Archive for January 2019

Set up and log on to Color 64 BBS

In this post we are going to set up Color 64 BBS, get it running and log in. We will be using Vice so if you don’t have it yet I suggest you get it and install it. Vice makes things easier on a modern machine and it makes screenshots much prettier. Plus we can image any disk image to an actual disk to use on a Commodore.

For these purposes I have transferred all of the Color 64 BBS installation files onto a 1581 .d81 image to give us lots of room for the password file and to play around. Eventually I will be moving everything to a Lt. Kernal hard drive when the site goes live and will simply copy the files from a 1581 drive to the Lt. Kernal. This may seem tangential but I feel it is best to get this out of the way up-front to address the “why”s.

Ok, let’s assume you have Vice C64 fired up and your Color 64 BBS disk in Drive 8. You should note that stuff is in different places on a Mac vs. on a Windows machine. I am developing on a Mac but will also provide Windows views.

Go to (Mac) Settings > Drive Emulation (Windows) Settings > Drive Settings > Drive Settings… and you will get a window similar to below. Make sure Drive 8 is set to the proper drive type. In this case it is 1581. Also be sure True Drive Emulation is checked or weird things can happen.

Drive options. Know what you’re doing.

load”$”,8 : list and make sure the disk is working.

Is it? Good. Load setup: load”setup”,8,1 and you will get this screen:

Loading BBS Setup. Exciting!

When it asks if your √bbs.parms disk is in Drive #8 just hit enter.

Remember you can have your √bbs.parms disk live on a completely separate disk from the BBS programs, especially if you are running from a RAM Expansion Unit!

So yeah, the first screen is a little intimidating.

But before we get into this I need to warn you to think 1985. This system is not advanced enough to know where a cursor is so you cannot move around nor tab ahead or back. Your options are the return key to go ahead and answer “n” at the bottom of the screen if you messed something up or want to go back.

Enter the values you expect to need. The important stuff is at the bottom. When asked for User bit = 32 High Speed answer “y”. Does your modem use AT commands? “n”

So many choices.

 

Drives? Everything is going on the Lt.K (for us) so no need to do anything fancy. All on 8!

A little bit here, a little bit there. If you have 2 or more hardware drives this screen is crucial to a smooth running BBS.

When it comes to Upload/Download directories it’s up to you. For your first time I suggest setting up 1. You can always add more.

Upload/Download Directories

Enter the access level where uploads do not require moderation. Since most everything that will be uploaded is now public domain you can set this as low as you want. Of course we want upload descriptions and we will most certainly have multiple directories per drive.

Set user’s time limits. Usually I give new users 20 minutes since they are restricted in what they can do. It’s up to you on how you want to structure it per-level.

Taste the power! Only 10 minutes for you, Level 2, you urchin.

If we were running a hugely popular board I would say set this up but since we are not we will give everyone 2.73 years to come back before we delete them.

Never Gonna Give You Up. Unless you don’t call back for 2.74 years.

Set up a couple of message categories at least. The number on the left is the access level required to access the category.

It’s like subreddits but with fewer memes and trolls. Well, fewer memes at least.

The menus! Fun stuff here. I do not recommend changing any menu commands unless you absolutely know what you are doing and are ready to edit every menu file.

Do this don’t do that can’t you read the… menu!

Same for screen 2. If you decide to add additional overlays or modules such as games you can add those commands here in the “Spare” slots.

You only think you will never use those spare slots.

The infamous rainbow string!

Here you can customize your color string for the site. Enter a number and then you must enter the corresponding key code on a Commodore keyboard to set the color. Black is not allowed. Your colors are:

   1   2   3     4      5     6     7     8
      WHT RED   CYN    PUR   GRN   BLU   YEL
 Orng Brn L.Red D.Gry M.Gry L.Grn L.Blu L.Gry

Your keys to select those colors are:

Top colors – Windows: TAB Key, Mac: Control Key
Bottom colors – Windows: Control Key, Mac: Option Key

When you are finished hit RETURN, go to the next screen and hit RETURN again.

This doesn’t really do anything since we don’t have a modem plugged in and we told it to ignore AT commands. It’s just one step between you and saving your stuff.

Setup will save your choices in the √bbs.parms file and will also create your √passwords file if it does not exist (it shouldn’t). You will then be asked if you want to load the BBS (hit return if you do) or if you want to go back and make some config changes or tinker with the colors some more just enter “n” and type “run” to run through setup again.

For this tutorial we are booting the BBS…

Send a nice postcard to Greg. He may appreciate it. Or find it creepy as hell.

There it is!

Since we saved the √bbs.parms file locally go ahead and hit return. Enter the current date and time. Believe it or not, Color 64 is Y2K compliant!

Hit “n” to not regenerate the message index. Enter the date in MM/DD/YY format and the time in military time. Next give it a few minutes to work and you will be brought to…

The infamous Waiting for Call screen!

Press any F-key and then F1 to log in.

Since it is your first time you can enter “2” and the password “SYSOP” (you can see and change this via F6 Password Maintenance)

We made it!! We’re signed in!

At this point you are 100% signed in and should be able to read and post (your own) messages and play around.

You have taken your first step into a larger world.

Post a message. The world’s loneliest message.

 

Just remember, DON’T BOTHER THE SYSOP! 😉

Color 64 is a Facebook/Google/Meme/Popup/Ad-Hijack-free environment. Use IDK LOL in a chat subject and lose an access level.

Dialing out: Two options for getting your Commodore online

Before we get too deep into setting up a Color 64 BBS I realize that not everyone is as hip on running a BBS as some. Some folks just want to visit boards. After all, there are no pop-up ads, no invasive tracking and Google and Facebook doesn’t have their claws in it.

There are two options:

Wired: 64NIC+ – $50 (C64 Wiki article)

Wireless: Commodore WiFi Modem by Commodore4Ever (eBay store) – $30

I have tried both and I have to say that I am very impressed and satisfied all around with both units. Also, please note that both units come without a case so you can either buy one or 3D print your own. From what I have read around the internet the cases don’t really work without some modifications.

I first received the Commodore WiFi modem. When I received it I was surprised to learn that I needed to download CCGMS 2017. I was quite surprised to learn that CCGMS was still being maintained.

Commodore WiFi Modem plugged into my C-128. Heat sink screw from the 128 from installing JiffyDOS for scale.

After downloading CCGMS on my Windows XP PC and copying it to a 3.5″ floppy disk using XU1541 and OpenCBM tools I fired it up (load”ccg*“,8,1 and “run”) and there it was.

There are a few settings you need to configure that the supplier of the WiFi modem supplies on his Facebook page. I had some trouble connecting at 9600 baud but no problems at 2400. Commodore4ever is very responsive on his Facebook messenger page and with his help I was up and running and connected to his BBS in less than 30 minutes.

The 64NIC+ look much more intimidating and comes with 4 dip switches. As mentioned on the C64 Wiki article these switches do the following:

  • S1 selects whether standard or “RR-NET” register mappings are to be used
  • S2 selects EPROM usage
  • S3 selects C128 or C64 EPROM usage
  • S4 selects IO1 or IO2 register space.

Most folks won’t need any of these unless you use a C=128 and switch between 128 and 64 mode (like me). In that case when your computer is powered down select the appropriate position for switch #3 prior to booting it.

It also has 2 LED lights: red for power and green for activity.

Lastly on the feature list, the 64NIC+ includes an onboard ROM socket on which you can load up to 16 cartridge images. According to the RETRO Innovations web site: “With the appropriate ROM, the 64NIC+ can autoboot and load your favorite games and utilities via TCP/IP, no disk drive required.” Cool. We’re not going to mess with that at this point.

The 64NIC+ also requires a bit more work to get it going. First you should really go to the RETRO Innovations page describing the unit.

That’s about the extent of the instructions they give. From here it took a bit of experimentation.

The first thing I did was plug my XU1541 into my Windows XP box and my 1571 disk drive and fired up CBM Transfer. I opened the 64NIC+ .d64 image in the left pane. In the right pane I selected “X-Cable” which read my 1571 in which I inserted a disk I was going to wipe. I hit format and named it “64nic+ 1.01” like the original .d64 image.

CBM Transfer kept having issues failing to copy the files so I fired up the command prompt and navigated to C:\Program Files\opencbm

From there you can run the command “d64copy.exe” to copy the files. My c64nic.d64 image was in my Downloads folder. Here is the command you need if the XU1541 is hooked up properly to your system:

d64copy "C:\Documents and Settings\Owner\My Documents\Downloads\c64nic.d64

d64copy will output progress as such:

And this once it is finished:

Pretty. No errors!

And for good measure I checked it in CBM Transfer:

(A note for here (mentioned later on): Go ahead now and rename the [5 spaces]netconf.prg to just “netconf.prg” and save it. I do not know why it is misnamed but it causes Contiki to break.)

Now, power off your 154/71 before unplugging it otherwise it may damage the electronics. We don’t want that.

Plug the 64NIC+ into your Commodore and be sure all of the switches are in the UP position.

Fire up your Commodore (hold down the C= key when booting if using a 128 to boot directly into 64 mode).

Now that you are booted up you can load Contiki and experience the internet in true 8-bit glory. You will see a pointer which can be used with a Commodore mouse but this isn’t necessary. Instead use keyboard navigation. Press F5 and F7 to cycle through Directory, Configuration or Processes. Enter selects. This applies to all of the programs.

One thing I noted was that “netconf.prg” was preceded by 5 spaces. This had to be fixed so I did a quick rename (JiffyDOS: @r:netconf.prg=[5 spaces]netconf.prg (If you don’t fix this you won’t be able to load the network config!)

Before launching Contiki you also need to run this:

load"setmac",8,1 and then run

This will set the MAC address of your 64NIC+.

Now launch Contiki:

load"contiki",8,1 : run

 

Once it is launched choose Configuration:

It took me some time playing around with it to get the settings correct. The IP addresses in my configuration didn’t match those on my development machine so I changed the Gateway and Router to be the same.

Let’s go into Directory:

 

Keep cycling through with F5 and F7 until you get to the 3rd page. Note: these programs are NOT executable outside of Contiki. 🙁

We know why you’re here. “Click” (hit return) on Web Browser.

Now, here is the bad news: the web browser does not work with non-https sites. If you go to an https site it will confuse the browser and try to redirect but it will fail because Contiki does not support https. Still, if you want to see what a site looks like go ahead. Here is one of the sites I am working on during my paying job:

 

Fine then. Let’s connect to a BBS.

Exit the browser (if you haven’t already) and open the Directory again. F7 through until you get to Telnet and hit return.

Connect to a BBS. I tried Oasis which looks like this:

Well that looks awful.

Ok, we did something. Yay. But I’m sure you want to connect like INXS is dominating the charts again. No problem. Reset your computer (the 64NIC+ has a reset switch, you know!)

On your Contiki disk is a program called GuruTerm. Fire it up (load@guruterm beta1 “,8,1 : run)

Say “Yes” to using DHCP. You should see something like this:

Now it’s time to dial! Let’s see what happens…

I can see you, too.

Yay! We are online!

Of course, read up on how you can connect with modern stuff here.

I know this is quite long but I hope it can save you some time getting the 64NIC+ running and getting a Commodore on the modern internet.

Where to start?

The eternal question when embarking on a new quest: where to start?

I personally wanted to resurrect one of my old BBS programs. Fearing that some of these 30 year-old disks’ protective film would soon be wearing off I set out to preserve them which was not a minor nor inexpensive task. First I needed the same disk drives I used when I ran the system, which were:

  • Commodore 1571 dual-sided drive
  • Commodore 1581 drive

Prior to my last BBS going up in flames (literally, the 1581 drive running it caught fire) it was running on what appears to be this configuration, which I have deduced from previous setup files:

  • Commodore 128
  • 1750 Ram Expansion Unit
  • Hayes 2400 baud modem
  • Commodore 1581 drive – drive #8, for system and games files
  • Commodore 1581 drive – drive #10, for transfers, public messages and text files
  • Commodore 1571 dual-sided drive – drive #9, for help files and private messages

The nice thing about 1581 drives was – at the time – pretty radical in that you could partition a disk. So we had uploads and downloads in a “xfers” folder and public messages in a “text” folder. This surprised me when I first loaded a disk with a directory.cbm:

 

Commodore Partition on a 1581 disk

But first I had to get the files from the actual media onto a PC. The 1571 5.25″ floppies were not a problem; the 1581s were.

I recalled that in 2015 I ordered a gizmo that would allow me to copy my old floppies onto any PC or Mac. It’s a little logic board with a serial connector and USB connector called a XU1541/SMD sold by a guy named Spiro.

XU1541 – for copying your actual floppy floppies

 

I’m a Mac guy so I ordered it, hooked it up to my 1581 and not a thing happened. It didn’t recognize the drive and I thought it was junk. Something else caught my attention at the time so I moved along for 3 more years. When I got interested in doing this again I fired it up to discover (drumroll, please) the XU1541 can’t copy files from a 1581 drive. You can view the contents of them but you can’t copy from it.

There is this notice on Spiro’s web site:

This project is still under development. It works with a variety of CBM disc drives (1541, 1541-II, 1570, 1571, 1581, SX-64’s internal floppy). There have been also some tests on different brands and types of PC, running on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

However, the xu1541 is currently only recommended for people who are willing to cope with glitches and will perhaps even do some testing and bug hunting. For example, you should be able to flash a new firmware on your own.

So I tried something else, ZoomFloppy. Look upon this magnificent beast (tire pressure gauge for scale):

Just look at that sumabitch. Plug it into a desktop PC and you can connect whatever you want to it via serial or CBM cable.

Now, during the time I was waiting for the ZoomFloppy to get back in stock I RTFM for the XU1541 and learned the proper way to use it.

I originally started out tinkering with some command line tools such as OpenCBM, a collection of programs that allow you to traverse directories and look around. Nice and all but not what I was looking for. I wanted to able to archive my disks quickly.

But there was a problem. Like I said, 1581 disks could not be copied using the XU1541. The utilities available indicated that only 1581 floppies could be read from a machine with a floppy drive mounted directly to the motherboard – not a USB-connected floppy drive. Also running Windows XP.

Yeah, good luck finding that dinosaur in a small city.

I went to every Goodwill and computer repair shop I could find and came up with zero. Well, Goodwill did have a Pentium 3 Dell for sale for $199. (Hell to the no.)

Luckily I found a local computer shop and a guy who wanted to make some space. So for $40 I walked away with a “new” Pentium 4 with 512MB or RAM and an 80 GB hard drive and a built-in floppy drive.

Next I had to get the files off. I found these two tools:

CBM-Transfer

DirMaster

These two apps are saviors. First, CBM-Transfer allows you to make quick images of any disk. It has a GUI so it’s easy to use. Just insert your 3.5″ disk in the drive and it reads it. Select no files and click the green arrow to copy and it creates an image. Perfection.

And check that out – it has an option for X-Cable so it recognizes when you connect a 1541 or 1571 drive.

It also has a ton of powerful features such a program viewer, sequential files viewer and a lot more. I highly recommend using it.

Second is DirMaster, another Windows-only program but it allows you to quickly open a .d64, .71 or .81 file and read the file contents. You can also drag and drop the contents between disks!

The screenshot does not do it justice. Get it and fire it up. It’s amazing.

I used DirMaster to create a 1581 disk to hold all of the Color 64 BBS files. I then simply dragged the files from the original Color 64 BBS disk over and hit save. I also added a few more programs such as “super xfer” and Basic Aid 64 (“Baid64”) which I will be using.

(Let me interrupt to apologize for not providing actual screenshots for these programs. They are on Windows XP which I have running on a modern monitor so everything is stretched too wide. I also don’t remember how to take a screenshot and transferring these images anywhere via drag-and-drop makes the machine sound like it’s going to explode. I may get back around to it but for now, sorry.)

Unfortunately my fears were realized as several of my disks were just rotten. The film had broken down the data was literally falling off of them. I managed to salvage maybe half of them.

Except for the MacBook Air this is a good idea of how my bedroom looked in the late 80’s: lots of disks spread everywhere, headphones and not a hint of a girl anywhere in sight.

I am not giving up on them. I hope to try to rip the content from them again at some point. But I am afraid of doing damage to them.

All in all the rip was a success. I managed to salvage enough to do some forensics to see exactly what I was doing at the time. What I found:

  • I experimented with a lot of crap between 1986 and 1987 such as DMBBS (Dungeon Matter BBS), The Ivory Tower, All American BBS (not bad, actually), Xavian (weird; required a hardware dongle in a joystick port) and C-Net 64. C-Net… what an absolute BEAST. Not for poors; HEAVY hardware requirements.
  • I ran Color 64 early on from 1987-1990 and was an annoying as hell teenager
  • I transitioned to Network 64 around 1990/91
  • I then transitioned to Supra 128 from mid-1991 to late 1992 when things burned

So, here are my goals for this experiment:

  • Get a stock Color 64 BBS up and running on a real Commodore 64
  • Get the Color 64 BBS connected to the internet so you can telnet into it
  • Restore my modifications (mods) to Color 64 and this time document them along the way and SHARE THEM with the community
  • Get Network 64 back up and running so we can communicate between Color 64 installations (more on this later)
  • Document, document, document EVERYTHING and share that knowledge with fellow SysOps.

In my next post I will go into installing Color 64 using VICE and cover some of the new Commodore toys available today.

How to make the “rainbow” code

It’s simple – anything you want rainbow-ed gets a span with a class of “rainbow”. For example:

<span class="rainbow">This is rainbow text.</span>

Ok, that’s not because it’s an example. But this is:

This is rainbow text.

I originally wrote the script when I was writing the Color 64 jQuery version. I repurposed it here for fun. Anyway, if you wish to use it, here it is, Choose your own colors, as many as you like, or customize the colors. I have provided the colors sampled from VICE 64.

jQuery(document).ready(function($) {
	
	window['activeColor'] = Math.floor(Math.random()*8);
	
	colors = new Array(
	// Commodore colors (from VICE 64)
// '#FFFFFF', // white
// '#BC6B4F', // red
// '#A8F3FF', // cyan
// '#C167FE', // purple
// '#95E747', // green
// '#6C48F8', // blue
// '#FEFF73', // yellow
// '#C69429', // orange
// '#8D7B00', // brown
// '#F6AC95', // lt. red
// '#818181', // d. gry
// '#B6B6B6', // m. gry
// '#D9FF9A', // lt. grn
// '#B29AFF', // l. blue
// '#E0E0E0', // l. gry
		'#C167FE',	// purple
		'#BC6B4F',	// red
		'#C69429',	// orange
		'#FEFF73',	// yellow
		'#FFFFFF',	// white
		'#A8F3FF',	// cyan
		'#B29AFF',	// lt. blue
		'#6C48F8'	// blue
	);
	
	$('.fl-logo-text').html( _c($('.fl-logo-text').html(), 'rainbow', 'html'));
	
	$('.rainbow').each(function(){
		$(this).html( _c($(this).html(), 'rainbow', 'html'));
	});
	
	function _c(string, type, ret)
	{
		if(ret == '')
		{
			ret = 'hex';
		}
		switch(type)
		{
			case 'rainbow':
				out = '';
				for(i=0;i<string.length;i++)
				{
					if(window['activeColor'] + 1 >= colors.length)
					{
						window['activeColor'] = 0;
					} else {
						window['activeColor']++;
					}

					if(ret == 'html')
					{
						out+='<span style="color:' + colors[window['activeColor']] + ';">' + string.substring(i,i+1) + '</span>';
					} else {
						out+='[[b;' + colors[window['activeColor']] + ';#000]' + string.substring(i,i+1) + ']';
					}
				}
				return out;
			break;
		}
	}
});

 

a$=”Hello, World!”:sysc(.)

Hello and welcome to Color64.com.

I registered this domain name several years ago when my interest piqued about Color64. Around that time I spent the Veterans day holiday (poorly) writing a jQuery script which mimicked Color 64. That was in 2011.

Fast-forward to 2019 and I have finally found a reason to put the domain name to good use: to track my progress in bringing a heavily-modded Color64 BBS program back to life.

I started running BBSes in the mid-80s as a high school freshman and ran The Fone Company, a Color 64 BBS from 1988 until around 1990 when I switched to Supra 128. The Supra 128 version ran until my 1581 disk drive literally caught fire and died in late 1992. I then moved on to what I thought would be a promising career in radio. That didn’t happen.

Fast-forward and now I have been doing web programming, hosting and development for 23 years. So, Color 64/Supra 128 really did put me on the path to my career choice, though I did not realize it at the time.

I did not write Color 64, I only ran a BBS though I did write a ton of mods for it and bugged the bujesus out of other SysOps. Those who deserve the accolades for Color64 are Greg Pfountz, the original author as well as Sam Lewit who wrote Network 64, a well-before-it’s time version what we consider instant messaging today. Also Julian Burger, the original author of Supra 128 and James Abraham who took over development. It is thanks to you fine gentleman that I and others like me are involved in technology today.

In 1995 Greg released Color 64 v7.37 as public domain software. Bo Zimmerman at Zimmers.net provided downloads for both Color 64 and Supra 128, which are mirrored on this site.

Recently I have been looking for Color 64 and Supra 128 resources around the web. Unfortunately they are not easy to find unless you dig through tons of threads on boards like Lemon64 and PETSCII forums. There are other resources floating around the web but no single resource.

With the interest in resurrecting old BBSes from the dead via telnet I will be documenting my own process in doing so here so that my information may help others to quickly, cheaply(?) and easily get their BBSes back online.

This site has been built (hastily) on WordPress but it does have forums, downloads and a BBS listing so if you are interested in the platform and wish to contribute please, welcome aboard!