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Probably the most useful accessory you can get for your Casio FX-7400G-Plus or CFX-9850G calculator is a data cable. These cables permit the calculators to communicate with PCs. The FX-7400G (without the -Plus) does not have a program link port, and cannot communicate with a PC using the data cable.

Casio sells the SB-87 PC Link Cable. Casio charges $80 for this cable — more than for the calculator itself! Many find the price a barrier. You can buy an equivalent (some say better) cable from Purple Computing for $20. I purchased the cable I use from Purple Computing, and I have been quite happy with it. There are also plans available on the web for those handy with soldering irons to make their own cables. The Purple Computing page has links to some of these.

The data cable by itself is not enough. A program on the PC must interpret the calculator’s serial protocol. Several free programs do this. These programs can upload calculator programs from the calculator into PC disk storage, or download calculator programs from PC disk storage into the calculator. This site provides programs in the form used by Casio’s FA-123 software, called “.CAT” format.

You should be aware that FA-123 saves screen shots as bitmap files. These files take a great deal of space. If you expect to make much use of screen shots, it makes sense to convert these screen shots to a smaller format. Yuri Margolin’s GiFFY program is a free program that quickly and easily converts bitmap files to GIF files. You can use this program if the resulting GIF files are for personal use — not, mind you, non-commercial use, or non-profit use, but your own personal use. If you intend to use the resulting GIF files in any way involving others — for example, by placing them on the web — you must license the GIF file format from Unisys. You can avoid this license fee by either using a different file format, or by using a commercial product — from a vendor that has already licensed the format on behalf of its users — to perform the translation to GIF format.

One popular different format is the Portable Network Graphics format, PNG. The PNG format is unencumbered by patents and was developed specifically to be a free alternative to GIF format. The popular gif2png GIF to PNG converter is free. You can, therefore, produce BMP files in a variety of ways, convert these BMP files to GIF files with GiFFY, convert the GIF files to PNG files with gif2png, and publish the resulting PNG files, all for free. The three-step conversion process is actually less cumbersome than the description makes it sound.

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Copyright © 2001 Brian Hetrick
Page last updated 8 March 2003.

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