Sunday, November 14, 2021

Using BBS with my Amiga 3000 in 2021

No carrier, ATDT, ATZ, ZModem, XModem, Kermit, Door games, FidoNet, and SysOps. Ring a bell?

For those who never got to experience Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) back in the day, they were the pre-internet method for spreading software, chatting, playing online gaming, chatting on Forums, and a lot more too.

In the late 1980's and early 1990's I was heavily using BBS via 2400 baud rate modem on my Amiga 500 and later Amiga 2000 to get new software, chat with other Amiga fans and to play some classic BBS Door games online.

In recent times there has been movement to re-build this method of using computers as part of the "Retro" revival, and so BBS have sprung up using telnet gateways, allowing us to connect to these old BBS systems using the internet.

In 2021, I got back on board with this and bought a Wimodem 232 from, which allows you to connect your Amiga via a simulated serial modem, which is actually connected via your local WiFi SSID to the internet. FYI you can also do this with a Commodore 64, which I have demonstrated at Adelaide Retro Group meetings when I ran them in the past.

Here is the WiModem 232 for the Amiga:

It has a screen on it to show the current status of the modem. It needs power via a USB power cable to function.

With the WiModem 232 device connected to the Amiga 3000's serial port with USB power supplied, it is looking for a router and it is time to configure it. 

There are plenty of instructions on how to do this online. I don't plan to repeat those here as the guides online at are good enough to get anyone online, even me. I chose to use NComm 3.0 initially for this, as it is the terminal program I am most familiar with using on the Amiga.

Running the command ATI in NComm shows the current configuration of the WiModem:

For privacy reasons I can't show the full WiModem 232 setup as it reveals a lot of my personal network setup which I don't want to disclose - sorry about that. Basically it scans for local SSID's and you issue some Hayes commands into the terminal program to select the network you want to use, and the password. This is then saved into the memory of the WiModem and it connects automatically the next time it is switched on.

Initially the modem is set to 300 baud. I chose to change it to 19200. You can use higher speeds of course, but higher speeds like 56k and 115k on the serial port does start to impact the Amiga's performance the higher you go, unless you have Zorro interface card with buffered serial interfaces. Keeping the speed reasonable allows me to listen to my favourite modules and do other tasks on the Amiga while the BBS session is running.

Some friends of mine from the Brisbane Amiga Retro Group (which I visited and did a presentation in 2019), recently decided to create their own BBS too, using Mystic BBS software running 24x7 on a hosted linux server, available via on port 23.

You could run a BBS solution on your Amiga of course, but it is a lot more work, and also means keeping your beloved Amiga running 24x7, reducing it's operating life considerably! So it is hosted for simplicity and to safeguard our Amigas!

So I quickly connected to port 23 to try it out!

As you can see, NComm is not using ANSI support, so the output is a bit rubbish.

I setup my user account on the BBS:

I got the welcome email from the SysOp and responded to become a full member of the site.

It is kind of fun to add your own one liner when you log in, a tradition in BBS land that still continues on demoscene focused today!

That done, I checked the files area:

I had read through Brisbane Amiga Retro Group's Discord page that one of the members had great success using DCTelnet on the Amiga for BBS use, which relies on having working network and internet access from your Amiga, rather than using a device like WiModem 232. 

Luckily, I do have this via my X-Surf 100 card and purchased version of Roadshow TCP software on the Amiga 3000.

Members had already put the required files on the BBS, so I could easily get what I needed on the BBS without having to go anywhere else!

Flagged for download..

Downloading files via Modem and Modem - really brings back so many fond memories.

Disconnecting, installing DCTelnet, copying the fonts to the FONTS: directory and switching from NComm to DCTelnet, I got a very different (and more normal) ANSI BBS experience on my Amiga 3000.

I configured my Address book to add port 23, and added my username and password, which I can pass into the system on connection using Amiga-N and Amiga-P shortcuts.

I then connected to the BBS. Now THIS is more like it:

My favourite Mods playing on the Amiga 3000 in the background, and BBS access all areas in 2021. Oh yeah!

With the SCSI CDROM connected, I could also enjoy Lizardking's greatest hits CD on the Amiga 3000 while using the BBS via DCTelnet. 

Moving back to DCTelnet, the BBS and into the main menu again, it is now looking a million times better than in Ncomm with full ANSI support.

Intangybles, the handle of the guy who built this new BBS, was online and we soon engaged in a great chat about all things BBS and Amiga, just like it was 1990 all over again!

I can't begin to tell you how many strong memories came from just this first night on a BBS in over 25 years!

Naturally I was keen to explore more, and Intangybles was also keen to expand the functionality of the BBS, enabling forums and network access to send messages across other networks.

I had a snoop around to see who else had been online, and if anyone was around.

Usage patterns - being a brand new BBS, of course not so many as yet, but I expect as more functionality and games are added to the BBS we should see more coming from all over the world. Hopefully I get to see some of you reading this online here soon!

Also, Door games are being added to the BBS. I personally used to play BBS Crash almost everyday, and was very keen to try it again. I located it and waited for the SysOp to work his magic to get it working.

One of the challenges with this is that most games required registration, and the original source code and authors have long ago given up on the software, which makes it hard to get registered versions to use. Some sites like are helping with this, trying to save s many BBS door games as possible for future generations to experience and enjoy.

Speaking of these games, I had a go at Blackjack, since it was already online on the BBS, ready to try out.

I admit I am pretty awful at card games like this, and so it proved! I did win occasionally, but soon ran out of virtual money to play with! This is why I never go to Casinos!

I also tried out the Stack 'Em door game available on the BBS, and had a lot of fun playing this Tetris clone!

It never ceases to amaze me how playable a text graphics based game can be on a BBS. 

I got sucked in and ended playing it for over 30 minutes!

Exploring the forums available through the BBS is fun too. I know these days we can use web forums, Discord, Facebook and other online tools too, but these kinds of local and network forums were genesis, where it all began. They are still active today too, like fsxnet:

I also got some more files that were online on the BBS.

Scroll down the list, and press space on any file you want to tag it for download.

Using the internet to download files via ZModem is of course a much faster way to do it than the original Modem on a real modem...In the old days I would start it and go off to do something else while the file(s) downloaded very slowly to my computer.

Not long after this Intangybles came through with a working install (unregistered) of my favourite BBS door game - BBS Crash. I was so excited to play it again after so many years, albeit limited due to not being able to save progress to play it daily as you need to.

I quickly got to work, and the game started coming back to me, keeping my disk space, uploading trojans, trashing BBS files to gain levels, money from hacking SysOp's bank accounts and improving your experience.

Start at BBS number 1 and work your way up.

If the SysOp catches you, things go bad fast. If you run out of disk space trying to trash the BBS, it's game over.

You can retry a few times per day, and regularly free up your initial 10MB space to work with to trap and backup your data gained from destroying other BBS systems. Levelling up with limited tries per day is the hook to keep you coming back everyday to try again!

You have to drop carrier and empty often to avoid running out of disk space. If you run out of disk space it is game over.

Checking my status reveals I have a long way to go:

Back in the day I was hooked on this game, and would dial up to my local BBS to play it every day.

I hope I have brought across how much fun playing with a BBS again in 2021 really is. Please try it out when you can, it is a lot of fun and I guarantee if you used BBS in the past, the memories will come flooding back in a good way! I'll see you on BBS hopefully soon!

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Replacement Amiga 600 has arrived!

This week saw the arrival of my replacement Amiga 600 computer, recapped and resprayed in a beautiful dual tone paint job!

The computer was purchased from, who sold it as a one-off build computer. They can do these resprays on A600 and A1200 systems. 

I was keen to secure a replacement Amiga 600 after the old one was damaged by running the Vampire 600 v2 in it. Which in turn was a replacement for the previous one that was also damaged by the Vampire...3rd time lucky?

I had tossed up the idea of shipping the damaged A600 board overseas to be recapped and repaired, but then saw this opportunity to secure an Amiga 600 already recapped and working well, and avoid all that expensive postage costs to send my A600 board which may possibly not be able to be repaired at all. The audio is stuffed and the IDE port pins all broken or brittle from heat damage being placed next to the Vampire 600...

It made the decision to buy this one easy - and of course, seriously, just look at it! It's beautiful! I bought a Competition Pro joystick at the same time, and it came with a Gotek drive built in, with 8MB fast memory expansion and 1MB chip memory expansion, CF card all setup ready to use.

Side view of the Amiga 600, showing the Gotek floppy drive and black paint applied to the bottom half of the Amiga 600.

The OLED display has been mounted on the top of the Amiga 600, which is much easier than looking into the floppy drive trying to read it!

Back view of the Amiga 600.

Here it is next to my old damaged Amiga 600. I noticed straight away that my Amiga 600 keyboard on the damaged one is much better than the yellowed one on the new Amiga 600. That will be first on the list to change!

I reckon the Red cased A600 and Blue cased A1200 look great together. Red, White and Blue :-)

Included with the Amiga 600 was a USB stick with a handful of ADF files on it, so I quickly checked it out.

I got a bit distracted playing Agony from the Gotek.

Distraction over, I booted from the CF card on the Amiga 600, which is running AmigaOS 2.0 ROMS and AmigaOS 2 Workbench.

That Kickstart and CF will also need to be upgraded! 

First though, I took a nostalgia trip back to 1990 and enjoyed the Australian demo from Decay called "Hinch Demo" that was on the hard disk.

Turning my attention (briefly) to the damaged Amiga 600 - it was time to strip it for usable parts in the new replacement A600. The A600 floppy drive failed and I put a OLED Gotek in its place. 

The disk drive became much more important since the IDE port no longer works thanks to the Vampire 600, and this became a disk only machine. I reverted it back to 1.3 roms to maximise compatibility for demos and games loaded via ADF on the Gotek. (I used an older style and then newer OLED version on it)

But the sound not working right meant it was rarely used. Time to retire it. Maybe if I can find someone local to recap and repair it, it might come good I'll hold onto it.

I quickly removed the keyboard, which is much nicer on my old Amiga 600.

How much nicer? Well, here they are side by side...

I opened up the replacement Amiga 600 for the first time to see what is in there.

I can see the small A608 Mini 8MB fast memory expansion installed over the 68000 CPU.

There is also the 1MB chip memory expansion card in the expansion bay. Haven't seen either of these cards before. Pity the owner didn't spray the expansion bay cover the same black as the rest of the case - kinda stands out like a sore thumb. Anyway.

The hole in the case done by the previous owner for the gotek floppy drive OLED display is not that pretty to be honest, with hot glue to keep it in place. I couldn't see that when I bought it online, but having the OLED display where I can easily see it is worth this little damage to the case. You can't see it when closed.

Starting with the easiest thing first, I swapped the 1MB Chip memory card with my Individual Computers A604 expansion, which allows for two A1200 clock port expansions to be added to the A600, 1MB chip memory, Real time clock and connection for the Indivision ECS.

Unfortunately I don't have a spare Indivision ECS to put in it anymore, as I took it to put in my Amiga 3000 recently to fix it's native video output issues. I have also ordered a RGB to HDMI converter for this computer, and I will install it later on when it arrives. For now I am using an external scan doubler to get the output to my normal TFT screens.

Next job is upgrading the Kickstart 2.05 ROM chip to the latest AmigaOS 3.2 rom chip.

Job done!

I then put the lid back on with the replaced keyboard in place to test the AmigaOS 3.2 rom is working ok, and it is!

Decisions decisions. I have been tossing up whether to install the Individual computers A630 030 accelerator, Vampire 600 V2 or just leave it as a 68000 system for maximum compatibility.

For now I will leave it as 68000 native, but I expect that may change! 

With the AmigaOS 3.2 rom now installed in the Amiga 600, I need to redo the CF card to run AmigaOS 3.2. I elected to remove the old Workbench 2 CF Hard disk setup, and install a new 32GB CF card (well, it used to be a A1200 CF hard disk before I vampired it).

Accordingly I brought out my AmigaOS 3.2 floppy disk set I created previously for the A1200 build, and prepared the System partition (15GB) by formatting it, ready for fresh install. given the 68000 CPU in use, reinstall is easier than trying to remove all the 030 libraries and 030 version dependencies on the existing CF card.

AmigaOS 3.2 install from floppy disk is now underway. Yes I know I could have used the ADF versions on the Gotek, but I like installing the OS from real floppy disks! 

Besides, the extra time it takes gives me time to fired up the Amiga 1200 to watch some great AGA demos while I waited for the copy process to complete on the A600.

With AmigaOS 3.2 now installed on the CF hard disk, I could reboot into the new clean environment:

I set to work installing WHDLoad to run the games and Demos I already had on the existing Work partition on the CF card.

Yep, time for distracting myself with the game Agony again, now that the WHDLoad is installed and ready for use!

The new joystick works well too. I installed Delitracker 2 next for listening to my favourite mods - being a 68000, I have to avoid playing back XM or S3M's as they can hang the system due to needing a faster CPU to play them back.

I also ordered a new cover from AmigaKit for the Amiga 600, which fits great and should protect it from dust!

Being a 68000 system, I need to realistic about what I can load onto it. 

Recently I have found a Tasmanian seller who had a number of Amiga applications for sale. I snapped up quite a few applications that I didn't have, including Final Copy II and Proper Grammar II. I got them this week.

I realise that Final Copy II is been replaced by Final Writer and the multiple later versions of that, but Pen Pal and Final Copy II were my go-to Word processor back in the early 1990's for my High School assignments and general documents, including my first book I wrote at age 17!

I didn't own either of the Word processors back then (definitely didn't have the money to buy them at the time so I had copies from a friend who did), but very glad to own them now and the manuals too!

Unfortunately the external scan doubler on the Amiga 600 doesn't work as well as it used to 20 years ago, so the above output is grainy and with plenty of lines. It's only temporary of course. The RGB to HDMI converter can't come soon enough! I kept working on the installation from the original floppy disks.

Luckily, even all these years later the floppy disks worked fine and Final Copy II installed without a hitch. Proper Grammar II floppy disks unfortunately had read/write errors. I'll have to write them out from ADF to get a working set..

I also tried to install AMOS Professional, which appears never to be installed as no registration info was set on the program disk.

I kicked off the installation:

Of course I want to install everything - but a worry is the available hard disk space size is detected negative...

So it proved, the install wouldn't proceed. Not enough space. Hmm, 15GB free not enough space? Heh.

I will probably need to redo the partition setup on the CF card to allow a small 1GB partition to install AMOS Professional to. A task for another time.

There is a lot more work to do on this machine, and plenty of upgrades to come. I am excited to have a fully working Amiga 600 again and wanted to quickly share it mid-week!