A New Calculator?

On the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list, a fellow preparing for the Extra exam wrote:

I’ve been studying for the Extra class exam and I realized that I need a new calculator. I haven’t owned a scientific calculator in years. There are so many to choose from these days. Which brands/models do you recommend? I used to own Texas Instruments and Casio. Which scientific/graphing calculators are the most versatile? Thanks in advance.

Most of the responses noted that pretty much any cheapo calculator will do. One guy suggested that he might find something suitable at the local dollar store. This is true—about a year ago, one of our club members showed up with a bag full of scientific calculators he found at a dollar store and passed them around. I use it now down in my shack.

Mark, K5LXP, had the best answer, though. He wrote, “Take one of these into your next test session and you’ll have the respect of the VE’s before you even begin.”

I love this! Not only is this a great picture of a slide rule, it actually works. By clicking on the scale or the cursor you can move them, and use this just like you would a regular slide rule.

Try it. You might like it.


  1. Dan,

    Are you trying to make me famous by putting me in your blog? ;)

    I’m glad that I posted my question when I did. I really thought that I would need an expensive fancy schmancy scientific or graphing calculator to pass the Extra exam *crossing fingers*. I have a couple cheapo calculators laying around, so I’m thankful that this advice helped me save a bunch of money on car insurance– I mean, on a calculator.

    Ever since I read the responses, I’ve renewed my interest in learning how to use a slide rule, and even an ABACUS :) I’ve always wanted to learn the slide rule, even before I became an engineering student drop-out ;) I’ll keep you posted. Thanks.


    • Cool. Let me know if and when you get up to speed on the slide rule. I played around a little bit with slide rules in high school, but the year I went to college (1973) is the year that Texas Instruments began selling the SR-50 scientific calculator. (SR, by the way, stood for “slide rule.”)

      The HP-30 and HP-40 were already in production by this time, but they were very expensive. Too much for my budget. The SR-50 at $100 or $150—I forget which—was much more affordable and worked great all through college and into my professional life.

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