calculator for FE


I began preparing for the FE last January, and passed it in October, using an HP 48GX. I now want to take the electrical PE in October 2004. Please recommend an HP that is as close to the 48GX in features (matrix, functions, formulas, solving, integration, differentiation, equation libraries) and programmability, without text editing or ability to communicate. The NCEES, who administer the exams, have banned the 48GX and the like.


HP 15c used.

No equation libraries, but who needs em--its an open book exam. Matrix, integration, solving are on the 15c.




Actually, the new Hp33s is probably your easiest and best bet (and cheapest to get, but still not yet available). However, if $$$$ isn't really an issue, the 15c would be nice, but the Hp42s would be better.

Unfortunately, the Hp33s doesn't have great matrix functions or an eq library.

The 42s is the very best available, but it still would not meet your specs. It has no eq lib or differentiation (and the intergal feature is numeric, no symbolic features). It does have a solver and 7 K RAM to stuff some well used equations into. It has no units conversions or I/O either, so you have to manually key in every extra feature.


The options are not great. There are *no* RPN scientific calculators in current production that meed NCEES criteria. So you can either (1) wait for the forthcoming HP-33S, which should appear soon (February?) for about $65, or (2) look for an old discontinued HP model on eBay or elsewhere, typically for $200-300.

(1) HP-33S: Similar to old 32Sii. Will handle complex math (but not elegantly), has equation solver (but not for multiple equations), and numerical integration (but not symbolic). No support for units. Will have 31KB of memory; unfortunately, it appears that the programming capability will be severely crippled by a lack of labels and storage registers. It will be difficult to use more than 2-3KB effectively. Two-line display, but otherwise an unusually ugly design.

(2) Older discontinued HP models, such as 41 series, 42S, 32Sii, and 15C. The 41 and 42S are closest to the 48 (which replaced them); however, they may not meet NCEES criteria, because they have limited text-editing capabilities and (in the 42S) an IR transmitter. NCEES has not explicitly banned nor accepted these models.

The 15C has not been addressed either, but it appears to meet all NCEES criteria and should be OK. The 15C is popular with electrical engineers because it handles complex numbers and matrices very well. Has some programming capability as well.

The 32Sii is like the 33S described above; it is the only discontinued HP model that NCEES has explicitly accepted.

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