Getting an Apple 2 BBS on the net

This guy put his Apple 2 on the Internet using an Apple 2 Super Serial Card, a Raspberry Pi and a CFFA3000 USB adapter card running BBS software called ‘Warp Six‘. Essentially that means that this guy has got an old-school BBS on the net via Telnet. On a 1MHz Apple 2e Platinum. Cool.

How to copy disk images to your Apple 2 using ADT

Karateka Box Cover. Ahh, Karateka! This week I finally got everything together on my Apple 2 in order to run ADT, the Apple Disk Transfer tool. To celebrate this, the first disk I copied over to my Apple 2 from my Mac was a disk image for the popular game of it’s time, Karateka. The animation was way ahead of it’s time and you could draw direct comparisons to far later games such as Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. Anyway, to copy Apple 2 disk images to your Apple 2 from your PC or Mac, using ADT, you will firstly need a few things:

  • A 25 pin (DB25) to 9 pin (DB9) RS232 null-modem cable. I didn’t have one of these cables, but I did have a DB9 to DB9 RS232 cable, and luckily I also had a DB2 to DB25 converter and a ‘gender bender’. See the photo and you’ll know what I mean 🙂
Left to right, the DB9 RS232 female cable, USB to RS232 male cable, the other end of the DB9 RS232 female cable, a 'gender changer' to change female to male, follwed by a female DB9 to male DB25 converter.

My hodgepodge solution to get RS232 to USB.

  • An Apple Super Serial Card (SSC) or similar. These arequite common on Ebay, but make sure you buy one that has the DB25 connector on it. These came with the cards so unless someone has thrown it away, it should come with the card. They are useless without them. These cards were sold by Apple in the truckloads in the 1980s and early ’90s to allow you to connect a modem or serial printer to your Apple 2. It’s possible you even already have one.
The Apple Super Serial II card

The Apple Super Serial II card

  • A Prolific PL2303 based USB to RS-232 adapter

    A Prolific PL2303 based USB to RS-232 adapter

    A USB to RS232 converter for your PC or Mac. I used a cable based on the Prolific PL-2303 chipset because I read somewhere that the drivers for the Mac worked well. I’ve previously had problems with these puppies when trying to connect them to network switches, so I did a bit of research to get the PL-2303 based one before buying from TradeMe/Ebay. It cost around $15. I downloaded the drivers from the Prolific website, these things aren’t Plug ‘n Play on a Mac (and likely not on a Windows box either). Your mileage may vary in Linux though as there is quite a lot of support for this legacy sort of hardware in the Kernel even today.

  • The ADTPro software. You can get the Mac, Windows or Linux version here. Oddly, I couldn’t get the ProDos (ADTPro) version to work on my Apple2, so I ended up using the DOS 3.3 version on the Apple2 and ADTPro to do the transfers on the Mac, as Mountain Lion doesn’t support the old classic-mode binaries any more (ADT original version for Mac is a classic mode piece of software that hasn’t been maintained since 2007).
  • A terminal emulator for your PC, Mac or Linux box. Although not strictly necessary, this helped me find out if the connection between my Apple 2 and my mac actually worked. I used minicom which is a well-known command line based terminal emulator for Linux. A while back, I downloaded XCode and MacPorts for my Mac, and so I simply ran sudo port install minicom in order to install it. By default, minicom looks for the RS232 device on /dev/modem, so rather than change the minicom config to point to the weird name that had been assigned to the USB-RS232 converter (which was /dev/tty.usbserial), I simply symlinked /dev/modem to /dev/tty.usbserial (sudo ln -s /dev/tty.usbserial /dev/modem). Before using ADTPro I connected everything up and entered IN #2 on my Apple 2 and typed a few items in minicom. Hurrah, the text I entered on the mac echoed on the Apple 2 screen. NB: IN #2 means take input from card bay number 2, which is where I have my SSC II inserted.
  • I then set the toggle switches on the Super Serial Card to 19200 baud, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit and no parity (commonly referred in good-ole BBS speak as 19200 8N1). I got the toggle switch configuration reference from this site.
  • Finally, I sparked up ADTPro and bootstrapped it using the video guide on the ADTPro website (embedded below for quick reference), then copied the Karateka disk image I got from apple2.org.za – an FTP resource for pretty much all old Apple2 software.

>> Watch a Video of Karateka on my Apple 2