WP 34s: comments and a suggestion


In the past few days I have flashed my HP-20b and applied the overlay. My reactions:

1. The calculator looks fantastic! I admit that I was worried that the overlay would make it look amateurish, especially since "clumsy" is my middle name. Anyone who is holding off because they like their calculators smart should stop worrying and go ahead!

2. The firmware is astonishing! I've never seen a feature set like it on a calculator of this size. A lot of trouble has gone into making everything work well on the chosen hardware and it shows. The usability of this machine could scarcely be better. Highlights (for me) include the flexible way in which registers can be addressed, the handling of complex numbers, and the huge number of space- and step-saving programming commands. The firmware is stable (no crashes at all) even though I'm not running the latest version.

3. The manual is superb. Although it isn't aimed at new users, someone knowing roughly what to expect will find the detailed information here. The diagrams and tables are models of clarity and design - I can imagine the huge amount of effort and skill that must have gone into their creation. Too often documentation can take a back seat, but this manual is of the same high standard as the other components of the WP 34S project.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone involved. I haven't had so much fun with a calculator for a very long time, and there is still lots more to play with!

One small suggestion: the fraction separator is currently the same height as the digits 0-9. As such it doesn't (for me) clearly separate the numerator and denominator. Old Casio calculators used a separator made from the bottom and bottom-right segments: this half-height character provided a clear break in the string of digits. Would this be a possible change?

Nigel (UK)



Thanks for your very kind words [blush] :-)

Regarding your suggestion, we've employed a similar looking symbol for fraction mode overflow already. Please see page 30 of the manual for an example. Though this will show up in the very left numeric position only. Additionally, looking at the fraction display from some distance, the current fraction bar looks like one while the alternative you suggested looks more like a comma. That all said, we may think about changing the symbol if a clear majority of forumers want it (quorum: at least 10 votes in favour of a change). I solemnly declare the poll stations open ;-)



Here's my vote for a fraction separator like on ancient Casio's. In my view, the separators that occupy only one (upper or lower) half of the LCD segments stand out more clearly. This is already the case for the ° ' " separators for HMS notation. I think the fractions would indeed stand out better if the separator would be Casio-style.
Of course, this is more a question of taste.

Now, the almost invisible difference between comma and point separators on the 30b REALLY is something that drives me nuts (much worse than on the first version of the 33S), but that is a hardware problem that cannot be rectified by the WP 34s project).

Edited: 23 Oct 2011, 6:20 p.m.


Changing this symbol is very simple -- we've got a special font for the seven segment display and this is a single isolated character and I believe it is only used for this purpose.

- Pauli


2. The firmware is astonishing!
I would like to add a footnote to this observation. Just imagine how great a calculator the 33S and the 35S could have been if HP had it tested out for a year in this community. Not only would most of the bugs been discovered, but features like complex number support could have been expanded to a decent level (like on the 15C) had there been a community that advocated it. OK, I know I am daydreaming, but the WP 34s project surely shows the strength of the combination of a few dedicated and expert individuals together with a critical and knowledgeable community.


I fear that the hardware of the 33s or 35s poses a restriction upon what can be implemented function wise. A 6502 programmed in C isn't the best architecture in this respect. So most probably no full complex support even with help of the community. But the bugs should have been ironed out as would have been some quirks of the 35s (think of bases other than 10, or P<>R).


128kb of rom on the 35s which is the same as the 20b. Plus lots more RAM and a decent display. I think something better could have been done.

- Pauli


128kb of rom on the 35s which is the same as the 20b.

Not quite. ARM thumb code should get more out of the ROM space as 6502 code compiled from C.


Maybe from C, but 6502 code should be a lot more compact in general...

- Pauli

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