When is a pocket calculator more than just a calculator? [Andrew Menadue] has been pushing the limits of his 1970s Casio FX-502P by adding all sorts of modern functionality via the calculator’s expansion port.
Several older Casio calculators included an expansion port for connecting cassette tape storage and printing functionality. Data on the FX-502P could be saved on cassette tape using the well-known Kansas City standard, however this signal was produced by Casio’s FA-1 calculator cradle, not the FX-502P itself. To interact with the calculator itself would require an understanding of whatever protocol Casio designed for this particular model.
It turns out that the protocol is a little quirky compared to its contemporaries, with variable length data packets and inverted data logic, (zero volts is ‘1’ and three volts is ‘0’). Once the protocol was untangled, it was ‘simply’ a matter of connecting the calculator to the GPIO interface on the STM32, and using some software wizardry to start shooting data packets back and forth.
This hack can be used to send and receive data from an SD card (via a RAM buffer), however it’s the other expansion capabilities that really make us wonder. [Andrew] has demonstrated how easy it is to add a real-time clock or thermal printer. Using the I2C capabilities of the STM32, it’s likely that all sorts of gadgets and sensors could be coupled with this vintage calculator, and many others like it.
You can find even more details about this hack over here, including some follow up videos to the original hack. No stranger to vintage calculators, we last featured [Andrew] after he retrofitted a modern LCD display to an old Casio. It’s charming to see how these calculators are far from obsolete.