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Old 10th Oct 2019, 2:19 pm   #1
Dave Moll
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Default Dial-up bulletin boards

Does anyone know of any old-fashioned dial-up bulletin boards still being run, either from UK telephone numbers or accessible via CNet? Google has found reference to a small number in USA, but these could be quite expensive to use from the UK.

I am not particularly interested in their actual content, but am looking for a quick and easy way of testing old modems, such as a GPO Modem 13A that I have recently acquired.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 8:37 pm   #2
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

Googling 'dial up Internet UK' brings up a couple of providers on 0844 numbers which might be cheaper than calling the USA. I haven't tried them though.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 9:20 pm   #3
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

Thanks for that, but perhaps I should have been more explicit. What I am looking for isn't internet access, but text-based boards - preferrably accessible from modems running at 300 and/or 1200 bps. If anyone is operating these, it is likely to be on a legacy hobby basis.

Ironically, it appears that I can access American numbers cheaper (9p a minute via 1pmobile) than I can 0844 numbers in the UK, so I might have a go at some of the numbers I've found.
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 4:49 am   #4
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

The Fidonet Nodelist was always a good place to start, but looking at it now none of the Fidonet nodes in the UK have a listed phone number.

Code:
Region,25,United_Kingdom_&_Ireland,United_Kingdom_&_Ireland,Vince_Coen,-Unpublished-,300,XA,CM,IBN,IFT,INA:applewoodbbs.linkpc.net,INA:81.174.171.9,U,REC
;
Host,250,British_Net,United_Kingdom_&_Ireland,Vince_Coen,-Unpublished-,300,CM,XA,IBN,IFT,INA:applewood.linkpc.net,INA:81.174.171.9
,1,Air_Applewood,Hatfield_Hertfordshire,Vince_Coen,-Unpublished-,300,XA,CM,IUC,IFC,IFT,ITN,IBN,INA:applewoodbbs.linkpc.net,INA:81.174.171.9,U,SDS,REC,ENC
,2,The_Killing_Ground,Wrexham,Neil_Williams,-Unpublished-,300,MO,XX,IUC,IBN,INA:bbs.zeusdev.co.uk
,4,Unicyber_BBS,Hitchin_Hertfordshire,Gonzalo_Ordas,-Unpublished-,300,XX,CM,IBN,ITN,IVM,INA:bbs.unicyber.co.uk
,5,The_Quantum_Wormhole,Ramsgate_Kent,Christian_Sacks,-Unpublished-,300,XX,CM,IBN,INA:bbs.erb.pw
,6,Winchester_BBS,Winchester,Charlie_Camilleri,-Unpublished-,300,XX,CM,ITN:6666,IFT:6621,IBN,INA:cvdcamilleri.dns05.com
,8,Sonic_BBS,Beverley_E.Yorkshire,Louis_Northmore,-Unpublished-,300,XX,CM,IBN,INA:sonicbbs.ddns.net
,10,Air_Applewood-Parallel-Backup,Hatfield_Hertfordshire,Vince_Coen,-Unpublished-,300,XA,CM,IUC,IFC,IFT,ITN,IBN,INA:applewoodbbs.linkpc.net,INA:81.174.171.9,U,SDS,REC,ENC
,25,pavelreich.org,London,Pavel_Reich,-Unpublished-,300,CM,IBN,INA:fido.pavelreich.org
;
Host,263,Ireland_Net,Hatfield_Hertfordshire_UK,Vince_Coen,-Unpublished-,300,XA,IBN,ICM,IFT,INA:applewood.linkpc.net,INA:81.174.171.9
,1,TCOB1,Connemara_EIRE,Sean_Rima,-Unpublished-,300,CM,XX,IBN,INA:bbbs.mooo.com
There's not much out there now. My own board shut down at the end of 1995 - new wife, new house, second year graduate; something had to give and the BBS was it.
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 9:00 am   #5
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

Would dialling up a fax machine from a PC, with fax software installed, connected to the modem via a serial port achieve what you want?

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Old 12th Oct 2019, 9:30 am   #6
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

I test modems by connecting them to another known-good modem via a telephone line simulator.

For the known-good modem I like the old Miracle WS2000 for 300 and 1200/75 baud use. It can do just about anythingthe AM7910 chip is capable of, set by a rotary swtich on the panel.

For the line simulator there are basically 3 options :

1) Make one, there are circuits on the web and in books with various features

2) Buy a simple one, I am sure they are still listed on Ebay

When I was looking into this about 7 years ago those 2 options would have cost about the same, the advantage of (1) is you have documentation and can repair it, the advantage of (2) is you don't have to make it.

And then there's

3) Buy a high-end telephone line simulator which will generate the right dial and ring tones, ring timing, let you degrade the signal to similate a faulty line and so on. These can be very expensive even second-hand...

I was lucky, I found a non-working line simulator for about the same cost as making a simple one. It's a fearsome unit, a few hundred ICs inside (including 6 microprocessors one of which is a DSP) over 10 circuit boards. Fortunately I found the faulty LM311 comparators and the voltage regulator that supplies them quite quickly and it now works fine...
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 9:47 am   #7
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

For telephone line simulators we use several Tele-Products "Testel 100E" units at work - unfortunately not made for some years now but worth looking out for second hand.

Would a PBX not also work well enough for this purpose, with the two modems both on 'Internal' lines?
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 9:49 am   #8
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

Line simulator is not a problem. I simply connect the two modems to different extensions of my house PABX.

I had considered the idea of setting up two computers with serial ports connected to two modems as a backup option.

As to a known-good modem, I probably have one somewhere, including 300 bps (which is my immediate requirement). Many years ago I had a Pace modem for use with my BBC Micro that did 300 and 1200/75 - which I sold before I got into vintage computing and have several times regretted since.

edit: cross-posted with Sirius
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 1:40 pm   #9
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

I used to run my own small bulletin board back in the day using my Sinclair Spectrum linked to a Prism VTX5000 if I remember rightly.
Ive still got all the kit being an avid Spectrum user to this day.
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Old 16th Oct 2019, 10:45 am   #10
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
For the known-good modem I like the old Miracle WS2000 for 300 and 1200/75 baud use. It can do just about anythingthe AM7910 chip is capable of, set by a rotary swtich on the panel.
As it happens, I found one for sale online, and it arrived this morning, so I now need to hook that up to one computer and PABX extension, while connecting the modem to test to another computer and extension, to get them to talk to each other. There doesn't, however, appear to be a way to set the WS2000 to auto-answer, so I assume it will be a matter of dashing between extensions to set up the communication manually.
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Old 16th Oct 2019, 3:55 pm   #11
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

On the WS2000, autoanswer (and autodial) were optional plug-in boards. I have neither in my WS2000, so I can't give any more details.

There was another option to allow control from a BBC Micro's user port (the 20 pin header on the back). This was 3 ICs to plug into the modem board (and links to cut). The ICs, I am told, came with the numbers sanded off and blobs of coloured paint on them with instructions like 'put the green dot IC in socket IC7'. That option wasn't in mine either but I trivially worked out how to do it (before I was told that having an official kit wouldn't help much).

The other thing is that the mode switch has a pin that prevents you selecting the US Bell modes (which can cause problems on the UK network). If you remove the knob (the largest knob on the panel) and the nut and washer under it, it is trivial to remove said pin. I did this to mine as I only ever use it on the line simulator and often need to test US modems.

I can send you a reverse-engineered circuit of the basic WS2000 (without autodial and autoanswer as I don't have said boards to draw out) if you want it.
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Old 16th Oct 2019, 7:05 pm   #12
Dave Moll
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
On the WS2000, autoanswer (and autodial) were optional plug-in boards. I have neither in my WS2000, so I can't give any more details.
That is pretty much the answer I expected. I probably need the exercise from dashing between the two modems (probably an upstairs-downstairs job!) anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
The other thing is that the mode switch has a pin that prevents you selecting the US Bell modes (which can cause problems on the UK network). If you remove the knob (the largest knob on the panel) and the nut and washer under it, it is trivial to remove said pin.
It looks like the previous owner has already done this as I am able to select the Bell 103 and 202 modes as well as the CCITT V21 and V23 ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
I can send you a reverse-engineered circuit of the basic WS2000 (without autodial and autoanswer as I don't have said boards to draw out) if you want it.
If you have already produced one, then yes please.
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Old 16th Oct 2019, 9:31 pm   #13
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

One thing to remember in the context of classic dialup-BBS is that in the mid-to-late-90s the phone-companies switched their infrastructure to one where they digitized your legacy voice-calls at the nearest-to-the-user point.

Also, because the Internet-world caught them unawares - with the demand for 'second line' phones [so you coult talk and surf at the same time] the likes of BT rolled-out kludges like "DACS" [which was a sort-of hybrid pseudo-audio-piggybacked-on-ISDN2+] to handle this.

Proper ISPs were provisioned with head-end dialup infrastructure that didn't bother to convert the digitized-streams from their customers back to audio before reconverting it to digital in their modems - instead they got 'unstructured' incoming feeds and fed them into what were known back them as "Not-modems" - all part of delivering "56K" downloads.

This evolving telco infrastructure was a real pain for legacy customers who used faxes! - and didn't generally play well with the smaller BBS-operators either - they were reluctant to spend significant money buying infrastructure and points-of-presence for theirt customers [who were generally not prepared to pay for their services either].

I'd guess that these days all the telcos digitize their legacy voice-traffic as close to their customer-end infrastructure as possible.

Which could cause issues with anyone trying to use old-style 300/600/1200/2499 modems.

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Old 17th Oct 2019, 7:53 am   #14
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

Another issue has occurred to me if I were to try accessing the US bulletin boards whose numbers I found on the net, and that is that (being American) they presumably use the Bell protocols rather than CCITT. Although my WS2000 modem supports these, they are said to cause problems within the UK telephone network.

Perhaps I would be best sticking to communication between computers connected to my own PABX.
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 4:01 pm   #15
mike_newcomb
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

Hi,
this website can help finding alternative regular/standard numbers to 0844 etc.

https://www.saynoto0870.com/

Also, if your ISP is Talktalk, their International Boost is a excellent buy.
7.50 a month for 1000 minutes to landlines and mobiles in over 50 Countries.

Regards - Mike
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Old 23rd Oct 2019, 12:40 pm   #16
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

I always test my 1200 and 300 baud modems by using a SIP line, I use Sipgate https://www.sipgateteam.co.uk, (no connection) (no pun intended) with a local number as its free. I know that VOIP/SIP isn't ideal for modems but I have found it to work quite well at these low speeds.

I am in the process of adding dial up (1200/75 only) to the Telstar videotex service (https://glasstty.com/wiki/index.php/...ideotex_System but it has stalled due to family commitments, one day...
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Old 23rd Oct 2019, 4:25 pm   #17
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Default Re: Dial-up bulletin boards

If the above were to become unstalled, I would be interested in its progress.
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