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Putting an Apple IIgs BBS on the internet



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In this presentation from OzKFest 2015, I contemplate various methods to connect an Apple II host running a BBS to the internet for others to 'call' without the need for a modem.
I describe the Lantronix UDS100 serial server device and how I configured it to connect a physical Apple IIgs to the internet and show how to connect to it from an emulated Apple IIgs.

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Putting an Apple IIgs BBS on the internet

  1. 1. Putting an Apple IIgs BBS on the Internet (I break things so you don’t have to) Andrew Roughan Melbourne, Australia OzKFest 2015
  2. 2. Why? At the last OzKFest I demonstrated Sean Craig’s The Complex BBS host system and explained all the fun some of us had been having online in the late 80s and early 90s. There was some interest in the audience for trying it out, but nobody really wants to use a modem any more. An internet connected host avoids the modem.
  3. 3. How? There were two ways forward that I saw: 1) Re-write the game to have an ethernet driver 2) Connect the serial port to ethernet
  4. 4. How 2? There are a few methods of connecting a serial host to the internet. 1)Using a Serial Port server device to bridge serial to ethernet. 2)Port redirection on a computer that also has ethernet.
  5. 5. Serial Port Server Allows serial devices to connect and communicate over Ethernet networks using the IP protocol family Could be used to tunnel serial signals May support several serial port types: RS-232, RS-422/485 One or more serial ports An Internet user can connect to the serial port using Telnet to a dedicated IP address and port number.
  6. 6. Serial Port Server options I found reference in Comp.Sys.Apple2 for a couple of options that others had tried. •Moxa Technologies NPort Server •Lantronix UDS 10/100/xxxx device server •Ominously, both had cries for help with the cabling and don’t seem to be used for Apple II BBS systems any more.
  7. 7. Lantronix UDS100 I bought a UDS100 device which has one serial port. Needs a modem cable (not null-modem) Pro Has a disconnect option that recognises a closed Telnet session and drops DCD so host can reset itself. Issues modem responses (OK, CONNET 9600, NO CARRIER) Cons Must be configured through a connection to the device (serial, telnet, web server) Has configuration options that are set in binary.
  8. 8. Moxa NPort Server I bought a DE-302 device that supports two serial ports. Needs a null modem cable Pro LCD screen and buttons on the device allow direct configuration of the unit. Con The manual devotes many pages to the Windows configuration program and not enough to the actual configuration settings. A closed telnet session may not trigger host reset.* No Modem-like responses.* *I will be happy to be proven wrong. Please help!
  9. 9. BBS Host setup The Complex host system was written in a way that relies on modem responses. The Lantronix UDS100 is well suited for this. Cable connections (mini-din 8 to db25) are: 1 Hsko – 5 CTS 4 GND – 7 GND 7 GPi – 8 DCD 2 Hski – 4 RTS 5 Rx – 2 Tx 8 Rx+ – no 3 Tx – 3 Rx 6 Tx+ – 7 GND connection
  10. 10. BBS Host setup – UDS 100 Channel Settings: Baudrate - 9600 I/F Mode - 4C (RS-232C, 8-bit, no parity, 1 stop bit) Flow - 02 (RTS/CTS) Port Number - 6502 Connect Mode - D6 (full verbose with echo) Remote IP Address - Leave as 0's Remote Port - Leave as 0 DisConnMode - 80 FlushMode - F7 DisConnTime - 00:00 (disabled) – or perhaps 5:00 SendChar 1 - 0 SendChar 2 - 0
  11. 11. BBS Host setup – Modem Router 1 Add service
  12. 12. BBS Host setup – Modem Router 2 Add Firewall route / NAT
  13. 13. Server needs a Client The host supports a graphic display. How to connect to the host to display the graphics? Spectrum communications software •Serial and Telnet connections •Online Displays: ANSI, ProTerm Special Emulation (PTSE), VT100, The Complex Dedicated Client software for IIgs, Mac, PC Is there an Emulator that supports a modem? Can it connect over TCP/IP?
  14. 14. GSport modem emulation 1 When client software sends ATDT to the modem port, GSport tries to establish a network connection to a domain or an IP address e.g. ATDT75.145.20.97 By default this is a Telnet connection to port 23 GSport versions 0.32c and above now support the provision of a port number to connect to e.g.,9999 ATDT192.168.1.21,6502
  15. 15. GSport modem emulation 2 GSport configuration (F4 key) Serial port configuration Configuration for the modem port
  16. 16. GSport modem emulation 3 When a connection is established GSport sends a connect message to the host to advise what connection speed has been established e.g. ‘CONNECT 9600’ Currently, the 9600 is hardcoded and could mislead clients and hosts if the rate is set differently. A feature request has been created to have the speed reflect the client port setting.
  17. 17. GSport Client Software Start with the GSport Internet Starter Kit image Install Spectrum Install The Complex Online Display driver Spectrum/Add.Ons/OnlineDisplays Start Spectrum and setup a new phone book entry that uses “The Complex” display Beware: Spectrum dislikes domain names within the number. Ewen is already on the case!
  18. 18. Does it work? Demo time
  19. 19. Other Resources NO-IP.COM points a hostname to your dynamic IP address HOWTO Lantronix & C64 extensive configuration walkthrough HOWTO KEGS & TCPSER4J run telecom programs and BBS's within KEGS emulator BoycoT BBS Setup Serial port to ethernet gateway for Windows Internet Modem Telnet to modem emulator for Windows (Visual Basic source code is available) HOWTO METAL BBS with Moxa including cable pinouts Surf the web at 300 baud Using an acoustic coupler from 1964 Mac plus web browsing via Rasberry Pi proxy (who wants to do this for the Apple IIgs?)
  20. 20. IIgs BBS on the Internet Thank you! Terry Olsen –for inspiration (BoycoT BBS SYSOP) Nick Westgate – GSport connection to a port other than 23 Ewen Wannop – Spectrum Online Display help Peter Neubauer – GSport GSBug help Geoff Body – GSport TWGS help to support Pixie CDA Kali Lawrie – for allowing me to play for so long Questions?

Editor's Notes

  • Sean did release the source code to The Complex III, so adding an ethernet driver could be possible.
    But I wanted the easy(?) option.
  • I didn’t want to use another computer, so I had a look at Serial Port servers.
  • Perhaps I can run two host systems?
  • The Complex III host looks for ‘RING’ and then sends an ‘ATA’ to answer the phone and then looks for ‘CONNECT <speed>’ to confirm a connection.
    I am using my old high speed modem cable to connect to the UDS100 from the Apple IIgs serial port.
  • Refer to the “HOWTO Lantronix & C64” resource for a detailed explanation of settings.
  • GSPort is an Apple IIgs emulator
    It can be downloaded from here:
    Unfortunately, BoycoT BBS is no longer active due to lack of interest.The SYSOP, Terry Olsen, received a lot of one time users when he promoted it, but very few repeat calls.
  • Gsport Internet Starter Kit image can be downloaded from:
    Spectrum can be downloaded from:
    The Complex Online Display can be obtained from the archive
  • Unfortunately, at the time of the presentation I had not had success in running client software for The Complex within GSport. Investigation continues and may require improvements to the GSport emulator and/or patches to the client software.
    The demonstration consisted of
    Showing the Lantronix configuration options
    Showing how the Lantronix responded to modem commands
    Connecting GSport running Spectrum to a real Iigs via the Lantronix device also running Spectrum
  • If you have a dynamic IP address assigned by your ISP, then you will appreciate a service such as NO-IP.COM which allows you to give out a static domain name for others to use instead of an IP address that will change over time.
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