Graphing calculators are one of those relics from the past that keep on existing for reasons that no one is quite sure about. Schools still demand them for the most part, a lot of software and instructions still rely on or recommend them for most purposes, and their price is not really cheap when you consider the sort of computing power that we carry in our pockets every day. So, since you can’t really get rid of your graphing calculator, why not just emulate it in your phone? Well, today we’ll show you how you can do just that.
No matter how you look at them, graphing calculators are unstoppable: while most electronic devices become cheaper and more powerful over time, popular calculators like the TI-84 still carry on living with pretty much the same specs and display resolution, at pretty much the same price as a decade ago. The reason why is, of course, the way that the education system is set up to take advantage of these devices. You really can’t get around it: most materials and educators recommend or demand that they are used, and teachers want to keep things simple and distraction-free in the classroom. So, since you do have to use them, a nice alternative may be to emulate these devices on your phone or tablet instead, and that is very much possible, without spending a dime.
Wabbitemu, which you can download for free by clicking this link, is an app that allows you to easily and reliably emulate some of the most popular graphing calculators from Texas Instruments, including the venerable TI-83 and TI-84 models. Emulating these devices means just that: you will get almost the same experience and set of features as if you were using the real thing. Emulators are set up to replicate the same visuals and software of the original device, and that’s what we’ll get as well. It’s also fairly easy to set up:
First, of course, you’ll have to download the app. Once you do, open it, and it will welcome you and ask you for ROM image. This is the image containing the firmware that the calculator uses. Well, chances are that you don’t have one, or aren’t willing to get one yourself. Luckily, the app is able to create a ROM image on the fly for you using open source software, and it will take care of things automatically if you wish so:
After that, the app will ask you which device you want to emulate. Make you choice and tap “Next”:
Once you do, the app will then ask you for an OS file to run on the calculator. Real calculators also have an OS, and so our emulator is no exception. So pick the option that allows you to download one:
The app will download the appropriate file for you:
And then the setup process is done. You should see this screen at the end:
Just tap the back button and that screen will go away, and you will be able to use the calculator:
As we mentioned, the application emulates the real thing, and so in terms of features and operation it’s pretty much identical to a real device. Using it is the same, and you can even run calculator apps inside the calculator, in some sort of bizarre app within an app Inception-like scenario. Of course, the big pull of these devices are their graphing capabilities, so let’s test those out:
In this example, we will be tracing a few standard sine, cosine, tangent functions. Enter the appropriate values and you will see the graph being traced and showing up exactly like the real calculator. This means that you can easily follow the same procedures that your educator tells you, or even just use it the same way you usually do:
And that’s about it. For the price of zero dollars, you now have a $100 calculator in your pocket that is reliable, always there and works just like the real thing. It could be a real way to save money, or just serve as a backup for your real calculator, in case your ever forget it or run out of battery. Either way, it’s a must have if you’re a student and have to use one of these on a regular basis, and you can even try a different model that the one you usually have by simply selecting a different file in the app.