What do you do when your trusty, 45 year old calculator finally needs to be retired? If you’re a programmer with a knack for making things — like Simon Boak — you custom build a replacement.
This is the SB116, an 8-bit programmer’s calculator powered by an Arduino Nano. It features a 128 x 64 pixel monochrome OLED display and can be powered by either a USB port or three AAA batteries.
Boak says the SB116 gets good battery life since it only draws about 60 mA. That helped him to keep the build simple since he didn’t need “to worry about lithium cells and charging circuits.”
When he began working on the design, Boak planned to closely mimic the venerable TI Programmer he was replacing. Ultimately he opted for the handmade aluminum body you see here instead of 3d printing an enclosure.
The chunky, throwback aesthetic is right on the money for a calculator that’s purpose-built for retro programming experimentation. It does add a fair bit of weight, with the SB116 tipping the scales at half a kilogram.
To create the keys Boak laser cut two pieces of black acrylic and welded them together. The keypad’s fascia was cut and printed by Schaeffer AG, a Berlin-based company that specializes in custom front panel production.
A wonderfully retro “retail box” created by Boak is the perfect finishing touch. It’s packed with protective foam cut to the SB116’s silhouette to keep it snug and safe when not in use.