Vintage HP-25 Calculator Gets Wireless Charging

[Jan Rychter] really likes his multiple HP-25C calculators, but the original battery pack design is crude and outdated. No problem — he whips up a replacement using Fusion 360 to design an enclosure, prints a few on his SLS 3D printer, and packs them with LiPo batteries and Qi/WPC wireless charging circuits.

In his blog post, he explains the goals and various design decisions and compromises that he made along the way. We like [Jan]’s frank honesty as he remarks on something we have all been guilty of at one time or another:

In the end, I went with design decisions which might not be optimal, but in this case (with low power requirements) provide acceptable performance. In other words, I winged it.

One problem which proved difficult to solve was how to provide a low battery indicator. Since low voltage on a LiPo is different from the original HP-25’s NiCad cells, it wasn’t straightforward, especially since [Jan] challenged himself to build this without using a microcontroller. He discovered that the HP-25’s internal low battery circuit was triggered by a voltage of 2.1 volts or lower.

In a really clever hack, [Jan] came up with the idea of using an MCU reset supervisor chip with a low voltage threshold of 3.0 volts, which corresponds with the low voltage threshold of the LiPo battery he is using. The reset signal from the supervisor chip then drives one of the pins of the TPS62740 programmable buck converter, changing its output from 2.5 volts to 2.1 volts.

This project is interesting on several levels — extending the life of a useful but end-of-life calculator, improving the original battery design and introducing new charging techniques not available in the early 1970s, and it is something that a hobbyist can afford to do in a home electronics lab. We do wonder, could such a modification could turn an HP-25 into an HP-25C?

We’ve written about battery pack replacement project before, including one for the Sony Discman and another for an electric drill. Let us know if you have any battery pack replacement success (or failure) stories in the comments below.

9 thoughts on “Vintage HP-25 Calculator Gets Wireless Charging

  1. i have the HP25 that belonged to my dad. i wrote my first lines of code on those, back in 1976. civil engineering reinforced concrete calculations.
    it still works and is still my fav calculator. but battery is obviously shot so this will come very handy

  2. I would be interested in a hack like this to use with the HP-19Bii Business Financial Calculator, with the crappy battery door design that renders the unit somewhat useless once the case breaks and the battery door no longer can be utilized to hold the N-cell batteries in the calculator.

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