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.
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:
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:
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…
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.
Great article, thank you for writing up your experiences. Have you had any success running a bbs with the wimodem?
Unfortunately no. I did try it briefly when I was trying to get TCPser up and running but the Wimodem simply doesn’t “know” how to detect a telnet “ring”.
In Contiki browser hit up TheOldNet.com!