Dear OpenRPN


Dear OpenRPN:

You obviously have good intentions. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions as the devil is in the details. We know, we're engineers ourselves. The difference between you and us is that we don't announce things until we have produced something. Just produce something, anything. Then you can trumpet to the high heavens. We sincerely wish you the best of luck with your dreams.


"Produce something."

Hmmm, there is a website with all sorts of specifications, discussions etc.

While that may not be "in your hands" kind of product, it is more of a product than 99% of all the financiers out there produce--and OpenRPN is a volunteer project no less!


An open discussion leading to a good product may create a higher quality product in the long run. Witness free software.


While not supporting the anonymous comments made here, I too don't really believe OpenRPN will ever lead to an actual product.

It just takes too much organizing by us bean-counters, etc. to ever create a real product.

Witness the apparent collapse of the Qonos, which won't ever see the light of day. When people first heard about it, excitement ruled the day! Finally, a real calculator for the rest of us, designed by someone who understands what we want! Feature descriptions were created, talked about, etc., but it isn't going to happen.


Good plan, prototypes, but appears to have needed too much $$ to get off the ground.

OpenRPN is a diversion and while fun, will not lead to a working product at anything resembling a reasonable price, IMO.

And, I know that's my opinion and is worth perhaps less than the next poster's opinion :-), but I just don't see it happening.

How long has OpenRPN been going on now? >2 years?

How much time needs to go by with nothing but fancy drawings and spec sheets before we collectively realize that this is not going to happen.


P.S. Willing to eat whatever crow is needed should they bring something off (which I will not be upset about!), but not expecting to ever taste it. :-)


All OpenRPN needs to to create a simple project plan, filled with milestones. Then by gradually ticking off these milestones outsiders will see that the project is progressing. Maybe OpenRPN is flying along, but from my point of view it looks like endless talking and changing of specifications.

Here is part of the last 'project update'

"The hardware platform will be developed and produced first to aid in software development, as well as allowing a few reviewers to preview the build quality.

OpenRPN hasn't been attracting much attention lately... Most people won't believe it until they see it, so we're going to deliver the goods.

Within the next few days I will start a thread to gather any final opinions on construction methods and feature sets. The designs will be locked in and set for final development and production."

This was last september. What designs were locked in? None. No hardware has been built. The whole focus of the project has changed too many times to even begin to start.


OpenRPN is flying along, but from my point of view...

Who are you?

What is this thing about not revealing ones name in the postings?
Afraid of what?


Does it really matter what my name is? You have my word I wasn't the person who was abusive. That was someone else.


You have my word

Why would the word of an "X" mean anything? And no one named "Mr. X" has posted recently so which post are we supposed to believe is not like the others?

As far as I can see there's one guy using a different name each time to pick on OpenRPN. If you want to be distinguished from the "other guy" then maybe you should follow the rules of this forum:

You agree to use a consistent identity on the forums. MoHPC reserves the right to reveal the use of multiple identities when it feels this is necessary. You are not required to use your real name but you should stick with one label.

That way at least we'll be able to tell you from the "other guy".


Though I'm not sure, if we will ever see a commercial product, there still is good news:


They never get enough, and it gives them indigestion. A troll with indigestion is unpleasant to be around, and not just because it gets grumpy ..


Edited: 25 Feb 2006, 2:39 a.m.


So true.

OpenRPN might come to something; then again, it might not. But I, for one, won't bitch and moan, since I don't see anyone else stepping up to the plate.


--- Les



If you've been reading these forums recently you should already be aware of our current plans. Right now a generously donated 49g+ is on its' way. The OpenRPN modifications should finally convince the community that this feasible. To give you some idea of how easy it can be, the first prototypes will be made from sheet ABS with a router. It will represent what the 49g *should* have been.

Insult me and my project all you want. I'm going to keep at it indefinitely.



I'm glad that your are continuing with Open RPN despite the doubts and insults. It's the easiest thing to take someone elses designs or plans and find reasons why they won't work. Good luck, I hope that you are successful.


Actually, it's easiest to discuss nothing BUT plans.

If they actually come out with this 49g+ retrofit thing, that will be a good first step.

But that's a long way from ever coming up with a real, working calculator.

And I'm not holdling my breath. :-)


I'd say this discussion about OpenRPN is about as easy as it can ever get - much easier than even putting up a simple project website.

I suggest the critics come with constructive ideas, concrete plans, how to acquire resources or money, hell even pitch in some hours work themselves.

Tearing down a building is a fair bit easier than bulding one.


Hello Geir!

Oh, I hope they succeed. But I've seen many times where a group or someone comes up with great plans and all that happens is talk, talk, talk.

Jean-Yves' Qonos was to be the ultimate graphical calculator. It would kill the HP49g+ AND the TI-89.

Lots of people talked and talked about it.

Then, it appears to have died.

I make no pretense about any abilities to make/manufacture a new calculator. But I do have experience with how business works and how they at times do not work.

Hence my pessimism.

Personally, the comments a few posts above would do wonders to dismiss the pessimism.

"All OpenRPN needs to to create a simple project plan, filled with milestones. Then by gradually ticking off these milestones outsiders will see that the project is progressing. Maybe OpenRPN is flying along, but from my point of view it looks like endless talking and changing of specifications"

Give us some milestones and then meet some of them.

How long have we gone so far? 2 years? And we have nice drawings. That's not the stuff of which success is usually made.

My 1 cent,



First of all all the best to Hugh as it is easy to criticize while it is hard to DO.

Then, ideas to go forward on this wonderful project : this thing is an assembly of hardware and software. The hardware poses many problems (and can be discussed ad nauseam...), so why bother ? It may be (**no experience here**) possible to use some existing hardware and run the existing software on it. Then you make incremental improvements. The original hardware could be a bare bones PCB in a shoe box with bulky switches as a keyboard, I would still be interested. The software could be a more or less legal copy of the HP49+'s, I think this would not be an issue for a non-commercial, small-scale project (eevn less if the perpetrator owns an HP49+). This platform would allow the more gifted to recompile the software (a la Linux), with HPGCC the software base could be progressively converted to more portable C code, then modified.

Harware could stay based on an HP49G+, anyone could open her machine and do the soldering work.

If this is still too much, OpenRPN could stay on the software side as an open-source project based on the 49G+.

All this could make the project take off in small, incremental steps. Am I completely dreaming here ?


OpenRPN seems to have started about the time that Hp was being questioned about their continued support of the RPN pocket calculator.

That someone might be able to make a better calculator is not really the point. The real point is whether these new startups can compete and profit with the Hp offerings now made available. The early Hp49G+'s were CRAP! (whether this is a hardware or a software fault, the result was a poorly useable calculator).

Next the Hp33s was made available to the low end RPN crowd.

Whats left? Well, you could offer a super deluxe version ie What JYA wanted to market. But 99.9% of your high end Hp users are fine with a working Hp49G+ (and a new Hp49G+ now makes 98% of those people happy). And really the RPN graphics market is small as it is compared to the sales of Ti and Casio graphics.

So that leaves crumbs for the support of the OpenRPN project.

So Hp's re-emergence onto the RPN market has effectively hosed all other RPN calculator projects aside from some spardic support or the efforts of a few dedicated individuals who want to see something come of their previous work. This will be a long lonely road for these few.

I liked the idea of OpenRPN, but when it became apparent that they were trying to please to big and varied a market, I felt they were off track.

My own desires are for an Hp42s type calculator with RAM and I/O. Form factor is MOST important to me! It has to fit in a normal sized pocket for me to appreciate. I even prefer my Hp15c form factor over the Hp42s, but the extra functions of the 42s make me bear with it. However, if the 42s were even 0.2 cm taller or wider, I wouldn't carry it!

I actually use an Hp48/49G most often, but they stay on my desk. If I travel or work away from my desk, I now use an Hp33s (POS that it is!), but would prefer to use an Hp42s and have the security of the matrix functions if need should arise. Why the Hp48 series over the 42s on my desk you ask? The units conversions and its easier to use solver. The eq writer is sometimes useful also.

So when I hear about the size or diminsions that use more than a two line display or horse shoeing something into a graphics calculator case, I feel the originator is losing sight of the brass ring as I can already buy an Hp49G+.

A graphics calculator is a cheap math package somewhat comparable to a low end math package you can buy for a PC. But a PC is far more versatile, just a lot less portable. But a graphics isn't pocket friendly either (true, it is far more portable than a PC). So that market isn't really that great either.

Admittedly, another meaningless rant by me!


I actually started OpenRPN because I saw an unfilled market niche. Voyager and Pioneer model calculators sell for hundreds of dollars on ebay and I doubt more than a few of those are going to collectors. It's easy enough to produce similar, yet updated, machines for about $100... Thus undercutting the ebay market and giving professionals a nice option for daily use.

Everyone here is welcome to speculate as much as they please. I need to get back to working with the guts of this 49g+ for a retrofit.



As hobbyists in this eclectic forum, I should think that we would be pleased that Open RPN is trying to produce a calculator. Yes, I have read and listened to the various arguments, and I have read the market studies.

What surprises me though, is that although we have addressed this from a left brain perspective, has anyone considered that maybe, just maybe they are doing this because they want to? Maybe they won't make any money. Maybe they won't produce a million units. Maybe they won't produce one. Who cares? Has anyone here other than the OpenRPN persons put money into the venture? If, after listening to all the sides, they still keep going then its obviously a labour of love.

I don't deny that there hasn't been roadblocks for them, and stumbles. I too, grow frustrated with waiting and hoping but I recognize that this road leads to cynicism. But, y'know, I gotta say - I'm surprised, and a little disappointed in the responses penned here. Here is where I would have thought some kindred spirits live.


maybe, just maybe they are doing this because they want to

That is the main point, I agree.

That is why I will not disparage the movement in the least. I suspect that is also why Hugh takes all of the criticism objectively and indeed has expressed appreciation for some of the more negative though yet thoughtful and insightful comments.

I enjoy the whole development as a wonderful fantasy that may just come true. No loss if it doesn't it is still a good fantasy. Now that is a wonderful thing! :-)

(If I knew something that could be helpful, I'd volunteer some).


> maybe, just maybe they are doing this because they want to

and that's why it is inappropriate to compare openRPN to business ventures that tried and failed. openRPN as I understand it has no responsibility to investors who would be in it for the money, and certainly no responsibility to critical potential customers who don't have anything invested in it. The people involved have day jobs to support themselves. This makes progress slow, but it means one of the biggest risks of failure is gone.


Interestingly, this thread has made more glass-is-half-full people show up than the critics.


True, but it does compare very closely to the Qonos attempt.

I hope they pull something off...but people also need some realism sometimes.

That said...good luck, Hugh! I'll be glad to eat lots of crow! :-)


I don't agree with teh Qonos comparison.

I think a better comparison woould be an ambitious HAM radio project. Say, a moon-bounce station for 420 MHz. Or a 1.2 GHz fast-scan FMTV network over a 200 mile radius, or a metropolitam linked quad-band repeater system with DTMF user-control of phone patch, HF remote, beam steering, cross-band link etc etc all with microwave relay from tower to tower, emergency back-up power etc. I've seen this sort of thing come together. It is pretty fantastic. A ham club with 500 members giving $35 a year, and their time, can erect 200 foot towers, and do al lthat other stuff.

In other words, a project, done on one's own time, with friends, with significant technical and financial commitments but doable with dedicated amateurs.

I don't see why this project cannot be done, in the same vein.


Hi, Ron --

Admittedly, another meaningless rant by me!

Far from it. I think that yours is one of the most insightful short essays to date about this topic in the Forum.

As far as I'm concerned, there are two substantial unfilled niches for RPN-based scientific calculators:

What the HP-33S ought to have been

The HP-33S should have been a "synergistic melding" of the HP-32SII and the HP-15C, with a one-line, easy-to-read dot-matrix display. Other attributes would include increased computational speed, ample RAM, an improved equation editor, and solid integrated functionality for matrix and complex-number calculations.

I think that such a project would have genuine value, but it would not be easy. Much effort went into the development of source code for the HP-15C and HP-42S, and what is still available might no longer be applicable to today's hardware.

What the original HP-48S/SX ought to have been

The HP-48S/SX should have been a "Super 42S", with RPN instead of obfuscated RPL, limited but easy-to-use graphics, and HP-71B BASIC for advanced programming (if necessary).

Nowadays, I would question whether such an ambitious project would be warranted. Advanced programs could be entered via downloadable binaries or plug-in chips. Multi-color LCD's would aid graphics, but that begs the question of, "Why not just use a PDA platform, when they become suitable?".

My own desires are for an Hp42s type calculator with RAM and I/O.

That is indeed the desire of many. I believe that bidirectional infrared and hardwire I/O should be present -- as it was on the 48S/SX -- before large RAM is supplied to the user. (It would be interesting to know what HP had in mind by making the 42S ROM capable of supporting 32 kB of RAM.) However, I also question whether adding full I/O to the compact Pioneer-series package would have been practical or feasible, given the limitations of space and battery capacity.

I liked the idea of OpenRPN, but when it became apparent that they were trying to please too big and varied a market, I felt they were off track.

As far the OpenRPN effort, I must admit that I haven't visited the site recently. I believe that the most useful efforts would be directed to the development of a thorough functional specification for the model(s) they would like to have developed: That is, list and describe all the functions, and specify in sufficient detail how they are to perform.

The issues of internal hardware and package design are best left to real manufacturers with the resources to deal with them. A functional spec could provide a good road map to KinHPo that would allow them to escape their wilderness of misguided marketing-driven product design.

Any independent product-development effort utilizing KinHPo 49G+ firmware is a lost cause. The proprietary and over-complicated 49G+ is already available, and it's based on that dreadful "Leisure suit" RPL.


-- KS

Edited: 27 Feb 2006, 7:54 p.m.



I enjoyed reading "Leisure suit" RPL, as the Brits would say: "Here, here!

Trent from CA.


as the Brits would say: "Here, here!

Trent from CA.

Actually, the Brits would say "Hear, hear!".


--- Les

[In language police mode]


Oh dear, I really enjoy this discussion! Especially because Forum English is not my mother tongue :-))

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