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HP 50g Graphing Calculator - Calculator Modes and Customization

Choosing how to use your calculator

The HP 50g gives you many ways to change the calculator to suit your way of working and of solving problems. Just for example, you can:
  1. Measure angles in degrees, radians or gradians.
  2. Show the time and date in the display.
  3. Calculate with pounds or kilograms.
  4. Display numbers in different formats.
  5. Do financial calculations in Begin or End payment mode.
  6. Work with equations, or in Algebraic mode or 'RPN' mode, or with lists of numbers, and this is just the beginning.
Many of these choices are made on the 'MODE' menu.
You can also customize your calculator in ways that almost make it a completely different calculator to the one you bought. For example, you can:
  1. Select USER mode to change what the keys do.
  2. Write your own programs to create new math functions.
  3. Create new menus.
  4. Choose a different font to display numbers and characters, and more.
To practice setting the calculator to work the way you want, try these examples.


Selecting radians mode

Access the 'MODE' menu by pressing the key: The 'Calculator Modes' form is shown. Press the round down-arrow key twice to reach the Angle Measure line .
Figure : Displaying the Calculator Modes
The line of text at the bottom of the display gives a short description of what the highlighted mode does. Now press the menu key below the label to see the choice of angle settings.
Figure : Displaying the different options
Use the round up and down arrow keys and to highlight 'Radians', as in Figure 2, then press the key below the menu label and your calculator will be set to Radians mode. Press again to quit the Menu Form. Calculations using trig functions will now work in radians, instead of degrees.
The mode does not change to the new one until you quit the Menu Form completely.
If you change your mind before you quit the Menu Form, you can press the menu key, instead of the menu key, to cancel the new setting. You can also you can press the key, which has below it to show that it acts as a “cancel” key.
You can change back to degrees, or change to gradians in the same way.
Tip! There is a shortcut for changing the highlighted setting. Instead of using you can press the plus/minus key to change the highlighted item until you have the setting you want.
If you select 'Radians' mode, a label at the top left of the display will display 'RAD'. If you choose 'Degrees' mode, you will see 'DEG' as in Figures 1 and 2 above. If you choose 'Gradians' mode the label will show 'GRAD'.
The Modes Form lets you choose other important settings. The Operating Mode, which can be set to Algebraic or RPN, is especially important, and it is described in the separate training aid on “Algebraic and RPN Modes”. The Number Format and the Fraction Mark (decimal point or decimal comma) are described separately too. The menu key on the Modes Form lets you make many more choices. The next example shows one such choice.

Displaying the time and date

The HP 50g can show the time and date in the top right corner of the display. You might find this useful, for example, during an exam to know how much time you have left. Select the Menu Form again and press the key below the menu key. You will see the first few “System Flags”, with their present settings, and a short explanation of each one. Use the up and down arrow keys to reach flag 40, as in Figure 3.
Tip! If you know which flag number you want, you can press the first number of the flag to find it quickly, for example press 4 to go directly to flag 40. If you press 4 repeatedly you will cycle through all the flags whose numbers begin with 4.
Figure : Displaying the System Flags
Press the key below the check menu label to select the clock display mode. A check mark will show next to label 40 and the description will change. Then press the menu key once to get back to the Modes Form, and again to quit the Modes Form. Now you can see the time and date at the top right of the display area, as in Figure 4. As with the angle mode, the change of the flag setting does not take effect until you quit the Modes Form completely, so you can use the menu key to cancel it.
Figure : Displaying the time and date
Tip! You can change a lot more! You can change the clock between 12 hour and 24 hour display with flag 41. You can change the date display between mm/dd/yy and dd.mm.yy with flag 42. And you can change between a digital clock and an analog clock display with flag 67. A training aid in this series shows how the time and date can be set and changed.
When you do not need to see the time and date it is best to cancel their display. The example after the next one shows another way to do this.

Selecting exact or approximate mode

System flag 105 controls an important mode. This selects whether numeric results of calculations are given as exact values, for example 2/3, or as the closest possible numerical approximation, in this case 0.666666666667. You can set this flag from the flags list as above. You can also set it from the CAS Modes form. (CAS is the Computer Algebra System, described in other training aids.) Press then press below the menu label. Press the down key twice, then press the key below the menu label, to set or clear the mode, and press the menu key twice.

Changing the display font

Another customization that the MODE menu allows is changing the font used to display text and numbers. Press the key and then the menu key below the label. Press to see the available fonts.
Figure : Displaying the available font
There are three “System Fonts” built into the HP 50g. 'System Font 8' has the largest letters and is the one that the HP 50g uses unless you choose a different one. The fourth selection is 'Browse' which lets you look for other fonts you have copied to the calculator, or have created yourself. Use the up or down key to select the smallest font, 'System Font 6'. Press twice and the calculator will display everything in the small font. This means that you can see more in the display at one time as Figure 6 shows.
Figure : Displaying the text in small font
Select the Mode Form and then the Display Modes Form again and you will see that you can choose to use the small font for only some actions, for example only when editing numbers and text so that you can see more of what you are editing. Below the font selections you can choose how many lines of information are shown at the top of the display. You can also show or hide the clock, and choose to display it in digital or analog form.
Figure : Display ticking clock
To finish this example, press again and change the System Font back to 8. Press and use the down and right arrow keys to select the clock option and press to hide the clock. Finally press twice more to return to your normal display.
Tip! You can select italic, bold, or underlined fonts, when you are editing text strings. To find these options press then then to reach the third page of the EDIT menu, and the font selection options are in the submenu.

Using flags and menus to control modes directly

Most calculator modes and settings are controlled by the calculator’s “System Flags”, flags –1 to –128. The HP 50g also has “User Flags”, numbered from 1 to 128, for the user’s own purposes. A set of commands can be used to control modes and flags directly. This is particularly useful in programs, which can set or clear or test flags, but can not use the Calculator Modes Form.
To find the flag commands, press . Go down the list till you find '10.MODES', or press to reach it, and press the menu key. The Modes Menu is now displayed.
Figure : Displaying the Modes Menu
This in turn provides a list of mode command types. To select the flag commands press and then the menu key. You now see a list of flag commands you can use directly to set, clear, and test the system and user flags. The top item, SF (Set Flag) is highlighted. You could use it to display the clock again. If you have Algebraic mode set, press the menu key, then type . This sets flag -40, system flag 40, and displays the clock. To hide the clock again, repeat the above, but select CF (Clear Flag) to clear flag -40. To do the same in 'RPN' mode you need to put the number -40 on the stack before pressing .
Whenever you change modes to a special setting for a particular task, it is wise to set them back to normal afterwards, to avoid the risk of these settings causing confusion later.

Other modes and customization

Some of the other important modes are described in further training aids. For example the “Operating Mode” is described in the training aid on “Algebraic and RPN Mode”.
Customization is described in other training aids too. See the one on “The User Keyboard” to learn how you can change what some of the keys do, to make the HP 50g work exactly the way you want.






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