This is a quick write up on setting up Serial to call BBS’s. Serial by Decisive Tactics (https://www.decisivetactics.com) is a MacOS terminal app for, you guessed it, serial connections. It’s a great app I used quite a bit when working with the Atari Portfolio, the Atari ST, and to a lesser degree, the Atari 8 bits. The latest version of the app runs natively on M1 Macs as well!
First, set the main preferences (font, colors, cursor, etc). These will be used for all sessions. The important thing here is selecting a font that supports code page 437. This code page is common to DOS based PC’s in the U.S. There is a great resource for old PC fonts located here: https://int10h.org/oldschool-pc-fonts/ .
Here I am using the AC437 ACM VGA 9×14 font in 30 pt. I prefer this font because it lacks serifs. You’ll want ANSI colors turned on as well:
Next, Add a session. Use File/Open, click the + at the bottom left and choose New Remote Connection. Initially you just enter the connection type and address. Protocol will be Plain TCP Socket (when RAW is needed), then fill in the Host address.
Once both fields are populated the Advanced Settings button will be active. Click it! Start at the top item on the left and work your way down. First in the Name section, set the name as you want it to appear in the session list:
Then in the Remote Host section, you will want to clear the Username field:
There is nothing to do with Connection Info, skip to Pacing. No changes needed here, shown for reference:
Then in the Window section, set the window attributes. There is a choice of how to negotiate the window size (useful for *nix connections). Choose “set cli screen-length/width”, the size you want (80×25 most likely), and then check Locked:
Then in the Emulation section, set it to VT100, and the Text Encoding to Western (DOS Latis US/CP437):
Now click OK. You will see your entry in the Open Connection dialog in the Network section. You can create tags, and associate items with those tags by right clicking the item and selecting a tag. Then you can click the tag:
Now you can double click the entry to open it (aka dial), or highlight and click Open. If the BBS is not busy, you should get a connection. The TrueType font I chose and and at the point size I elected sometimes has minor render issues between character cells (seen here) – it doesn’t always do this and may be a result of the processing through all the ANSI to get the characters and color. It seems the more character changes, the more it happens:
When you logoff the BBS, the terminal will disconnect. Serial gives you a status in the upper right corner (Disconnected). It also shows “Connecting” in the same location during connection establishment. Note the lack of render issues (less character and color changes on this screen):
That’s it. Enjoy