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Author Topic: What’s the best calculator to use on an Extra Exam, If any?  (Read 8506 times)
WALTERB
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« on: May 15, 2012, 08:40:31 PM »


I will soon be taking my Extra test .   I’ve been told that any programmable calculators are basically not allowed, or at the least the advantage of having one is negated by having to erase the memory prior to the test.
So,  with that in mind,  is there one calculator that stands out for the extra test or pretty much any scientific calculator with a Theta button will work?

Thanks
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K2YO
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Posts: 436




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« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2012, 10:43:25 PM »

I would say the one that you are the most comfortable using. I tested with a TI programmable calculator, and actually never used it. You may find that your studing has caused you to memorize the corrrect answers and you don't even need it.

Look at the questions that require math and figure out what are the most complicated calculations you'll need, for example trig and arc functions maybe. Then take the calculator that does those functions and you are comfortable with using.

I was most comfortable using a complex calcuator and so I stuck by the rule that I could use if after they examined it and reset if if they needed. The group where I tested didn't even question it.

Bernie
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N4NYY
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« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2012, 05:40:01 AM »

Your basic scientific. If you have a smartphone, it is likely on that or there is an app for it.
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KG4LMZ
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« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2012, 05:54:18 AM »

I did it with a very basic non-programmable calculator that I got for less than $20 at Wally World or similar.  That made it easy to show the VEs that it was cleared.  I don't think I ended up using it more than once ... "back of the envelope" math was good enough to sort the wrong answers from the correct ones in most cases.
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KD4EBL
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« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2012, 06:15:40 AM »

My understanding is smart phones are not allowed. The memories need to be cleared of any memories
Your basic scientific. If you have a smartphone, it is likely on that or there is an app for it.
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WALTERB
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« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2012, 06:49:16 AM »

You may find that your studing has caused you to memorize the corrrect answers and you don't even need it.Bernie


That was what I was thinking and why I titled the question "If any". the amount of time to memorize the formulas, learning the calculator's work method, etc. might be better spent memorizing the questions and answers that are given to you in the arrl exam books.

 
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W5FYI
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« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2012, 07:24:20 AM »

I doubt that you'll need a calculator--you already have the questions and answers, so you won't really have to "crunch numbers" at all!  If you feel comfortable with one, take something like a TI-30X non-programmable scientific calculator and you'll be fine.

I taught physics and chemistry at an inner-city charter school for a number of years, and bought maybe 50 of Dollar Tree's $1 scientific calculators as give-away, walk-away calculators for the classroom (actually, very few ever walked away). I was impressed with their power (they could do more than the TI-30 that many students were using). I really liked the fact that they could go from rectangular to polar and back again, could do statistics and standard deviations, engineering and scientific notation, trig, factorials, pseudo-random numbers, and tons more. The instruction sheet was minimal but, for a dollar, they were the best calculator bargain I've ever seen.

So, you might not need a calculator to take your ham test, but one sure comes in handy if you ever get into radio engineering around the shack. The Dollar Tree model is truly a bargain. GL
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KE3WD
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« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2012, 08:19:28 AM »

Calculator isn't even needed if one has studied the relatively small amount of math related material and knows it. 

73
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K8AXW
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« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2012, 09:13:50 AM »

Many, many years ago when I set at an FCC exam room taking tests from the amateur General to 1st Phone commercial, I used a simple TI calculator which allowed me to do log and square root problems.  Nothing more exotic needed.

As others mention here, you'll no doubt will have memorized the answers on the test and the use of a calculator will be minimal if at all.

However, be prepared.  Sometimes when taking tests there is the possibility of "talking yourself out of an answer" becaused of stress.  That's when knowing how to work a problem and a simple calculator comes into play.  Good luck.
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2012, 09:48:49 AM »

The TI-30 series scientific calculators are fine.  They have all the functions needed, but no extended memories or programming.  They are the same type authorized for the Professional Engineer exams.
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WALTERB
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« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2012, 10:14:35 AM »

ok, thanks to all.
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N4CR
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« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2012, 03:50:32 PM »

One thing my father taught me about doing math was that the first step was to estimate a nearly correct answer in my head and then go about proving my estimate. If you go through the steps mentally it may be all that you need to eliminate the 3 wrong answers. I recall jotting a couple of jumbles on the scratch paper to keep way points during the mental gymnastics.

They wouldn't give me my score when I tested for extra but I passed so whatever I did, it must have been good enough.

The best thing is to study concepts for the 50 categories of questions and stop worrying about details.
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73 de N4CR, Phil

We are Coulomb of Borg. Resistance is futile. Voltage, on the other hand, has potential.
KB3HG
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« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2012, 06:20:12 AM »

Honest mister, my Pickett slide rule doesn't have any memories.








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N8HM
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« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2012, 07:02:43 AM »

I just memorized the question pool. No need for a calculator that way!
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K8AXW
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« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2012, 09:35:02 AM »

3HM:  Thanks for the memory jog!  I now recall that when I took the General test at the FCC office in Washington, DC., I also used the slide rule. 

That without a doubt is one of the most ingenious devices ever made!  It's my understanding that the SR-71 Blackbird airplane, which still holds the aircraft speed record, was built by engineers using the slide rule.  No computers!

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