33S situation is getting ugly...


..and no, I'm not talking about the keyboard.

The best-known forum for Professional Engineering exam candidates is at:


Check it out. People are gearing up for the 2004 exams, which are the first to be affected by the new NCEES calculator restrictions. PE and PLS candidates across the country are coming to the shocked realization that:

(1) They will *not* be allowed to use their trusty HP48s or their new HP49s

(2) HP currently cannot provide *any* NCEES-compliant RPN scientific calculator

(3) Older NCEES-compliant models, like the 32Sii, now cost hundreds of dollars

(4) There is *no* firm timetable for the introduction of the HP33S

Needless to say, a lot of people are unhappy with NCEES, but also with HP.

There's been plenty of 33S bashing on this forum. Well, at the same time there are many engineers and surveyors who are desperate for *any* basic, reasonably priced RPN scientific. Even if it has an ugly keyboard.

Edited: 15 Nov 2003, 10:07 p.m.


Just took it and yes my 48GX helped alot. Hopefully you can get your hand on a 33s by April. If you are taking the Civil Engineering exam, make sure you have Manning's Eqn in the solver for all kinds of channels- in terms of depth, width, etc. It's a time saver.


CME750 posted:

"There's been plenty of 33S bashing on this forum. Well, at the same time there are many engineers and surveyors who are desperate for *any* basic, reasonably
priced RPN scientific. Even if it has an ugly keyboard."

Forgive me in advance, but there's something I think I don't fully understand, namely your "There are many engineers and surveyors who are desperate for *any* basic, reasonable priced RPN scientific" statement.

How can that be ? I still remember the times when I was a young student, with very little money to spare, yet I managed to buy first an HP-25, then an HP-67, which took a considerable effort and a lot of trade and work on my part to get the $$ required to purchase it. I guess many of this forum's readers have endured similar experiences.

Now the question is, why are your 'engineers and surveyors' so 'desperate' ? If they are, indeed, can't they resort to get an HP-15C, say, from eBay ? I know they aren't exactly cheap, but you can get one for, say $175-225, and that's pretty comparable with the original price, augmented by inflation, that an HP-67 commanded 26 years ago. If 'poor' students like me could do it at the time, why can't present 'engineers and surveyors' ?

In other words, if people are really so 'desperate', stop sticking to your money like mad, stop waiting for such weird, ugly, underdeveloped products as the 33S (which might as well get banished from the exams if someone discovers it has A-Z on the keyboard), and spend that money on a nifty HP-15C or 41CV out of eBay, this MoHP Classified, or whatever. It'll end your 'desperation' once and for all, and you'll be glad you did, now, and many years from now.

Best regards from V.


Just a few observations:

1. HP contracts Kinpo to make the new HP-12C Platinum.
2. A few months after it's release, a new calculator, the Aurora FN1000, comes out (also by Kinpo) that's functionally equivalent to the HP-12C. It's price point is less than one-third that of the HP-12C Platinum.
3. HP contracts Kinpo to make the new HP-33S.
4. A few months after it's release...

Might be too much to hope for, but might we see a RPN Scientific calculator, a few months after the release of the 33S, with the functionality of the 33S (or 32SII) with a more traditional keyboard and at a $20-30 price point?

Just a thought.
Tony David Potter
(33333 erases.)


Well, I have run out of memory with just three survey programs on my 32sii, and the same goes for the 11c. The 33s would be very nice for Surveyors and engineers for the PE exam. I saw a post that said there is no way to use up all the memory. While it might be difficult, I could have certainly used alot of it for the exam. The 41CX is good for surveying (if you have the chip) but the eqn solver probably isn't as good as the 33s. Hell, Bring all the legal calculators you have- I did. 48GX for Hydraulics and surveying, the 12c for engineering economics and 11c for GP.


That's an interesting idea Tony,
and maybe you are right.

So your scenario is that Kinpo comes out with some of the classics (32S, 32Sii) because HP is not smart enough to do it themselves.

Did you know that Chinese businesses, stereotypically, are masterful copycats of other people's designs and ideas? Whereas USA business typically has enough pride that they wont copy, a company like Kinpo just wants the money and would copy gladly.

That's an excellent, excellent idea, and I hope your scenario comes true. Hey..... they could even make HP-34C !! With RED LED's HUBBA HUBBA OOOWEEEE BAAAAAAYBEEEE gimme dem RED LED's * pant pant pant *

wouldn't it be interesting if our favorite swear word (Kinpo) became the knight in shining armour to save us all and restore our hopes? (esp at $30 a unit, yeah, ooowee babeeeee). In point of fact, I designed a product that was cranked out many thousands at a time, and was sold for thousands of dollars a unit also. The chinese got jealous of the profit margins, and came out with a clone. They even cloned the "cut trace solder a jumper" reworks on the circuit boards (!!!!) :o| This went on for quite awhile and eventually the USA company used lawyers to make them stop. The Chinese company then offered to the USA company to make the product for them, as a low-cost manufacturing partner ........


If I recall, it was COMPAQ, the company acquired by HP, that created the first clone of the IBM PC. This feat was accomplished relatively quickly because the original PC was a non-proprietary design.

A similar trend may occur in calculators as HP outsources the product. On the other hand, perhaps this is HP's strategy. If many overseas companies start building RPN models, HP can just select the one it desires and slap the HP name on it. Then, it can concentrate on its primary business of slapping the HP label on other outsourced electronic and computer products.


Just to say that, while I most admire the "classic" HP excellence of the 1970's and 1980's calculator models; I had worked with many of the Compaq "first 10 years" products, and I may say there was also quality and innovation on them, indeed.

The word "Compaq" is a combination of "compatibility", "portability" and "quality"; the main attributes for their first product. I have installed and repaired such units for years, and have been able to appreciate the attention given to details as the usage of perforated "fiche" boards to shave some weight; the shock absorbers for hard disks; the backup fuse located in the power connector; the appearance of a plasma display in the Portable III; the flexible, foldable motherboard on the LTE386 notebook (1990), adapted from aerospace technology; and many advanced features on servers like RAID controllers (1989); or autonomous remote-management adapters (1991, with their own battery, modem and voice synthesizer for spoken alarms), etc. While some of that quality may be lost (a sign of current times, perhaps?), there are still many quality features in their products.

As per service, I was amazed when I read my first Compaq Service Advisories, where, for instance, technical personnel was instructed to look for a defective link in the leather carrying case of some models; to prevent possible slipage of the carrying belt with consequential damages for the computer and/or the user... Service centers were paid between U$S 50 and U$S 80 per event, to encourage them to detect and exchange the belt link... an attitude not many maufacturers had at the time (1990)!


"Now the question is, why are your 'engineers and surveyors' so 'desperate' ? If they are, indeed, can't they resort to get an HP-15C, say, from eBay ? I know they aren't exactly cheap, but you can get one for, say $175-225..."

Yes...but $175-225 seems like a lot of money for a calculator which is only intended for use on one or two exams.

Most of the engineers and surveyors in question already own an HP48, which has been the closest thing to an industry-standard calculator over the past 10 years or so. The 48 cost less and does more than an old 15C, or any of the other fondly-remembered collectibles discussed on this forum.

But the 48 and 49 were recently banned for use on PE/PLS exams. So people who have been out of the calculator market for years now need to find an RPN alternative specifically for exam use. They are understandably shocked to learn that the only available options, as of today, are in the $200 range.


"f they are, indeed, can't they resort to get an HP-15C, say, from eBay ? I know they aren't exactly cheap, but you can get one for, say $175-225, and that's pretty comparable with the original price, augmented by inflation, that an HP-67 commanded 26 years ago."

Gene: Actually, HP-67's sold for $450 back in 1977 dollars. The price level has nearly tripled since then. Try an equivalent today of $1200. That makes HP-15c's etc. bought on ebay a bargain.

It also makes the 49G+ an incredible bargain.


Don't take this as offense; It seems that dedication to a certain entry format turns into an unhealthy addiction. What you may win by using RPN is lost by using a keyboard like the one of the 33S, in terms of speed. I would always prefer my 20S or even my fx81p over using such a toy. In addition, from what we heard in this group, the device has apparently been designed so careless that you probably have to expect serious bugs in the software. And thats the best reason for not using it in the exams.



Software bugs? There are really only two major complaints about the 33S on this forum:

(1) the keyboard is goofy (which is true)

(2) the firmware appears to be nearly identical to that of the 32Sii

Point 2 is a significant drawback, since it means that the 33S will not be able to effectively use much of its memory. On the other hand, the 32Sii firmware was not buggy, and so there is no reason to suspect that the 33S firmware will be buggy either.


I was only speculating. But you're wrong about the 32SII, there were buggy units (I have one of it) as there were several other HP calcs with bugs on early releases even when HP put more effort in them. Why should I expect to get a good calculator when the design already looks like it has not been made for professional use?

I would not dare to say that the firmware is nearly identical to the one of the 32SII. It's more likely rewritten from scratch. But then, it doesn't really matter. Doing modifications on a more than 10 year old software is always dangerous:).



>Doing modifications on a more than 10 year old software is always dangerous:

It depends. If the software sources are well documented *and* the programmer knows what to do then the risk is small.

Of course the above assumption contains two unknowns:-)



OK, the 32Sii had some issues with buggy fractions. But nobody actually uses those anyway!


If it were me, I'd tell NCEES to stuff their exam and HP to stuff their cowcatcher and find a career that didn't require me to operate under such constraints.

But I'm just that way. ;)


I don't see why anyone should be unhappy with hp (aside from the oft discussed issues surrounding the 33S itself). It is not up to hp to make a calculator that meets with the approval of NCEES. I'd place the blame squarely on the paranoid, asinine NCEES for taking away the tools that engineers and surveyors use in their daily jobs over the silly worry that someone will type the questions and answers into their calculator, or beam answers via IR to their buddy across the room.

Edited: 17 Nov 2003, 9:08 a.m.


The NCEES is an organization of delusional Luddites who would like to turn back the clock. There should be an alternative organization to license engineers that is more technologically oriented. This is 2003, not 1903 or 1803!

J.C. Randerson


Owners of TI graphing calculators are also affected by the NCEES ban, and they are also critical of NCEES. But they are not nearly as upset as HP owners, and they are not mad at TI. Why not?

Because a TI83 or TI89 user can go to any discount store (Walmart, Kmart, Target), or to any office store (Staples, Office Depot), or to any consumer electronics store (Good Guys, Best Buy), or to any number of internet sites, and pick up an adequate, NCEES-compliant TI scientific calculator for less than $20. Brand new, in the box, with warranty. Problem solved.

Does an HP48 or 49 user have similar alternatives for an RPN scientific calculator? Sorry. The only choices are: (1) try your luck at Ebay, where it may be possible to obtain an old used HP for $200 or so, or (2) simply get a $20 TI as described above and reprogram yourself away from RPN.

HP has produced boatloads of fine, NCEES-compliant scientific models in the past, starting with the HP35 and ending with the 32Sii. But somewhere along the line, they dropped the ball: the 32Sii has been discontinued for more than a year and a half, and the 33S is still vaporware.

As a result, people are unhappy with HP, not just with NCEES. TI and Casio and Sharp are unscathed.


<<It is not up to hp to make a calculator that meets with the approval of NCEES.>>

The great irony here is that HP **does** make scientific calculators that meet with the approval of NCEES.

The current-model HP-9S (~$15) and HP-9G (~$40) have both been explicitly granted the NCEES "seal of approval". The current-model HP-30S (~$20) also appears to meet NCEES criteria. Same with the HP-6S (~$10) and the HP-20S (~$40), which have been discontinued but are still available at low cost if you look around.

The problem is that none of these models have RPN. So HP's current product line includes three different inexpensive, NCEES-compliant algebraic scientific calculators -- but no RPN equivalents. Users accustomed to RPN are not happy with this situation, or with HP.

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