Device Overview and Basic Network Connecting Options

The new 921.6Kbps Serial & ESP32 Network Card, an expansion card intended to increase the capabilities of the Commander X16 computer, is eagerly welcomed by the Commander X16 community. There are two variations of this card—a low-profile card and a high-profile card—to suit varying case sizes and user preferences.

Key Features of the X16 Serial & ESP32 Network Card:

  • Dual High-Speed UART: Capable of running up to 921.6Kbps, offering fast and efficient serial communications.
  • Physical Serial Port: Equipped with a 9-Pin Male Connector (DE9/DB9) for robust connectivity.
  • Wi-Fi Network Connectivity: Provided via an ESP32-WROOM-U microcontroller, allowing seamless internet access.
  • Bo Zimmerman’s Zimodem Preinstalled: Facilitates easy terminal and network access.

The integrated ESP32 for Wi-Fi connections and the physical serial port for modem connections are the two basic options for network communication. By serving as a bridge to the internet, the ESP32 keeps legacy serial equipment compatible with more modern networks and facilitates simple connections.

Device Specifications

The Commander X16 Serial & ESP32 Network Card boasts impressive specifications tailored to meet the needs of retro computing enthusiasts:

  • High-Speed RS-232 Transceiver IC: Ensures smooth data transmission.
  • Full RS-232 Hand-Shaking Support: Supports RX/TX, RTS/CTS, DSR/DTR, CD, and RI, facilitating compatibility with both modern and vintage serial equipment.
  • Selectable Baud Rates: Ranging from 50 to 921.6Kbps, allowing fine-tuned control over communication speeds.
  • Customizable IO Ranges: With 10 selectable IO ranges via DIP switch, the default setting being IO7 Low ($9FE0-$9FEF).
  • Interrupt Configuration: NMI/IRQ selectable for interrupts via jumper, defaulting to IRQ.
  • UART Crystal: 14.7456MHz, internally divided by 16 to derive the base speed, supporting a maximum of 921600 baud.
  • Option Pins: Two additional input-only option pins connected to the ESP32 from the UART for advanced functionality.

For more detailed technical information, refer to the TL16C2550 datasheet.

ROMTerm Terminal Program

Enhancing the hardware capabilities of the Commander X16 Serial & ESP32 Network Card is the ROMTerm terminal program, created by David Murray. ROMTerm supports many features designed to maximize your retro computing experience. There are still many BBSs active online. This site is a great start: The Commodore BBS Outpost

Key Features of ROMTerm:

  • 100% PETSCII Support: Fully compatible with Commodore 64 and Commodore 128 BBSing.
  • 40 & 80 Column Modes: For enhanced display flexibility.
  • ANSI Support: Ensures compatibility with PC-based BBS systems.

Helpful Commands for Using ROMTerm:

  • atd”” – Connect to a server by replacing the name and port as needed.
  • a/ – Repeat the previous command.
  • atb <baud_rate> – Change the baud rate, e.g., atb 9600. Adjust the terminal speed to match the new setting.
  • at&w – Save the current configuration to memory.

Programmer Notes:

  • The onboard UARTs are compatible with the 16450 standard. More information can be found in the TL16C2550 datasheet.
  • Zimodem can be compiled with a flag for use on the X16 Serial Card, utilizing additional input-only option pins for advanced control.
  • The UART crystal and baud rate divisors allow for a wide range of supported speeds.

Using ROMTerm:

To get started, power on your system and run ROMTERM.PRG will automatically locate the serial card and open the configuration menu. For further command details, visit the Zimodem GitHub repository.

Price and Availability

For $49.99, you can purchase the Commander X16 921.6Kbps Serial & ESP32 Network Card. Users can select between the low-profile and high-profile versions of the card depending on how their system is configured. This adaptable and strong expansion card is a must-have upgrade if you want to add more contemporary connectivity choices to your Commander X16 experience.

Experience the perfect blend of retro computing and modern networking with the new Commander X16 Serial & ESP32 Network Card, available now.

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