Modems have been around for longer than the web, and before we had Facebook we had the BBS scene. Somewhat surprisingly, people are still hosting BBSes, but have fun finding a landline these days. [Blake Patterson] is one of the leading aficionados of retocomputers, and recently he took it upon himself to review an interesting new device. It’s the WiFi232 Internet Modem, a device that turns a WiFi connection into something a computer with a 25-pin RS-232 connector can understand.
The WiFi232 is made by [Paul Rickards], and given the last few years of WiFi-enabled retrocomputing projects, it’s exactly what you would expect. Onboard the WiFi232 is an ESP8266 module emulating the Hayes AT command set. Baud rates from 300 to 115200 are supported, with power provided through a USB mini jack or solder terminals.
[Blake]’s computer den is the stuff of legend, and as such he has more than enough toys to test out this universal WiFi to Serial converter. Devices used in the test include the Apple //c, IIe, Amiga 1000, and TI-99/4A. In short, everything works just like it should. [Blake] was able to pull up the extant bulletin boards on his collection of ancient computers. You can check out [Blake]’s review of the WiFi232 below
39 thoughts on “BBSing With The ESP8266”
” Somewhat surprisingly, people are still hosting BBSes, but have fun finding a landline these days. ”
Considering I ditched one about a month ago, they’re pretty easy to find. Plus I still have my 3com modem* around here, somewhere.
*The kind that has an Ethernet switch built into it.
That’s called a router. Modems are the ones with a serial/USB/proprietary port to connect to the computer.
It’s a combination of a 56K modem and a router. A small business class piece of equipment. Not as common back then. I also use to have a USRobotics modem with the serial port mentioned.
Can confirm. Around 2003 I had my parents set up with a Dell branded Lucent RG-1000 wifi router that also had a 56k modem.
Yeah I’ve still got my 14.4kbps 3COM (and a 56K somewhere)
I have the consumer models with no switch built in.
And my landline is working fine. Can’t get broadband without payinf for landline rental in the UK (yet).
I always went for the internal ISA modem
Modem stands for (Mod)ulator/(Dem)odulator. A modem is a device that modulates and demodulates a signal. It isn’t dependent on having a specific kind of port, so long as it converts a signal from one medium to another. Whether that medium is between Ethernet and telephones, or between fiber and radio, it does not matter.
+1 My tv remote is a modem too (modulating the carrier signal to convey the correct function to the tv).
Naw… That’s just a MO. The DEM part is across the room in the tv
Just a couple weeks ago I did some searching to see if something like this would be feasible. Beyond my programming ability though.
I wonder if it could be used for more than just BBS .. I used to use Netscape and a 14.4 modem with my old Mac IIcx, and I’ve been looking a replacement not dependent upon a landline
I was trying to do the same thing. I found a SLIP implementation but I couldn’t find the SDK it was built on top of, so I wasn’t able to compile it.
I was basically looking for a cheap easy way to connect my Amiga to the internet with AmiTCP or Malibu.
Get a PLIPbox, works with most Amiga TCP/IP stacks.
Ah come on, you can do slip from the ground up in a weekend no problem!
Would the PlipBox suit your needs ?
Technically, it would. I just didn’t want to have to physically connect the Amiga to my PC.
Frankly, the biggest reason why I haven’t worked on it more is that I simply don’t have the time; right now I’m swamped with work, and I’m working on another project that is supposed to help my career. I’m trying to get a job that pays more but takes less time so I have more to spend on projects like this.
The stock ESPs I believe (can) work as a TCP socket terminal (which most demos seem to show off), it’s really only a matter of wiring & their voltage levels. Beyond that again it’s just a matter of flashing firmware for other functionality
So you are saying it’s just a matter of doing the hardware stuff and then doing the software stuff? I wish every project was that simple :)
Hah. What I’m getting at is the use of an ESP to WiFi terminal a retro machine is not complicated nor novel :P The OP is a nice clean build, though!
We still have BBSs – PBBS (Packet BBS). Amateur radio has them operating on both VHF and HF. I hope to have one operating with a Raspberry Pi before the summers end.
The WiFi232 does not impress me. Blake’s computer den on the other hand… Wow!!! At some point or another over the years, I have had most of the computers in his den. Nowadays I’m down to a couple of TRS-80’s.
It’s not complete without the dial-up handshake sound.
LGR also covered this doohickey, and his viewers managed to temporarily kill BBS telnet list site http://telnetbbsguide.com/
That’s a great vid, as are all of LGR’s. And that telnet BBS site has got to be running on an 8088 PC. At the best of times it is as slow as a dog — slowest site of any I’ve consistently used — ever.
Nah… it must be the 56k dialup connection :-P
For a while I’ve had this idea of hosting a bbs or email server on a retro-computer(either the 1802 olduino or z80 olduino/Z) . I have Ethernet,http, and socket code but I lack the core server software. Practically, unless it was z80 specific it would have to be written in C or C++. Any ideas?
Olduino, there are several BBS’s running on real Apple IIs I know of online now. They are written in BASIC.
i still miss pcboard by CDC.
Here is a great resource on BBS in the Web era
Here is a great resource on BBS in the Web era
Wait, is this the same AT modem commands as used by many modern wireless telephones? Could you BBS with a usb to serial converter, a usb enabled phone, and a serial enabled retro? Gotta try!
Could one also write an app on a smart phone to communicate with the cellular modem built in? That would be sooo coool! Time to learn Java!
Today must be my lucky day, I’m the first one to point out the typo!
It’s extant, not extent.
PTT BBS is still very popular (over a million users) in Taiwan.
Most people connect using an app though, not through a phone line.
Good hack! I was wondering if someone have tried to convert cheap ATA device to dial up server. Like HT701. In that way you can have dial up access for old laptops and computers using the build in modem.
Hard to find a land line? Should have gone to Specsavers. The new estate we’re building in has had nice fresh copper laid just last month.
That’s some really sloppy soldering job for $15 extra over the kit
it’s not a trivial task, but not a difficult one.
A weemos board http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/FmynYRF , a stackable “universal board” to make the 3v TTL -> RS232 interface and a little bit of programing using NONOS SDK
Here’s two videos showing how it is possible to encapsulate full tcp/ip traffic over WiFI232 using ppp:
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