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Birth of a new BBS - the origin story


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I found the culprit I guess, I was using hatari linux ( tcpser+socat ) and STalker .
I get the same double ALT-255 character when using TAZ in hatari linux when connecting to my BBS with a VT52 profile.

I just tried with a real Atari 520ST (well it does have 1 MB of RAM ) and TAZ and it works perfectly like your screenshots.
What's a bit bizarre is that I get the same color pallete as you have on your machine ?
There is no Xcontrol panel running on that 520ST so I don't fully understand where the blue comes from since it's not in the default 4 color medium res set , if I'm correct ?

But well, good news, VT52 menus are thus perfectly working, I just updated the menus again , fixed the last typo's , spaces , alignment.
Overal colour selection for VT52 needs to be tweaked to be a bit more uniform but well , that's for later.
I hope to have setup the File and Message Areas the way I want them by this weekend and then I guess it's final round of testing , finding/fixing the transfer speed issue and open it to some more people

or just go bananas and release it to the public :D

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Status report of today's hacking around.

I tried to fix the ALT-255 character in the print statements so it would show also when using ASCII but I realised two things

my variables are unknown when you just did a logon, so I need to set them up before and thus the m$ I'm using to replace the ALT-255 is not showing in the ASCII screens.
Will be fixed later this week.

But I found the logic behind the 2 bytes which designate the File Area in the DOWNLOAD.BBS file.

SIG 16 = 1000 0000 0000 0000 = 0x8000

So instead of hardcoding to a File Sig in my python script I can now actually translate my decimal value that I use in my input CSV file to the correct value .


And that's it for this evening ...

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Today's progress , not much but a bit of essential prepping for the end of the week.
Won't be home this evening so no time to spend helas.

My current BlueSCSI HDA file/partition was 512MB mapped as C:.
I now created an 8GB HDA file , with 13 parititions of 512 MB mapped from C to O: , leaving P: for the DVD-ROM.
This makes it easier to prepare the File Areas and allows for growth.
Probably I will move Michtron from C to D and the remainder E to O: will be used for the File Areas. Not sure about that yet.

I completed my gathering of files and their info for another particular File Area so the basic preperation for the File Areas is almost complete.


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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, DarkLord said:

Hehehe, so you're desktop is going be just as crowded as mine.   :)






Yes but it didn't work, in Hatari where I am creating the partitions, the 8 GB HDA file works fine but on the BlueSCSI which can have an up to 8 GB  HDA file , it doesn't work.
The Mega STE detects the SD card but it never boots and ends up wanting to boot from the internal floppy.

I now created an 4 GB HDA file and that seems to work ?

Edited by Lastic
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With the newly added partitions I have now setup the File Areas/Message Areas structure , there are no files yet except the DVD-ROM.
That's is a haul I plan to do this weekend.

Another highly-needed change since my MAIN.M file was getting too big , I've split the 2 main subroutines into their seperate M files and tested succesfully.
ASCII screens have now been aligned also.

Todo probaby this evening , align spacing/colours of the VT52 screens and some more logo's interacting with the current File/Message Area you are browsing.
And might "borrow" a feature from the VAN NEST demo :D

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9 hours ago, Lastic said:

I now created an 4 GB HDA file and that seems to work ?


I've seen other posts where people have successfully used larger sizes but I've always used 4 gig SD-cards

and 4 gig SCSI hard drives here, with no problems.


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9 hours ago, Lastic said:

@DarkLord if you like to be my tester again for VT52, I think I have a more or less VT52 theme now instead of different colours in different segments.


Love to. Unfortunately, I just got this post and my 22 year old daughter Alexia, who has POTS, is scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning at 8am for a



It's not a long procedure, assuming everything goes well so if no one else has jumped in, then I should be able to login Friday evening...


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1 hour ago, DarkLord said:


Love to. Unfortunately, I just got this post and my 22 year old daughter Alexia, who has POTS, is scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning at 8am for a



It's not a long procedure, assuming everything goes well so if no one else has jumped in, then I should be able to login Friday evening...


No worries, Family first.
I hope everything goes well and wish her a speedy recovery from the surgery.

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Posted (edited)

A sneak peak at me reworking all ASCII menus and logos into ANSI.
Only test with Syncterm as seen in the screenshot.

Available for testing under Main Menu, option A(NSI) test


Edited by Lastic
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Posted (edited)

Since it was an extremely calm day at work, I continued almost 7 hours to work on the ANSIfication of the ASCII menus.
They are done now. ( they actually were done 3 hours ago but I forgot to click on submit Reply)

so ASCII, VT52 and ANSI modes are now possible.
Also changed some config on the Wimodem Pro 232 regarding busy/hookoff messages and hard-cutoff timer as per Darklord's suggestions.

So the final hurdles, this weekend prepping all files , my Wall script actually still has an undiscovered bug ( well I know what the bug is) and then it's troubleshooting transfer speeds .
Once that is done , I guess it's time to release it into the wild, I have still some more ideas popping up in my head but those are for the future.


Edited by Lastic
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Or not currently struggling to get 626 files uploaded to my F: drive LOL.

Today's struggle.

I have 2 BIG archives I'm putting online.

The 7.8 GB Dual Layer Fading Twilight MOD files compilation>
I took all directories where there was a FILE_ID.DIZ , extracted the relevant info and put that into a csv.
This boiled down to 1.8 GB of files which I burned onto a DVD-ROM sitting in an USB DVD-Writer connected to a NetUSBee which is mapped via Extendos .
These alone are 899 entries into the DOWNLOAD.BBS file of Michtron.
It has been running since the past month now, I only need to redo the zipping of the files and burn a new DVD-ROM since as Darklord discoverd I zipped my entire PC directory structure in the ZIP file.

(hint zip -j )

The past 7 days challenge

SNDH 2024 archive is about 190 MB big and contains everything up to January 2024.
I scaped all info from the website, converted it into an usable CSV and used that as a basis
First Hurdle 8+3 FILENAMES, if 5 different artists have an AXELF.SNDH , I can't differentiatie them.
Thus I compiled every composer's folder resulting in 626 ZIP files, which have now been appended to the already 899 files containing DOWNLOAD.BBS.
Every composer.zip contains an NFO compiled from the entire CSV scraping I did from the SNDH website relating to the songs of that composer.
An additional listing of all 5180 something files will be avaiable for download also.

Only files not included on my BBS were those with filenames with German characters, since UTF-8 is a b*tch, pardon my French.
And I don't think my UK/US TOS would have handled them anyhow

Now uploading these 626 files via UIP seems to kill it every 50-100 files.
So now trying to copy them directly to the HDA file ...

Still to do ....


About 50 demoscene releases, I've decided to host the latest from March 2023 up to March 2024 as a basis.
SNDH files released since the last archive, about 29 of them.
Homebrew games

Final hurdles ...

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20 hours ago, Lastic said:

No worries, Family first.
I hope everything goes well and wish her a speedy recovery from the surgery.


Everything went well and she's home. A bit bruised and sore but good to go.  :)


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2 hours ago, DarkLord said:


I've been trying to logon but have been unable to get it to resolve?




My bad I had taken out the SD card to do the copy of those 626 files to the HDA file.
Since I thought that would be done quickly , I unplugged the Wimodem232 also.

But what started last evening, has ran all night and still not finished.
But since the HDA copy is now on my laptop and being used by Hatari - EmuTOS to copy from my ZIP folder to the HDA copy file, I can restart the BBS in it's previous state.
Before the SNDH archives.

So I will keep it running again until I need to copy that HDA file over again .
And indeed I should put the Wimodem OFFHOOK then when the BBS is offline :)

Started up again.

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Aargh I cannot have 626 files on my BGM partition F drive, it only allows for 256 files in total.

OK I know how to resolve this, move the files over to the DVD.

So sorry @DarkLord , it's down again , but this time you should get a message (ATH1)

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Still busy with the SNDH file area but once that is done, the board will stay up and running so testers can access it.
I will give an update here when I'm done.

Current layout (but might change/increase in the future one thing I have in mind is an ABBUC section , using user_flags)


SIG1 => General Talk                            no files                  
SIG2 => Demoscene                            no files yet,next week, just need to ZIP them and prep the bulk import into the DOWNLOAD database of the BBS.
SIG3 => Events/Parties                        no files (yet)            
SIG4 => SNDH 2024 Archive DVD           626 files                 
SIG5 => Fading Twilight partial DVD     899 files                 
SIG6 => Music as of Jan-2024              17 files                  
SIG7 => Games/Homebrews                 no files yet,next week, I have a few things in mind but still have to gather them and sort them out   
SIG8 => Hardware/Books/Media            no files (yet)           

Keep in mind, all of this is readily available on websites,FTP sites etc ... but I just wanted to provide another option for nostalgia reasons and well the whole challenge of this "little" project.

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@Bikerbob @Tillek @DarkLord a picture says more than 1542 available files for download now :)

I'm going to stop messing around with the BBS, it will stay up and running, have a try with the menus and menu options.
Since I moved things around I made sure that you all have access to the necessary FileSigs(Areas).

ASCII should work, ANSI should work (not tried via an ST yet only SYNCTERM) and VT52 should work.

Only minor issue I noticed was 1 spacing error in the FileArea ANSI menu but that will be for after this weekend, spent enough time inside this week.
But transferspeeds with Ymodem 512 cps , Xmodem does reach 700 cps but that is the next big hurdle I need to tackle.

If the modem is busy , a message will be shown.

And the Wall might break if we pass 18 lines, it's a bug from the start due to my approach but Techman/Tim already gave me some good hints on how to tackle it.

Lessons learned

  • 512MB BGM TOS partitions can only hold 256 files so I had to move my 626 files to the DVD-ROM.
  • Linux has been my companion once again in bulk zipping, renaming, extracting data , been loving it since I learned UNIX in school in 1988-1990.
  • I have to tame my mind into not wanting to add TOO much features, for now adding the remaining files to the FileAreas is priority.
    All other augments are for the future.
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Today's mini-experiment before I finally get out of the house this weekend.

I've been looking for a way to use my Nano-Pi to get and push files to the BBS.
C-kermit seems promising, only thing I cannot get to work is have rb (Ymodem) starting once the transfer is initiated from the BBS side.
Zmodem works partially , tried it on other BBSes because it gets auto-triggered.

Have a nice Sunday everybody.

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2 hours ago, Bikerbob said:

I sent you feedback on the bbs - there is a bit of an issue with the mail/msg system.

Thanks for reporting that, I will have to read on the manual myself to wrap my head around it.
The Mail/MSG area is basically using the built in functions , it's not built from scratch MCL magic .

What I noticed when I view that deleted message that it prompted me as Sysop to delete it Y or N so first guess is that is marked for deletion by not gone.
Looks like the Wizop (me = Lastic) has the final call in deleting a message permanently.


But I agree on your view, it's a bizarre ability that a user can delete a message in a subject thread.

Also something I want to check further before going live is , a way to view subjects (like forum threads/topics) , I know BBSes weren't built like that but I often find
it confusing myself to understand multiple replies on a subject and their order.

Regarding current MCL usage, I am mainly using the built in functions/procedures/variables since we now have an understanding of them due to the manual being available.

Currently there are 4 MCL files.

The demo MAIN.M which I have tweaked and has grown almost to its size limits.
From within MAIN.MCL if you select

File Areas this will execute FILEXFER.MCL which is a seperate MCL file .
Message Areas this will execute MAILMENU.MCL which is a seperate MCL file .

Due to the nature of the execute() statement , if you use return() it will jump from that point back to the MAIN.MCL

Last but not least the GRAFFITI.MCL which is a seperate MCL where I misuse the logfile() function to store an entry if the user decides to post one after completely reading the file with the read()

A lot of if then else, a lot of while loops :)

Apart from that I'm using the user_vars to keep track of the terminal setting the user wants and I'm going to implement userflags in future expansions of the BBS.
I want to expand the default user profile with user_vars and flags so that it's less "generic".
But those tweaks are for the future, I'm almost at a stable "snapshot" of my BBS so no further risks in breaking it currently.

A lot of debugging these past 2 weeks and getting the grasp on how VT52 and ANSI is handled.
The VAN NEST examples on the ST Format Michtron Demo have been a huge inspiration but above all , Techman's continues feedback and time.

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