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Welcome to Cemetech! Since 2000, Cemetech (pronounced KE'me'tek) has been teaching programming and electronics and developing software and hardware. Among Cemetech's specialties are TI, HP, and Casio graphing calculators like the TI-84 Plus, TI-Nspire, HP Prime, and Casio Prizm, embedded and DIY electronics, and computer and web programming. Cemetech provides a safe, friendly space for people to learn, show off projects, and share knowledge and expertise. Our staff of friendly volunteers hang out on our forum and IRC and SAX chatrooms, and are happy to help.
Cemetech Contest 20 Results Announced
Published by jonbush on August 20, 2017 at 5:08:20 PM CST | Discuss this article (7)

Now that Cemetech Contest 20: Transit Time has ended, it is time to announce the prize winners.

As you may know, the contest was divided into three parts: land, water, and air (or space). Contestants were challenged to create programs related to transport on or through these media. Overall, this six-week challenge resulted in the making of twenty new programs, most of which are available for download in the Cemetech Archives. I would like to give special congratulations to dankcalculatorbro, Iambian, _iPhoenix_, and OldNewTimer programs for all three categories.

At the conclusion of each two-week contest segment, Cemetech members were asked to select their favorite entry for that category. The results of these polls decided the winner for each category:
Each of these contestants will receive a $10 Steam credit (or equivalent).

After painstakingly reviewing the entries submitted, the grand prize winner has also been selected. I am pleased to announce that the overall quality and entertaining gameplay presented by Iambian's loony games has earned him top honors in this contest. Along with Land Loons and 20,000 Loons Under the Sea, I have greatly enjoyed playing Loonar Lander, where the operator attempts to carefully land on the moon without malfunctioning.

In the way of prizes, Iambian will be receiving a commemorative CC20 plaque, and an additional $20 Steam gift card (for a total of $30).

In addition to the programs listed above, other notable entries include:
  • Escape The Buoy! by OldNewTimer
  • Calculator Controlled Boat using ArTICL by deuteriumoxide
  • Electric Circuit by PT_
  • Plane Mania! by _iPhoenix_

I sincerely hope that everyone who participated in the contest had a good time and an educational experience, and I look forward to administering more Cemetech contests in the future.

Hands-On with the New Casio Prizm fx-CG50
Published by KermMartian on August 15, 2017 at 11:25:14 PM CST | Discuss this article (7)

Back in 2011, Casio released the Casio Prizm calculator, a revolutionary device that added a bright full-color screen to the classic graphing calculator. It offered 384x216 pixels of space for numeric math, graphing, and user-made programs, powered by a 58MHz processor that could be clocked up to nearly 100MHz. Here at Cemetech, we embraced the calculator, building up lots of documentation and creating plenty of programs. We even wrote a forceful editorial promoting the Casio Prizm over the subsequently announced color-screen TI-Nspire CX, citing the latter's lack of programmability (which was subsequently ameliorated). The Casio Prizm's popularity eventually waned in favor of the admittedly weaker and slower TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition and TI-84 Plus CE, the latter being by far the calculator with the most active set of projects these days.

This March, we announced that Casio was following up the trusty Casio fx-CG10 / fx-CG20 Prizm with a new fx-CG50 calculator. Casio was kind enough to send along a review model of this calculator, so we had the opportunity to go hands-on with it. I outlined my initial impressions in a hands-on review video, while Cemetech administrator Daniel "tifreak8x" Thorneycroft explored the speed of user-made BASIC programs on the new calculator. We found that the calculator represented a significant improvement on the physical design of the older calculator, with a brighter, crisper screen and a zippier experience. On the other hand, the interface remains somewhat unintuitive, and the calculator continues to rely on now-outdated AAA batteries. Among our most important takeaways:
  • Pro: More modern, squarer case design, with attractive white and pseudo-carbon-fiber plastics separated by a thin aqua line, and a more comfortable keyboard, with a few chromed keys as accents.
  • Pro: Iterated color screen, brighter, crisper, and with truer colors (but the same resolution as the fx-CG10/20)
  • Pro: Significantly faster interface, especially for running Casio BASIC programs, as shown in tifreak8x's video below.
  • Pro: New built-in (limited) 3D graphing application
  • Pro: Unrestricted BASIC, C, and SH ASM programming features (the latter two only unofficially supported)
  • Con: Same arguably unintuitive OS interface as the older calculator
  • Con: Necessarily thicker than the TI-Nspire CX and TI-84 Plus CE due to continued use of AAA batteries for power.

The vast majority of our criticisms about the new calculator could be solved by updating the operating system, but we also believe that avid Casio calculator users will find the interface much more intuitive than those of us trained on TI graphing calculators. We just wish there was more official documentation on the Casio BASIC programming language! Are you considering getting a Casio Prizm fx-CG50 for the upcoming school year? For that matter, have you taken a look at our Back to School Graphing Calculator Guide yet? We're more than happy to field questions or comments on Casio's newest calculator in the comments, and be sure to check out our video reviews below.

Back to School 2017: What Graphing Calculator Should I Buy?
Published by Alex on August 6, 2017 at 1:41:54 AM CST | Discuss this article (2)

For the seventh year in a row, Cemetech is excited to bring you a Back to School guide, helping you figure out the best graphing calculator to get for school and how to use it. In both 2011 and 2012, we published trios of guides, showing you which calculator to buy, how to get programs and games onto your calculator, and how to learn to program your calculator. In 2013 through 2016, we held your hand through Which Graphing Calculator Should I Buy?. This year, we once again present a guide to selecting from the baffling array of graphing calculators now available to high school and college students. We'll help you figure out which calculator is right for primary school, high school, or college students, whether you're buying for yourself, your child, or researching for your students.

The landscape of available graphing calculators in 2017 is largely the same as in the prior two years, so we based our selections on the same democratic vote we conducted in 2015, tempered with our two decades of graphing calculator experience. In that poll, we asked our members to vote on the best calculators in three categories: (1) High School Math and Science; (2) CAS (College); (3) Programming. As you'll see in the discussion below, the TI-84 Plus CE released in 2015 (and updated in gold, white, gray, mint, coral, and blue in the last year) was a very popular contender. The TI-Nspire CX CAS and HP Prime also earned high marks. All three of these calculators are accepted on standardized tests like the SAT, and of these three, only the TI-84 Plus CE is allowed on the ACT. We stopped recommending the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition and TI-84 Plus Silver Edition in 2015, as both of which have been effectively made obsolete by the TI-84+CE (although each is a great calculator by itself). In addition, although the TI-Nspire CX is a fairly popular high school math and science calculator, we feel that the TI-84 Plus CE is a better, easier-to-use choice, and the general student, teacher, and programmer consensus appears to increasingly overwhelmingly agree.

Read the full article for details on the best graphing calculator to buy.

  • If you (or your child) are a middle or high school student, your teachers may recommend a TI-84 Plus CE or a TI-Nspire CX, in which case you should follow their advice. For high school students getting a new calculator, the TI-84 Plus CE is our favorite choice.
  • If you're looking to take college classes in higher math, science, or engineering, the TI-Nspire CX CAS or the HP Prime are the calculator for you.
  • If you're a programmer, or you want to encourage your student to be a programmer, the TI-84 Plus CE is the best option. It allow BASIC, ez80 ASM, and C programming. The HP Prime also has a very fast BASIC language, and the Casio Prizm (fx-CG20 and fx-CG50) was the original C-programmable calculator.
Good luck with the hectic rush that is Back to School, and I hope this guide helped make at least one decision easier. If you need help picking a calculator, getting games and educational programs for your calculator and onto the device, or you want to learn to program, just stop by Cemetech and chat with us. We're always happy to help.

The Final Verdict:
Now that the three major graphing calculator companeis all offer color-screen calculators, the quiet disappearance of the battery-conserving black-and-white graphing calculator has inexorably continued. Like last year, we are no longer recommending the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition and the TI-89 Titanium, as much as we respect those erstwhile models. Of course, if you already have a TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus (or Silver Edition) or a TI-89, you don't need to upgrade to a color calculator yet. If you need a new calculator, we recommend the TI-84 Plus CE, TI-Nspire CX CAS, or HP Prime. Read the full article for details on which of these calculators is best for you.

From Cemetech Game Projects to Startup: Geopipe
Published by Alex on July 10, 2017 at 9:33:47 AM CST | Discuss this article (10)

I recently sat down with two Cemetech administrators: elfprince13, or Thomas Dickerson, and our founder KermMartian, or Christopher Mitchell. Over the past year, they've been busy working together on their startup, Geopipe. Geopipe automatically builds detailed virtual models of the real world, and licensing these immersive models of the world to architects, urban designers, special effects artists, video game designers, and many others. Geopipe leverages proprietary algorithms to automatically generate immersive models of the world from existing sensor data. They take 2D and 3D data like satellite photos, maps, laser scans, terrain contours, and more, and use machine learning to analyze and understand the data. Their algorithms then reconstruct models at configurable levels of detail to meet the needs of a wide variety of customers. Today, they enter the next step in their quest, a 12-week program called Techstars.

Through this interview we'll see how this idea arose as a challenge that they each tackled in separate environments; Thomas in Freebuild and Christopher in SparseWorld. We'll touch on how the similarities of FreeBuild and SparseWorld brought the two of them together and how the ideas behind each of those projects helped spawn Geopipe.

Here's a video that introduces Geopipe and shows Christopher and Thomas onstage presenting their company to investors.

Read the full interview >>