Modem Fun!

So, unlike Mr. Spooner who was downing his first pint before midday I’ve made it to after 3pm before the first of a couple of cheeky glasses of port. Before starting on my RC fun I had setup the slow cooker for pulled pork, baked two lots of scones and cooked off some chicken and sausages. After the late night we’d had on New Year’s eve there was no stirring apart from myself in the household before 11.30!

I’ve not had any retrochallenge successes today. I have learnt some things however.

I started the day attempting to make a replacement direct-connection modem cable for the Tandy Model 102. Previously I’d bought some 8-pin DIN connectors. What I hadn’t realised is that the PHONE socket on the 102/200 is slightly different to the CASSETTE socket. They are both 8-pin DIN, but the PHONE socket pins are spaced closer to the casing. Obviously I found this out after spending an hour making a new cable. It makes perfect sense that you should be prevented from plugging cables in incorrectly given their proximity on the back of the computer, however it takes some close inspection to tell the difference!

I also found that the pin numbering of the PHONE connector in the Tandy 102 Users Guide is different to the numbering on the DIN connector. A lesson learnt (I made the classis mistake initially of forgetting to put the housing on the cable for the connector before soldering otherwise I might not have noticed this difference)!

I did get a modem cable with the 102 but it’s not in good condition. Having initially thought it was wired up wrong (due to the different numbering conventions) I then double checked and found it was wired up correctly. So I tried that cable but couldn’t get anywhere dialing up @retrocosm Nostromo BBS. I suspect it has something to do with the way in which I have the phone and modem connected to the phone line. I couldn’t get a connection established.

Having spoken to folks on the club100 mailing list I’ve also found that UK Model 100/102/200’s have different ROMS with the dialing facility removed. The PROHIBITED sticker on the bottom also indicates a difference.

The Model 100 I recently acquired (which has suffered from battery leakage corrosion) doesn’t even have a PHONE connector – there is a blanking plate and no DIN-8 socket on the motherboard.

I then resorted to the acoustic coupler that I had bought NOS from the USA a couple of months ago (in a whim, on my phone, waiting for the Windermere ferry whilst out on my bike).

In anticipation I had also bought one of these ‘retro’ bluetooth handset for use with a mobile phone with the correct profile for insertion in the coupler’s cups.

I tried this setup with various communication settings (7/8 bit, even/odd/none parity, 1/2 stop bits) and did at times get an occassional intelligible response but nothing remotely reliable.
The mobile phone signal here is very poor and I won’t write off this approach without having tried a connection near the local mobile phone mast (which is next to Booth’s supermarket – Model 200 in their Cafe I anticipate).

I am still to find a convenient method of attaching images to these posts. This time round I’m including a link to a google photo album. You’d think they would make it easy to embed an album on the page, but an internet search suggests otherwise. Like Star Trek the search continues…

Modem Photos