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!