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Color Computer BBS attempt
Posted: Wintermute @ Fri Aug 8, 2008 2:40 pm

From my original CoCo page (some links are likely broken atm):

Hi, welcome to my hastily assembled CoCo page. The sidebar may contain some items of interest, such as the CoCo Serial # Database, ADOS, and files used in my CoCo telnet BBS project. For a progress report on that project, continue reading.

08-26-2008: Since this is my first entry, a little background information might be in order. About a year ago, there was some discussion on the CoCo mailing list about CoCo BBSes, and I decided that I would make one available via telnet. Since I knew it could be done (there are many Apple ][ and C64 BBSes out there via telnet), the original plan was to purchase a Lantronix UDS-10 to emulate a modem, learn OS/9, and set up RiBBS.
Then my wife and I bought a house and moved, and the CoCo was mothballed yet again.

Fastforward to just a week or two ago. I found myself with some spare time on my hands and decided to resurrect the project. Only I’ve since discovered a program for Windows that does basically the same thing as the Lantronix hardware and is used by some in the Commodore community. The Commodore BBS Server webpage has a link to the program, but I’ve included it in the sidebar as well.

A little testing of the software with some PC-based BBS software and a null-modem cable going between the PCs com ports verified that this software was a viable alternative to the Lantronix, with the bonus of being free. Time for the real fun to begin…

At this point, I set my CoCo3 back up, only to discover that three of my four 5 1/4″ floppy drives are bad. Thanks to the guys on the mailing list for the many pointers on how to ressurect the drives, but that’s not really that important at the moment. My goal at this point is to get a CoCo-based BBS available via telnet, since it doesn’t appear to have been done yet.

Since the BBS Server software supports Hayes modem emulation and outgoing telnet, I decided to build a null-modem cable between the PC and CoCo, fired up Ultimaterm, and typed ATDT followed by the IP address of my web server, and I successfully logged into a Linux box via telnet from my CoCo3.
How awesome is that?!

Since my goal over the last year has gone from “Set up RiBBS under OS/9 and make it available via telnet” to “Set up the first ever (to my knowledge) telnettable CoCo BBS,” I headed over to the software page for the BBS Documentary to see what is available for DECB (since OS/9 would pose an additional learning curve). Unfortunately, only two packages are available. All Ram, by Allen Huffman, is a basic cassette-based BBS program for the CoCo which requires a 3rd-party terminal driver. CoBBS is a package by Richard Duncan which was featured in The Rainbow at some point, so there is bound to be some useful knowledge still floating around out there should I run into difficulty. The decision is more or less made by default.

The next step is to set CoBBS up on my CoCo3, at which point I discovered that it wouldn’t run on my 3. A little testing under an emulator verifies incompatibility between CoBBS and the CoCo3. A timely message to the CoCo mailing list confirms this incompatibility, andi through some creative Internet searching and combing through a ton of acquired CoCo floppies, I discover that the Nov ’88 issue of Rainbow contains patches for CoBBS to get it to run on a CoCo3. A replacement for COBBS.SYS and USER.SYS are on Rainbow-on-Disk for that month, and aside from that, I need to add three lines (containing POKEs) and modify another line from STARTUP.BAS.
Since CoBBS is freeware, these modifications will be included in the CoBBS.DSK image that I eventually make available in the sidebar.

With those modifications made, I run STARTUP.BAS and… partial success… It asks me for the date, day of week, time, and which verion of DECB I’m running. It puts the clock in the upper-right corner of the screen. Then… Nothing except the clock counting up in the corner of the screen… I suspect that I actually have to configure the thing before it’ll run 😉
I’m studying the source to see if I can figure out exactly how to do that 🙂

In the meantime, I discover REMOTE2.BIN, a terminal driver for the bit-banger port, on one of the floppies that was acquired. Because it might be kinda cool to have a cassette-based BBS on the Internet, I decide to give it a go. But I don’t feel like waiting on the cassette drive while I’m testing things, so I patch ALLRAM to use the floppy drive (simply by changing all #-1’s to #1’s in both ALLRAM.BAS and EDITOR.BAS) until I’m finished. I fire up REMOTE2.BIN, run EDITOR.BAS to create the neccessary files, and run ALLRAM.BAS. While I’m able to successfully connect via telnet, the connection dies in under two minutes and requires a reset of the CoCo. Not exactly a success. But Allen had mentioned using a different terminal driver, so if I find it, I’ll try it out and see if I have better success. I’ll eventually undo my patches so that ALLRAM uses the cassette drive again, and make an ALLRAM.DSK image available on the sidebar as well.

Sorry for such a long entry. It simply never occurred to me to document the process as I went, and since I’m in a bit of a lull, I thought it might be a good time to document. Future entries should be shorter, as they will (hopefully) be done as I go. If anyone has any pointers to get me unstuck (either software package), feel free to email me at rodDOTbarnhartATgmailDOTcom. wintermuteATnitemarecafeDOTcom works as well 🙂

PS – Please excuse the typos. I’m fixing them as I find ’em 🙂

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