HP33 programs?


I saw an earlier post where someone was going to try to convert their existing programs for use on HP33 if they could find a simulator. Did this ever happen?

I'm in need of EE programs to help me save time on my PE exam this coming April. If anyone has HP33 programs for circuits/electrical engineering, I'd appreciate a link or post of them. The 3x3 solver listed in the HP33 manual--does anyone know if this routine handles complex coefficients?

As a postscript--the original poster seemed to hate the HP33 but was being very generous and kind and had concerns that good programs would lengthen the life of the HP33. I think I fall into the same boat as many--ie. being forced by NCEES to buy this model for use on PE exams because NO other programmable calculators are allowed...otherwise I'd be using my HP48G. So I don't think the HP33 will ever be as popular as HP41 or HP48 models--but until NCEES changes the approved calculator list, we're at their mercy.

If you have progs for HP33 or know where any can be found, I'd greatly appreciate a link or post. I've had very little luck in my searches.

Best regards,



Any programs you find for the Hp32s are also good for the Hp33s. This site has quite a few Hp32s programs. Look on the sidebar for programs.

I took the exam just last spring and was limited to the Hp33s also. No, it isn't in the same league as an Hp48g, but the test won't make extensive use of overly complex math. (Yeah, there were a couple of problems that would have been easy with a 48g as compared to difficult with the Hp33s). But everyone was hamstringed by this requirement. After you accept the fact that you won't get every problem right, just get as many right as you possibly can (and hope thats enough).

As far as loading up the caluclator with lots of programs, why bother? The HP33s has a solver (again, not nearly as nice as the 48g's), plug in a couple of known go to programs, punch the rest in as you need.

YOU WILL NOT NEED to solve any 3x3's with complex elements (or at least I didn't). My own advice would be to get the NCEES practice exam for the discipline you plan to take (electrical, isn't it?). Also buy the EIT/FE for the afternoon electrical exam. Many of the problems are quite similar.

And start using your books and resorces (I suggest going in with books you use). One problem, if you have a text book that you wrote in extensively in pencil, either erase or highlight those notes as the NCEES is even more ANAL about pencil marks in books than they are about Calculators (to put it in perspective). I left my original EE text at home rather than erase or highlight every pencil mark. I bought a similar book used and in much better shape (and never used it either).

I suggest 2-3 handbooks, a couple of Schaums outlines (and you can write all you want in these books, but you must use an INK PEN. I suggest an erasable and write down any extra notes you wish. If you have pencil marks, they are okay, AS LONG as you HIGHLIGHT them with a marker (but again, I suggest INK so as to avoid ANY PROBLEMS).

Hope this information helps.



Thanks for the info.

I didn't realize the issue with pencil marks. I'm glad you told me!

I have bought the NCEES sample exam, as well as one from Camara and the EERM. I've worked through the Camara and am shocked at how much 'theoretical' college type problems are in it as opposed to practical/everyday engineering ones. Is the real exam highly theoretical too? (for example, curls and divergence of E fields)

I'll be taking the EE exam. Which exam depth module did you take? Which Schaum's do you recommend? and which 'known go to programs' for the equation solver would you program?

I take it that you passed the exam first try?

Thanks again for your comments!



I took the Power portion as that is what I now practice. I debated long and hard on which I should take. I have a much longer history with controls (but no formal eductation), and a wife who is a Comp Sci weiny and had a fair grasp of the Computer section. I settled on Power because that would lend me the most status in my present position.

You don't have to decide until the exam is passed out and you choose at that time. They give you ALL three exams in the same booklet in the afternoon, you choose the one you like best. Ideally, you have studied for one and just go after that. As for myself, I had decided to concentrate on the Power portion, but I still looked at the other two exams and contemplated a last minute switch (and probably for the best that I did not).

You are NOT going to be presented with any HIGHLY theoretical problems. If you are spending more than 5 minutes getting set up for a problem, you are doing it Wrong! (there may well be a 10 minute problem or two on the exam, but skip them, most are 5 minute problems and no ONE problem counts more than the next). There were 2 or maybe 3 FFT problems (of which I probably missed all three, though they were concept problems, not hard if you were sharp and know your FFT's) and maybe 2 or 3 EM problems (these were fairly easy).

I found a Schaum's on Power and another on EE, both of which were helpful for study. I also referenced them on a few problems.

Ideally (which isn't likely) you would buzz through the exam, only referencing the NEC code book on the few (3-5) questions on the NEC. However, the exam is so broad (the mornig exam is supposed to be broad, but even the afternoon exam has quite a bit of lateral material covered as well), that you should take an assortment of books. I took about 10. 3 handbooks, 2 or 3 texts, 2 or 3 Schaum's, 1 FE/EIT afternoon Electrical Exam practice book (found at Barnes & Noble), and the NCEES practice exam book (amazingly, it is very similar as they say, and it shows a sample exam of each electrical discipline as well).

As far as programming that miserable Hp33s, I did not bother. I did learn how to use its solver and its numerical integration features, both of which I did use on the exam. But I could have made use of the cheaper Casio Fx-115 just as easily.

While you could stuff a bunch of programs into the Hp33s, its retrieval system is awkward for any large amount of programs and you would best be sereved by learning a few extra new things and reviewing old rusty concepts you may have forgotten. And since you might damage or break the calculator and there being no way to archive or back up short of keying in one key at a time a program into a new calculator should the worst happen, I say forget about it!

Since the book shows how to program a 3x3 (which I feel is also worthless), I didn't bother to put anything in. (I probably had 3-4 equations for the solver).

Good luck!
I am sure there are other's on this site who can also give you advice on this exam (there certainly are others far more knowledgable on this site).


Thanks again Ross for the additional insight.

In working the sample exams, I am working all three depth modules--because I figure regardless of which I take, some of the material is likely to be on the breadth portion anyway.

I will most definitely choose between the computer and electronics modules-- power is out of the question for me. Curious about what the FFT problems were like--if you recall. I've written a few of those so I may be OK on that part at least :).

I've been able to identify a couple of rough areas that I will be trying to bone-up on--transistors and motors/generators. Other than these two areas, most of what I learned 20+ yrs ago is coming back to me ok.

I'll quit worrying about programming the HP33 for now and look forward to getting back to the Hp48 after all is over with the PE exam.

Best regards,




What is the deal with pencil marks? I took the structures PE test back in 1997, and don't remember an issue with pencil marks. Just curious.

Way back then, the NCEES didn't have their wonderful calculator policy, so bringing my 32sII was ok, and so was my 11c as a backup. It's interesting that the 33s is ok, but the 32sII is not.


The calculator policy and the pencil marks go hand in hand.

The NCEES has become so paranoid about cheating and removing exam questions from the site that they now restrict calculators to single letter variables (AT MOST, hench the upper limit is the Hp33s) and to simplify the adherance to this policy, only six calculator models are allowed. The proctors are given a sheet with pictures of the six calculators allowed, if yours doesn't look like one of the pictured calculators, you are not allowed to continue with the exam.

The pencil policy is such that you are not allowed to bring in a pencil (or any writing instrument). They furnish that. You are only allowed to write on the exam and scratch paper (I'm not sure about the scratch paper, you may be restricted to your test booklet). Either way, they then casually watch for anyone writing anywhere else. If you are found with pencil notes anywhere but in your work book, it is then assumed you wrote a note to take out of the exam ie the pencil marks in an old text. You will be kicked out unless it is obvious that the marks where there before the exam (hench the highlighter option).

Is it fair? Probably not. But the NCEES makes the rules and if you want to play the game, you don't have much choice. Gripe and Bi@%# all you want, but it will not affect their policies as far as I can see. The one concilation is that everyone has the same rules and playing field on today's exam. That earlier engineers had the use of fancier calculators may not be fair to you today, well, life aint always fair, is it?

I admit, I griped and whined too. But I managed to pass, so I suspect anyone with adequit preparation should be able to also.


There were only six NCEES-approved calculator models in 2005, but there are now nine NCEES-approved models for 2006. The HP-9S, -30S, and 33S are among them. Many other calcs, like the 11C or 32SII, would be acceptable from a security standpoint, but NCEES wants to keep the list of approved models short, to keep it simple for the exam proctors. They don't want to bother with calculator models that were discontinued years ago.

As indicated in another post, the "pencil mark" rule does not come from NCEES, and is not enforced nationally. Some state boards do have this policy, but others do not.

The idea is apparently to prevent examinees from copying down exam questions in reference books. Since you are not allowed to have pens or highlighters in the exam room, any notes in ink were presumably written before the exam, which is OK. But notes in pencil could have been copied during the exam, and are suspect.

Edited: 4 Jan 2006, 1:16 p.m.


This is amazing. Let's try to see if this works :


step 1 : use your highlighter on blank spaces in your book - OK since nothing is written there

step 2 : use the NCEES-approved pencil to write down exam questions in the aforementioned areas

The result ? You abide by the rules, your writings are supposed to have been there in the first place, and you walk away with exam questions neatly written in your book (better use some form of code anyway).


step 1 : find a dozen friends and assign different numbers to each

step 2 : each member remembers the question by her numbers

step 3 : walk away, and write down questions outside

Does this work ? I would expect NCEES people to brainwash everybody after the exam to fight this. Would be bad if they also erase the knowledge they expect you have of the subject.

While I HATE cheating (any flavor), all this seems to be such a waste of time.


Great minds think alike.

Some Jack ASS in California is responsible for all this paranoia. That is why graphics calculators with I/O are no longer allowed.

The tests are to be taken by Engineers of good character. Cheating of any form is an immediate reason for dismissal. The PE exam is not supposed to be taken until at least four years of experience (both technical and ethical) are gained.

This test is to confirm a minimum competency. And if someone cheats on this exam or helps others to cheat on this exam could lead to drastic consequences in this area of engineering (for the public). The license is granted to the engineer to entrust him/her with public safety. Many engineers work fine without the license, you don’t need this license to be an engineer, unless you practice engineering on your own and for the public.

Therefore a cheat is potentially exposing the public (should he/she ever be in charge of a project that needs a PE seal) to undue hazard (there is always some risk, the PE is deemed competent by the State of licensure to be qualified to assess and minimize design risk and eliminate hazards).

I admit the fine line between competent and incompetent is hard to measure. In 1992 I took an NEC exam and only received a 69 (one point below passing). I hadn’t taken the exam as seriously as I should have and immediately changed my methods and re-took the exam as soon as I was able. Was I extremely more competent 6 months later? No, not extremely more competent, but I was more competent and passed with a much higher score. I didn’t need a lucky break to pass vs if I had received a 70, I wouldn’t have invested that extra effort and corrected some of my own flaws.

My point is, that although the NCEES may be highly overeactive, and so many engineers of good character take this exam, it is a shame that some of lesser character ruin or make reason for these rules.


Here's what I wish I could do: Get people with photographic memories to take the various exams, have them write down exact copies of all the exams afterward, and post them anonymously on the Internet. That would force the NCEES (at great expense and inconvenience) to throw out all the old test questions and come up with completely new exams. Perhaps that would be a little payback for all the expense and inconvenience of people who've had to replace perfectly good HP calculators with inferior models for these tests.


And that great group would go the effort to make a completely new, but equal exam?

Tests (good tests) tend to evolve. That is why these testing agencies try to re-use older exams (although they should damn well change the values, etc). A completely new question may be such that 99% of all applicants either answer it correctly or miss it entirely. Is that a fair question on such a test (if the test group is normal, that is). That is the main reason the NCEES doesn't want to introduce new questions for every exam. Making up a new test is costly, but it may also be statistacly irrevelent if the intended audience cannot achieve the same passing rates as prior testees (or everyone passes, including many who shouldn't).

That is the big gamble you would then introduce into the system should you succeed with your plan.


After reading all of the posts in this thread, all I can say is that I'm glad that I took the test (and passed) back in the old days of 1997. Maybe NCEES should ban all calculators and only allow slide rules or an abacus.


A few comments on the 33S and the PE exam:

(1) You can buy commercial 33S software for the Electrical PE exam at newcalc.com. Cost is $79 for software alone (you provide the 33S and enter everything manually), or $195 for a pre-programmed 33S.

(2) The value of such software on the PE exam may be questioned. In my experience (with the Civil exam), most PE exam problems are not difficult to solve mathematically; the challenge is simply to recognize and apply the appropriate equations. I have put a few programs in my 33S, but they are primarily simple, commonly-used functions for convenience (e.g. area of a circle, coefficient of lateral earth pressure).

(3) The "no pencil mark" rule does exist, but only in certain states; it is not an NCEES rule, and is not required nationally. Some state boards currently have this rule (e.g. Texas), while others do not (e.g. California).

But even if your state allows pencil marks, it's probably best to use ink, because your state board or NCEES could change their policies in the future. I use only ink, even though I am in California, where pencil marks are currently allowed.


I really have no business in this thread and others like it and I normally just read them as there are intelligent ideas of all kinds.

But I noticed at the newcalc.com site that in their photo of their 33S, an alpha(betic)numeric name/label/message is displayed.

I wasn't aware that can be done with the 33S (a la 48 or 49 series calcs)!

How DOES one enter an alphanumeric string? I'd really appreciate knowing how to do that.

Edited: 6 Jan 2006, 10:41 a.m.


Hi Ed,

It is easy to put alphanumerics into not only the 33s, but the 32sii as well. If you are in a program, you set the appropriate flag (10) to treat the equation as a message. You use STO {A...Z} or RCL {A...Z} to put the alpha characters into the equation--the same way that you use when you write an equation for evaluation.

You can also put dummy equations into the equation list--to act as title headings. In this case, there is no flag required. (The example at newcalc appears to be this latter case).

The 32sii had a lot of interesting ideas--this one included--that could never really be taken advantage of because of the pitifully small memory.

The 33s is much better than the 32sii in this respect. Really worth it--if you want to have a machine that you can program without erasing everything first.

Edited: 6 Jan 2006, 11:06 a.m.


Hey Bill!


Is this in the 33S manual? I didn't see it, but I'll have to also admit that I did not comb it deeply like I used to when I used the 34C in college.

If this is in the 32SII manual, then I figure I should have seen it there, too, for as it turns out, they are really the same manual, just about. But I did look there when I couldn't find it in the 33S manual.

Maybe I just missed it; I'm definitely going to check it tonight or this weekend!


While programming, enter EQN mode.

To enter a letter, while in EQN mode, type (for example) RCL A (that is, RCL key, then e^x key).

The equation editor is pretty primitive, but you can get some usable text in this way.

To keep the equations from being evaluated in normal execution, I test Flag 10.

I comment the beginning of all my programs this way. So, for example, my vector cross-product routine starts with:

    X0001  LBL X
X0002 FS? 10
X0003 VECT X PROD (eqn)
X0004 ...
If Flag 10 is set, the equation is displayed. If clear, the equation is bypassed.




Regarding the thread about converting programs for use on the 33S, the original poster was our friend Valentin Albillo. Sadly, the conclusion seems to have been that the emulator could not be provided to Mr. Albillo, so no programs were converted for use on the 33S.

Regarding the exam itself, I see that Ron and Norris have provided a lot of good advice. The format and process has changed a bit since I went through it a few years ago. I had the luxury of taking a 15C, 29C and 45 into the test with me. One thing I'll point out regarding seeking and giving advice, the NCEES (of course) has rules regarding what information a veteran of the test can give to a potential test-taker. For example in this document available at the NCEES web site under the heading Examination Irregularities, the following statement is made:

Irregular behavior includes....possessing, reproducing, or disclosing exam questions,
answers, or other information regarding the content of
the examination without authorization before, during, or
after the exam administration.

Not sure where the line is regarding how much a veteran can say, but based on their calculator policy, my guess would be it might seem pretty restrictive to most people. I don't see how Ron or Norris could have crossed that line with their responses, but it is something to consider.

Best regards and good luck on your exam!



I am a veteran of the NCEES FE exam, two California-specific Civil PE supplemental exams, and three California PG (geologist) exams. However, I have not yet taken the NCEES Civil PE exam; I plan to do so in April 2006.

Since I have never taken an NCEES PE exam, I am not in a position to disclose any inappropriate information. My comments are based on my experiences with the publicly-available NCEES Civil PE sample exam and PPI review materials.


Indeed, lots of good advice and responses here. Thanks to all who took the time.

I didn't see anything about pencil markings on the document you linked to, nor have I seen anything on my state's (AL) website that would suggest it is not allowed. However, better safe than sorry.

Reading their rules--THIS should be the definition of ANAL in the dictionary. I can't see what the big deal is about bringing an eraser or your own pencil--or even a chair! Why on earth they have these crazy restrictions is beyond logic--but like was said above-- gotta play by their rules so b#tching about it is a waste of time.

I'm going to do my darnedest to pass the first time! Any advice that
ll help me to that end I APPRECIATE.

Thanks again everyone!



My favorite rule is the California Board's ban on digital watches. You can bring a watch -- and it's a very good idea to do so, because the exam rooms may or may not have visible clocks -- but it absolutely *has* to be analog.

Yet strangely, the California Board is much more relaxed than NCEES about calculators. California still allows any non-QWERTY calculator (HP41C, HP42S, HP48, TI89, etc.) on state-specific (non-NCEES) PE and PLS exams. They only enforce the NCEES calculator rules on NCEES exams. So it is still possible to become a PE in California in certain disciplines (e.g. traffic or geotechnical) with an HP48.

California's casual attitude toward calculators is even more remarkable when you consider that the California Board actually caught an examinee with a graphing calculator that was modified to contain a built-in scanner.

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