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Help, My TI-83 / Ti-84 Won’t Graph
It’s 8 o’clock in the evening. Dinner is over. You sit down to watch a movie or a Monday night football game — and then it happens. . . “Mammmmmmmmmm (or Dadddddddddd), my calculator isn’t working. I have to turn in my math homework tomorrow, and my graph isn’t showing.”
“It can’t be that bad”, you think. “I passed math in high school. Heck, 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 so bad then, but now you take a closer look and there are all kinds of keys you’ve never seen before on a calculator. At the bottom is something familiar – a normal array of number keys, and to the right are the usual addition, subtraction, multiplication and division keys. But what is “MODE”, “DEL”, “STAT”, “ZOOM”, “TRACE”, etc. ? What are you going to do? Who are you gonna call?
Here are some very simple things to do; but remember, the title of this article is “Help, My TI-83 / Ti-84 Won’t Graph”, and that’s really all that’s covered in this article.
Look at the top row of buttons on the TI-83/TI-84 calculator. There should be five of them, separated from the other buttons; and they must have the following labels:
[Y=] [WINDOW] [ZOOM] [TRACE] [GRAPH]
This is where all your activity is going to take place.
The three major problems
Most of the time, when a graph does not display, there are three reasons:
- Graphic function.The graph function is not entered correctly or is not entered at all.
- Chart not enabled. The graphing function is entered correctly, but the graphing is not activated.
- Viewing window. Feature viewport is set to incorrect size or location.
We will deal with them one by one.
Check that the graph function is entered correctly
Push it [Y=] button at the top of the calculator. This takes you to the Y= editor screen. You should see a screen that looks like this:
Parcel1 Parcel2 Parcel3
The “2X+1” expression is just an example, but you should see some sort of expression in the Y= editor screen, not just a bunch of empty “Y=” lines. If all you see is the following, you need to add an expression:
Parcel1 Parcel2 Parcel3
If you want to try a very simple expression to make sure the calculator can plot, use “Y1=X”. This should draw a nice 45 degree line straight across the origin of the graphics screen.
Check that the graphics function is enabled
Function graphing may not be enabled 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, place the cursor on the “=” sign and press the key. [ENTER] key, to highlight it.
The viewing window must be set to the correct size and location
If the viewport is set to the wrong size or location, the calculator can plot but you won’t see it on the screen.
There are many ways to set the viewport, but an easy and reliable method is to simply “zoom in”, until you see the function you are trying to graph. Push it [ZOOM] button at the top of the calculator. Then press “3” to zoom out. Repeat until you see the function you are trying to graph. You should now have an idea of the window you need to use to see the plotted function. Push it [WINDOW] at the top of the calculator and adjust the display characteristics as needed.
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