Retro Challenge - 2017/04

2017/04 RetroChallenge...

I'm supposed to be demonstrating a ViewData system at the Wakefield RISC OS show at the end of April where I have a stand booked.

Therefore my Retro Challenge is to sort the stuff I need for the show...

Re-Write BBS Software

I wrote an example BBS system for a previous Retro Challenge (and won :)). I want to re-write the system to make it more expandable and easier to pipeline the components so that they can also be used for generic BBS systems as well as the more specific ViewData one.

Setup Example Pages

Once the system is up and running I need to provide some actual content for people to explore while connected to the system.

ViewData Demonstration Machines

On the last Retro Challenge I wanted to setup a set of 3 demo machines that can be used for connecting to my ViewData BBS. The idea is that I want to have a set of machines setup to show the "Internet" in 1985.
Each setup will consist of a BBC Micro, Cub Monitor and Acorn Prestel adapter.

I have decided that I will concentrate on 1 machine and then do the other 2 if I get time.

Each machine will need...

1) Cleaning
2) RetroBriting
3) Fixing / refurbishing (Probably power caps etc)
4) Configuring


I managed to acquire a nice 80s TV that will sit on the side showing clips and videos from 1980 - 1985.
Originally I wanted to show a mash-up of adverts, cartoons and music videos. After looking into the licencing for this it would require me to find the original copyright holders. Therefore I may look at getting a licence for displaying movies and I think could possibly display the BBCs "Micro Men" and possibly the old Micros Live series using the licence (although I need to verify this).


A while ago I converted a 746 phone to use tone dialling, I have the parts to do a few more and today just received new cables for them. I would like to therefore setup at least one for the demo.

Phone System

Once everything is setup it needs to be connected together using a PABX. I bought another cheap one and intend to use it exclusively for this task. It will be configured to have several modems connected to the server and the machines connected to the ports to allow dialling into the system. Ideally I want to set it up to ring the next available modem so that I can also connect it to a real external phone line (it has 3 connections so I probably will have 1 real line and 2 voip ones).


I have a small HP Micro server that I want to configure as a portable BBS server, I could however run the system as I do now over a VPN from my server in Manchester. To do this I have a Draytek router that can be configured to use VPN and might be setup as a WIFI client to connect to the wireless on site.

Other Stuff

To make the stand at the show more interesting I need to print out some instructions on how to use the system. Maybe a few movie posters from 1980-1985 and also litter the desk with Prestel guides.

Retro Challenge - 2016/10 - Day 31

Total Failure To Launch...

Well I managed to do very little on my projects over the month, various things have as usual got in the way.

Got a few bits today for my ViewData project...

PSU Caps

A bunch of caps to sort the "Magic White Smoke" issue out on several of my machines.


Some new RotaTone units to convert the other rotary phones I have to DTMF so that they will work with the PABX.

Will carry on any try to get the machines sorted for an Acorn event in November.


Retro Challenge - 2014 WW - Day 9

Fitting RotaTone

Decided that I would fit the RotaTone module that I bought the other day for my rotary telephone.

It is a small module that converts the phone from pulse to DTMF, as my PABX does not do pulse it is useless and I have to resort to using a normal touch tone phone to dial.

To start with I had to dismantle the phone, the BT 746 has a nice single screw which is spring loaded on the back. You undo this and it pops out but is still attached to the casing.

Now you push down the handset cradle and the top of the dial and the top slides off.

I then undid all of the parts such as the handset and cable to the phone, these are all spade connectors inside the phone so are easy to remove.
The dial is held in place with a screw on the chassis. Once removed I could undo the small screws on the bottom of the dial which connect the cable to the main phone, these were replaced with the once to the RotaTone.

Now removed the main circuit board and soldered the link wire onto the back.
Added the components that came with the RotaTone and adjusted the links on the connectors.

Re-assembled the phone and attached the RotaTone module to the circuit board.
Tested it and its works great.

Put the top back on, there is a great little engineering bit inside the phone which is a small metal catch that holds the cradle down while you put the case back on.
You then just tap the receiver and it pops back as normal.

Now I can dispose of the nasty push button phone and use my nice new retro phone to dial the BBS.