Some useful information about Bulletin Board Systems. By John Ilsley. This article will be of interest tothose of you that own modems. Those ofyou that don't, then I hope that thisarticle will give you an incentive tobuy one. This article is written around my ownexperiences of modems. Nearly all modems that you can buy willconnect to the BBC A, B or Master128via the RS423 port. The Master128 canalso have an internal modem fitted.But to date, I have heard of no one whohas this built-in modem, I have in it'sspace my telephone. The RS423 port will interface with amodem's RS232 port with no problems.You will find that all modems requireat least five connections. These are: TX/SD (Transmit or Send data). RX/RD (Receive data). RTS (Request to send). CTS (Clear to send) 0v line, or earth. These are the five pins. The actualpinout's can be found on page 240 ofthe Master128 welcome guide or page 499of the BBC B manual. All computers can talk to each other,It doesn't matter whether it is a PC,BBC A or B, Master, Spectrum, CommodoreAtari, Amiga, Archimedes. As long as you have the four mainessentials: A computer, modem, software and accessto a phone socket. The rest is easy.If you intend to call a bulletin boardsystem or BBS for short, you will firsthave to select at your computer whetheryou wish to call in viewdata orterminal/scrolling. Viewdata will allowonly downloading, whilst scrolling willallow uploading or downloading. Uploading allows you to send a programor a file from your computer's discdrive to the BBS. Downloading allowstransfer of files from the BBS's discdrive to you. Viewdata has a word bit stop of 7E1 andscrolling has a word bit stop ofnormally 8N1. You can dial to most boards at at least300/300 bits per second (bps) or1200/75bps. The first number is thespeed you receive the information at,the second number is the speed you sendthe information at. Most times when you call a BBS, youwill select 1200/75 as this allows fastframes and quicker downloading. Shouldyou wish to upload, you should call at300/300. Very few modems can handle75/1200, I have left this speed out. When you first connect to a BBS, youare more then likely to see a messageat the top of the screen sayingsomething like:
'Press Hash Press Return'
You must press your RETURN or enterkey. This key, although the code onthe BBC computer is CHR$(13), if youare in Viewdata, is changed toCHR$(95) If you are in scrolling, it isleft as CHR$(13). This is how the BBS computer or hostcomputer tells whether you are callingfrom Viewdata or Scrolling. After that,you will be asked for your first andlast name, your location and a secretpassword. You must always keep thispassword secret. I will tell you aboutthe relevance of this later. Some BBS's ask you to fill in aquestionaire when you first log on.After this you will be presented with awelcome page or main menu. This maytell you when the BBS was last updatedand if you have any new mail andwhether the Sysop is in or out. TheSysop is the person who is in charge ofthe system. It is up to him/her to makesure that your name, password and whereyou are from are kept secret. He/she isthe only person who will see thatinformation. You are then most likely see somewhereon the introduction page, a '#' orhash, this means press RETURN. You maysee the letter 'M' or '0', Press eitherof these to get to the main menu. Onceon the main menu, you have a choice ofthings to do. A lot of BBS run on a hard drive, or onsilicon drives, these are extremelyfast, these BBS's have lots of moneyand modems that can do speeds of up to96000bps. At that speed, you get ascreen full of information faster thanyou would if you catalogued a disc. Itis extremely fast. The best modems I know about are mostHayes compatible modems These use 'AT'commands. For example: ATZ will reset the modem. ATPD0705753124 will pulse dial a number(mine). ATTD0705753124M1C1 will tone dial anumber, (mine again), send a carrierand turn the modem's internal monitoron if it has one. I think a satisfactory Hayes modem is aWS4000. This is very easy to use, andoperates with most software and can beoperated from basic. You will need software to download andupload files. I recommend the followingin order of preferance: MODEM MASTER COMMAND Designer modem by Dataphone needs therom ZROMM and is a very good modem,sadly I don't think they are producedany more, they are well worth it if youcan get one. If you are in a basicprogram and someone calls, you cansimply answer them without losing yourprogram. One modem to avoid is BT's ownmodem, the DataChat1223. Most new modems cost in excess of £150for a simple 1200/75 300/300 modem.Fine if you have the money. However a second hand one will costabout £25-£40. A new, high speed errorcorrection modem will cost in excess of£400, £160 is a good 2nd hand price. John Ilsley 27N.