Well I've been on holiday for the beginning of the month so have had a slow start. Can't believe we are half way through already and I've barely done anything.
ViewData Demonstration Machines
Have managed to get the machines I'm going to use together, they need cleaning and the caps replacing in the power supplies but all of them work ok.
Ordered the parts for the power supplies and they arrived yesterday, next job is to dismantle the units and replace the caps.
Got another PABX to use so that I can keep the one on my desk and have one specifically for the ViewData BBS setup.
Did a run of imaging yesterday, started with a few Archimedes games.
Created a raw copy and a disk image for emulation.
Opened the created disk image on RiscPCEmu.
I'm going to try fairly simple tasks this time round, the intension is that I actually complete them.
ViewData Demonstration Machines
I want 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 also want to get a nice 80s TV that can sit on the side showing clips and videos from 1980 - 1985.
Each machine will need...
3) Fixing / refurbishing (Probably power caps etc)
For the last RetroChallenge I setup a PC to do my software imaging using a Kryoflux. I have since sorted the machine and it now has all the software I need to image disks.
I have a large amount of software that needs imaging, I'll start with some of the BBC titles and then continue with the Archimedes software.
Pimped Out Master
I currently have a BBC Master on my desk but I'd like to fully pimp the machine out.
I've also looked at doing a custom black paint job on the machine (I have special Vinyl paints so may give that a go).
So there are my goals, we'll see if I can actually accomplish any of them next month :)
Plain Text Gateway
As the dial up part of the system is separate from the main BBS I'm going to look into creating a plain text (ASCII) gateway that removes the ViewData codes and provides a generic interface for standard machines to connect to.
ViewData connects at 1200/75, the system needs to be able to take other speeds including modern modems.
Most of the ViewData characters are compatible with ASCII although there are other mapping that will need to be done to correct certain characters.
There are a whole set of graphics characters that are used to create ViewData graphics, these are basically just standard characters that have been escaped.
ViewData uses escape codes to change colour, change to graphics mode and various other effects such as flashing text. This will need to be removed from the ASCII stream.
Unlike most ASCII BBSs the ViewData screen is a set size and doesn't scroll. Therefore any page will need to ensure that the ASCII screen is cleared before sending any page to the client.
Keyboard entry on the incoming system needs to be mapped to the correct character. Also there are several shortcut keys on most ViewData terminals, these provide navigation such as # *0# etc
The client will need to enter the keyboard commands in full or map a function key to send the correct string to the server.
Basic functionality should work as most pages use the numeric keys and the hash (pound in the US) to move to the next screen.
Once the basic functions are there I may look into getting more feature rich terminals working including maybe getting coloured ASCII working.
Finally got my Acorn Communicator setup and dialed the BBS...
As you can see the Communicator is pretty cool, it is a one-per-desk type system designed to be networked using Econet. It has a word processor and spreadsheet built in, can dial numbers automatically and be used as a terminal with various systems.
Managed to do a little more on the entry forms for the ViewData system.
The system now navigates from field to field and allows for cursor control and correction of entries in each box.
The user can use the cursor keys to edit the entries and move between fields. Keys such as delete also work correctly and the cursor is constrained within the field area when moving around.
Initially I've implemented a text box, today I added a new field type called password which is based on the textbox but hides the characters entered and changed them to set character.
The demo screen below shows the output from the screen where I have entered a bogus user and password and it has been extracted from the field model and displayed at the bottom in white.
This framework is to be the basis of the applications I want to create within the system. The first thing to implement will be a proper login and signup page at the start.
VOIP Setup (Again)
Reconfigured my other firewall that has VOIP built in to sit on one of my Internet facing IPs.
I have configured 4 VOIP lines each with a local rate number (not like the 1980s where it would cost you 10p a minute).
The lines are using the G711A codec which is uncompressed, this uses more bandwidth but should be able to cope with the limited frequencies used by the V23 modem.
So to dial into the system you can contact it on...
Just set your modem to V23 (1200 / 75, 7E1) and use a suitable ViewData / VideoTex terminal.
I will be setting up the other lines next week.
Prism VTX 5000
I managed to get hold of one of these units on ebay the other day, this was the piece of kit that I remember using at a friends house when I first used Prestel.
Below you can see the manual toggle switch for putting the unit online. There are also Rx and Tx modes that let you connect to other modems instead of Micronet.
Tried dialing the server, its very fussy about the line. Managed to get it to connect once but I think it needs to be connected directly to the wall rather than through a long extension lead.
New BBS Features
Added some new features to my ViewData BBS...
Created a new menu from which to select the new options that I've added to the system.
I've added some static TeleText pages that are stored as files on the server.
They are loaded in a carousel and displayed in sequence.
I can also use this for displaying saved ViewData pages or my own pages for viewing.
External ViewData BBS Access
I wanted to be able to access other ViewData BBSs from the dial up terminal. As most of the surviving ones are only available by Telnet I decided that I would create a gateway from within my BBS.
When you select the option the system creates a telnet session out to the other BBS and passes data through to your terminal.
Once you have finished on the external system and the Telnet connection is terminated the user is returned back to my menu.
Connecting to CCL4 through my BBS...
What's new? Not a lot since 1996 :)
And logging off...