com/
http://www.heapg.com/


Edited: 4 Sept 2011, 3:26 p.m.

#26

You could rewrite your programs in Javascript at no cost. This way they would run on any device with a browser.

Then get your staff iPods, setup Wifi to get access to the app that you now control centrally. You can also record a video of how to use the new system that they can watch--just in case.

Lastly use Airprint to print it out.

OR

Put the i41CX (emulator) on the iPod, print to it's virtual printer, then email the output to an email to print service (that you have to setup). With i41CX you can automate that in your program, i.e. create output, email output as text to a fixed address.

Used 8MB iPod touches are cheap. Just get a hardened case for them.

OR

Use the 50g with it's large screen (to avoid printing) and it's serial port to use with a serial printer or anything else with a serial port (e.g. your scales).


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