Commodore 64 BBS with Petscii on your PC using SynchTERM

Would you like to enter the exciting world of Commodore 64 BBS?

If you do not own an actual Commodore computer, you can visit a Commodore BBS with full Petscii (similar to ASCII) graphical support! The open source program SynchTerm allows you to do that.

If you are using a Windows or Mac OSX machine, you can download a binary here:
https://sourceforge.net/projects/syncterm/

Windows and Mac users can skip to the part below titled, “To *use* SynchTerm


If you are using Linux (preferably Ubuntu or something Debian based), you can install the program using these instructions. In a terminal:

wget 'http'://syncterm.bbsdev.net/syncterm-src.tgz
(downloads the program)
tar xvzf syncterm-src.tgz
(extracts the program)
cd syncterm-20200223/src/syncterm
(enter into the program's directory; replace "20200223" with your directory name)
pwd
(tells you what directory you are in)
sudo make SRC_DIR=/home/user/syncterm-20200223/src/syncterm
(replace "20200223" with the number you see when you type "pwd")
(replace "user" with your username)
In my case, the program refused to "make" because I was missing ncurses.
If you run into this, install ncurses:
sudo apt-get install libncurses-dev
Then install the program:
sudo make install

If everything goes well, your computer will crunch away for a while and then install SynchTerm.

*SynchTerm homepage for more details:
http://syncterm.bbsdev.net/

For reference,  here’s a list of BBSs: http://cbbsoutpost.servebbs.com/
Example of a BBS listing with name, address and port:Screenshot from 2020-02-23 13-11-08

To *use* SynchTerm, click on the icon.

Click in the area of the “Directory” (First box)Screenshot from 2020-02-23 12-50-45

Select your keyboard’s “insert” key and type in the BBS nameScreenshot from 2020-02-23 12-51-58

Select “Telnet” for connection typeScreenshot from 2020-02-23 12-52-17

Enter in the address of the BBS you want to visit. Screenshot from 2020-02-23 12-52-34

Select F2 to edit the entry you just created for fine tuning:

TCP Port: 6400 (that’s just an example)Screenshot from 2020-02-23 12-52-54
Choose “C64” for Screen ModeScreenshot from 2020-02-23 12-53-10
Esc to save
Now highlight the new entry and hit enter. If the BBS is available and you entered in the information properly, you should see something like this. You will need to create an account. Enjoy!

Screenshot from 2020-02-23 12-50-01

Screenshot from 2020-02-23 12-50-23

Connect a PC to a Commodore 1541/1571 drive

Did you ever want to transfer files from your old Commodore 1541/1571 drive between your computer and a real drive? Did you also want to use a real Commodore floppy drive with the VICE emulator? Me too! 😉 Both of these things are possible with the zoomfloppy device being offered by Retro Innovations. You can download basically anything you want from arnold.c64.org (or any other commodore software source) and transfer it right to your floppy device so it can be used on a real Commodore 64 or Vic 20.

This device is unlike other solutions that only worked with specially built cables and DOS. You simply plug a USB cable between your zoomfloppy and your computer and then the serial cable between the zoomfloppy and the floppy drive. Once the physical connections are made, you simply run the OpenCBM software to transfer files or backup disks.

Here’s how to install a zoomfloppy device to your Ubuntu computer.

sudo apt-get install libusb-dev build-essential linux-headers-generic git

Install the CC64 Compiler:

cd ~
git clone https://github.com/cc65/cc65.git
cd cc65
make
sudo prefix=/usr make install

Compile and install OpenCBM

cd ~
git clone git://git.code.sf.net/p/opencbm/code opencbm
cd opencbm/opencbm
make -f LINUX/Makefile
sudo make -f LINUX/Makefile install install-all install-plugin-xum1541
sudo ln -s /usr/local/lib/libopencbm.so.0 /usr/lib/libopencbm.so.0

Add udev rules for the ZoomFloppy hardware itself:

sudo pico /etc/udev/rules.d/45-opencbm-parallel.rules

Add this to the bottom of the file, then save and quit:

SUBSYSTEM!="usb_device", ACTION!="add", MODE="0666", GOTO="opencbm_rules_end"
# zoom floppy
ATTRS{idVendor}=="16d0", ATTRS{idProduct}=="0504", GROUP="users", MODE="0666"
LABEL="opencbm_rules_end"

Restart udev:

sudo service udev restart

Check the ZoomFloppy and IEC device status:

cbmctrl detect

Bonus: Get VICE to use the zoomfloppy interface to utilize a real 1541 Commodore Floppy Drive!

1. Settings -> Peripheral Settings -> Device #8 -> Enable IEC Device
2. Settings -> Peripheral Settings -> Device #8 -> Device Type -> Real Device Access

Commodore 64 (Vic 20, Pet, etc) emulator from Raspberry Pi Raspbian

I can confirm this install method (source) worked with a Raspberry Pi 4 using Raspbian Buster.
Compiles Vice and installs into /usr/local/bin. Initial launch reports a sound issue. If you go into settings (F12), there’s a sound configuration you can change to “Alsa”.

# get dependencies – this may take a long time and ~ 1.5 GB
sudo apt install autoconf automake build-essential byacc dos2unix flex libavcodec-dev libavformat-dev libgtk2.0-cil-dev libgtkglext1-dev libmp3lame-dev libmpg123-dev libpcap-dev libpulse-dev libreadline-dev libswscale-dev libvte-dev libxaw7-dev subversion texi2html texinfo yasm libgtk3.0-cil-dev xa65 libsdl2-dev

mkdir -p src
cd src
svn checkout https://svn.code.sf.net/p/vice-emu/code/trunk trunk
cd trunk/vice
./autogen.sh
./configure
make -j4
sudo make install

Install Linux console programs like Lynx on Mac OSX

You can install much loved Linux console programs like Lynx (text web browser) and Midnight Commander (powerful file browser) on Mac OSX using homebrew program installer “Brew”.

Example: Install Lynx
First you must install Brew. After this, you can install other programs with Brew.

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)" < /dev/null 2> /dev/null

Now use Brew to install Lynx:

brew install lynx

Now you can test it out:

lynx thinkzinc.com

Did you see thinkzinc.com in a text browser?

Try installing the Midnight Commander:

brew install mc

You can check out the “Brew” homepage and use the search for new programs to install. You can also very how many programs you have installed with this command:

brew list

I love Mac OSX but I can’t live without Lynx. Web surfing without busy ads and pictures. Enjoy!