The secret formula to getting Supra 128 online

Chestnuts roasting on an… no, wait. That’s the power meter whirling. BEHOLD: The Fone Company: After Dark. All of the lights that make up the stuff TFC runs on. In this photo, anti-clockwise from top left green light: Zip 100 drive, 158I, LtK, 157I, 157I reflection in my other phone, C=128, SD Card reader (blue light), NUM lock on Windows keyboard, uEIC/SD card reader and way off in the top right $15 Windows monitor from Goodwill.

I will admit I dove into the Telnet BBS scene head-first anxiously wanting to get a BBS back up. But I didn’t thoroughly investigate everything I needed. There is a previous post on that so I won’t repeat it. What this post is about is the connectors between the PC and the Commodore.

As it turns out the cables I had purchased and had made just did not work. The home made cables that were direct 9-pin serial-to-userport never worked. There were always framing issues. Even the null modem DB-9 to DB-25 connected to the VIC-1011a didn’t work. I also wanted to use 80 columns so I got a GGLABS GLINK-LT Commodore 64/128 User Port RS232 VIC-1011 clone with UP9600 mods to replace the VIC-1011a:

Not mine; photo from eBay. I don’t want to disturb the balance.

 

I then – again – bought the wrong damn cable assuming the GLINK gender. Being 2019 you should never assume gender.

So, after buying the wrong cable I finally got the right one. This is it. Buy the GLINK and then buy this:

Female-to-female. Insert lesbian joke here.

Now that we have all of the right parts it’s time to configure BBS server the right way.

Please note that the following settings WILL NOT WORK on ANY current distribution of Supra 128 as of the date this was published (March 5, 2019). Version 4.6.5n will correct this issue or you can figure out how to do it yourself by editing the right stuff in -boot and -main.

The first thing to do on your Windows XP box is go to Control Panel > System.

With great power comes… ah, if you’re reading this you know it by heart. And have also said it yourself.

Click the Hardware tab and then click Device Manager.

Oooh, lots of ways easily break things!

Expand Ports (COM & LPT) and then double-click Communications Port (COM1)

Click Port Settings at the top and make sure it looks like this:

This is important.

My biggest issue was with Flow Control. I couldn’t remember if it was set in the hardware configuration or not. That’s half the battle.

Next, fire up Telnet BBS Server and click Advanced under the IP address and whatnot.

If you are using the exact hardware and settings described above make sure these are your settings:

  • 2400,N,8,1
  • Null Modem Cable
  • Enable Hardware Flow Control
  • ATE1 (Local Echo)

Under connecting:

Since Hardware Flow Control is enabled RTS (Ready to Send) will automatically be raised.

  • Raise DTR (Data Terminal Ready) when caller connects
  • Wait for BBS to send ATA before completing connection
  • Send “RING” to BBS when Telnet caller connects

This and what we configured under Comms are important because it is how Supra tells if there is a caller and if the line is clear.

peek(56577) is the register for detecting caller presence. A value of 127 means the line is clear and a value of 255 means the caller is connected.

You will also notice that we do not ask the caller for ASCII/PETSCII. This is because Supra does this itself.

Breaking up is hard to do. So use these settings.

When disconnecting Supra and Telnet BBS Server don’t do such a good job out of the box so we need to give it a helping hand here.

Supra disconnects by sending +++, sleep 3, then ath0 so we need that checked.

To eliminate any problems/hangs with disconnections to ahead and check everything except the RS-232 break because, as we have found, RS-232 breaks occur frequently (framing error).

At the bottom we need to tell it to disconnect if it detects any of this stuff and to keep the line “off hook” for 10 seconds to do clean-up and maintenance. Otherwise, as we have found, if you don’t then if someone calls before the waiting for call screen is rendered they can piggyback on the previous caller’s session. Yep, that sounds like a security issue.

 

It is entirely up to you what you want to do on this screen.

Let’s all pretend we’re a modem! Beep, boop, BRACKALACKALACK, eeee-oooo, sssh-shhh-shhh-shhh de-wongeeeee sssshpt!

Under emulation it is entirely up to you if you wish to make outgoing calls. Supra’s Term Plus works just fine for outgoing calls (once everything is in place) so you can easily call your favorite BBS from Supra. When you do just fire up the terminal and when dialing just enter this, like you would when dialing an old-fashioned phone number:

atdt tfcbbs.com:6400

(Add your own modem sounds here. While writing this I am imagining what dialing 832-227-6400 would sound like. And if you’re wondering, that is an area code and prefix for Katy, Texas).

You also want to send the message “connect2400” when you connect to a BBS because null modem cables don’t work at much higher than that. I have Winsock error messages going to the Terminal so I can see them.

At the bottom be sure Enable Hayes Emulation because you will need it.

That is ALL! This is the run-down of what is needed to get Supra 128 4.6.5 up and running (when we release it). Please post any question/comments below and call the BBS!

2 Comments

  1. Jon Nichols on March 5, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Any possibility to post the Color64 mods you received? I would like to pick at them.

  2. sysop on March 5, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Desert-Fox and ][avok over at The Oasis BBS have the quick edits to get Color 64 online. Check out their notes on it here:

    https://theoasisbbs.com/forums/topic/running-color-64-v7-3-at-2400-baud/

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