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PotatoFi

"Cheap Networking" for System 6 and 7 Macs

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Now that my Macintosh SE is up and running, the next thing I want to tackle is "Cheap Networking". PDS ethernet cards and AppleTalk to ethernet adapters are super expensive, so I'm searching for a cheaper way.

 

Requirements:

  • Cheap
  • Full TCP/IP support
  • Can be accomplished with commodity/readily available hardware
  • Easy to configure
  • Something that could be bundled into an image file for others to implement easily
  • Works with System 6 and System 7, hopefully 128k-SE/30 would be supported

 

Not Required:

  • Speed

 

So far, I'm coming up with two ways to do it.

  1. PPP over Serial to a Raspberry Pi
    1. Advantages
      1. Insanely standardized, non-commodity serial hardware
      2. Has been done many times
    2. Disadvantages
      1. I've heard that serial is slower, has less interrupt priority
      2. Requires a lot of little adapters to get working
    3. Other Notes
      1. I wonder if it's possible to get rid of all of the adapters, and just use the GPIO pins on the Pi with a voltage converter?
  2. Dial-up modem on a Raspberry Pi
    1. Advantages:
      1. Possibly faster
      2. Possibly simpler to configure and use in System 6 and 7
      3. ADB modems are like $10 on eBay
      4. This has been done with the Sega Dreamcast
    2. Disadvantages:
      1. Hardware list is kinda long, you'd need a specific USB modem, an ADB modem, and possibly a line voltage inducer

 

Either way, I think I'd like to end up with an image for a Raspberry Pi that is ready to go, a hardware list, and a simple set of instructions to get it all working. Even better would be a Raspberry Pi image that supports both options, so you can get up and running no matter which hardware route you choose. Any external configuration on the Pi could be handled via a text file in /boot to keep things simple. If you didn't even have to SSH into the Pi... that would be pretty rad. Support for both ethernet and Wi-Fi would be pretty cool as well.

 

Any thoughts or interest in such a project?

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22 minutes ago, PotatoFi said:

I wonder if it's possible to get rid of all of the adapters, and just use the GPIO pins on the Pi with a voltage converter?

Been there, done that. All it needs is s MAX3245 or something along those lines.

 

It was slow, just like you already figured :P

Felt ok on a Plus and SE as they are pretty slow on their own but on the SE/30 it was no fun to use.

I was having issues though with the PPP over serial setup when I tried to access stuff on my home network. Pretty sure it was just some weird setting on the Pi I missed somewhere.

 

Stopped messing with it when a Ethernet/Localtalk bridge fell into my hands. I now have a MacIP gateway running on an old Cisco router to access the internet through that.

Pretty fun setup.

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18 hours ago, LaPorta said:

Why is it you need TCP/IP? What are you looking to do? Why can’t plain AppleTalk work?

I must admit that my understanding of AppleTalk is very weak, as I've never seen it or used it. My goal is to find a cheap and straightforward way to get my mac interacting with modern, IP networks and the internet. As far as I can tell, AppleTalk doesn't fit the bill. Modern networks are built on TCP/IP. Is that not true?

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Correct. I was just seeing if it was just networking between old Macs: that is simple with AppleTalk and serial cables. What Macs do you have that you are trying to do this with?

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Just now, LaPorta said:

Correct. I was just seeing if it was just networking between old Macs: that is simple with AppleTalk and serial cables. What Macs do you have that you are trying to do this with?

For me personally, this would be for my Macintosh SE. But as an outcome, I'd like to have a Raspberry Pi image and set of instructions that I can share with others to make this process easy for anyone who wants to do it. Basically, the target machine is any System 6/System 7 machine that ethernet cards are cost prohibitive for.

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Yes, as these things get more and more rare, it is definitely more difficult to do. Best of luck, I'd love to see what you come up with! Sorry I do not have experience with that.

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I'm checking out the 56k modem route first. I've ordered a Global Village modem and a USB modem for my Raspberry Pi. Overall I'm in less than $20. Plan is to set up a Pi Zero W and the USB modem to accept incoming calls. Whether the Global Village modem requires a line inducer is yet to be seen.

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Ok I’ve tried a few methods as i want Email on my se/30 (not managed that yet though) but getting internet and network sharing between other macs; in my case a PowerPc and G3 iMac.

first up even the PDS network cards are far from easy to use even if you buy one,  I was lucky enough my se/30 came with a working network card although no drivers or configuration as the previous owner wiped it.

These network cards (NICS) are so old they only run half duplex 10 base communication so don’t even think it’ll just plug into a modern home network as they don’t, secondly my one has 9 pin and coaxial connectors neither compatible with the now ambiguous RJ45 so you also need a twisted pair transceiver to RJ45 adaptor as well as a half duplex switch between your hub and your mac and even then DHCP setting don’t work so manual configuration is the only way forward.  All in all it’s been trial and error and a lot of head scratching just to get online and I haven’t even tried connecting my macs together yet as I’ve only just managed to get a half duplexing switch that works with old mac, anyway i digress.

So far from mac to mac apple talk is easiest as its straight forward to setup with a cable for £10 from eBay but for me I couldn’t do that and use the PowerPc as internet passed through as the PowerPc’s network card wouldn’t work in conjunction with the AppleTalk at the same time, something called handshaking I believe something early macs don’t have.  

For internet an old modem was easy enough to setup they’re also cheap from eBay; i brought 2 with floppy disks drivers for less than £25 for the pair.

i have heard the pi is a good route though. Just remember the connection speed is really slow no matter what you do, I believe serial is 230.4kbps which is also the AppleTalk speed, thats slower than a 9600 baud modem so pointless getting 56k, 56k type speeds are only achievable through scsi or through the PDS slot. these old macs are from the very beginning of commercial networking so are not easy to get going.

Thankfully i’ll soon have a room for my collection of macs so will finally set them up properly so I’ll concentrate on getting the 3 networked together as my first goal, then finally email on the se/30 after but I’m pretty sure I’ll have to use my imac’s SSL authentication protocols and push it into the se/30 so another configuration nightmare to over come as Email back then didn’t have the security they do today.

 

saying all that it’s all part of the fun so good luck with which ever route you take! It’s all challenging which makes it all the better when you do manage it :) 

 

Neal

Edited by SE30_Neal

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Ok, I did it! For under $30, I have connected my Macintosh SE to the internet. At the moment I am watching Star Wars via Telnet VERY slowly...

  • Global Village Teleport Bronze 2400 baud modem: $7
  • Dell USB modem: $10
  • Raspberry Pi Zero W: $10
  • A 1uF capacitor and 330k resistor to build a simple line voltage inducer

The Pi is running DreamPi. Zero configuration there other than dropping wpa_supplicant.conf onto the boot partition of the SD card. I just got it working moments ago... it is extremely slow. Gotta get a web browser next. Lemme know if you have any questions!

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Note: This is a work in progress! Errors, sub-optimal software versions, and other stuff is highly likely! I'm definitely willing to take feedback.

 

Bill of Materials

I won't list every single little part like adapters, cables, and MicroSD cards, but I'll list the "big stuff". You can fill in the details.

  • Raspberry Pi Zero W
  • Dell Fax Modem Conexant RD02-D400 USB 56k Modem
  • Global Village Teleport Bronze A861 Modem
  • Non-polarized 0.47uF, 65v capacitor (I used 1uF 50v because that's what I had)
  • 330-400 ohm resistor

Set up the Raspberry Pi

We need to write an image to the Raspberry Pi, enable SSH on it (just in case we need in for troubleshooting), and have it connect to the wireless network.

  1. Download the DreamPi image
  2. Write the image to an SD card with a tool like Etcher
  3. Download Pi Files.zip below, and unzip it.
  4. In wpa_supplicant.conf, enter your Wi-Fi SSID and WPA2 passphrase
  5. Place both wpa_supplicant.conf and ssh in boot on the SD card

Download 68k Macintosh Software .sit Files

This is probably not a good list, I don't know what the best applications and versions are. 

  • MacPPP 2.0.1.sit (this includes MacTCP so you probably don't need the next link)
  • MacTCP 2.0.6.sit
  • NCSA Telnet 2.6 (I was able to watch Star Wars via telnet with this, albeit very slowly)
  • MacWWW (optional, I haven't been able to open webpages with it on System 6.0.8)

Set up the 68k Macintosh

This involves moving files to my iMac G3 running 10.4, and writing them to a floppy. If you don't have a 1.44mb floppy drive on your 68k mac, I have no idea what to do here.

  1. Format a 1.44mb floppy with your 68k mac
  2. Get the .sit files to your OS X 10.4 mac
  3. Use Stuffit Expander 14 to unstuff the .sit files to your floppies
  4. Copy MacTCP and MacPPP to the System folder on your 68k mac
  5. Copy other applications to wherever you want

Configure MacPPP

  • Port Name: Modem Port
  • Select Hangup on Close

In the Config button:

  • Port Speed: 2400 (the modem is only 2400 baud! lol!)
  • Flow Control: CTS Only
  • Tone Dial
  • Phone num: 555

Configure MacTCP

I'm not really sure what to do here... I did plug some random stuff in DNS. Not sure if it was right. Some help here would be great.

 

Build a Line Voltage Inducer

I was really hoping to avoid this step, because despite it being a very simple circuit, it adds complexity. Unfortunately, the Dell modem requires it. Most people use a 9v battery, but I used a 9v wall wart from a 900 MHz baby monitor that I have lying around. I've seen a lot of people suggest using a 0.47uF65v capacitor. I used a 1uF, 50v non-polarized capacitor and it hasn't blown up yet so that's good I guess. If you have to use a polarized capacitor... I have no idea what to do with that because I don't understand how polarity works in this circuit.

 

1554797758_LineVoltageInducer.png.2890a655d7d9106dc001110d6f0859bf.png

 

Conclusion

It works! Here's the positives about this setup:

  • Authentic dial-up experience
  • Works with my iMac G3's 56k modem with no configuration changes

Negatives:

  • Incredibly slow at 2400 baud, I was shocked to find that the modem won't go any faster than that
  • Line voltage inducer adds quite a bit of complexity both to the build and hardware on your desk
  • DreamPi is optimized for Dreamcast players... I'd rather build a more lightweight image but this is outside of my area of expertise

Overall, I think this is cool, but probably not *the* solution.

 

Pi Files.zip

Edited by PotatoFi

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Well done on getting it running so quickly potatofi. As i expected speeds are around  230kbps or 2400 baud your getting.  

Have you got on any websites so far? Which browser you using?

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If you'd like a website to test, feel free to try http://www.nocss.ml. This is my website for old devices.

 

As for connecting, this was my best choice when I went through the same process. Works fine on my PowerBook 160 and Macintosh Classic. I believe it's quite a bit faster than modem speeds.

 

Edited by TechEdison

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22 hours ago, SE30_Neal said:

Have you got on any websites so far? Which browser you using?

Yes! Since I'm running System 6 (only 1mb of RAM), I'm limited to MacWWW unless there's something else out there. While retro.hackaday.com does not work:

 

image-20181221_211949.thumb.jpg.e2c6ef6c9f199325898a5c5094de3a8f.jpg

 

21 hours ago, TechEdison said:

If you'd like a website to test, feel free to try http://www.nocss.ml. This is my website for old devices.

I was able to access www.nocss.ml (although none of the links in it will load):

 

IMG_20181223_150449.thumb.jpg.d8ac978af1a23d28836e3b90028812c5.jpg

 

So yeah, it works! The next thing I'm sorting out is the hardware side. Right now, I'm powering the Pi with a cheap USB battery pack. The line voltage inducer seems to work fine with a 5v feed from another battery pack... so I'm thinking about just integrating it with the modem. This is pretty common in the Dreamcast community, but they typically do a boost from 5v to 9v. Since it's working at 5v... I don't see the need. Any thoughts?

 

IMG_20181223_150609.thumb.jpg.47d5937ca20270e4e464268dd9e444f4.jpg

Edited by PotatoFi

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Thanks, but ultimately, the Sega Dreamcast community is responsible for this one. I just put the pieces together.

 

Ok, more progress! I was pretty unsatisfied with the mess:

 

IMG_20181223_150609.thumb.jpg.09bc9c4b13f9084575c0a948c6553b62.jpg

 

So I took apart the modem and integrated the line voltage inducer. This pulls 5v directly from USB. Pololu makes a 5v to 9v step-up converter that I'd like to integrate here that would make this more correct. Right now, this works with my Global Village modem, but it does not work with the modem on my iMac G3. Probably won't work with my Dreamcast.

 

IMG_0112.thumb.JPG.75ed118459eae904889c9b3e7706480d.JPG

 

It all fits nicely in the modem case:

 

IMG_0111.thumb.JPG.8d0a897be988c8f203bb9953427aa7cf.JPG

 

And my desk is a bit neater:

 

IMG_0113.thumb.JPG.60e2bc893a9d88a98c88922e7ee8b02f.JPG

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Don't get me wrong, but I find it weird when I see people trying to open web pages on 68000 Macs with very slow connection. I mean what's the purpose?

I used PowerBook 170 with maxed RAM back in the mid 90s and "surfing" the Internet was no fun at all - apart from IRC, email, newsgroups, everything lagged.  Only text based Internet makes sense.

 

If you want to see real magic - check this on any Mac that's capable of opening .PNG files, 

 

1) go to http://pici.picidae.net/

2) write 68kmla.org in URL window and press enter

3) wait and open any topic you like (no loggin though)

Edited by CharlieFrown

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I often ask myself this too... Hahaha.

 

It's for the "because I can" factor. Why not? It's neat to have a 30 year old Plus on Google.

 

I'll have to check that link out! Sounds cool.

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4 hours ago, CharlieFrown said:

Don't get me wrong, but I find it weird when I see people trying to open web pages on 68000 Macs with very slow connection. I mean what's the purpose?

I used PowerBook 170 with maxed RAM back in the mid 90s and "surfing" the Internet was no fun at all - apart from IRC, email, newsgroups, everything lagged.  Only text based Internet makes sense.

 

If you want to see real magic - check this on any Mac that's capable of opening .PNG files, 

 

1) go to http://pici.picidae.net/

2) write 68kmla.org in URL window and press enter

3) wait and open any topic you like (no loggin though)

I still want my SE/30 online, why well simply because you can, some bulletin boards, emails, being able to download a few drivers and files directly to it but i know that isn’t that likely but nevertheless its worth a try. Main reason i want mine networked though is to easily transfer software downloaded from Macintosh Garden on my newer macs.

but like Jonny says just because lol

 

Neal 

Edited by SE30_Neal

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