It’s 8 pm. Dinner is over. You’re sitting down to watch a movie or Monday Night Football, and then it happens. . . “Mummmmmmmmm (or Daddydddddddddd), my calculator isn’t working. I have to turn in my math homework tomorrow and my graph isn’t showing up.”
“This can’t be that bad,” you think. “I passed math in high school. Hell, I even installed the Quicken accounting system at work. How complicated can a calculator be?”
The last time you looked at your child’s TI-83 or TI-84 was in August at the office supermarket; It was in the front of a shopping cart with three ring binders and notebook paper on top of a pile. It didn’t look that bad then, but now you take a closer look at it and there are all kinds of keys that you’ve never seen on a calculator before. At the bottom is something familiar: an array of normal-looking number keys, and to the right are the usual keys for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. But what the heck are “MODE”, “DEL”, “STAT”, “ZOOM”, “TRACE”, etc. ? What are you going to do? Who are you going to call?
Here are a couple of really simple things to do; But remember, the title of this article is “Help, my TI-83 / Ti-84 does not graph”, and that is really all that is covered in this article.
The graphics buttons
Look at the top row of buttons on the TI-83 / TI-84 calculator. There should be five of them, separate from the other buttons; and must have the following labels:
[Y=] [WINDOW] [ZOOM] [TRACE] [GRAPH]
This is where all your activity will take place.
The three main problems
Most of the time, when a graph is not displayed, there are three reasons:
- Graphical function.The graph function was not entered correctly or was not entered at all.
- Graphic not lit. The graph function was entered correctly, but the graph function is not activated.
- View window. The function display window is set to the wrong size or location.
We will deal with these one at a time.
Verify that the graph function is entered correctly
Push the [Y=] at the top of the calculator. This places you on the Y = editor screen. You should see a screen that looks like this:
Plot1 Plot2 Plot3
Y1 = 2X + 1
The “2X + 1” expression is just an example, but you need to see some kind of expression on the Y = editor screen, not just a bunch of blank “Y =” lines. If all you see is the following, you need to add an expression:
Plot1 Plot2 Plot3
If you want to test a really simple expression to make sure the calculator can plot, use “Y1 = X”. This should draw a nice 45 degree line directly through the origin of the graph screen.
Check that the graph function is activated
It is possible that the graphical representation of the function is not activated in the Y = editor screen. This error is a bit subtle. Look at the “=” sign in the equation you are trying to plot. The “=” sign must be highlighted.
If not, you must place the cursor on the “=” sign and press the button. [ENTER] key, to highlight it.
The viewing window must be set to correct for size and location
If the display window is set to the wrong size or location, the calculator can plot, but you will not see it on the screen.
There are many ways to configure the display window, but an easy and reliable method is to simply “Zoom Out”, until you see the function you are trying to graph. Push the [ZOOM] at the top of the calculator. Then press “3” to zoom out. Repeat until you see the function you are trying to graph. Now you should have an idea of which window you need to use to see the plotted function. Push the [WINDOW] at the top of the calculator and adjust the display features as needed.