Console Calculator Moves One Step Closer To Original Design

With smartphone apps and spreadsheets being the main ways people crunch their numbers nowadays, there’s not much call for a desktop calculator. Or any other physical calculator, for that matter. Which is all the more reason to appreciate this¬† Wang 300-series calculator console’s revival through a new electronic backend.

If you haven’t made the acquaintance of the Wang calculator series, [Bob Alexander]’s previous Wang project is a perfect introduction. Despite looking very much like an overbuilt early-70s desktop calculator, what you see in the video below is just a terminal, one of four that could connect to a shared “Electronics Package” where most of the actual computational work was done. The package was big and is currently hard to come by, at least at a reasonable price, but the consoles, with their Nixie displays and sturdy keypads, are relatively abundant.

[Bob]’s previous venture into reviving his console involved embedding a PIC32-based controller, turning it into the standalone desktop calculator it never was. To keep more with the original design philosophy, [Bob]’s second stab at the problem moves much of the same circuitry from inside the console into a dedicated outboard package, albeit one much smaller than the original. The replacement package extends and enhances the console functionality a bit, adding a real-time clock and a Nixie exercise routine to ward off the dreaded cathode poisoning. [Bob] also recreates the original Wang logarithmic method of multiplication and division, which is a nice touch with its distinctive flashing display.

Seeing the Wang console hooked up to a package through that thick cable and Centronics connector is oddly satisfying. We’d love to see [Bob] take this to the logical extent and support multiple consoles, but that might be pushing things a bit.

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Locate Faults With The Leakseeker-89R

Have you ever needed to hunt down a short circuit, but you’ve had no idea where it is or how it’s happening? As it turns out, there are tools to help in that regard.¬†Enter the Leakseeker-89R.

The device is able to help hunt down short circuits that measure anywhere from 0 to 300 ohms. The device is typically used with two leads on a given pair of traces, and it has a display made up of red, yellow and green LEDs. As the leads are moved closer or farther from the short circuit, the display changes to indicate if you’re getting hotter or colder. There’s also a third lead that can be used to allow testing under more challenging conditions when there is a large capacitance in-circuit with the traces you’re testing.

Fundamentally, it’s basically a very accurate resistance meter, finely honed for the purpose of hunting down short circuits. We’ve featured similar tools before. They can be of great use for troubleshooting. Meanwhile, if you’re building your own test tools in your home lab, don’t hesitate to let us know! We’re always dying for hot tips on the best DIY lab equipment for saving time, frustration, and money.