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Flash Drives On a Calculator 122

aawm writes with the following news for graphing calculator fans. "As the result of a group effort between Michael Vincent, Brandon Wilson, and Dan Englender, msd8x v0.94 has been released, which allows you to use ordinary USB flash drives with a TI-84 Plus. With the appropriate cable, you can browse, modify, and copy (in both directions) files between a flash drive and the 84 Plus's RAM and/or archive."
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Flash Drives On a Calculator

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  • Great! (Score:2, Funny)

    by JimXugle ( 921609 )
    So I can use it to help me on my Algebra test tomorrow! Damn those equations!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Korin43 ( 881732 )
      I don't know if any consumer flash drives have enough space for all of the equations they want you to memorize..
  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:20PM (#16125414) Homepage Journal
    Strap a dodgy home made looking cable out of the back of an innocuous calculator going into what could be described as a small cell phone receiver (remember, as a TSA guard you don't have too much time...).

    Good luck on the plane to see your parents.
    • Oh, cmon... those cables aren't too dodgy --
      seriously, they come with most mp3 players and a few PDAs
  • I haven't really used my graphing calculator since I graduated from college. I miss using that ti-89. Ahhh the nerdity...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by garcia ( 6573 )
      Get off my lawn! My TI-82 and TI-85 pwn you.

      I'm too lazy to search for ot, but there were plans and code available for a flash drive via the TI-85 sync cable port (headphone jack) way back in the ZShell days.

      You couldn't use the data live, it was more of a swap in and swap out type thing, but it worked.
    • Shocked, I say, that you haven't had to graph quadratic equations or find derivatives outside of a classroom environment.
  • Eureka! (Score:5, Funny)

    by spiritraveller ( 641174 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:23PM (#16125429)
    Now I can....

    wait... what can I do with this?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by taricorp ( 987706 )
      Basically the best use for it is to expand the memory of the calculator by a good hundredfold. Of course, a hardware mod with putting the innards of a flash drive in the calculator and soldering the connections to the internal USB port would be even better.
      • Re:Eureka! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pantherace ( 165052 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @03:44PM (#16125790)
        It'd be relatively easy to do. The back of the calculator, is mostly just empty space filled with a grid of plastic. One could remove that, and store it there, with little to no visual evidence. I'd be surprised if the weight change would be noticible.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by taricorp ( 987706 )
          True enough. It's been mentioned, but it requires some precision soldering due to the proximity of the pins within the calculator.
    • nethack!!! (seriously, i always wanted nethack on my calculator, but it doesn't have the memory required for this)
      • by Scoth ( 879800 )
        It's not quite Nethack, but there's http://calcrogue.jimrandomh.org/ [jimrandomh.org] available for a few calcs. It's more than just Rogue as well with some nice extras. I've enjoyed it a lot (at least when I had time to play. I don't use my calc that much anymore and have better and more interesting things to do than play games on one)
        • i have it, but it doesn't really compare to the depth of nethack (i have had so many times when i thought "omg, how did they think of that"). and it takes a lot less to get bored of calcrogue than of nethack, i easily beat calcrogue now, but i have trouble making it very far past the quest in nethack
    • Re:Eureka! (Score:5, Funny)

      by The Real Nem ( 793299 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:57PM (#16125583) Homepage

      What else does one do with a device fixated with a small screen and potentially gigs of storage space?

      Monocolor porn!!!

    • Make a really shitty mp3 player....kind of serious here. I remember back in 97 downloading a TI-86 assembly program that a Green Day song(can't remember which, but at that point in time it didn't really matter) which played with played really, REALLY horrid quality. We made a special device to hook up a pair of headphones using the link port IIRC. More exciting than what was going on in the class....
    • by Zarel ( 900479 )
      Well, the last time we had a Slashdot article on TI calculators, we mentioned that we could probably get Linux working if we had a bit more memory to work with...
    • Now I can cheat on my math exam, by uploading OCR'ed versions of my math text book into my calculator's flash drive. Geez, some people have no imagination. :P
  • So all someone has to do now is just squeze the flash drive into the calculator case and make the connections directly to the wires inside and they'll be able to bring a scan of the entire text book with them for the test. Great I guess that's the end of using graphing calcs on tests.
    • There's already no more graphing calcs because you can get a "Word-like" program to store text files.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by oggiejnr ( 999258 )
      In the UK any calculator capable of displaying stored text is automatically disallowed for GCSE and A-Level exams. Any calculator capable of storing programs on it has for wiped in front of a invigilator for the exam and anything that can do symbolic algebra is banned. Of course this requires that the people administering the exams know what they are doing. Unfortunately mine did so I wasn't allowed my Ti-89 anywhere near the exam hall - you could have fitted a fair amount of info in plain text on it 2.3
    • by Zarel ( 900479 )
      I'm guessing you're joking, but if you're not:

      There's no room inside a calculator to do that. Either way, it'd probably be easier to take apart the calculator and replace the internals with, say, a PDA.
      • Flash drives are not that big, and while I have not had a TI-84 apart, there would be plenty of room inside of the TI-83 or TI-85. Even if the TI-84 is packed to the brim in the case, I would get a small 6V battery (all that would be required is enough juice for 1-2 hours), and then use the room freed up by removing the 4 AAA batteries to cram a flash drive into the case.
        • by Zarel ( 900479 )
          I don't believe they are packed to the brim; I meant that one could not fit a flash drive in the space they did have. Other posts suggest otherwise, so perhaps all the flash drives I've seen were larger than average.
    • We used to type all sorts of text cheats into our TI-85 calculator, like for geography where we had to calculate some things and could use the calculator. It was very unfortunate though, when the teacher caught me and a friend copying the files over the link cable from one calc to the other..
      • And that's why you should've gotten an HP48g instead of making fun of the kids who did. No link cable. Nifty IR port though...
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe your "teachers" should be giving you tests that require you to think, rather than just regurgitate canned information from the textbook?

      Just a thought.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Kamineko ( 851857 )
      Pshh... real Slashdot geeks build their own calculators, and they look much more haphazard than the one in TFA, and they correctly simluate the Pentium math bug.
  • Cell phones that play MP3s?
  • by nhaines ( 622289 ) <nhaines@ub u n tu.com> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:43PM (#16125520) Homepage
    Well, this sounds like fun. Mostly just "because you can", but on the other hand, I know the TI-89 eBook reader was pretty nice. Maybe this would be useful for something like that. Maybe some new project will come along now that an external flash drive is available. Everyone makes fun of these types of projects, but I think the entire thing's just good fun. I used to use calculator games or books to occupy my time between classes in college when I didn't feel like (or need to) study or work on homework. Today when I have a little downtime I just use a Nintendo DS, but the principle's the same.

    And anyway, it's good electronics and hardware interface and programming practice for the developers. Congratulations to Michael, Brandon, and Dan!

  • what no ti-89T support? lame
    • by no_such_user ( 196771 ) <jd-slashdot-2007 ... mal l d a y .com> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:55PM (#16125571)
      Not even 99/4A support! Bah!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Damn! 32kB certainly isn't enough RAM... and no hdd... Though I guess I could hook up a cassette recorder to it for backup...

        Memories... I actually learned to spell "print" so I could make my TI 99/4A print my name on the screen.. If only I had restrained my 5 year-old self from spitting upon my little brother, then our babysitter wouldn't have had a reason to yank the cartridge out with the power on... I'm still somewhat bitter about that.

      • by raddan ( 519638 )
        Ah, my first computer. Fond memories. I still have my "Programming Great Games for the TI99/4A", which my parents bought me when they got sick of me beating the $50 games the first day I had them. The disk drive never worked very well, though.
  • how long do the bateries last when powering a flash drive?
  • ...my HP calculator has had an SD card slot and USB port for 4 years. This is news? On Slashdot?

    This isn't Digg or anything...
    • by pyite ( 140350 )
      And furthermore... HP calculators have supported some sort of expandable memory for some time now. Further proof that HP makes better calculators.
      • by ettlz ( 639203 )
        Disclaimer: I am an HP calculator fanboy. Perhaps the differences are more philosophical? TIs graphics have always had an educational bend to their design, whereas the HPs were traditionally marketed as professional tools. The manual was written in TeX — this was built by scientists and engineers for scientists and engineers. (You could probably do real damage to someone with a flying HP 48, and the HP would survive.) Of course that changed a few years ago when the likes of the 39G, 40G and 49G came i
        • by pyite ( 140350 )
          I have a 49G that failed miserably (the power button stopped working and since it's a capacitive key... there's no real easy way to fix it). I replaced it with a HP 48GX, which I love. However, I thought it would be nice to have a newer one which is easier to load stuff on to (since my laptop and desktop don't have serial ports) and has more memory expandability. I just ordered a 50G last night after reading a lot of great reviews. I hope to be impressed yet again. It's nice they have SD.
          • by ettlz ( 639203 )
            Indeed. I think RPN could do with an overhaul at some point, e.g. add user-defined object types, and why can't you mount an SD card as a directory?
          • by SteevR ( 612047 )
            As a sophmore in high school, I used all my Christmas money in 1997 to purchase a HP48gx. It served me well, until 2002. Best. Calculator. Ever.

            The 49g is a poor replacement. In it's default configuration, it lacks many of the keys in easy-to-access areas to make it useful as a RP device. As someone who heavily uses RPN (I find it forces me to use it more for arithmatic and less for the acctual algebra+calculus... it also made me check things like order of operations, etc.), this misfeature killed it.
            • That's exactly why I still use my trusty HP-48G, but the 49G has been collecting dust for some time. The 49G is alright for the things that it can do that the 48G can't, but as a calculator the 48G simply has a better layout.
  • by PsychosisC ( 620748 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @03:42PM (#16125775)
    I recently graduated with a BS in Mathematics. High school was not very long ago, and there we were required to use graphing calculators for Junior and Senior level math classes. To this day, I don't understand the purpose of having students buy graphing calculators.

    Graphing calculators have the problem of really dumbing things down. Learning how to use the calculator is a bit of a hurdle... but once you do, you can get by without learning the quadratic equation, how to convert from moles to grams, what the relation between physical and kinetic energy is, &ct. It's expected that most of this will come with the calculator, but that which doesn't is a simple exercise in typing to fix.

    Also, there is a problem of monetary cost. $100 may not be a lot to most people, but it is for a few. It's money that could be much better spent too. Think about it... $100 per high school student, in a system where you have roughly one math teacher for every two hundred students?

    So what do we get in exchange for this? There's two productive uses of a graphing calculator.
    The first, institutional use, is that kids will understand Analytical Geometry and Trig better if they can SEE equations. It's easy to imagine how this might help a kid understand how to push around equations like F(x-x0) + y0. It's just not a very useful thing to learn. I know calculators are capable of so much more, graphing Crossed Troughs and whatnought, but that's too far beyong what you learn in high school to be meaningful.

    The other benefit merits a bit of appreciation... the student recreational use. If you give a kid a ball and free time, he'll kick it. If you give a kid a programmable machine and free time, he'll program it. Even so, very few students actually do this. It's encouraging to see kids compare their text adventures with each other, but but 95% of the student body, this toy is pearls before swine.

    Graphing calculators, not wholly without benefits, do not outweigh the problems they cause. Ironically, the place they deal the most damage is probably math, because we end up with kids getting by without understanding order of operations or basic algebraic manipulation. Give schools robotics teams, not calculators.
    • While I am not an educator by training, Ithink I can offer a little insight into why calculators (and other computer systems) are seen as Good Things, in the teaching of mathematics and physics.

      The reason to use them in a classroom is because they're prevalent in real life. It doesn't make sense for students to slave over problems that nobody does anymore, once they've learned the critical concepts involved. Instead, that time would be better spent in class, learning more advanced material. Furthermore, it
      • Hmm, you know 50 or 100 years ago, students didn't used calculators in schools to do math. No, they'd use a huge book to find the values or square roots!

        Just because we have calculators today, does it justify that we should dumb students down? I'm sorry but whether or not in real life one should remember how to manually calculate whatever, shoving calculators to students at early age and getting them used to use it even in tests will turn them into less better mathematicians than the ones of previous genera
      • As someone who has taught H.S. classes and tutored students in Math and Physics, I can tell you that most of the time, calculators do more damage than good. The reason is that there is a certain amount of drill and repetition to learn any topic well, and the calculator (except with the best students) does not encourage students to use their capabilities and experiment, but to instead put in the minimum amount of effort necessary to do the problems. If they were forced to rely on pencil and paper skills, t
  • Around where I live and go to school (some town in New York), HP-produced calculators are not prevalent in the slightest. I haven't physically seen one, ever. Everyone that uses graphing calculators either has some version of a TI-83 or TI-84, and rarely TI-89's.

    Most of the teachers in our school, anyway, are familiar with the concept of resetting all memory before a quiz that involves a calculator. "Helpful," ie illegal, files are quite useless is this case. When such an quiz occurs, people who use thei
    • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
      that is why hacks exist, either the simple ones which fake the menu structure or advanced assembly code that hides everything untill a secret code is typed in
  • HP 50g [hp.com] with built-in SD card slot.
  • Flash drives on a calculator, you say?

    But what about snakes on a... nah, it would never work.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I want these motherfucking flash drives off my motherfucking calculator!
  • It was posted [hackaday.com] on hackaday 3 days ago.
  • Some details (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 17, 2006 @04:13PM (#16125907)
    Some details for those that are curious:
    The TI-84 Plus calculator has a USB on-the-go port, meaning it can act as either device or host. Unfortunately the calculator's operating system has no provisions to allow it to connect, as host, to anything other than another calculator or a Vernier data collection [vernier.com] thingie. The calculator has a mini-USB port, so a mini-A to A-female adapter cable is required to connect most devices.

    I wrote a piece of software, usb8x [denglend.net], which configures and controls the calculator's USB port for use with other devices. It contains the low level USB host (think root hub) driver, and higher level drivers for: mice, keyboards, gamepads, EasyTemp (one of the vernier thingies mentioned above), Silverlink (a TI connection cable), and mass storage devices. The mass storage driver (and msd8x) was started by Michael and finished by Brandon.

    The software this article mentions, msd8x [denglend.net], is a UI to access the mass storage driver. It contains a file browser so you can import/export files, and run programs from the drive. The raw read speed via usb8x from a flash drive seems to max out at about 130 KB/s. Reading data from the file system is a bit slower, maxing at about 80 KB/s. Writing data to a file is significantly slower, anywhere from 5 to 40 KB/s, depending on if the file needs to be grown (and on the sectors per cluster and the speed of the flash drive). I'd say the speeds aren't bad considering this is running on a 15 mhz Z80 processor.

    Anyhow, I can't speak for Michael or Brandon, but I worked on the USB stuff because I found it to be fun. There are practical applications for those of us that use graphing calculators, but regardless, I don't think that's a requirement for a cool hack. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy it if you have a TI-84 Plus, and that we've provided some good fodder for the usual witty repartee otherwise.

    -Dan Englender
  • Few Clarifications (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Responding to many posts above, TIs have had flash memory for years, just like the HPs. Like stated above, they do not have SD readers. What's great about this new creation is that it allows the calculator to communicate with an external flash drive, allowing for additional portable storage. Furthermore, the connection of a flash stick is made easy by the fact that TIs have integrated USB ports since about two years ago (Do the HPs have integrated USB ports? Maybe they do too, I'm not sure).
  • by zymano ( 581466 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @05:34PM (#16126203)
    http://www.johnmunsch.com/2001/08/calculator_rip_o ffs.html [johnmunsch.com]

    http://www.epinions.com/content_62095134340 [epinions.com]

    Some reporter out there please do a piece on the monopoly and marketing push by these calculator companies forcing students to buy expensive calculators. These things NEVER come down in price. Those arm processors are expensive?
    • The problem (especially with Texas Instruments calculators) is that they've actually wormed their way into the educational system. I know in school, that, rather than teach us how to draw graphs by hand the teachers went over the Ti-83 and Ti-89 commands for drawing graphs. Anyone without a graphing calculator (or even an non-Texas Instruments calculator) was out of luck, as there was no explanation of how to do things by hand, or any aid with any "non-standard" calculators. Texas Instruments gives away
  • by Doppler00 ( 534739 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @06:35PM (#16126536) Homepage Journal
    I love TI calcualtors and everything, don't get me wrong, the TI-89 is great.... the thing is, TI has improved there product SQUAT since I bought mine in freakin' 1999! The current generation of TI-89 is almost EXACTLY the same, despite the fact that it must now cost them a fraction of the cost to manufacture as it did in 1999. Lets face it, we are talking about an archaic CPU, a ultra low resolution black OR white display, limited memory, limited functionality. Now, I'm not saying that the next gen calculator should have more hardware for the sake of keeping up to date, but it should really at least have a large subset of the capabilities of PC software packages such as MATLAB, Mathcad, Mathematica, etc.... why are they holding back? They could improve the product so much, but they refuse to do so, and instead charge you $120 for something that costs them $5 to manufacture.

    Go figure...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by necro81 ( 917438 )
      A calculator with a comparable set of capabilities to MATLAB, etc., even with the same monochrome screen, probably wouldn't last too long on a set of AAAs. Even back when I was using my TI-83 for long problem sets in college, I could still get months of daily use, probably a few hundred hours, out of a single set of batteries. No portable device of such power and flexibility can come close.

      I'll concede the point about the price-point, though. For $100 you can get an entry-level PDA [palm.com] with color screen.
  • My HP49GII has an SD card slot in it and reads and writes just fine to my 1gb sd card. If you really need that kind of storage in a calculator maybe you don't actually need a calculator so much as a palmtop?
  • Their newer calculators (HP-49g+ and HP50g) have an SD slot.

    They also have StrongARM CPUs which tend to do things pretty fast, as compared with most TI operations. Recommend that you look into these pretty incredible machines if you're shopping for a calculator.
  • Somebody doesn't get FatWallet.

    I bought a TI-83 Plus for 74.54 - $25 rebate = $49.54 on Aug. 17, 2006.

    http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/messageview.php?ca tid=18&threadid=643359 [fatwallet.com]

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer