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HP Hardware Hacking Build Hardware

HP Releases Hackable ARM-Based Calculator 124

mikeselectricstuff writes "HP's 20b business consultant calculator isn't the sort of thing that would normally interest the average Slashdotter, but HP has released a Devkit for it, including schematics and source for a sample application, and they appear to be actively encouraging people to re-purpose it. Maybe the engineers thought a business calculator was just too boring for their hardware? The calculator is based on an Atmel ARM chip, and it has a bootloader and JTAG interface to allow user applications to be written and downloaded, turning a boring calculator into anything you can do within the constraints of the hardware."
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HP Releases Hackable ARM-Based Calculator

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  • by Marillion ( 33728 ) <> on Saturday August 16, 2008 @12:27PM (#24626963)

    Of course most customers will use this as is. I'm thankful that HP isn't so paranoid of what their niche customers might do. The right of people to tweak products to suit their needs is a right that needs to be preserved.

  • by ettlz ( 639203 ) on Saturday August 16, 2008 @12:35PM (#24627043) Journal
    When it comes to calculators, I don't think HP have ever been at all bad in that respect. It's not for nothing that their calculators are something akin to the "workstations" of their class: there's always been loads of documentation out there for the HP 28, 48, etc. plus a metric ton of third-party software. A HP graphic calculator can expect to be "re-purposed" any number of times in its useful life (which is a very long time) as part of normal use.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Saturday August 16, 2008 @12:51PM (#24627151)

    Try getting your own code onto your smartphone. Depending on what you have it'll range from merely annoyingly difficult to being expensive beyond the ability of the common man to afford.

  • by Tacvek ( 948259 ) on Saturday August 16, 2008 @01:10PM (#24627265) Journal

    I mean consider that the HP49g+ has 3 compilers and deompilers built-in, as well as a debugger for UserRPL and SystemRPL. I also believe it may be the only calculator with an SD card slot. (The hp50g is just a slight hardware revision to the HP49g+, although the keyboard is significantly improved, and the use of 4 AAA is also a notable improvement.)

    Consider that it is the hardware platform for the DC-50 [] surveying data collector, and it is clear the calc can be re-purposed.

  • Re:Oh dear. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Goaway ( 82658 ) on Saturday August 16, 2008 @01:15PM (#24627297) Homepage

    You should not be so quick to call for others to return their geek card, when you yourself is not even aware of one of the biggest legends in computing [].

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by lm317t ( 971782 ) on Saturday August 16, 2008 @01:50PM (#24627523) Homepage
    Aside from power, weight and poor tolerance to extreme temperature changes, try controlling a servo or stepper with a laptop in a critical realtime environment, like with sensors. You might be able to do this with a parallel port, but it would be extremely unreliable without a true realtime OS and alot of hacking, also expensive. Unless you admire Rube Goldberg this would be foolish. You can actually guarantee better response time with a fairly slow embedded processor.

    There's much more to the computing world than X86 processors. In fact laptops, desktop, and servers are in the minority as far as computing chips are concerned.
  • Hacking the 20b (Score:3, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Saturday August 16, 2008 @06:09PM (#24629555)

    People have been doing hardhacks to HP calcs for decades.

    Here is a good place to go for info on HP stuff. []

  • by rthille ( 8526 ) <web-slashdot@ranga[ ]rg ['t.o' in gap]> on Saturday August 16, 2008 @08:41PM (#24630667) Homepage Journal

    No, it's an ARM7, so no MMU, so no NetBSD.

    At least I think that's true, based on the Atmel part number quoted in another posting.

  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @11:34AM (#24635049) Journal

    Be careful with that, though. Your high grade in the current physics course might cover up an issue leading to a very low grade in a following course.

    I've actually found my need for a graphing calculator to be inversely proportional to the difficulty of the course. A trusty scientific calculator is much lighter in the backpack, and far less troublesome should it be lost and should provide all your needs. Matlab on university provided workstations ought to cover the remaining niche that graphing calculators previously filled.

    In general, I think the interface on a graphing calculator is too slow to use outside the classroom, when more powerful computer programs would be easily available. And are you really going to take the time to graph things on a test?*

    *If you're using it for integrals, or equation manipulation, it's really going to hurt you later on. If you don't learn to do those things faster than it takes to enter them into the CAS, you're going to have a lot of trouble in the future.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake