A UK Dial Up BBS Is Born

A frustrating few days on the Retrochallenge front.  Still no luck in reviving the FDD in the Epson PX-16.  I found some isopropyl alcohol and gave the heads a thoroughly good clean but still no joy.  I ordered the parts I need to build a cable for the RS232 port but they haven’t arrived yet.

I then moved on to try and build a cable that would work with the modem that came installed in the PX-16.  The modem has an RJ45 socket, all the modems that I have owned in the past have come with an RJ11 socket and despite my best attempts I was unable to make a cable for it that would work.  After a considerable amount of time, cable twisting and no dialtone messages I gave up and moved onto something else I’d been meaning to do.

One thing that has struck me since becoming involved in retro computing is that whilst there’s plenty of hardware still out there to enjoy I really miss the more transient elements.  As an example one of my fondest memories of my early computing experiences was using an acoustic coupler and a teletype and connecting for the first time to a remote machine.

Moving forward to the BBS scene and the excitement of dialing machines all over the world, (what my parents made of the phone bill I don’t know) it’s these such experiences that I really miss.  There are of course plenty of BBS’s out there which you can connect to via the Internet but that doesn’t cut it for me from a retro viewpoint, nor are they of any use when it comes to most of my retro hardware.  There are also some dial up systems out there but none that I can find within the UK.

I therefore decided I should try and set up a dial up BBS, if for no other reason than for testing and hopefully connecting some of my retro hardware.  Initially I toyed with the idea of using a Mac Mini G4 that I have in storage, it has a built in modem and the ability to run OS 9.  However I found it quite difficult to find suitable software and therefore turned to my Windows 98 system.  I dug out a Diamond Supra Express PCI modem and installed it and went on the hunt for some BBS software.

I settled pretty quickly on the excellent Synchronet for which the author has also written dial up support. I installed it, connected the modem to a spare phone line that I have at work and after some tinkering had it up and running.  I used my MacMini G4 to connect via another line with Zterm and it all worked very well.  I now need to spend some time configuring things properly and see no reason why I can’t leave this thing running for others to use.

The phone number for now is 01582 600882 (+44 1582 600882) if you want to try it, there’s very little there at the moment but I hope to get some stuff added over the next few days.  The ultimate goal would be to get the BBS running 24/7 on some retro hardware.

I might be fortunate enough to acquire an acoustic coupler for the Epson PX-8 before the end of the month, I already have a suitable retro phone that will fit the cups, so hopefully I might be able to connect the PX-8, now that would be a challenge!

25 thoughts on “A UK Dial Up BBS Is Born

  1. Hi there… I was wondering if you could help me.

    I’m trying to get connected to your BBS via Dialup.

    I have a C64 and a Model 1670 Modem. Will this modem work OK as it seems to be geared towards Q-Link?
    Or… will I need to get a C64 Commodore communications Modem (I think you have this one)?

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    Thanks 🙂


  2. I believe that the 1670 is Hayes compatible and capable of 1200 baud so it should be able to connect.

    What terminal software and settings are you using?


  3. Hey there… thats the thing… what software do I use? lol… sorry for being clueless
    My Modem has q-Link software but it seems to be geared towards that service



    1. Thanks so much… I didn’t even know that existed 🙂 I’ve loaded the software but my modem doesn’t seem to be on the list (maybe it’s there but I’m not seeing it lol) … So I’ve emailed them to see if there’s a way to do it 🙂


  4. HI aliennerd.. So.. It seems my 1670 modem wouldn’t work for me… it would never get a Carrier tone?
    So… I got me a Commodore Communications Modem…. I’m not having much luck… this one pulse dials but can’t seem to open the line? If I lift another extension I can hear it pulse dialing but it never seems to be able to open the line itself or connect. Can it be changed to Tone dialing? (I’m with BT and pulse dialing works normally)
    Maybe its my phone line?… but When a phone is plugged in to the same extension it works (calls out / and rings).

    Is there anything you think I could could check?

    Thanks for your help 🙂


  5. Hi, I have the exact same problem with my Commodore Communications Modem. As you say it pulse dials but the line doesn’t pick it up. I can’t really explain it as I have a phone which is older than the modem and it pulse dials and works fine.

    I don’t know how else to help other than suggest you ask over at the Lemon64 forums if anyone is successfully using a modem with their 64 and if so what model they are using.

    Sorry I can’t be of further help.


  6. Ah – it really is quite handy that you still have this running. I may use it infrequently, but when i do, its good to know it is still there. Anyway – today i was using the Kaypro II with an Apple 1200 modem. Worked well.
    Keep it up – literally!


    1. I always intended to leave it running happily in the corner, I’m glad you’re still logging in occasionally, I get a steady stream of visitors. I like the idea that you used a Kaypro II! I’ve certainly had a pretty eclectic mix of hardware dialling in.
      It should be up for the forseeable future.


      1. At chance of fidonet or larger telnet access in the future?
        When you first put this up, I was sure it had access out of the bbs, am I thinking of somewhere else?
        It was kinda Hecnet when you first put it up wasn’t it?


  7. Hi apart from the UK landline number to dial in using a c64 and modem with Striketerm.
    Can you provide the ip address so i can telnet in to your bbs using Striketerm and my turbo232 cart connected to a winxp laptop using bbs telnet server 🙂
    Cheers 🙂 Back2skooldaze’s!!!!!!


  8. Hi Retrcosm,Charles 🙂 I have been trying all evening with connecting to your bbs site using an Atari XL connected to an Atari 850 interface then to my pc pace mobi144 fax modem which i used to use on the pc back in the 90’s.
    On the Atari i’m using Bobterm 1.22 and with full duplex,Translation and parity is Ascii,Baud rate 1200.I then go to dial your number which then i hear the modem dialing and picking up the line i then get a connected 14400 on the screen and then thats it??? I don’t get anything else like Ascii graphics of some sort? I’ve tried a couple of other term programs and they all do the same? Connect 14400 ?? strange because the modem light is on no flashing or noise and i would presume data should be coming in from your bbs site? Is your site online or down at the moment?
    I see someone earlier having the same problem with his commodore64 and dialup? I am going to get my c64 set up and try telnetting first then trying to dial in with a modem? I am in the process of setting a lantronix UDS-10 up so i can telnet directly from the atari or c64 or amiga without having to go through a pc.
    Striketerm on the c64 and a turbo232/null modem cable and a winxp laptop with Telnet BBSserver is fantastic but i only have success with setting my baud rate on the pc and c64 to 2400 which is fast enough 🙂
    I really want to connect to your dial up bbs site with the atari xl setup but after connecting everything comes to a stand still as though i am waiting for data to come from your bbs site to my modem as there is no lights flashing???? my line must be good otherwise it would not connect?
    Please get back to me on this i have sent you numerous emails LOL sorry! just being keen to get online 🙂


  9. Hi Retrocosm,I still need the ip address so i can enter it in striketerm2014 and i need the port number?
    Cheers Andrew 🙂


  10. Hi Retrocosm,I’ve tried getting the ip address from the website but for some reason i can’t get it on my windows7 so it would be easier if you replied here with it.I don’t mean an ip as in i mean like when typing cottonwoodbbs.dyndns.org:23 like that 🙂


  11. Hi, I managed to connect to Nostromo using Atari 800XL, Atari 1030(300baud)modem and Atari 1050 disk drive with 1030 Express! program. Make sure that you connect modem into phone socket on DSL filter. My Atari modem is using RJ11 ended cable so first I connected it to socket for router on DSL filter and it was not working. I had to use BT to RJ11 adaptor.


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