Musings and comments about our common interest
From time to time we receive emails on whether we repair HP calculators. This makes me wonder on how well we communicate: this is what we do! So we have thought it out and decided that apparently it is not clear from our website. Then we have decided to open a new department on the website about repair.
We are specialists on HP41 and card reader repairs, but we also have a partner (Ignacio Sánchez) who is expert on the rest of calculator types: Woodstocks, Classics and Spices.
We think that newer calculators (Pioneers, Clamshells and the HP48 family are far more difficult to repair than the previous models, much more modular and where the problems are typically mechanical in nature. And for some models (HP50g, HP17bII, you are much better off if you just buy a replacement off an auction site.
We also sell parts for repair (now based on the HP41 family but also battery solutions for other ranges too) and we plan to offer calculator enhancements (HP41CL in the past, bu we will try the Panamatic and Teenix solutions that improve on the previous calculators with a number of interesting additional features.
As we convert HP41 into HP41CL, we need to buy second hand units. This is getting increasingly difficult - prices are skyrocketing in the usual sites, with prices above 250€ for a CV calculator being normal, and not rare when the prices are above 500€. In some cases, ddefective units are sold for more than 150€. This in Europe - North American prices seem to be more normal, but then you have the import and shipping charges, which typically add more than 40% to the price. This makes our task more difficult.
Also our trusty calculators are getting older. The plastic they are built of is getting increasingly fragile and brittle, and they are breaking more and more. Some of these cracks are visible, some are hidden and more difficult to see. I have in my drawer more than 15 calculators that we have not been able to repair, or which it does not make sense to repair due to the cosmetic state of the calculator. These were sold as good sometime in the past. So the sage latin advice, "caveart emptor", stays relevant more than ever. Which is why we offer a 1 year guarantee for our vintage calculators (quite different from the "no returns accepted" seen in other places)
Repairing your calculator is increasingly the best option in many cases - the newer nylon-based 3D printed parts substitute advantageously to the brittle, fragile parts of old. I am now thinking about the battery bay for the HP41, where the originals are breaking by the corners, or the side cover of the HP41, with its fragile legs.
We are preparing the development plans for 2020. Your requests would be listened to, but be aware that someone insisted heavily on creating the Woodstock battery bay and we didn't get an order from her finally! So we would like to have some quorum for the demands.
My list so far:
- USB connected HP41c adaptor (not battery - putting any kind of electronics inside would require huge certification effort (or alternatively huge risks for our very small company). It will be a 3D printed part with a connector. The jury is out as to whether to include a capacitor to hold the charge for longer.
- A permanently glued battery-ports connector, to hold better together with the back case.
- Many other small items for HP calculators: screws, spacers, screen plastic covers, etc.
- Finish a HP41c repair manual (we're already half way through)
Please also submit your requests to firstname.lastname@example.org too!
As you know, we're getting some parts produced in China. One of them is the feet for calculators we are selling. We have ordered samples from a producer, and when satisfied then we ordered a big lot.
When we have received it, after paying the producer and 100€ in import duties, we see that the producer has "improved" the product by rounding the edges. Nice, but completely wrong for our requirements, as can be seen in the enclosed picture. The whole shipment to the dustbin! We have ordered a new production batch but will take some time to arrive.
I have now an old HP41c where the upper circuit is pressed down to the zebra connectors via nuts. Now, it is difficult to ensure an even pressure and I am having problems with some of the digits. But if we force the nuts, I may break the post - as it has happened in other cases. These are the situations our new piece (wait until we can put it on sale) is made for.
This piece is intended to be put on the lower posts (where it fits tight to aid in case of cracked posts) and gives the necessary mm. of thickness so that the back side of the original type can pass the pressure on the circuit so that it stands firm on the zebra connectors. This negates the use of nuts, which can be changed only a couple of times, lest they break the thread of the post (or the post directly, as it has happened to me a couple of times). I am testing different thicknesses to find which will be the final product.
Say goodbye to the nuts!
We have now prepared a couple of new products designed to solve more HP41CL repair problems. We will discuss today the first one.
Our bent to do c to CL conversions has led us to specialize on full nut repair, instead of half nuts. But some of the tools and methods are also valuable for half nuts too!
The first of the new items we have created is the adaptor to replace screwed nuts in the original HP41C. You may have seen one of this: the processor circuit is secured to the main board with metal nuts around the lower screw posts. The problem with these: it is very easy to destroy the thread, since he read was formed by the action of the nut on the first attachment, nearly 40 years ago!
In the later units, the processor was secured in place by the pressure of the back side through two cylinders collated to the case. If you have one of the old cases, and you have broken the nut thread, you need to find a solution to push the circuit down against the zebra connectors. This is such solution.
We have created a nylon piece that fits tightly around the lower screw posts, with a small bezel to ease the port entrance, and occasionally making a broken post able again. This piece translates the pressure from the back side of the calculator down to the circuit. Don't need to find the right height, or to adjust the angle: it will work - every time.
The piece has sides! As the back side has an angle compared with the circuit surface, we needed to create this angle to the piece. Therefore it can only be put one way.
As the color here really doesn't matter, we have created the price in the cheapest, clearest color from 3D printing: white.
I hope that is piece helps some of you fixing your beloved calculator!
I am receiving many request to repair Clamshell (28c, 19bII, 18b) or Pioneer-type (42s, 17bII, 32s and many more calculators). Opposite to the previous models, these were built NOT to be repaired. The parts or the body are thermo-soldered, and opening them means typically breaking these bonds - which are quite difficult to repair in an aesthetically correct way.
There are some websites that talk about this. Most notably you can see repairs for a HP17bII here:
And here also (about a HP42)
I have finished the current batch of 41CL from Systemyde. Time to reorder. Please show your interest if you would like to buy one. If not, it’ll take longer to receive the board. I am only purchasing as many boards as interest shown from customers. I will order another one this time since the damned loss of my calculator during the latest business trip. Every time I think about it, it drives me mad.
It seems that many people are attracted to this calculator, but they do not dare to assemble theirs. On one side, they may have an old HP41c laying around, but for personal reasons, they want to keep it as is; on the other hand, to spend over 100€ in a bet in Ebay (where you can end up with a non functioning calculator, or one with deficient aesthetics) is a risky proposition. And they do not feel comfortable opening their calculator to do it.
While I am very satisfied by doing this work, I would not like European calculator amateurs to be put off to buy from us to get this wonderful calculator. I encourage them to try by themselves. If they fail, they always have professional repairers that can finish off their job properly.
Just a couple of hints to a successful HP41CL conversion.
- The contacts between the battery module and the circuit itself (on both sides)
- The contacts in the ports
Once you have assembled your own CL, you will enjoy a sense of achievement (even though it was so easy), and admiration on how can a 30 years old machine be so well designed. As well, you will feel grateful to Monte Dalrymple and his outstanding achievement.
But if you still do not dare to do it, even after the above, please contact us at email@example.com for quotes and pictures of the donor calculators. We’re more than happy to help!!! As well, we’re willing to buy your malfunctioning full nut HP41c or cv.
Now I am looking for a way to produce overlays for all the software we now have in a convenient way.
Last but not least: software. I do not know what you will fill your CL with; but I draw the Library #4 software suite from Angel Martín, including the PowerCL, Sandmath 44, advanced matrix #4, OS additions and others. Programmed mostly in Mcode, these change your calculator to a very different animal.
PS: Gardermoen airport has informed me that they have found the HP15c LE that I have lost the past week. Not all is lost! However, I had already opened another one, so I will give it to one of my children.