Retro Challenge - 2014 WW - Day 6

Initial Testing Setup

Well managed to get everything talking, the setup is as follows...


Setup to allow me to dial between the machines, the PBX has 8 ports and 3 external lines. Eventually the idea is to connect the incoming modems to it and allow incoming connections via dialup.

Hayes Acura Modem

This is currently the modem I'm using for development as its a great modem and is pretty solid. Its one of 4 that I have which are brand new and still in their boxes.

This is connected to my development PC using a serial to USB adapter, eventually I either want to use the USB modems or have the 4 Acura modems connected to a serial card.

Terminatel 257

This is a black and white VideoTex terminal from Alcatel. It was a new boxed item that hasn't been used and would have probably been the sort of terminal used in France up until the demise of Minitel in 2012.

BT 746 Rotary Telephone

I acquired this the other day to complete my 80s retro desk setup. It is pulse dial only and does not work with the PBX but I have a new DTMF upgrade to fit to it before the end of the challenge. There's is something quite satisfying about dialing the modem with it.

Initial Test

Used Putty to create a terminal connection to the modem, manually setup the modem using AT commands and set it to auto answer.

Dialled into the modem from the Terminal and they connected ok.

Once in could type on both Terminal and Putty and they were exchanging data correctly.

Retro Challenge - 2014 Winter Warmup

ViewData BBS Server

After failing miserably on the last Retro Challenge, I'm intending to actually get something done this time.
I've been playing around with ViewData and want to create a new BBS system that will run on a modern server and be able to take telnet or dialup connections.

So as part of the challenge I intend to implement as much of the following as possible...

1) Create basic ViewData BBS system that allows telnet access.
2) Implement a dial up server that forwards traffic to the BBS.
3) Create a ViewData terminal that allows the BBS to be accessed without a real machine (possibly implement this in Silverlight and host it on a web page).
4) Add ability to load pages into BBS and navigate through simple page tree (like original Prestel).
5) Add ability to create forms and entry validation etc.
6) Create gateway from BBS to other online telnet enabled systems (this will allow me to "dial up" telnet only BBSs such as CCL4).
7) Implement email service in BBS.
8) Implement search engine (google / bing).
9) Implement twitter feed.
10) Implement online game (shades etc). (Have looked at shades and it is still available, problem is it expects a 80 x 40 text based screen).
11) Create some kind of API for creating gateways between BBSs.
12) Detect non ViewData terminal and create ASCII representations of ViewData screens. (Might create a new gateway to do this).
13) Implement a demo of old Prestel screens.
14) Implement some real content for my new BBS.
15) Create system for doing downloads. (Have some examples of the way this was done via multiple pages in sequence).
16) Implement facebook feed.

Probably a bunch of other stuff.

Required Items

To test this setup I'll need to implement the following...

1) Setup PC to run BBS.
2) Install modems for dial in access (I have 4 Hayes modems which I have managed to get connected correctly, I also have 4 USB modems which work but are sending gibberish to the ViewData terminal, think this is some issue with stop bits or parity).
3) Wire modems into PBX.
4) Wire PBX to external line.
5) Look at possibility of using a set of VOIP lines (Think they should be ok with compression off as the speed is low enough).
6) Solder a set of cables for the BBC to connect to modems.
7) Try and get terminal server box to accept incoming connections and connect out on modem.

Terminal Hardware

Once the connectivity is setup I'll be testing using the following...

1) Alcatel TerminalTel 257 VideoTex terminal.
2) BBC Micro with Acorn Prestel adapter.
3) BBC Micro with Prism modem (1000 & 2000).
4) BBC Micro with Pace Nightingale modem.
5) Sinclair Spectrum 48k with Prism VTX 5000 modem.
6) Acorn A3000 with old modem (not sure of make).
7) Acorn Communicator. 
8) My new terminal program (which I need to write).
9) ConnectVX (A windows ViewData client).

So the intention is to have a working BBS that can be contacted by other users via dialup and telnet at the end of the challenge.

Retro Challenge - 2013 SC - Day 7

Finally got some time to actually do something for my RC.

Tried to get my USB modem to work with my Windows 8 machine but the drivers are pretty much useless and it isn't detected automatically.
Finally decided to break out my old XP laptop, problem is that the keyboard doesn't work so found a USB one and got it up and running.

While I was at it found a replacement one on ebay so may get round to sorting it out before the end of the month.

Connected up the modem to the C-Tel analogue PABX that I bought a while ago for the purpose of providing old school dialing between machines and possibly the internet.

To test the PABX was working and everything should be ok before I start on the older machines I grabbed my old Acorn Pocket Book 2 and Psion 3 Fax Modem and wired them in.


Using the comms software on the Pocket Book and a copy of Putty on the PC I tried dialing the PC.

At this point the Psion modem started with the usual warbling but the PC wasn't happy at all.
I tried dialing the other way round, the USB modem was not having any of it.

I then remembered the laptop had a built in modem and after a few minutes finding the driver online all was good.

Found my Psion 8mb SSD with the internet suite installed and tried dialing the PC using the built in dial in settings, the PC responded but the error in the log indicates that the Psion didn't authenticate correctly.

So at least I have the two machines dialing each other, next step is to setup some kind of dialup server or BBS, have looked at Synchronet and may have a play with that before trying one of the other machines.