Texas Instruments Calculator-Based Ranger CBR 

Date of introduction:  January 6, 1997  Display technology:  
New price:  $130.00 Display size:  
Size:  6.0" x 2.3" x 1.7"
 152 x 58 x 43 mm³
Weight:  6.0 ounces, 169 grams Serial No:  1701000082
Batteries:  4*AA Date of manufacture:  mth 04 year 2003
AC-Adapter:   Origin of manufacture:  Taiwan (I)
Precision:   Integrated circuits:  CPU: Hitachi HD6433297
Program steps:   Courtesy of:  Joerg Woerner 

CBR_1.jpg (66266 Byte)With the Calculator-Based Ranger™ (CBR™) Texas Instruments continued in 1997 the approach of portable data collection systems started with the CBL already in 1994. The CBR uses a sonic sensor to measure the time between transmitting a short ultrasonic pulse and receiving the first returned echo. The built-in microprocessor calculates the distance of the object in the range between 0.5 m (1.5 ft) and 6 m (20 ft) by doing a speed-of-sound calculation with a maximum of 200 samples per second. Then it computes the first and second derivatives of the distance data with respect to time to obtain velocity and acceleration data. These data are stored in lists and transferred under program control to one of the graphing calculators such as the TI-73, TI-73 Explorer, TI-82, TI-83, TI-83 Plus, TI-83 Plus Silver Edition, TI-84 Plus, TI-84 Plus Silver Edition, TI-85, TI-86, TI-89, TI-89 Titanium, TI-92, TI-92 Plus and Voyage 200.  

CBR_2.jpg (48429 Byte)With an additional cable the CBR could be connected to both the original CBL and the successor CBL 2.

One of the key advantages of the CBR are the built-in programs that could be transferred to the graphing calculator without the need of the TI-GRAPH LINK™.  

CBR_PCB.jpg (56597 Byte)The hardware of the CBL System makes use of a powerful H8/3297
with fast 10-bit Analog-Digital converters, 2k Bytes RAM for internal storage and 60k Byte ROM plus a lot of peripherals integrated into a tiny package.

Connectivity, User Interface: The CBR features a huge variety of connectors, switches and LED’s to the outside world:

Serial port to connect to graphing calculators
Port to connect to CBL / CBL 2
[TRIGGER] button to initiate sampling
Three buttons [82/83], [85/86], [92] to transfer RANGER program to graphing calculators
Green light to indicate when data collection is occurring
Red light to indicate special conditions

The CBR being marketed by Texas Instruments was developed as part of an ongoing business alliance between TI and Vernier Software of Portland, Oregon.

Texas Instruments replaced the CBR in 2004 with the next generation CBR 2 featuring a USB interface to connect with the TI-84 Plus family.

Find here the original press release dated January 6, 1997:

Measuring motion simplified, more scientific, with Texas Instruments Calculator-Based Ranger™ (CBR™) system

DALLAS, January 6, 1997

A pencil, a stop watch and a ruler. If these are your measurement tools for collecting motion data, go ahead and toss them in the back of the closet with the slide rule. Today there's a new way to collect motion data and use real-world experiences to capture students' attention.

Introducing the Texas Instruments Calculator-Based Ranger™ (CBR™), an exciting new tool for math and science teachers in middle school and high school. CBR is an easy-to-use data collection system that connects directly to TI graphing calculators.

"Students are easily bored with mindless repetition and memorization," said Tom Ferrio, business manager, Learning Tools. "Teachers we work with have found that hands-on activities can really engage students and create a stimulating learning environment that helps them make the connection between equations on a page and real-life applications.

"Motion is one of the easiest concepts for students to comprehend, with direct applications to mathematics and science," continued Ferrio. "Imagine observing a free-falling ball, or a student walking and using the results to teach concepts such as slope and intercept. CBR gives students the ability to measure this data quickly and precisely, then clearly link it to the classroom topic."

In the past, students might measure the motion of a falling object using a yard stick and stopwatch. Very few measurements can be obtained during this brief event, and the resulting data can be inaccurate and inconsistent from student to student. In contrast, CBR permits rapid collection of accurate data which can be instantly viewed. Teachers feel this real-time feedback is crucial to maintaining student interest.

"This is a much more efficient way of collecting data," said Jan Mosteller, science and math teacher at Brunswick School, Greenwich, Conn. "Students can change different variables and immediately see how the changes impact the graphed results. Now they can develop and test hypotheses in a matter of minutes and are truly able to apply the concepts to the variables during a single class period." Easy to Use An easy-to-use yet versatile program has been built-in to CBR so it is ready-to-use out of the box. Teachers can easily transfer the program to their TI-82, TI-83, TI-85, TI-86 or TI-92 calculator with the push of a button and begin sampling immediately. Automated plots include Distance-Time, Velocity-Time, and Acceleration-Time. Even younger students receive instant feedback using an interactive graphing activity that challenges students to match a randomly-generated plot by walking in front of CBR.

CBR offers flexibility to teachers who want to modify the settings in the built-in program, create programs of their own, or use favorite programs written for TI's Calculator-Based Laboratory™ (CBL™). Also, with optional cables, CBR can be used with TI's Calculator-Based Laboratory (CBL) and some Microcomputer-Based Lab (MBL) systems.

Using TI-GRAPH LINK™ and a compatible TI graphing calculator, CBR data can also be sent to a computer for use in spreadsheets, data analysis and word processing programs.

Other intelligent features of CBR include a pivoting sensor head that can be pointed toward the movement being measured and a clamp which allows CBR to be mounted to a table, door, or laboratory stand. CBR measures distance, velocity and acceleration, at up to 150 samples per second and from distances up to 20 feet (measured distance will affect the maximum sample rate). Visible and audible status indicators allow for easy status identification. Loan Programs Allow Trial Usage As part of a unique TI educator support programs that allows teachers to "test drive" products at no cost, CBR will be available through TI's Workshop Loan Program beginning in April (972-917-6411 U.S./416-250-5287 option 3 Canada).

"We're confident that teachers will quickly see the educational value of CBR if they try it in their classroom," said Ferrio, "so we're creating special loan packages of CBR, a TI-83 and a ViewScreen™ display panel so that teachers have all the tools they need to collect and graph data, and show the process to the class as it's being done. Students can analyze the results individually, in small groups or in a class discussion."

CBR will be accompanied by "Getting Started with CBR," a step-by-step instructional booklet to help teachers use the CBR easily and effectively. The booklet includes numerous classroom activities for different skill levels, with teacher instructions and reproducible student recording sheets.

CBR will also be featured in workshops offered in summer, 1997, by Teachers Teaching with Technology (T3). T3 provides training for educators who are interested in enhancing the teaching and learning of mathematics and science through appropriate use of handheld technology. For more information on T3 institutes, call 1-888-2-TCUBED (1-888-282-8233), send e-mail to or check the TI website at

CBR will be available for purchase from TI Instructional Products Dealers by summer 1997 at an estimated price of under $100.00 ( US ). Prices may vary, contact your local TI Instructional Products Dealer for actual price and availability. The CBR is covered by a one-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.


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© Joerg Woerner, October 22, 2003. No reprints without written permission.