- Back To School 2011: Cemetech's Calculator Guide
- 09 Sep 2011 12:42:07 am
- Last edited by KermMartian on 09 Sep 2011 10:18:32 am; edited 4 times in total
So you're back in school. Suddenly you're stuck at a desk for eight hours a day, five days a week, and life looks bleak. Luckily for you, you have your trusty TI or Casio graphing calculator by your side, perhaps a TI-83+ or a TI-84+ Silver Edition, a Casio Prizm, or (heaven forbid) a TI-Nspire. Now you want some math programs and some games for your calculator to keep yourself educated and entertained. You've come to the right place! Or perhaps you are looking to buy a graphing calculator for yourself, or for your son or daughter for school. You, too, are in the right place at the right time. Without further ado, please enjoy Cemetech's brief guide to getting started with your new or love-worn graphing calculator!
Buying a Calculator
If you already have a calculator, then you don't need to read this section, unless you're interested in expanding your collection or are doubting your choice. If you happen to have a recommendation or requirement from a teacher or professor, that narrows things down significantly. Our personal recommendations:
High school students (and below): Your best choice is a TI-84+ Silver Edition graphing calculator. It's powerful, has tens of thousands of math programs and games available, lasts for months on a set of batteries, and is attractive to boot. Even better, you can put Doors CS on it (more on that later). If you're the sort that cares, the TI-84+SE is accepted on standardized tests like the ACT and the SAT. Your second-best choice is only second-best because your average teacher is likely to be less familiar with it: the Casio Prizm. For the same price (or cheaper!) than a TI-84+SE, you can have a huge, bright, full-color LCD, an extremely fast processor, ten times the memory, and for you programmers, easy coding in BASIC and C. Like the TI-84+/SE, it can do algebra, simple numeric calculus, graphing, statistics, and is accepted on standardized tests.
College students: Are you doing engineering? If so, a TI-89 might be appropriate, as it has much more powerful symbolic features than the TI-83+/84+ series of calculators, extensive calculus capabilities, built-in 3D graphing, and much more. In addition, if you enjoy programming, you can write C programs for the TI-89. However, if you're not doing engineering or math, and you're not an experienced, hardcore programmer, then you're probably better off with a TI-84+ Silver Edition or a Casio Prizm (see above).
Programmers: Do you love hacking together a nifty C program or trying to reverse-engineer the assembly instruction set for your smart toaster's proprietary CPU? If so, you're best off with a TI-84+SE or a Casio Prizm. The TI-84+SE is a less powerful calculator, but programming it in BASIC or z80 assembly is widely documented, and here at Cemetech (and elsewhere) you can find dozens of friendly, knowledgeable, experienced coders to help you surpass hurdles in the learning process. The Prizm development community here at Cemetech is smaller, and documentation is less mature, but the device has a huge amount of power waiting to be unlocked, and with the Prizm SDK based on gcc, C programs are easy and fun to write.
Loading Up Your Calculator
Now that you have a shiny new (or old) device, you need to put some cool stuff on it.
Casio Prizm: We'll get the shorter list out of the way first. If you have a Casio Prizm, you thus far have a relatively small set of resources to work with. The device can run most Casio FX-9860g BASIC programs, as well as Prizm-specific C/ASM and TI-BASIC programs:
:: FX-9860g BASIC programs
:: Casio Prizm tools and games
TI-83+/84 Series: Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of programs for these calculators are available online. The first program you should get should be Doors CS 7.1.1 (or DCS 7.2 Beta 2, if you prefer cutting-edge releases). Doors CS is a shell and GUI for the calculators, and without it, many assembly programs and games will not run. If you've heard of MirageOS, get Doors CS instead: it's faster, much more stable, can understand and execute many more types of files, has a more graphical and simpler interface, and much more. Of course, I'm its author, so I'm somewhat biased, but the thirty-eight thousand people who have downloaded it largely agree from the feedback I've received over its decade of development. Next, you'll need programs and games from the file archives of ticalc.org and Cemetech. Be sure to spend time browsing and exploring; you can find almost everything at one of the two sites. If you can't find something, post a post or a thread, and we can help you look. If it actually doesn't exist, you should write it! More on that below.
:: Doors CS 7
:: General ticalc.org TI-83+/84+ archives
:: General Cemetech TI-83+/84+ archives
TI-89: Unfortunately, Cemetech has few TI-89 programmers, and over the years, the 68k community (those who program for the TI-89, TI-92, and Voyage 200 calculators) has declined faster than the z80 (TI-83, TI-83+/SE, TI-84+SE) community. Nevertheless, there is a huge body of extremely high-quality programs still available in the ticalc.org archives, and the occasional new release does indeed still filter through.
:: General ticalc.org TI-89 archives
Going Further: Writing Cool Programs
We at Cemetech encourage you to not just use your calculator, but to explore it and exploit it to do as much neat stuff as possible. Most of us got started on what have turned into or are turning into success engineering or computer science careers by messing with our calculators until we figured out how to program the devices. We think you would have fun doing the same, and you need very few resources to get started:
TI-83+/84 Series: Here's what you need:
:: TIFreakware's top-notch collection of TI-BASIC tutorials
:: SourceCoder 2.5, an online TI-BASIC IDE
:: Tokens IDE, an offline TI-BASIC IDE
:: z80 ASM in 28 Days, the top z80 ASM tutorial
:: The Doors CS SDK
TI-89 For 68k TI-BASIC, the consensus appears to be that the bundled manual provides a more than sufficient guide. For 68k C programming:
:: The GCC4TI documentation for 68k C
:: Technoplaza, a TI-68k tutorial resource
Casio Prizm While the documentation is lagging behind the development tools, both are progressing nicely.
:: Cemetech Casio Prizm SDK v0.2
:: Prizm support and development subforum
:: Prizm wiki
Presumably, you now have a calculator, some great programs, and some curiosity about writing your own programs. What if you have questions? What if you want to explore further, consider some hardware mods, or ask some questions we didn't answer? How about transferring programs, or picking a good Algebra suite for your calculator? The best Doom or Zelda clone out there? Where's the [OFF] button? Feel free to post in response to this topic, or start your own topic! And if you're new to Cemetech, be sure to Introduce Yourself.