WP 34S and 'dead' HP20B



I've been lurking here for some time and followed the threads with great interest, it's nice to see other people with the same fascination with HP calcs. I'm a big fan of the HP landscape calcs, specifically the 16C which has earned it's weight in gold on projects. So far I have an HP11C, HP12C, HP15C, HP16C, HP41C, HP41CV, HP17B, HP20S, HP48GX (utter rubbish but that's my view). All mint with manuals and some boxes. The next purchase is an HP10C, so any good versions around let me know.

I was very interested in the WP 34S and have acquired cables, calculator, overlays etc to have a go at creating on.

I have a couple of questions though:

1. Where is the best place to ask for WP 34S support? The sourceforge home page seems light on mailing lists and forums. I don't want to clog up this forum if it's in appropriate.

2. If this is the right place to ask questions. I have one, sorry if it's a bit long but I wanted to ensure I got all the information in and I did look around an awful long time to see if somebody else has had the same problem:

I've downloaded the various WP-34S manuals, zip files docs etc and actually read them before starting work. I just (last week) got a new laptop from work with 64 bit Windows 7 to replace my Windows XP build.

I connected the cables up, loaded up the HL-340 USB/Serial adapter and eventually found a driver that seemed to work. Since I have nothing in the house that uses serial I have no way to prove that the cable and USB adapter actually works even if the Windows tells me it is.

I downloaded and installed SAM-BA 2.10 from the ALTEL website.

I then followed the instructions in the manual of pressing various reset/erase buttons and the HP-20B display went blank.

I tried to launch SAM-BA 2.10 and that went nowhere. I could choose the COM 5 port, the right board but nothing ever happened. Checked Google and not a lot of information but it appears that 64bit Windows 7 is not a likely platform for this to work with SAM-BA 2.10. Somebody suggested SAM-BA 2.6 with XP.

So my intention is to use my VMWare Fusion Windows XP session on my Mac to try and make the connection to the HP-20B and see if that works. This will be fun as the USB/Serial adapter is not recognised by the Mac so not sure what will happen in the Windows XP session. If this fails then I'll try a 32bit Linux session on Windows 7. This is getting rather complicated.

However my real problem is that the HP-20B now displays nothing after putting it into the right mode for flashing, I am assuming this is due to me having erased the memory on the thing. Have I bricked the calculator or can I simply go through the cable key press sequence again and it will be put in the right format? Since I can't see anything at all on the calc siplay, I thought that before each attempt to connect the calculator to SAM-BA I would remove the batteries for 2 minutes, then replace to know that the calculator is starting from a known off state.

Any suggestions or recommendations gratefully appreciated.




Bart's article may help in case you haven't read it yet.





Welcome to the forum and the WP-34s project.

Indeed by erasing the 20b flash, there is only the boot loader left and that does not communicate to the screen.

Don't worry, it is not bricked. Once you get the SAMBA and comms sorted, you should be able to go through the complete procedure and "resurrect" the calculator to a 34s!

See this thread for some tips on reviving a "dead" 20b/20b (particularly the advice on batteries and Tim's advice on the RESET and ON button presses).



Thanks for the responses. The interesting thing in the articles is that somebody is using Windows Vista. Not sure if it's 64 bit but there's hope. Either way between VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation, I will find a way to get the thing flashed.

I'm reassured about not bricking the HP20B. I'll get a supply of CR2032's to make sure we hold the voltage at the right level.

And I forgot to add my HP 35S to my list of calc's, odd as it is sitting in front of me as I do some stats <doh>.

Thanks again for the prompt help, once I get it working I'm happy to help anybody in London out.



FWIW, I had succesfully used SAM-BA 2.6 under Windows 7, but I have the 32-bit version. SAM-BA 2.10 didn't worked in the same environment. I'm using a FTDI chip-based USB to serial converter.



I have got SAMBA2.10 to work in Windows Vista, but it's the 32-bit version.


I've posted this before, but with an HP laptop running Win7 Professional 64-bit using SAM-BA 2.10, I have successfully installed WP-34S images in both 20b and 30b calculators. The critical item here is an FTDI USB-to-RS232 adapter. I use an ES-U-1001-R100 I got from Newark; part number 34M8933.

As a side note Eddie Shore came by my place as he too was having problems burning a WP-34S image using Vista. With the above adapter, he successfully updated his 20b using his PC. So I think your problem is the adapter cable.

I hope this helps,


Since Rob brought it up, is there a reason we don't use
SourceForge.net: WP-34s: Open Discussion forum?

Maybe it's not as nice as this one, but at least it is searchable.

You need to have a Sourceforge account to post, but that's really not different that MoHPC. You don't have to be a member of the WP-34s project to post.


This was discussed at length a few weeks ago. There were differing opinions (surprised?) about whether the 34s discussions were appropriate here or not. Then the 15c LE suddenly appeared, and that dominated the forum for a few weeks. Now that has subsided and the 34s has reared its beautiful head again. Not to mention Open RPN.


Personally speaking (and as a new lurker my vote counts for nothing), I'd like to see announcements and high level stuff on WP-34S here and the low level detailed support stuff elsewhere, e.g. SourceForge or whatever.

I think the same for OpenRPN.

I love the idea of new calculators and will happily buy into them (my other half just rolls her eyes and sighs), e.g. the HP 41CL is great, I'm hopefully on a waiting list for one. I will look at the OpenRPN stuff as well, but should everybody have to wade through idiots like me posting how they cocked up flashing the HP 20B, or which keyboard layout is optimal?

It's difficult, a museum is not necessarily about old stuff, goto the Science Museum in London and whilst it has some fabulous old steam engines, it has some remarkably modern other exhibits.

I think a balance is needed, people should be aware of what's going on, and should know how to get to find it, but should we have to wade through all the threads. Personally speaking the threads on the new HP 15C LE and possible defects is of no interest to me but I have no problem with them being there.

Just my 2p worth,



Understood. The bottom line is, the museum curator doesn't have much to say unless someone mentions the banned 41 site. So it's really up to the posters.


SAM-BA.exe has issues, not only with Windows 7. You should try to get the modified MySamba.exe to work which is much quicker. You'll find it on our SF pages easily.


I had similar problems, my solution is posted here: http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/hpmuseum/archv020.cgi?read=201249#201249

IANS, my batteries were weak from repeated failed attempts. At 2.7V I could not power up another 30b. Test your batteries. OS/X does not need to recognize your USB to Serial for Windows/XP in a VM to work. I also used XP in a VM without issue, but only after I swapped out my Keyspan USB to Serial with one that is FTDI based. I also had to start over. Just follow the process blindly from the start. I would also recommend mysamba.exe for flashing.


Thanks for all the excellent responses. I feel a lot better that I'll get somewhere.

My plan tonight is to acquire a couple of new CR2032 batteries (could be difficult at 20:12 in an evening), plug the existing cable into my XP host under VMWare Fusion, download mysamba.exe and see how it goes.

When that fails, I'll order this cable, buy another set of batteries and have another go :)


Best wishes,




I thought I'd log exactly the hardware I used here to help the next person who has my problem.

I successfully managed to flash the HP-20B from a Mac running Lion using VMWare Fusion 3 running Windows XP SP3 (32 bit).

I have an HL-340 (super cheap) USB/Serial converter connected to the Windows XP guest. I used SAM-BA 2.10 which some people said were problematic. No issues for me.

I followed the instructions on the WP-34S website and it worked exactly as it should do. Took longer than 45 seconds to do the download but it worked fine in the end.

Now the difficult bit is putting the labels on correctly and neatly.

If anybody from London wishes a hand drop me a line at
rob DOT hpcalcforum AT robertwillett DOT com.

If you can't work my e-mail address out you don't deserve to have a WP-34S.

Thanks to you for all the prompt help on this site. I'd post a picture but you know it all looks like.


You should still switch to MySamba.exe as it is much faster (below 20 seconds) and therefore less demanding on batteries.


I tried MySamba and it simply didn't work for me. I will try again though now I know how to do it.


If anybody from London wishes a hand drop me a line at rob DOT hpcalcforum AT robertwillett DOT com.

I was there last week. I could have helped you. :-)

You may also find this thread interesting since you are a Mac user as well: http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/hpmuseum/archv020.cgi?read=201295#201295.

Edited: 20 Oct 2011, 6:53 p.m.

Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  [WP-34S] Unfortunate key damage with update to V3 :( svisvanatha 5 2,471 12-10-2013, 11:37 PM
Last Post: Les Bell
  WP-34S (Emulator Program Load/Save) Barry Mead 1 1,346 12-09-2013, 05:29 PM
Last Post: Marcus von Cube, Germany
  DIY HP 30b WP 34s serial flash/programming cable Richard Wahl 2 1,944 12-04-2013, 11:14 AM
Last Post: Barry Mead
  WP 34S/43 ?'s Richard Berler 3 1,610 11-10-2013, 02:27 AM
Last Post: Walter B
  My FrankenCulator (wp-34s) FORTIN Pascal 4 1,690 11-09-2013, 06:18 PM
Last Post: FORTIN Pascal
  WP 34S Owner's Handbook Walter B 5 2,131 11-09-2013, 05:34 PM
Last Post: Harald
  wp 34s overlay and programming. FORTIN Pascal 6 2,321 11-08-2013, 01:28 PM
Last Post: Nick_S
  m.dy in display of WP-34S Harold A Climer 3 1,530 11-05-2013, 11:28 AM
Last Post: Andrew Nikitin
  WP 34s : An old problem coming back Miguel Toro 2 1,361 11-05-2013, 03:00 AM
Last Post: Marcus von Cube, Germany
  [WP 34s] Pressure Conversion Factors Timothy Roche 8 2,538 11-04-2013, 07:17 PM
Last Post: Dave Shaffer (Arizona)

Forum Jump: