After reading the interesting thread started by Gerson last week “A very long HP-17BII equation”, I’ve been exploring using advanced features of the HP-17bII+ solver (new, silver model), such as the LET() & GET() functions, and some of the other techniques noted in the “Technical Applications” manual for the HP-27S and HP-19B, which share the same Solver application as the -17 series. There are indeed problems using these features, as even basic sample programs from the manual cannot be duplicated. BTW, some pretty interesting stuff in this manual which greatly extends the power of this Solver if you have not checked it out (available on the Museum DVD, which I highly recommend to all).

After researching all the forum HP-17xxx archives and articles, I’ve found numerous references to the 17bII+ having solver incompatibilities and troubles, and also having issues with variable updates, etc. but generally without stating which HP-17bII+ version.

Also, although I’ve read that the LET and GET functions are not documented anywhere, in fact they ARE documented in the HP-17bII+ printed manual (I have a copy, Ed. 2, January 2004) as well as in the PDF version available from HP’s support website.

In summary, it appears these functions worked correctly on the 17B and 17BII but were not documented for these models, whereas they are documented, but do not work correctly on the 17bII+ models.

As I and many others really like the HP-17bii+ (silver model), I’d like to ask the forum experts to please clarify a few points so we can hopefully use this machine with confidence:

1. Is the “old” HP-17bII+ functionally identical to the “new” (silver) HP-17bII+? Differences?

2. Are the issues with using the LET() an GET() functions documented somewhere? Are there workarounds for these issues or are they simply buggy and unreliable?

3. What are the variable update limitations? Again, can it be used reliably with some precautions or is it just unpredictable?

4. I found a solver program by W. B. Maguire II, to calculate “Epsilon” on the 17 which uses the LET/GET functions, which generated the same result on my 17bII+ as on my 17BII, but surprisingly it was MUCH slower on the newer machine. I’ve read the new 17bII+ uses a newer, faster processor as compared to the prior 17 family members, in addition to the much larger RAM; is slower solver performance than the 20+ year older machines typical?

I’ve done some testing and am willing to continue to try to find these answers, but don’t want to waste time if these answers are known, and particularly not if the new machine is simply buggy and unreliable due to a poor port to the new h/w.

All comments are welcome.

--bob prosperi