Maintaining 'RTTY by WF1B'
Please note that I have given up on this project. Sorry. Read below for reasons why...
Anyone want to buy some TurboPascal libraries from TurboSoftware?
Somewhen 2001 Uli, DJ9XB asked me if I could maintain the popular 'RTTY by WF1B' program, written by Ray Ortgiesen, WF1B. Ray had stopped the development due to professional committments, I guess he simply had not enough time to continue work on this software. The sources were put into the public domain by Ray.
The main reason to maintain the program is to adjust to changed contest rules (e.g. WAE 2002).
My goals in maintaing the DOS software are
- Adopt to changes in contest rules
- Fix the dreaded "200" bug, when running "RTTY by WF1B" on fast machines.
- Try to add soundcard support under DOS (unlikely at the moment)
- Fixing some other minor things.
I do not plan to enhance the functional behavior of the program, unless where needed and useful. It is not planned to add support for other modems, as the use of TUs for RTTY seems to be vanishing anyway due to the use of soundcards.
Beyond the maintenance of the DOS program, I will try to 'port' the software to Windows. This is still in the future. The goals here are to maintain the ease of use and simplicity of the program, for which it has become so popular and widely used in the past. The earliest possible date for a first release of the windows software is early 2003. This software will be published as shareware.
Cost and use of donations
Since Ray decided to use commercial libraries for his program, it cannot be compiled unless I have these libraries. The only legal way to obtain them is to buy them.
Products needed (all by TurboPower Software Company):
Async Professional US$ 229 Turbo Professional US$ 179 Object Professional US$ 279 Shipping, Customs etc. US$ 100 (estimated) Total: US$ 787
I plan to use donations to cover my expenses. If I receive more funds than my expenses were , I plan to use the money on public projects benefiting many international radio amateurs (e.g. supporting contesting.com, qsl.net or similiar). I don't want to get money for a program I didn't write.
If the windows version of the program ever gets to be ready, I plan to ask money for it. These funds will go into my pocket.
Many OMs sent emails and promised financial support. One person even proposed to cover all expenses (US$400 at that time),which impressed me greatly. Many thanks to all of you! But I don't want to ask for money, unless I have something to offer (an enhanced, downloadable version). So please watch this space for further announcements.
Unpacking and analyzing the sources, I found that Ray used some commercial libraries for serial port handling, screen handling (windowing, mouse) and some other tasks. These libraries are written and sold by TurboPower Software Company of Colorado Springs, USA (www.turbopower.com) and are still available today.
23. Sept. 2002
Ordered products (AsyncPro, TurboPro) from TurboPower arrived today. Installed and read manuals. Tried to compile, only to find that Ray used a "bonus" part of the libraries, which again rely on another library (Object Professional). This dependency was not obvious before. So the cost of the project went up by another US$279.
At this point I asked myself if the added cost is really worth the whole trouble. OTOH I already have substantial expenses, and the only way to recover them is to publish an enhanced version of the software. So I ordered the required libraries today. My hope is that this is the last discovery of hidden dependencies.
27 Sept. 2002
The ordered products arrived today, tried to ocompile - again to no avail. Buried in the now compileable parts shows up yet another library which I don't have. And this library is not from the same company I bought the other three from. It may even be share- or freeware, but an extensive search on the web yielded no results. The library/tool collection in question is "Turbo Access".
Cost so far: US$ 473.25 (products, docs, shipping) US$ 10.00 (customs) EUR 9.71 US$ 280.42 (products, docs, shipping) US$ 5.00 (customs) EUR 5.17 Total US$ 768.67
07. Oct. 2002
Whew - I was able to get my hands on a legal copy of the required BTree library. Now everything seems to be complete. First tests are promising. Some library functions are not present, either Ray rewrote them or he used a different version of some libraries. But that's an issue which I can fix myself.
14. Oct. 2002
Ray (WF1B) sent a lot of sources, docs and other material needed for the program. Big thanks to you, Ray! But back to square one, just to make sure, comparing the new sources with the ones which are publicly available on the net.
16. Oct. 2002
Off to CQWW SSB contest at IH9P (Pantelleria Isl, AF-018). Software is on the notebook, I hope to find some time to work on the RTTY program.
06. Nov. 2002
Back from Pantelleria (what an experience, fantastic) and didn't find much time to work on the software (zero to be exact). Published a note today on the RTTY reflector that there will be no new version for the WAEDC contest. Sorry. Work continues.
Winter 2002 / Spring 2003
My note from 7. Oct. 2002 was overly optimistic. I found that Ray used function calls into the TurboPower libraries which he had modified. I tried to deduce from the function calls what behavior the underlying functions should have, but I was not able to find that out. It goes quite deep into the screen handling routines of DOS, something which I don't know much about.
Finally, after many, many hours late into the night I have given up. I have tried to contact Ray about more information but that was not quite efficient. Maybe my english was not good enough to make my point - that I needed information on the changed TurboPower libraries. After some point I did not even get a reply from him. Ok, he did a great service to us, so there is no complaint.
Let's face it: 'RTTY by WF1B' was a fantastic product at it's time and helped many of us to get started in RTTY contesting. But it's time is over. DOS computers are about to go away. Machines with Windows ™ and soundcards are very affordable, and the decoding capabilities of programs like MMTTY are superb and sometimes better than old RTTY modems.
Meanwhile I have shifted my focus to Linux and have stopped developing software for DOS/Windows based machines. I think that my time is much more worthwile doing that than trying to maintain an obsolete software, even a good one. Sorry folks.