Falcon BBS in Depth

=== The Story Behind FALCON BBS ===

I came to know computer when I went to further my study at GIBA, or now named "SASIN Graduate Institute of Business Administration", Chulalongkorn University, sponsored by BAAC my employer. During my study in late 1985, I had to prepare a term paper using Wordstar on IBM PC. I still remember the advice of my senior which says "Control K D to save".

Many of my professors, mostly from the KGSM, Northwestern U. and Wharton, Pennsylvania applied application programs like Lotus in the course. I can still remember Prof.Rubinovich who taught me (in class) how to compile a program written in BASIC and how he communicates with his friends using computer. That's the first time I ever heard about what I am now indulging in.

Having some experiences with computer, or to be more precise, Digger, and watching other guys using other programs, I was convinced that computer is useful and worths it cost. So I bought my first computer on Jan 6, 1986, a Tavon PC-16 256 KB RAM , 2 * 360 KB FDD, and 14" Thomson RGB monitor for 38,000. I play with games and application programs at 50:50 time allocation, and gradually absorbed the concepts of application programs (and games). I also learnt a lot from Chatchawal Kalonk, a good friend of mine.

I read an article on modem in Modern Office, and I bought my modem and joined the world of data communications since 2 Sep, 1987 (wonderful memory on date?).

I learnt how to send messages, how to down-and-up load files, etc. I had a feeling that I wanna be a SYSOP thinking that it's easy, just turn on the computer and run the program. But when I got the program from Woody Khoman, BUG Board's SYSOP, it's not easy. The Install.bat failed to work and error messages appeared. Anyway, I managed to make it work out finally with help from Pat Sadavongvivad (Jojo).

Being quite sure that it works, I sent messages to TISTR and STARNET on March 6, 1988, announcing that Falcon BBS will be available during 6-9 March 1988 as an experimental stage. During those four nights, my line was busy almost all the time chatting with users- mostly new users like Nontakrai & Ace Singhapak (father & son), Monchai Anantaniti, and others. So I think that in this charity market, there is a demand for more BBSs. The existing ones are just inadequate, somes are down, and some are busy; and more users are coming in.

Falcon BBS, after its experimental stage, just can't stop. It, therefore, will be serving users on a long-term basis, during 21.00-24.00 nightly, from March 11, 1988 onwards. (during 19.00-24.00 nightly, from December 20, 1989 onwards.) (Open 24 hours/day 365 days/year, from August 23, 1990 onwards!)

Thanks to Thomas Mack, Woody Khoman, Pat Sadavongvivad, and all callers -all of whom have inspired me to run this BBS.

(UPDATING NOTES) On February 8, 1989, FALCON BBS switch from RBBS-PC to QBBS 2.03 Thanks to Botter Reeves who suggested I try, and Phoom Sanguanhong who always have new programs to distribute along with helpful hints.

On June 5, 1989, Falcon QBBS's Net Mail System is up and running.

On June 12, 1989, Falcon QBBS's Echo Mail System is up and running too! Falcon QBBS owes a lot to Khun Phoom of C&C IFS in setting up Net & Echo.

On October 16, 1989, Falcon installed LYNX as the second BBS software as an alternative to QBBS, and Multi-System FALCON started operation. On October 17, 1989 LYNX's Net Mail System is up & running.

On December 31, 1989, FALCON changed its Hard Disk from ST-225 (20 MB 60 ms) to ST-251-1 (28 ms) formatted using RLL controller into 2x32 = 64 MB

On January 12, 1990, QBBS 2.61 was installed as the third board, with Echomail capability. Netmail was up & running 2 days after that.

From August 23, 1990, FALCON has turned into a full-fledged BBS by offering 24-hours service, and has obviously become a very popular BBS!.

During September and November, 1990, many features were added to Board 3 (QBBS 2.61) which is my "flagship" BBS. These include several popular on-line games like Global War and Galactic Warzone. The infamous Off-line Message Reader/Replier named "Silver Express" by Victor Santos has also been in service since early November 1990.

On February 8, 1991, I got a new BBS software named RemoteAccess or RA 0.04 from BUG II, and I installed it on-top-of and in-place-of QBBS 2.03. This is, by coincidence, exactly 2 years after QBBS 2.03 permanently replaced RBBS-PC !. On the very day I got it, RA was up-and-running with as complete Net Mail and Echo Mail capabilities as those of QBBS 2.61. Well, RA is a QBBS clone, and in fact, installing it on-top-of QBBS was quite easy- I think it's easier than installing new version of QBBS on-top-of the old version. All messages/users/menu utility programs of QBBS work fine with RemoteAccess.

On March 3, 1991, RA 0.04 was replaced by newer version- RA 1.00 ! On June 9, 1991, QBBS 2.61 was replaced by QBBS 2.64

In June 1991, International Netmail Service was introduced and offered. This service spans the globe with its global mailing capability.

On July 4, 1991, SysOp bought a Color Scanner and upgraded himself from .GIF files Viewer/Collector to be .GIF files Producer/Director , Thai BBS History has to record that he is the first SysOp to do so.

In late July 1991, RA 1.00 was replaced by RA 1.01, courtesy a fellow FIDO Net SysOp, David Lee of 6:600/306 (S'pore).

On 7 September 1991, FALCON upgraded its hardware from 8088-2 (4.77/10 MHz) to 80386SX (10/20 MHz), from 64 MB 28 ms to 212.6 MB 16 ms, from 360 KB FDD to 1.44 MB, from CGA Card 8 bit to VGA Card 16 bit, from 84-key keyboard to 101-key, etc. Everything is new except the monitor (still CGA). All these costed me 33,xxx Baht, 10,xxx of this came from users' donations. It's much faster than before. Board 2 (Lynx) however, died with the old Hard Disk.

Early in October 1991, FALCON began to use FrontDoor 2.01 instead of BinkleyTerm 2.30, and had XRS Door - Another Off-Line Mail Reader/Editor installed for QuickBBS board, and for RemoteAccess board too. More On-line Games had been installed before that, such as Global War 2.31, Galactic WarZone 7.6, Jet Combat 1.09 and Elynthia.

In the same month, Khun Supoj Choachaicharoenkul helped install "DoorWay" which enables Sysop to have full control over the BBS remotely, and "FileDoor" which allows advanced protocols like T-modem, SuperZmodem, MPT/Puma, etc.. Anyway, Filedoor caused problems concerning date and time, and was disabled soon after.

On 6 November 1991, FALCON upgraded from QBBS 2.66, which was active for a short time, to QBBS 2.75, and on 24th the same month, it upgraded from FrontDoor 2.01 to FrontDoor 2.02. Both prgs were kindly uploaded by Khun Trin Tantsetthi.

In late February 1992, Blue Wave 2.00 was installed as the third Offline Reader following Silver Express and XRS.

On 14 March 1992, FALCON upgrades its system memory from 1 MB 100 ns to 4 MB 70 ns, which is allocated as follows:

                640 KB  Conventional Memory
               1024 KB  Disk Cache
               2048 KB  RAM Disk
In May 1992, FALCON acquired a DSI 9624PCP V.32bis/V.42bis Faxmodem from USA. Unfortunately, it did not work properly. So I bought a Discovery 9632AM V.32bis/V.42bis External Modem locally at special Sysop price, and FALCON began to support 14400 bps connection in the same month.

Late 1992, old CGA monitor went out-of-order and was replaced by a Color VGA one.
Early 1993, 386SX-16 mainboard that had run 24 hours for 18 months also went out of order, and was replaced by 386SXL-33.
15 March 1993, the lousy Discovery 9632AM was replaced by ZyXEL U-1496E+ V.32bis/V.42bis 19.2K Ultra High Speed.
16 March 1993, FALCON accept both DATA calls and FAX calls.
29 March 1993, FALCON get ROM Version 6 Upgrade for modem, therefore it can accept calls at as high as 19200 bps. FALCON is probably, if not undoubtedly, the first BBS in Thailand to support this Super High Speed. At this speed, you can transfer up to 2,270 cps for ZIP files, and about 4,000 cps for text files.

20 May 1993, FALCON gets another HD, boosting storage capacity from 212 MB to 457 MB!

12 Jan 1994, FALCON loses Conner 212 MB (purchased in Sep'91 for 20,000 baht and had been running 24 hrs for more than 20000 hrs)

21 Jan 1994, FALCON get a new HD - Seagate ST3655A 528 MB- courtesy DataComm Technology Co.,Ltd. (Thailand's Exclusive Distributor of ZyXEL modems and many other advanced communication products), boosting its storage capacity to 773 MB!

17 Feb 1994, FALCON changed its modem from ZyXEL U-1496 E+ to ZyXEL U-1496 S+ which is ZyXEL's Top-End model.

In May 1994, Seagate 528 MB HD went out of order. It was replaced by a new one of the same make and model.

In August 1994, the Seagate 528 MB HD went out of order again (such a lousy HD!, all files 400 MB+ on the HD couldn't be accessed at all). I didn't want Seagate any more so I asked my sponsor (Datacomm Technology Co.,Ltd.) to supply a new brand and I got Conner 528 MB.

On 24th of May 1995, FALCON upgraded its CPU from 386SXL-33 to 486DX2-80, upgraded its HD controller from AT-bus to EIDE, and installed a new HD -Conner 850 MB IDE- which was donated again by DataComm Technology Co.,Ltd. It replaced drive C: (245 MB Maxtor) which is FALCON's system drive.

Total capacity so far = 850 + 528 = 1378 MB

On 21st of June 1995, FALCON changed its mainboard to a better one, and upgraded CPU from DX2-80 to DX4-100.

On 31st of August 1995, FALCON upgraded its modem from ZyXEL U-1496 S+ to ZyXEL Elite 2864 V.34/FAX/VOICE modem. The new modem just arrived Thailand the day before, so FALCON is undoubtedly the first BBS in Thailand (and among the first ones in the world) to use ZyXEL 28.8 K modem!.

On2nd of November 1995, FALCON added 4 MB of RAM to speed up mail scanning/bundling even more. Total system memory now = 8 MB.

In February, the old monitor broke down and could not be repaired. I had to buy a new one for FALCON. It's an SOCOS 14" Non-interlaced, Low-radiation Monitor.

On 16 February, I bought a ZipDrive (100 MB drive) mainly for the backup of FALCON's system directories. It's too bad that though it costs only $199 in the US, I had to pay some 9,000 baht for it here.

On 9 May 1996, one of the drives of Falcon (Conner 540 MB) went out-of-order because of FAT damage and lots of error readings. I bought a Quantum 1.7 GB HD to replace it.

On 2 Jul 1996, the mainboard of Falcon (486 VLbus) went out-of-order. I replaced it with a Gigabyte (586 PCI), and this required the purchase of a new CPU and new RAM too, and I gave to Falcon the best I can, i.e., 6x86-P120+ CPU and 16 MB RAM.

On 5 October 1997, the Conner 850 MB HD, which had shown read error several times for about half a month, could boot no more after a system hangup. It has served well 24-hours for 2 years and 5 months (not a bad record so to speak). The next day it was replaced with a Seagate 1705 MB which costed me 5,800.-. Luckily, most files (99%) could be copied to the new system drive. All BBS system files were intact.

On 15 July 1998, ZyXEL Elite 2864 failed to function. It was replaced by ZyXEL U-336E, an external 33.6Kbps modem which set me back another 13,000 baht!.

On 4 October 1998, the Gigabyte HX mainboard which had served 24 hrs for over two years failed to function. It was replaced by J-TX98B (TXPro) mainboard, also a new fan & heatsink was needed to replace to old one. Costs were 2,400 + 220 = 2,620 baht.

On 8 October 1998, the J-TX98B mainboard failed to function, it was replaced by a new of same make & model at no cost.

On 15 October 1998, to be sure that FALCON will be back on-line and be more reliable, several main components such as Mainboard, CPU, RAM, HD were replaced by new ones, total cost was 12,200 baht (details in Bulletin 2 on FALCON BBS).

The total costs of setting up and maintaining FALCON BBS during the past 10 years and 7 months is 256,234.- baht, --or averaging 2,000,- baht per month. This is what I give back to our society/community and, man, I'm proud of what I've done!

                              Phaisal Hanbuntrong  11/Mar/'88
                              Updated on         26/Oct/'89
                                                       30 Jul/'98
                                                       21 Oct/'98

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