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.
Projects of the Month: September 2021
Published by KermMartian 5 days, 3 hours ago (2022-11-21T21:35:38+00:00) | Discuss this article

Despite the beginning of the last school year, September of 2021 continued unabated Cemetechians’ impressive dedication to their projects. As we continue to try to catch up to the present on our Projects of the Month posts, here are the project updates that our members posted:
  • (Axe) Generic Fighting game (Not Super Smash Bros at all): Wavejumper3 brainstormed a Super Smash Bros-like arcade-style fighting game to be written in the Axe programming language. After posting the design for a sprite, he pivoted to planning to make the game in PyGame; at press time, the game remains paused.
  • Calculator Street Racing: A drag racing game for 84+/CE: In September, Oxiti8 added many more cars (the full list reached at least 30 cars by the end of September), graphical improvements, a Doors CS icon, and other features to this TI-BASIC game for monochrome z80 calculators. Through this year, a color version for the TI-84 Plus CE has progressed, so check out the topic for details.
  • CE C Toolchain and Libraries for the TI84+CE/TI83PCE: In September 2021, MateoConLechuga released v9.2.1 of this vital CE C development component, primarily encompassing bugfixes.
  • Darkblasters: A graphical TI-84+ BASIC RPG: Returning to his roots, DJ Omnimaga released an impressive, pure-TI-BASIC, text sprite-harnessing RPG. Check it out, and relive the glory days of monochrome TI-BASIC RPGs!
  • First Fantasy: Mana Force (xLIB CSE & CE Textlib RPG): It was a busy month for DJ Omnimaga: he also updated and re-released a color-screen calculator RPG called First Fantasy: Mana Force for both the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition and TI-84 Plus CE. The re-release adds new dungeons, difficulty balancing by way of more treasure chests, great-looking sprites, and assorted QoL fixes.
  • HexaEdit CE: On-calc hex editor: This month, Captain Calc announced that an in-progress third version of the tool, a complete rewrite with focus areas like speed and performance, incomplete test coverage, adding a Ports editor, and more security features. At press time, Captain Calc has not announced any further progress, so we hope it will eventually be forthcoming!
  • ICE raycast (paused): Paradoxically, the start of the school year gave Therad2 more time to work on this game. It resembles a Doom-style shooter, and the updates Therad2 showed in September add optimizations that increase the framerate and improve the visuals.
  • Janus — A quickstart library for games: It is inevitable that in the course of writing decently large software projects, software developers tend to accumulate sets of convenience functions and classes that in many cases they want to pull out to reuse or even share with others. In this fashion, slimeenergy announced a TI-84 Plus CE library called Janus extracted from their game projects, with early features for working with the keyboard (e.g. debouncing), positional easing, simple physics, simple UIs, and more. There’s a lot of good stuff in here, so check it out if you’re building a TI-84 Plus CE game in C.
  • Pony Express [C]: Candledark started another TI-84 Plus CE C port of Google’s Pony Express doodle game. Unfortunately, the images Candledark posted in September 2021 have been lost in the void of the internet, but in a future month, they put the code on Github (and added screenshots to the topic): check it out!
  • RoulCE: After about a year of development, ZebraVogel released version 1.0 of this TI-84 Plus CE roulette game on Cemetech and elsewhere. It’s roulette; what else is there to say? Check out screenshots and the download in the topic.
  • TI-81 CE - (TI-81 1.8K ROM running on the TI-84+CE): I’m glad that we’ve finally gotten up to the point in PotM where we show off this project: tr1p1ea made a TI-81 run on a TI-84 Plus CE. That is, he patched and ported the TI-81 operating system to run (not be emulated!) on the TI-84 Plus CE. He even made it capable of patching an original TI-81 OS at runtime, so the tool can be distributed without running afoul of laws around ROM distribution. Check it out, and be amazed.
  • TI-Planet's "Project Builder" with online CE C/C++: In September 2021, Adriweb announced the most recent Project Builder update, bringing the TI-84 Plus CE Toolchain’s convimg tool into this web-based C/C++ IDE.
  • Z80Test: Software Tests for Hardware Components: CVSoft has been one of the several Cemetechians spearheading documenting the different variations of our favorite calculators, like TI-82s and TI-84 Plus CEs. It’s helpful to get PCB photographs of different hardware variations, but acknowledging that some people don’t feel comfortable opening up their $100+ calculators, CVSoft published a tool to identify the ASIC and display driver in each of the supported calculators (TI-83 (and compatibles), TI-83 Plus, TI-83 Plus Silver Edition, TI-84 Plus series (NOT the TI-84 Plus CE), and TI-86) and explain the results. Further progress is to come in future months!
  • [C] CEdit editor for the TI 84 plus CE: Version Beta.4 of Michael0x18’s TI-84 Plus CE text editor brought custom color, bugfixes, and additional features. Perhaps the most mature text editor for the TI-84 Plus CE, this will also continue to mature in the coming months, so keep your eyes open!
  • [TI-84+] 9-Level GrayScale Image Viewer: In September 2021, tr1p1ea created a rudimentary image converter for his existing 9-level grayscale image viewer demo. It’s still a demo, so try it at your own risk, but this TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus continues to showcase tr1p1ea’s prowess with these calculators.
Three programs/projects were completed this month, so don't forget to vote for the best one, and see you next month!

Projects of the Month: August 2021
Published by Oxiti8 2 months, 4 weeks ago (2022-08-31T01:23:05+00:00) | Discuss this article

August 2021 was a fairly eventful month, with plenty of projects being started, completed, and updated.

There was more than one completed program this month, so remember to vote for your favorite!

What Graphing Calculator Should I Get? 2022 Back to School Guide
Published by KermMartian 3 months, 2 weeks ago (2022-08-14T13:43:59+00:00) | Discuss this article

We're back with the latest guide to what graphing calculator to get for Back to School 2022. Since we first started producing this guide in 2011, the world of graphing calculators has evolved from simpler handhelds with black-and-white screens powered by AAA batteries, to color-screen devices with more powerful software, rechargeable batteries, and more. Building on our past guides, this year we once again present a guide helping you select 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.

We'll be covering five main calculators in this guide:

The advice in this guide is a combination of our own editorial expertise and expert feedback from our community of graphing calculator users and hackers. As you'll see in the discussion below, our top pick for most students is Texas Instruments' TI-84 Plus CE. If you need a more powerful calculator for college or engineering, the HP Prime or the TI-Nspire CX II CAS are the best options.

All three of these calculators are accepted on the SAT, but of these three, only the TI-84 Plus CE is allowed on the ACT. Although we don't actively recommend it, if you still have a TI-84 Plus Silver Edition, don't throw it out: it does 95% of the math the TI-84 Plus CE can do, and while graphing is less user-friendly on its black-and-white screen, it's still a good calculator. Finally, while the TI-Nspire CX II 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 overwhelmingly agree.

:: Math and Science: The TI-84 Plus CE remains TI's latest entry to the decades-old TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus line, offering a bright color screen and a rechargeable battery. Introduced in early 2015, the keystrokes and interface are extremely similar to the older black-and-white-screen calculators, but the processor is faster, the RAM is larger, the case is slimmer and lighter, and most importantly, its higher-resolution color screen that can fit more math and higher detailed graphs. Beyond color graphing, it introduces a few new statistics features (as detailed in Chapter 12 of "Using the TI-84 Plus"). Because the keystrokes to do math on the TI-84 Plus CE are generally identical to the older calculators, teachers' existing knowledge of TI calculators, plus existing videos, tutorials, and books, all apply to the TI-84 Plus CE. If you want to go beyond math and science, the TI-84 Plus CE is a great coding/STEM tool: it can be programmed in TI-BASIC, and with jailbreaking, C and assembly, and there's a currently unavailable variant called the TI-84 Plus CE Python Edition that, unsurprisingly, can be programmed in Python. The TI-84+CE has a 48MHz ez80 processor, 154KB of user-accessible RAM, 3.0MB of user-accessible Flash memory, a 10-hour rechargeable battery, and an MSRP of $129 (plus, it currently comes in 10 fun colors). To recap, the TI-84+CE is the quintessential calculator for high school (and some college) math and science, updated with better specs, a high-resolution color screen, a slim, light case in a range of colors, and a rechargeable battery. And once you have one, there are plenty of programs and games to let your TI-84 Plus CE do even more.

Learn to use your TI-84 Plus CE with Using the TI-84 Plus, from math and graphing to statistics and programming. Learn to program your calculator with Programming the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus.

:: College (CAS): The TI-Nspire CX II CAS has a color screen equal in size to that of the TI-84 Plus CE, a mouse-based interface, and support for Lua programs. The TI-Nspire's operating system is based around the idea of documents, in which you type calculations, enter equations, and draw graphs. It has templates for linear, parabolic, circular, elliptical, and hyperbolic equations in which you can enter coefficients and graph the result. Although some (including me) criticize the document-based interface as needlessly clunky, the OS has "Scratchpads" for quick calculations and graphing that ameliorate that drawback. The version without "CAS" in its name works for similar math and science classes as the TI-84 Plus CE (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, pre-calculus, some calculus, physics, biology, and chemistry); the version with "CAS" has a Computer Algebra System: it can perform symbolic math such as simplifying equations and performing symbolic integration and differentiation. The TI-Nspire CX II normally retails for about $160 or $130, for the CAS or non-CAS models respectively, although the CAS model appears more expensive right now. Both the TI-Nspire CX and the TI-Nspire CX CAS are allowed on the SAT, while the non-CAS model is permitted on the ACT, but some teachers will not allow a CAS calculator to be used on school exams. To summarize, the TI-Nspire CX CAS is a computer-like color-screen calculator with a symbolic CAS. Good for some high school students and for college students, especially STEM majors.

The HP Prime is also a very powerful CAS calculator, albeit with a few growing pains like a smaller support community. It offers a multitouch screen, and extensive graphing features that expose more options that the TI-Nspire CX II CAS (once you learn to use them), and CAS features similar to those on the TI-Nspire CX II CAS. The HP Prime's OS was polished over several versions from a slightly rocky start, and with a beautiful design, powerful hardware, and an extremely fast BASIC programming language, the Prime is our favorite tool for college students and professional engineers. Given the traction that the HP Prime has gained in our community, we were surprised that our members voted the TI-Nspire CX CAS as the superior calculator for engineering and college. In short, the HP Prime is a sleek, powerful, and improving touch-screen calculator with a symbolic CAS that makes it a great choice for college students, especially STEM majors, and for professionals.

:: Coding/STEM: After seven years, we continue to recommend the TI-84 Plus CE for programming as well as for high school math and science. In the past, we have recommended the Casio Prizm fx-CG50 as our top pick for programming: it offers a BASIC language and can be programmed in C. However, C, ez80 ASM, and TI-BASIC are all now possible on the TI-84 Plus CE (C and ASM with jailbreaking, plus Python with the TI-84 Plus CE Python Edition), which offers a 48MHz ez80 processor and 154KB of RAM. The available C SDK/toolchain in its many forms has grown rapidly, and there's a still-active community of hobbyists and hackers who are happy to help.

The Final Verdict:
If you need a new calculator, here's our advice:

  • 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 (or very similar TI-Nspire CX II), in which case you should follow their advice. For high school students getting a new calculator, the TI-84 Plus CE (currently $105 at Amazon) is our favorite choice, combining well-documented math and graphing features with a slim case and a color screen.
  • If you're looking to take college classes in higher math, science, or engineering, the HP Prime (currently $129 at Amazon) is our favorite choice, with the TI-Nspire CX II CAS (currently overpriced at $202 at Amazon) a close second.
  • If you're a programmer, or you want to encourage your student to learn programming and STEM skills, the TI-84 Plus CE is the best option. Every TI-84 Plus CE has TI-BASIC, the TI-84 Plus CE Python Edition has Python, and if you jailbreak the calculator, you can also write ez80 ASM and C. The HP Prime also has a very fast BASIC language, and the Casio Prizm fx-CG50 (on sale for $80 at Amazon) 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. Finally, if you prefer this information in visual form with some calming narration, here's our Back to School Graphing Calculator Guide 2022 as a video, with everything you need to know to select your first (or next) graphing calculator: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtWZqrmbKD0.

Notes about the ACT:
Remember, all models mentioned herein are accepted on the SAT, and most on the ACT, so there are no winners or losers on that count. Don't forget to double-check the SAT calculator policy or the ACT calculator policy to ensure your calculator is permitted! In particular, note that the TI-Nspire CX CAS is not allowed while the non-CAS version is acceptable.

Affiliate links in this article support Cemetech.

Projects of the Month: July 2021
Published by commandblockguy 5 months ago (2022-06-26T14:19:25+00:00) | Discuss this article

July of 2021 was full of progress on all sorts of projects by Cemetech members. Let's take a look at them:

  • 1555 Color Picker: RoccoLox Programs has created a website that allows you to pick colors and find their RGB 1555 color values. Give it a try next time you're making a palette!
  • Adventure from the Atari 2600: RoccoLox Programs has released his clone of the classic Atari game Adventure. If you're in the mood for a retro castle-exploring, dragon-slaying adventure, be sure to check it out.
  • Folders: Frederik has been hard at work improving his file management program for the CE, adding the ability to give folders custom icons and to see how much room is left in a folder.
  • HASHLIB - Cryptography Library for the CE: ACagliano has released version 6 of his cryptography library, improving performance and adding support for MGF1 hashes and AES ECB-mode ciphers.
  • HexaEdit CE: On-calc hex editor: Captain Calc has improved his hex editor to allow you to write to memory-mapped ports, and also added a "superuser" mode to give you the hex-editing power you deserve while still protecting you from unintentionally crashing your calculator.
  • Programmer's Calculator CE: Have you ever felt that a calculator was just the program your calculator was missing? If so, then check out DrDnar's programmer's calculator. It includes many developer-oriented features like hex and binary modes and bitwise operations.
  • Snorlax's Lunch Time port to TI-84+/SE: TIny_Hacker has started recreating this Pokémon Mini game for the monochrome TI calculators! So far, it can show falling food and even an occasional falling Pichu.
  • [C] CEdit editor for the TI 84 plus CE: Michael0x18 released the first beta of his text editor for the CE this month! He also added more customization options and the ability to cut and paste.
  • [C] Convertion from TI-Basic to C: stbradley has started rewriting INTRPOL8, one of their TI-BASIC programs, in the C programming language.
  • [On Hold] VYSION 2 CE: the ultimate CE shell: epsilon5 has been making major improvements to his shell for the CE, adding many new GUI features and a directory system, and squashing some bugs.
  • [PAUSED] Xenon Development [C]: But VYSION isn't the only shell being developed this month - Alvajoy123 is also working hard at building Xenon. He's implemented a mouse system, program icon display, and custom backgrounds, and fixed some bugs with the filesystem.
  • [TI-68k] CBLM, a Modular CBL/CBL2/LabPro Interfacing Program: CVSoft has added support for the TI-92 to his TI-89 CBL program. Be sure to check it out next time you need to use a sensor with a 68k-based calculator.

Make sure to give your vote for the best completed project in this month’s poll!