Amstrad NC Dial-up     last updated: March 2020

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With a restricted screen size of 80 characters by 8 down, the NC100 was never really designed for content driven services, not least because the machines were released in a time before the internet had arrived in households. However, with a built in 9 pin serial port and serial terminal software built in, it's possible to dial this old machines up to an old school BBS. Note that dialing up these numbers can incur an additional charge on your phone bill, depending where you live. I'd recommend checking the number code and location before dialing.

More about BBS https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulletin_board_system

Here in the UK active dial-up BBS seem thin on the ground these days to say the least. One that I've found operating in 2020 is Dial-Up BBS based in London (link at the foot of this article). 

To start with you'll need the following:
- An Amstrad NC computer!
- A dial-up modem with 9 pin serial connector for the Amstrad. These are becoming increasingly rare but a dig around eBay will probably unearth something. I'm using a generic 33.6 Rockwell chipset modem. 
- A landline and phone socket

 

Connecting the modem to your Amstrad is pretty straight-forward. Plug the modem into the Amstrad's 9 pin serial port, the phone line into your phone wall socket and switch on the modem and then the Amstrad. Here's some step by step instructions:

Connect a dial up modem to NC via serial port
Turn on modem. Turn on NC
Enter Serial program (Func + S)
Press MENU and set baud rate to 4800, Parity=even. Stop bits8/1. 
Back in terminal mode (press Stop)
Type in [ATDT #]   where # is the phone number and press Return. The BBS I've used is Dial-Up Nights BBS in the UK, the Telnet BBS Guide has a list of other dial-up sites. At this point the modem should dial out. 

When I first logged into Dial-Up Nights I was asked to enter a name, a password and I set a few preferences which are saved for the next login. Once of the questions asked how many lines to display before prompting for the next page. When I logged in I entered 8 lines which didn't appear to be accepted, so I went with 10 lines. It doesn't display perfectly on a lowly NC100 but most things are readable. I was even able to leave a message on the bulletin board.

 

Useful links:
Tim's Amstrad Site https://www.ncus.org.uk/
Huge resource of all things Amstrad NC

Surgical guide to the Amstrad NC
http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/A_surgical_guide_to_the_Amstrad_NC

Simulant - the go to place in 2020 for Amstrad NC spares and upgrades
https://www.simulant.uk/shop/home

Dial-up Nights BBS - just about the only UK dial-up BBS I can find right now. If you know more please let me know!
https://www.telnetbbsguide.com/bbs/dial-up-nights-bbs/


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