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Welcome to PCBFido! Our implementation of Fido will operate as both a hub and as a site. The Fido technology gives you the ability to exchange mail from all around the world or just between a few systems in the same valley. The goal of this documentation is two fold.

First of all, for those SysOps who are already familiar with the Fido technology and the world of terminology surrounding it, you'll find the translation quite easy because the need for batch files to switch between a mailer and a BBS are now gone. Most of your concerns will revolve around getting familiar with the options in PCBSetup.

Secondly, for those SysOps who are unfamiliar with Fido technology, this document will guide you though (step-by-step) on how to get connected with FidoNet. Ah, there is that magical word–FidoNet. What is it?

The term FidoNet refers to a large number of BBSs around the world which are dedicated to FidoNet activity. This very large group of BBSs are broken down by three distinct characteristics. A ZONE basically defines the continent the BBS is from (North America, South America, Europe, etc.). Furthermore, the NETWORK is a smaller group of BBSs within the ZONE. It is not uncommon to have several hundred networks in a zone. The last defining characteristic is called the NODE. This is a unique number within each network. For example, network #35 may have nodes numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4.

We now know all BBSs use a unique number to identify themselves. This particular number is called the node address and follows the format:


Seeing a node address of 1:512/52, you know the address refers to node 52, in network 512, which is in zone 1. As you become more familiar with FidoNet, you'll soon learn that zone 1 is North America, zone 2 is Europe, Zone 3 is Australia, and so on. You'll want to skip over the next section which talks about converting from an existing mailer and go to the next section where we will help you will be guided in step-by-step fashion on how to get started in FidoNet.

I'm Already Running a Mailer

Welcome to the wonderful world of Fido where the words “batch file” are not in our vocabulary. Seriously, it is entirely possible to setup Fido without ever having to setup or run a batch file. We should mention that optional batch files can be created to use different Zmodem modules or to even handle .TIC processing.

Since you have run a mailer before, no doubt you are already familiar with the Fido terminology. Your setup tasks mainly revolve around getting familiar with the configuration layout of Fido within PCBSetup's Fido Configuration menu option. Take a moment to browse this menu item and look over the options. If you know the information like your node number, or FREQ information, go ahead and fill it in. You'll be up in no time.

In the advent, you have problems in getting PCBFido properly configured, feel free to step through the areas of the documentation dedicated for new users. They will point out things you may not be aware of in PCBFido which is different from other mailers. A classic example of this is in assigning an area tag to a conference. This is done from the third conference configuration screen as opposed to a data file.

I'm New to Fido

Fido is unlike any other net mail technology. It is complex. At some times it may even be confusing but realize this is a widely accepted method of transferring messages and files between all types of bulletin board packages.

We will take you step-by-step through a set of tasks required to get you up and running. After a major task is completed (e.g., setting up netmail), we will show you how to test the new feature to make sure it is working properly. Attempting to connect to FidoNet one step at a time and make sure each is working properly is the best way to get you up and running. A brief rundown of concepts we will cover in getting you configured follows:

  • Contacting the net coordinator / Get a node number assigned to you
  • Setting up echo areas (message bases)

Before attempting to get FidoNet configured, make sure you are familiar with the concepts behind it. A good source for this information is a guide called the Big Dummy's Guide to FidoNet which is written by Michael Schuyler. This guide is available on Salt Air (the support board for PCBoard and CDC products) under the filename BIGDUMMY.ZIP. A wealth of information regarding the mentality of those participating in the network and also a brief rundown of terminology is included. You won't regret the extra few minutes it will take to look it over.

Once you have a basic understanding of Fido, your next step is to get in contact with the net coordinator so you can have a node number assigned to you. If you do not know what a net coordinator is at this point, stop and read the Big Dummy's Guide (BIGDUMMY.ZIP). It contains this information and more.

Contacting the Net Coordinator

Why do you have to contact the net coordinator? He is the one who will assign your node number to you. An obvious question at this point is who is the net coordinator and how can in get in contact him.

It would be wonderful if it were just a phone number to dial and say “sign me up”. Unfortunately it's not going to be that easy. The way you contact the net coordinator is by sending him Fido netmail. When the request is sent via netmail, the coordinator knows you:

  • Understand Fido enough to at least send netmail
  • Have netmail working with your current Fido Configuration

Being able to do these tasks is proof that you know what you're doing so the coordinator will be more than happy to get your node number to you.

To send the netmail to the coordinator the following steps must be accomplished:

  • Find a FidoNet site in your area
  • Obtain a nodelist (the white pages of FidoNet)
  • Get the address of the net coordinator
  • Configure PCBoard to send netmail
  • Manually send netmail to the coordinator

Once these have been accomplished you have almost finished setting up PCBFido. Let's go find that coordinator.

1. Find a FidoNet Site in Your Area

Although this is just the first step, it can be the toughest to accomplish. To help make this step much easier, you can call our support BBS (see the printed manual for contact information) and execute the FINDFIDO command from the menu. This PPE uses your area code or country code to generate a list of Fido sites close to you.

2. Obtain a Nodelist

Utilizing the list obtained in step #1, contact one of the BBSs and request a nodelist. The nodelist may be located for download in the file directories, so look there before leaving a message to the SysOp.

3. Get the Address of the Net Coordinator

To send netmail to the network coordinator we need to know the proper address where netmail is to be sent. As a general rule, the coordinator is assigned node 0 of the zone and network you want to join. For example, if the zone is 1 and the network is 311, you'll most likely send mail to 1:311/0. CONFIRM this with the SysOp of the Fido system the nodelist was obtained from as this is vital information.

Configure PCBoard to Send netmail

Before configuring PCBoard to send netmail, make sure you have the following:

  • Nodelist
  • Fido address of the net coordinator

Fido Menu Options/Settings

Our next step is to configure the bare essentials of Fido so we can send a message to the net coordinator. Load PCBSetup and select Fido Configuration from the Main Menu. This screen has the following menu options:

A Fido Configuration
B Node Configuration
C System Address
D EMSI Profile
E File & Directory Configuration
F Archiver Configuration
G Phone Number Translation
H Nodelist Configuration
I FREQ Path List
J FREQ Restrictions
K FREQ Magic Names
L FREQ Deny Nodelist

1. Starting with “Fido Configuration”, the first menu option, mark each of the following fields with a “Y”:

Enable Fido Processing
Allow Node to Process Incoming Packets
Allow Node to Export Mail
Allow Node to Dial Out

2. Press ESC to return to the main Fido Menu and select the “System Address Option”. We need to enter a temporary node address to use during the application process. The zone and net information can be gathered from the address for the echo coordinator. For example, if you were told the net coordinator's address is 1:311/0, the 1:311 is the zone and net information. For the node number enter 9999. Using the example information the entry looks like this:

1) 1:311/9999

Press ESC and save the changes.

3. You're back at the Fido Main Menu. Select “EMSI Profile”. This is the menu option where we fill out all of the information about the BBS, who the main SysOp is and so forth. This information is used to identify the caller when calling other Fido sites. Fill in all of the fields with the exception of the one titled “Flags”. This information is provided by the net coordinator at a later time. When finished entering the BBS Name, City, State, and so forth, press ESC to return to the Main Menu.

4. Next, select “File & Directory Configuration” from the Menu. We need to enter valid DOS subdirectories for the all of the fields on this screen. Recommended defaults are:

Dir of Incoming Packets     : ..\FIDO\IN\
Dir of Outgoing Packets     : ..\FIDO\OUT\
Dir to store Bad Packets    : ..\FIDO\BADPKTS\
Dir of Nodelist Database    : ..\FIDO\NODELIST\
Work Directory              : ..\FIDO\WORK\
Dir to store *.MSG          : ..\FIDO\MSG\

If you have installed PCBoard on a different drive or subdirectory, make the appropriate changes. Also, you may want to change the location of the work directory to another drive if it has more free space. Keep that in mind if appropriate. Press ESC when you are happy with what is entered.

NOTE: The directories you specify are automatically created if they do not already exist.

5. From the Fido Main Menu, select the “Phone Number Translation” option. The phone numbers stored in the nodelist database will have the extra information such as area code or country code stored in each entry. In most situations, the coordinator will be a local call to you so we need to make the appropriate entries to strip the unwanted numbers from the phone numbers.

For example, assuming you are calling from Utah (area code 801) to a coordinator in your calling area. We need to strip the 1-801- information from the beginning of the phone number. This can be done with the following entry:

      Find                                  Change To
   ─────────                               ───────────
1) 1-801-

We've told Fido to find any number containing 1-801- and replace it with nothing. In essence we've managed to strip it out and now we can place the local call properly. Press ESC and make the selection to save changes when the appropriate entry is made.

6. The last thing we need to do from the PCBSetup configuration is to configure where the uncompressed nodelist obtained earlier can be found. A good recommendation is to put it in the same directory specified for the nodelist database in PCBSetup | Fido Configuration | File & Directory Configuration. Typically, the filename will end in a number specifying what day of the year the nodelist is for.

In the field on the screen, enter the full path and filename (do NOT specify a file extension) where the uncompressed nodelist can be found. The reason an extension is not specified is because it changes on a daily bases. The following illustrates:

   Nodelist Path (No Extension)                     Diff Filename
   ────────────────────────────                     ─────────────

Press ESC and save changes when finished. You will be returned to the Fido Main Menu.

Compiling the Node List

With each Fido site being referred to by a bunch of numbers, we need some way to look up the actual information for this site. That is how we will know what number to dial. The nodelist contains this information. Early on in the configuration for Fido, one of your tasks was to obtain the nodelist.

Looking at the list, you can see it is a standard ASCII file. To look up a site in this file would take a lot of time. That is why many Fido compatible mailers, including PCBoard, will compile the node list. In compiled form, sites can be looked up quickly by referring to an index file.

Compiling the list is very easy with PCBoard. The “Nodelist Configuration” and “File & Directory Configuration” options from the Fido menu tell PCBoard where the source nodelist can be found and where the compiled nodelist database is stored respectively.

From the PCBoard call-waiting screen, press ALT-F. The following menu will appear in the middle of the screen:

│         Sysop FIDO Menu          │
│                                  │
│   1) Poll a Node.                │
│   2) Request a file.             │
│   3) Transmit a file.            │
│   4) Force next call.            │
│   5) View/Modify Queue.          │
│   6) Scan for outbound mail.     │
│   7) Process inbound mail.       │
│   8) Compile Nodelist.           │
│   9) Send Mail to a Node.        │
│                                  │
│   Enter selection:               │

Notice number 8 on this menu. When you select this option PCBoard shells out and compiles the nodelist. The display you see while the list is compiled resembles the following:

Status : Processing nodelist file: C:\PCB\FIDO\NODELIST\NODELIST.350
Message: Processing Net: 1:251
% Done : ███████░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░

This process will take several minutes to complete. At any time, pressing ESC aborts the compilation and returns you to the call-waiting screen.

Adding a User Record for the Coordinator / Host

PCBFido keeps track of information about other sites you exchange mail with in user records. Before netmail can be sent, we have to have a user record defined for the coordinator.

To add the user record for the net coordinator follow these instructions:

1. Select “Users File Maintenance” from the Main Menu

2. Select “Edit Users File”. At this point you should see the SysOp record (#1).

3. Press ALT-A to add a new user record.

4. In the “Name” field, enter “~FIDO~” followed by the address of the net coordinator. To create an account for the Fido node 1:311/0, enter the following:


5. Press F3 to view the Fido Form of the user record. The screen resembles the following:

                  Edit User Record (Fido Form)

   Name        : ~FIDO~1:311/0

Session        :
AreaFix        :
Packet         :
Phone Override :
Security Level : 0
Delete User    : N

6. There are three possible passwords to be concerned with when sending or receiving Fido messages: Session, AreaFix, and Packet. For now, leave these blank. Once you permanently become a part of the network, you will probably have a session password assigned

Creating the Netmail Conferences

The final setup step for sending netmail is to setup the netmail conference, where all mail is sent and received, and what is coined as the “Bad Mail” conference, where unplacable mail is stored.

What follows assumes knowledge of how to create a conference in PCBoard. If this topic is unfamiliar, consult the index in the printed manual for additional information.

When adding a new network to the system, many SysOps like to make the starting conference number even. A good example of this is making the first conference number 100, 200, or 1000. Following this type of number scheme provides a good way to group conferences.

For the purpose of this example, let's make the starting conference number 100. We'll make conference 100 the “Bad Mail” conference and 101 will send/receive the netmail.

Create conferences 100 and 101 and configure them to be clones of the Main Board (#0). Once that is done, all that remains is to edit the location of the message bases and configure a few options. The following breaks down all that must be done to configure the two conferences after being cloned.

"Bad Mail" (Conference 100)

1. Change the name/location of the message base to P:\PCB\FIDO\BADMSGS or whatever is appropriate for your system.

2. Press PgDn to edit the conference options.

3. Change the “Type of netmail” option to 5 so PCBoard will know it is a Fido Conference.

4. Press PgDn again to get to the Fido Configuration screen for the conference. In the “Area Name” field, enter “BAD”. This name is referred to as the tag for the area.

"Netmail" (Conference 101)

1. Change the name/location of the message base to ..\FIDO\NETMAIL or whatever is appropriate for your system.

2. Press PgDn to edit the conference options.

3. Using the list below, set the fields listed in the left column to the response in the right column.

Make All Messages Private         Y
Force Echo on All Messages        Y
Type of Netmail Conference        5
Allow Internet (long) TO: Names   Y

4. Press PgDn to get to the Fido configuration screen. As the tag or area name for the conference, enter “NETMAIL”.

That's it. We're now ready to test the netmail capabilities and send the message to the coordinator.

Sending the Netmail Message

Congratulations! The hard part of the configuration has been done. Now, we're ready to put the configuration through the paces and see if there are any problems. The test is sending a netmail message to the hub and in receiving a reply.

1. Log into the system as the SysOp.

2. Join the netmail conference you setup in the “Creating the Netmail Conferences” section.

3. Use the “E” command to enter a message. When asked who the message is to be addressed to, enter

SYSOP@(Fido address) <+C> <+D>

Replace (Fido address) with the address of the coordinator. For example, to send mail to the coordinator of 1:311, the message is addressed as:

SYSOP@1:311/0 <+C> <+D>

The +C and +D flags tell PCBFido to send the mail out as CRASH (don't wait for an event to tell it when to dial out) and DIRECT (ignore routing information). Don't worry if you do not understand the terms CRASH and DIRECT . As you learn more about Fido and continue on with the setup, these concepts will become more familiar to you.

4. When prompted for the “subject”, enter something meaningful such as “Request to become a new Fido node.”

5. Information about you and your system must be entered in the body of the message. A good format to follow is:

Request to have a node number assigned to my system:

Voice Phone---:
Data Phone----:
Machine Make--:
Model - CPU---:
CPU Speed-----:
Lan Software--:
Operating Sys-:
Disk Storage--:
Mailer Softw--: PCBoard v15.21
Mail Tosser---: PCBoard v15.21
Modem Speed---:
Modem Mfr.----:
Modem Supports:
Modem Model---:
Online since--:
BBS Name------:
BBS Software--: PCBoard v15.21
Session Passwd:
AreaFix Passwd:
Compression---:(ZIP, LZH, ARJ, ARC, PAK)

6. When all of the information has been entered, save the message.

7. Logoff the BBS and return to the call-waiting screen.

8. Press ALT-F to bring up the Fido menu. Select “Scan for outbound mail” from this menu.

9. The screen will flash as PCBoard scans for mail to be exported.

10. Next, check to see if the mail was found to be exported. Select “View/Modify Queue”. When you do, the Fido window will look similar to the following example:

│     View/Modify Outbound Queue   │
│                                1 │
│   Filename : 28162430.PKT        │
│   Address  : 1:311/0             │
│                                  │
│   F) Flag  : CRASH               │
│   S) Send This Packet            │

11. Hit ESC until you get back to the call-waiting screen. Now just wait for about 1 minute or two when the dial timer (PCBSetup | Fido Configuration | Fido Configuration) and PCBoard checks for any outgoing mail. A call will be made to your hub and the message is sent. Expect at least a couple of days before you receive a response via netmail. Before you can receive a response, you must make sure Zone Mail Hour is honored/configured on the system.

Configuring Zone Mail Hour

Now that the mail has been sent to the coordinator, zone mail hour must be setup on your system so a reply can be received and a node number assigned to your BBS. It is during Zone Mail Hour that the mail assigning your node number is sent. Zone mail hour is one hour where every site in the network is set to disallow human callers and netmail is transferred. Utilizing this design, netmail is sent in a quicker fashion.

Setting up Zone Mail Hour is really quite easy. Using PCBoard's event editor, simply add an entry resembling the following:

               Batch     Begin  End                         Last
     Act  Mod  File      Time   Time   SMTWTFS    Date      Date
     ───  ───  ────────  ─────  ─────  ───────  ────────  ────────
1)    Y    M   MAILHOUR  02:00  03:00  YYYYYYY            00-00-00

That's all there is to defining the event. The most difficult step for you is determining when the Mail Hour is. The POLICY4.TXT file (obtained when using the FINDFIDO command on Salt Air) reveals additional information about when zone mail hour is. If you have difficulty determining the time, contact a node in your area (refer to FINDFIDO.LST if you must); they will have the answer.

NOTE: Most likely this event will only need to run on one node. If this sounds like what you need, be sure to rename the MAILHOUR file to MAILHOUR.### where ### is the node number. For example, if node 9 is to run the event, I'll rename the MAILHOUR file found in the event batch file directory to MAILHOUR.009 (the leading zeros are important).

Now just wait for a reply for coordinator. Remember, it can take up to two weeks to do all of the processing and assign a node number please be patient.

Routing Mail to Your Hub

Normally, netmail is sent directly from one site to another. While this is fast, it can also be expensive. A majority of Fido nodes will opt to route the mail through their hub on the assumption his hub will route it to the next step and so on. While it is slower way to pass the mail it is certainly more cost effective.

How do I tell PCBoard to route the mail. To answer that question we must revisit the event setup in PCBoard. You'll recall we setup the zone mail hour as an event. Well, we will do something very similar in order to route mail. Add the following event to your system:

               Batch     Begin  End                         Last
     Act  Mod  File      Time   Time   SMTWTFS    Date      Date
     ───  ───  ────────  ─────  ─────  ───────  ────────  ────────
1)    Y    F   ALLDAY    00:00  23:59  YYYYYYY            00-00-00

Notice the “Mod” column has an F for (F)ido Event. With a Fido event you are defining the way PCBoard will behave during the begin time and the end time of the event (midnight to 11:59pm in this example). In other words, we are going to alter the way PCBoard behaves during this time period. How are these actions defined? Good question and one that is answered by pressing F2 while the selection bar or cursor is on this line. When you press F2 you see a screen like the following:

   Fido Verb             Parameters
   ───────────────────   ────────────────────────────────────────────

This is the screen where the activities or characteristics of the event is defined. Pressing F2 while the selection bar is in the Fido Verb column brings up a list of valid Fido verbs. Press F2 to see this list.

│Allow-Route-To     │
│Poll               │
│Hold               │
│Crash              │
│Route-To           │
│FREQ               │

Cursor down to “Route-To” and press ENTER. Now TAB over to the Parameters column. In this column we tell it how to route the mail by listing what mail will be routed and where it is to be routed. We want to route all mail so we use the wildcard (:/*). The mail will be routed to our hub which for the sake of this example is 1:311/0. Our entry now looks like this:

   Fido Verb             Parameters
   ───────────────────   ────────────────────────────────────────────
1) Route-To              *:*/* 1:311/0

Notice how we separated the two addresses with a space. This is IMPORTANT. It is also important to list both addresses. If you do not, PCBoard will not route the netmail.

Exit the editor by pressing ESC and choosing to save changes. Also do the same in the event editor. Finally, return back to the call waiting screen where we can begin testing the netmail to make sure it is routing properly.

Log in to the system, join the netmail conference and leave the following message:

  TO: SYSOP@1:311/40
SUBJ: Testing Route Capabilities
Testing 1...2...3...

Exit and save the message. Now logoff. While at the call waiting screen press ALT-F for the Fido Menu and finally select “Scan for outbound mail.” After a brief pause and a screen flash you will be return back to the call-waiting screen. Press 5 to view the outbound queue where and entry resembling the following appears:

│     View/Modify Outbound Queue   │
│                                1 │
│   Filename : 03172429.PKT        │
│   Address  : 1:311/0             │  <--- Notice where this packet
│                                  │       is being sent.
│   F) Flag  : NORMAL              │
│   S) Send This Packet            │
│   D) Delete                      │
│   N) Next                        │
│   P) Previous                    │
│   C) Clear Failed Connect      0 │
│                                  │
│   Enter selection :              │

Look at the address where PCBoard will send the packet. Is it your hub? If not, you've misconfigured something in the event; Double check the configuration.

Once the address is verified to be correct, go ahead an delete this packet. There is no sense in sending out this message because it really lacks any purpose other than for verification of your configuration. Congratulations on a job well done.

Setting Up Echo Mail Areas

The procedure for adding the conferences for Fido echo areas include the following steps:

  • Get a FIDONET.NA file from your coordinator.
  • Determine what areas you want to carry
  • Prepare PCBoard to handle the increased conference load
  • Use UUUTIL.EXE to add the additional conferences.

That is the shortened list of what you have to do. Over the next few paragraphs, detailed descriptions of each task is given.

1. Talk to your net coordinator. He or she will have a copy of the FIDONET.NA file which lists echo areas available. Preferably, the copy of the file received contains only those areas carried by the hub. If not, ask for a list of those too.

2. The FIDONET.NA file is nothing more than an ASCII file with each line dedicated to an echo area. On the left of the line is the shortened name for the area. This particular name is commonly referred to as the AREA TAG. On the right is a brief description of the area and what topics are discussed there.

The next task is to trim down the .NA list to include only those areas which interest you or your callers. Don't be afraid to be picky here as there are costs involved for your hub and maybe yourself for pulling in a feed. Trimming down the .NA list is done by loading the file into a text editor–any editor will do. When you see an area you do not want, delete the line (CTRL-Y usually works). When done, save the file and exit the editor. That's all there is to it.

Look at this sample segment of the FIDONET.NA file:

ALTMED              Alternative Medicine
AMIGA               Amiga International Echo
AMIGAGAMES          Amiga Games
AMIGASALE           Amiga Hardware and Software ForSale Conference
AMIGA_CDROM         International AMIGA Discussions

Deciding I do not want the AMIGAGAMES area, I'll use the text editor to make this section resemble the following:

ALTMED              Alternative Medicine
AMIGA               Amiga International Echo
AMIGASALE           Amiga Hardware and Software ForSale Conference
AMIGA_CDROM         International AMIGA Discussions

See how easy that was!

3. Next we must confirm the PCBoard setup is properly configured for the hundred or maybe even 700 new conferences. Make a determination for a starting conference number; most SysOps elect to start at an even number of 100. Say for example the highest conference currently in use is 78. The common thing to do is to start the Fido conferences at 100.

Once the starting conference number is determined, find out how many areas you'll be carrying and add it to the starting conference number. As an example let's assume you'll start the Fido conferences at 200 and will be adding 212 areas. This makes your highest conference 412 so check PCBSetup | Configuration Options | Messages to see if the “Highest Conference Desired” is set to the an appropriate value.

If you have to change the number, load System Manager | User Info File Maintenance | Change Conference Allocation to ensure the USERS.INF file is up-to-date is upgraded too.

4. A utility is included with the PCBoard package called UUUTIL. With this utility the tedious task of setting up conferences is greatly simplified. Consult the following checklist before continuing:

  • You have a FIDONET.NA file and have trimmed it down to list only those areas you desire to carry.
  • An adequate number of conferences is configured in PCBSetup | Configuration Options | Messages.
  • You know the starting conference number for the Fido conferences.
  • You have a copy of UUUTIL.EXE and know its location.

Now you're ready to import the new Fido conferences to your system. The command line for UUTIL will be:

UUUTIL /START:[conf] /FIMPORT:[] /MSGS:[path]

The conference number entered after the /START parameter must be your starting conference number for the Fido conferences.

The next parameter passed is /FIMPORT. This parameter tells UUUTIL where it can find the FIDONET.NA file. The .NA file has information about conference descriptions and tagnames. The tagname is used to generate the message base filenames, while the descriptions of each tag are used for the actual conference names.

Finally, the last parameter tells UUUTIL where to store the message bases for the new conference. The following structure will be used


Therefore, if you tell UUUTIL to store the messages in D:\FIDO\, the message base for the ALTMED tag is stored in the D:\FIDO\A\ subdirectory because the tag begsins with an A.

NOTE: If you run UUUTIL and the screen clears but nothing seems to have happened, make sure you are running UUUTIL from a directory where a valid PCBOARD.DAT for your system exists.

When UUUTIL is running, you will see text indicating the progress of the import which resembles the following:

Checking conference 100 ...
Inserting (!CHINESE) as conference 100 ...

Checking conference 101 ...
Inserting (12_STEPS) as conference 101 ...

Checking conference 102 ...
Inserting (4DOS) as conference 102 ...

Checking conference 103 ...
Inserting (60S_70S_PROGROCK) as conference 103 ...

Once a conference is “inserted” by UUUTIL, the following has occurred:

1) The conference name has been updated

2) The message base location has been updated. The format for the messages file location is the first 5 characters of the tag name followed by the conference number (e.g. TTTTT###). Assuming the MSGS path was specified as D:\FIDO\, the message base for the ALTMED conference is D:\FIDO\A\ALTME109.

3) The “Echo Mail in Conference” field is set to Y and the “Type of Netmail Conference” field is set to 5.

4) Fido's configuration file has been updated with the appropriate tag information.

What AreaFix Is and How to Use It

AreaFix is a function of hubs allowing you to subscribe and unsubscribe to Fido areas via netmail. The benefits to using this method are numerous:

  • The request is handled automatically which means you are not waiting for the coordinator to process it.
  • A current list of conferences you ARE carrying and those you CAN carry is always available.
  • You can make changes as often as you desire. All that is required is for you to send a netmail message to your hub.

We mention that an AreaFix request is simply a netmail message. If that is the case, there must be something special that allows the hub to differentiate this netmail message from others. Addressing the message to “AREAFIX” is the key.

Because AreaFix requests alter your configuration, they are typically protected by passwords different from your logon password. The AreaFix password is passed in the subject line of the message. It's that simple.

The following example illustrates how to address an AREAFIX request to the hub at 1:311/0:

  TO: AREAFIX@1:311/0
SUBJ: mypassword

Now that we know how to get the message to the hub all that is left to understand is how to compose the request to do what we need to do. PCBoard supports the following AreaFix commands:

+<areaname> Subscribe to <areaname>
-<areaname> Stop receiving mail from tag <areaname>
%HELP Request a help message listing available AreaFix commands
%LIST Request a list of areas available to you
%QUERY Request a list of areas to which you have selected
%UNLINKED Request a list of areas to which you have not selected
%+ALL Select all areas available to you
%-ALL De-select all areas (stop receiving echo mail)

These commands must be entered beginning on the first line of the message and at the beginning of a line. For example, to get a list of areas which are available to us but we have not selected for importing, send the following netmail message:

  TO: AREAFIX@1:311/0
SUBJ: mypassword

That's all there is to it. See how simple that is. Realize that you can specify more than one command per message. All that is required is for the command to be at the beginning of a line.

NOTE: Some AreaFix processors do not like the messages to be addressed in the manner AREAFIX@1:311/0. Instead, they would much rather see the hub information in the message body as shown in this example:

SUBJ: mypassword

In short, do not be afraid to try some of the commands out. There is nothing you can do with AreaFix requests that will cause damage.

Setting Up The Archivers

In our initial steps to get netmail working we skipped over a few of the Fido Configuration screens. It is now time to visit one of these screens if we are to properly transfer echo mail. You see, echo mail is sent in compressed form and therefore we have to configure PCBoard to find various compression and decompression programs and also tell it what compression program is used by the hub.

In PCBSetup | Fido Configuration | Archiver Configuration, the programs used for ZIP, ARJ, ARC, and LHA compression can be defined. The following screen captures shows how to setup each compression and decompression program assuming they are located in C:\UTL.

ZIP                     : C:\UTL\PKZIP.EXE
Switches for ZIP        : -a
UNZIP                   : C:\UTL\PKUNZIP.EXE
Switches for UNZIP      : -o
ARJ                     : C:\UTL\ARJ.EXE
Switches for ARJ        : a
UNARJ                   : C:\UTL\ARJ.EXE
Switches for UNARJ      : e
ARC                     : C:\UTL\ARC.EXE
Switches for ARC        : a
UNARC                   : C:\UTL\ARCE.EXE
Switches for UNARC      :
LZH                     : C:\UTL\LHA.EXE
Switches for LZH        : a
UNLZH                   : C:\UTL\LHA.EXE
Switches for UNLZH      : e

If the location of these programs differ on your system, make the appropriate changes. All of the programs shown on this screen are either shareware or freeware. Copies may be obtained from just about any bulletin board including our support BBS.

NOTE: PKZIP has a -m switch to move files. This switch also has a side-effect of physically removing empty subdirectories. Therefore, either do not use this switch or use the closely related -m- switch.

Maintaining the Nodelist

Look at the nodelist as a phone book which is constantly being updated. In fact, updates are published on a weekly basis and come in two forms: Full and Update Only.

Electing to download the full nodelist on a weekly basis is asking quite a bit since the file is nearly 4 megs in size. An easier approach is to obtain what is called the NODEDIF file. This file contains the necessary information to update the previous week's nodelist to the current edition. Furthermore, this update file is significantly smaller than the full list.

To utilize the smaller update file the following conditions must be met:

  • The ASCII nodelist file (not just the compiled DBF) must exist. Thisis required because the DIF file records changes by line number to this file. PCBNLC updates the ASCII list and then recompiles the database.
  • The DIF file you get must be uncompressed and put in the directory where the source ASCII nodelist is obtained. As a reminder, this subdirectory is determined in PCBSetup | Fido Configuration | Nodelist Configuration.
  • With items 1 and 2 taken care of, simply run PCBNLC /DIFF. Running PCBNLC with that command line switch recompiles the database.

NOTE: If you miss a week when using the DIF files to update, the full copy of the nodelist database must be downloaded.

Fido Events

At certain times of the day, you'll want to control the behavior of Fido. Should it attempt to call a node between 2am and 4am? Should all mail be routed to a hub throughout the day? To accomplish these tasks, you must setup what is known as a Fido event.

These events are configured in the same place where the normal PCBoard events are configured: PCBSetup | Event Configuration. Specifying an event type of “F” is the key as shown in this example:

               Batch     Begin  End                         Last
     Act  Mod  File      Time   Time   SMTWTFS    Date      Date
     ───  ───  ────────  ─────  ─────  ───────  ────────  ────────
1)    Y    F   ALLDAY    00:00  23:59  YYYYYYY            00-00-00

Fido events are similar to PCBoard's events but there are some differences you need to be aware of:

  • Batch files are not used for Fido events. In place of the batch file are what is known as Fido verbs. Think of these are words to describe actions that will take place during the event.
  • The “Begin Time” and “End Time” fields define the window during which the event is active. With a normal event, these times specify when the batch file may run. Once run, the event is disregarded. Fido events, on the other hand, are active during the entire time period.

Do you need to setup an event? The answer to that question is an emphatic “YES”. In fact, one of the major requirements for becoming a Fido node is to be available during Mail Hour. Following the instructions in the “I'm New to Fido” section, you will have already setup an event with the special type of “M” for Mail Hour. All other events are optional.

For this section of the document, we will focus on the three major Fido verbs: POLL, ROUTE-TO, and CRASH.


A Poll instructs PCBFido to call another system and exchange any waiting packets. This is the ideal event to define when you call the hub at a regular time every night. For this example, let's assume the call is made at 4:00am every day. If so, we begin by making the appropriate entry in the event editor:

               Batch     Begin  End                         Last
     Act  Mod  File      Time   Time   SMTWTFS    Date      Date
     ───  ───  ────────  ─────  ─────  ───────  ────────  ────────
1)    Y    F   CALLHUB1  04:00  04:45  YYYYYYY            00-00-00

You should notice two things right off. First of all, the event type/mode is “F” for Fido. Secondly, the begin and end times define a 45 minute window. It's a good idea to give yourself a little breathing room in case the system is busy for a few minutes. After 45 minutes of unsuccessful attempts, we'll return to normal processing.

To setup the POLL verb, press F2 while on this line in the editor. There you will see a screen like this:

  Fido Verb             Parameters
  ───────────────────   ───────────────────────────

Press F2 once more to bring up a list of verbs. Select POLL from the list and press ENTER. We've told PCBoard what to do but we have not told it who to do it to. Therefore, press TAB to move the cursor over to the Parameters field. In this field, enter the address to poll. Multiple nodes can be polled by using a space to separate the addresses. Look at the following examples:

   Fido Verb             Parameters
   ───────────────────   ───────────────────────────
1) POLL                  1:311/40

   Fido Verb             Parameters
   ───────────────────   ───────────────────────────
1) POLL                  1:311/40 1:311/25 1:311/18

The first example polls just the node identified with the address 1:311/40, while the second example polls an additional 2 nodes.

NOTE: The dialing does not occur as soon as the event begins. Instead, PCBFido is waiting for a scan or dial trigger to occur. What is a dial or scan trigger you ask? Recall that PCBSetup | Fido Configuration | Fido Configuration has fields to control how often PCBoard scans for mail. Make sure this is set to 1-5 minutes and you'll be set.


When mail is defined as CRASH mail, it will be sent the next time a dial timer is triggered. Otherwise, mail is considered to be NORMAL or HOLD status.

The most popular use of a CRASH event is to hold packets in the queue until such a time when phone rates are lower and packets that must go out will go out at a lower cost.

To illustrate this concept let's look at a real-life example. Clark Development's node number is 1:311/40. To conserve on phone costs, we may want to send mail only to sites in our network (1:311/*) between the hours of 8am and 11pm. After 11pm, we'll send to any site. This is accomplished with the following event entries:

               Batch     Begin  End                         Last
     Act  Mod  File      Time   Time   SMTWTFS    Date      Date
     ───  ───  ────────  ─────  ─────  ───────  ────────  ────────
1)    Y    F   LOCAL     08:00  23:00  YYYYYYY            00-00-00
2)    Y    F   LONGDIST  23:01  07:59  YYYYYYY            00-00-00

Fido Verbs for the LOCAL Event:

   Fido Verb             Parameters
   ───────────────────   ───────────────────────────────────────────
1) CRASH                 1:311/*

Fido Verbs for the LONGDIST Event:

   Fido Verb             Parameters
   ───────────────────   ───────────────────────────────────────────
1) CRASH                 *:*/*

Can you see how our goal was accomplished. The LOCAL event will be active between 8am and 11pm and is configured to crash any node (*) in the 1:311 network. Just after 11pm, the LONGDIST event becomes active and says it is okay to send mail to any site.

NOTE: These CRASH settings can be overridden with netmail by adding the <+C> modifier to the end of the TO line when entering the message. Example:

To: SYSOP@1:311/40 <+C>


To save on long distance phone calls, many Fido sites pull together and pay a small fee to route mail through the hub. How can you do this?

The trick to remember with this one is that you will have to first of all define a Fido event to last all day. If one is already defined, we simply need to add a new Fido verb.

Let's work off the assumption you do not have an all-day Fido event setup. All that you really have to do is modify the begin and end times to be equal to what is shown in this example:

               Batch     Begin  End                         Last
     Act  Mod  File      Time   Time   SMTWTFS    Date      Date
     ───  ───  ────────  ─────  ─────  ───────  ────────  ────────
1)    Y    F   ALLDAY    00:00  23:59  YYYYYYY            00-00-00

All that remains is to update the Fido verbs to show the routing status. This entails selecting the ROUTE-TO verb and adding the sites to route followed by the site to route to as shown in this example:

Fido Verbs for the ALLDAY Event:

   Fido Verb             Parameters
   ───────────────────   ───────────────────────────────────────────
1) ROUTE-TO              *.*/*  1:311/0

Notice how ./* was used to specify all sites. Using the * as a wildcard character allows any site to be matched by zone, net, or node as this example so clearly illustrates.

Routing mail is obviously going to be slower so perhaps we can make this a little more optimal by excluding one or more nodes from the routing process. We do this by using EXCLUSIONS as shown in this example:

   Fido Verb             Parameters
   ───────────────────   ───────────────────────────────────────────
1) ROUTE-TO              *.*/*    1:311/0
2) ROUTE-TO              1:311/21 1:311/21
3) ROUTE-TO              1:311/40 1:311/40

Entries 2 and 3 are new to us so let's analyze what they add to the picture. Upon closely examining, we see these examples simply route mail to themselves. For example, mail destined to 1:311/21 will be sent to 1:311/21.

NOTE: It is important to get these entries in the right order. If the ./* is not listed as the first ROUTE-TO entry, it will invalidate any exclusions above it. As a general rule, always put the least-specific (wildcarding) entries at the top followed by the remaining entries.


You may notice we have not covered all of the Fido verbs in the section. The truth is these verbs are not utilized as often as CRASH, ROUTE-TO, or POLL. Therefore, this topic will describe each verb and will rely on your knowledge gained from learning about the more popular verbs. If you have not had a chance to read up on the major Fido verbs, do so before continuing.


This verb is designed to control times when human callers may call into the system. In the parameters field put either YES or NO depending on the desired outcome. For example, if I have an event defined between 08:00 and 09:00 and want to disallow human callers, I will make the following entry:

   Fido Verb             Parameters
   ───────────────────   ───────────────────────────────────────────
1) Allow-Human-Callers   NO

NOTE: The default is to allow human callers at all times. Therefore, you must explicitly tell PCBoard when human callers are NOT desired.


This verb determines if file requests (FREQs) are allowed. The default is to allow them but you may want to disable them during peak hours or during zone mail hour. In the “Parameters” field, enter one of the following:

YES - Process all file requests (default)
NO  - Ignore all file requests


   Fido Verb             Parameters
   ───────────────────   ───────────────────────────────────────────
1) Allow-File-Requests   NO

Allow-Route-To (For nodes acting as a hub)

This verb tells PCBoard what nodes can have mail routed through you during the event window. In the “Parameters” field, enter a list of Fido node addresses which will be considered valid. Addresses must be separated with spaces as shown in the following example:

   Fido Verb             Parameters
   ───────────────────   ─────────────────────────────
1) Allow-Route-To        1:311/100 1:300/10 3:12/25

NOTE: Any nodes not listed will have their mail held until they come and pick it up.


This section is meant to be used as a reference. Basically, it tells you more about WHAT something does as opposed to HOW to do something. For example, all of Fido options in PCBSetup are outlined in this section.


Nearly every option and file location related to the Fido implementation within PCBoard can be edited from the Fido Configuration menu on PCBSetup's main menu. Once this option is selected, several other menu options become available. The following sections describe each option:

Fido Configuration

Enable Fido Processing

This selection determines whether or not Fido processing is enabled for the current node. Valid options are:

Y Fido processing is enabled.
N Fido processing is disabled.

Import/Export Configuration File

The filename entered in this field is the Fido configuration file. This file stores many of the other options/paths configured in subsequent Fido screens. The default for this file is a file named PCBFIDO.CFG in the \PCB\MAIN\ subdirectory.

Name/Location of Fido Queue

The queue file contains information about what packets to send, when they will go, and to which site they should be sent. The filename entered in this field determines the location of this file. When two or more nodes process Fido packets, it is advisable to insure the nodes share the same queue file.

Import Immediately After File Transfers

An efficient way to handle the importing of mail is to disable all scanning for mail to import (scan every 0 minutes) and enable importing directly after a file transfer. Once mail has been exchanged between two sites, any messages waiting for import will be in the incoming subdirectory on your system. The following are valid responses:

Y A scan for new mail will occur immediately after the call takes place. Any messages waiting to be imported are added to the system at this time. Make sure you disable the periodic scanning of messages to import as it is pointless when this switch is enabled.
N PCBoard will not scan for mail to import upon hanging up the phone. Make sure periodic scanning of mail to import is enabled (scan every 1 minute or greater) or messages will never get added to the system.

NOTE: When enabled, this setting forces a node to process mail even if the node is configured to not allow the processing of incoming packets.

Allow Node to Process Incoming Packets

This setting determines if the node will process incoming packets. It is entirely possible for a setup to exist where the node(s) on your system will receive the incoming packets to a network drive and then have a local-only node do all of the processing (importing into the message bases). The valid settings for this field are:

Y The node will process all incoming packets as per the Scan for Inbound Packets Frequency field also found on this screen.
N The node will NOT process incoming packets. Instead, some other node will have to process or import the messages into PCBoard's message base files.

Scan for Inbound Packets Frequency (min)

PCBoard scans for incoming Fido packets while at the call-waiting screen. The value entered in this field determines how many minutes elapse between each import scan. Please understand that the elapsed time is only counted while at the call-waiting screen. If a caller calls in before the time has elapsed, the timer will be reset when the caller hangs up. For this reason, it is important to set the value in this field to a small enough value that all mail can be processed. A setting between 2 and 10 is a good starting point. 2 minutes for the busier system and 10 for a system which is not quite as busy. Valid responses are between 1 and 1439.

NOTE: This option is only applicable if the node is configured to process incoming Fido packets.

Allow Node to Export Mail

A good recommendation for exporting Fido mail on your system is to allow only one node to export. All other nodes should be configured to NOT export mail. This setting controls whether or not the current node will build the outbound packets. Valid responses are:

Y This node will export mail posted on the system.
N Mail will not be exported by this node.

Scan for Mail to Export Frequency (min)

This selection is similar to scanning for inbound mail frequency in that it tells PCBoard how often to scan your Fido conferences for outbound mail (in minutes). The same recommendations for inbound frequency settings apply to outbound frequency settings. Valid responses are between 1 and 1439.

NOTE: The value entered here only has relevance when the node is configured to export mail.

Allow Node to Dial Out

This selection determines whether or not this node will dial out to send packets or to poll another Fido node. Always make sure at least one node is configured to dial out. Valid selections are:

Y The node will be able to make calls to poll other nodes or to send outbound mail.
N This node cannot dial-out.

Scan for Outbound Packets Frequency (min)

If outbound packets exist and the current node is allowed to dial out, the outbound packets will be sent to another node/hub. The amount of time which must elapse between each scan for outbound mail is determined by this field. Remember, only the time spent at the call-waiting screen counts. If you have the frequency set at every five minutes and callers are logging in every 3 minutes to your system, a successful scan will never occur. Use a low enough setting that mail can be sent as often as you desire.

NOTE: Each time PCBoard dials a system it will only attempt that one system. This is an important fact to remember especially if circumstances require multiple sites to be dialed. The next time the timer triggers, the next system is called.

Default Zone and Net

When used in conjunction with the Default Net field, default values will be used when entering an address at the Fido menu available from the call-waiting screen. Using the defaults you may enter just the node number to poll and PCBoard will fill in the zone and net numbers with the default values.

The defaults can be overridden simply by including the zone or net information when polling. Here are some examples based on a default zone=1 and net=828

You Enter: 5
Site Polled: 1:828/5    (Use default values)

You Enter: 56/6
Site Polled: 1:56/6     (Default net overridden)

You Enter: 2:29/30
Site Polled: 2:29/30    (All defaults overridden)

Security Req'd for +C and +D Modifiers

When a netmail message is addressed with a <+C> on the addressee line, it becomes what is known as crash mail. Crash mail ignores all event information which means a message can be sent to any sight regardless of the settings of the crash Fido verb in the current event.

Entering the <+D> flag on a netmail message forces PCBoard to ignore any routing and instead go directly to the node. With an international network, this can be a very costly feature if put in the power of unauthorized individuals.

If you give users access to the netmail conference, set an appropriate security level to send Crash and Direct mail. It's not hard for a user to abuse the netmail privileges if you let them.

Fido Logging Level (higher=more detail)

This configuration option controls how detailed the log entries are for Fido transfers and tossing. The higher the number you enter, the more detailed the entries in the caller logs will be. The following list summarizes the valid options for this field:

0 Normal log entries
1 More details for mail transfers
2 More details for tossing
3 More details for mail transfers and tossing
4 Used only for debugging purposes
5 Used only for debugging purposes

NOTE: Because selecting a value higher than 1 results in more information being logged, be aware that the size of logs on disk will increase.

Create MSG with Outbound Packets Attached

This option is designed for use with a configuration where PCBoard will not be the one exporting the packets to other systems. If PCBoard will be the software used to transfer packets to other systems, leave this option set to N. Valid options for this field follow:

Y All outbound packets created by PCBoard are placed as file attachment to MSG files. Any MSG compatible mailer can then transfer the mail to the necessary sites. You must simply tell the third-party mailer that the import/export directory for MSG files is the directory specified by PCBSetup > Fido Configuration > File & Directory Information. Make sure the /MSG switch is not specified in the PCBFIDO environment variable when this option is selected.
N PCBoard will handle both the exporting of mail and also the dialing of other systems. This is the default choice.

Enable Inbound Routing

The purpose of this option is to control whether inbound routing is enabled. With inbound routing enabled, a packet for another system can be transferred to your system and held in your outbound queue for transfer to another site. In this type of configuration the system operates in a “middle-man” type role. This type of functionality is usually only required by hubs. Valid options for this field are:

Y Packets can be routed from one system to another through your system.
N All packets sent to your system are imported. In other words, all routing information is ignored.

Node Configuration

When this menu option is selected, an editor screen is displayed where nodes receiving outbound packets can be configured. In other words, this screen will list all nodes who will receive mail from your system, what type of archiver they use, and what type of packet to create.

The fields on this screen are as follows:

Node: Enter the node number to which mail will be sent. The format for the node number is <zone>:<net>/<node>.
Arc: Enter the archive type to be used for the node being defined. Valid entries are 0-3: 0=ZIP, 1=ARJ, 2=ARC, and 3=LZH. Make sure the proper entries are made in PCBSetup > Fido Configuration > Archive Configuration for each type. If you are unsure of the type to enter, contact the SysOp of the node for the proper setting.
Pkt: PCBoard's implementation of Fido supports two type of packets: 1) Stone Age (type 1) and 2) Type 2+. Select the appropriate type for the node being defined. If unsure of which selection to make, contact the SysOp of the node in question to get the proper setting.

NOTE: The default settings for every site are to use ZIP compression and Type 2+ packets. If the site you are exchanging mail with uses these values, an entry does not need to be made. Only add an entry when you must override the default values.

System Address

On this screen you must enter the Fido address/node number assigned to you. Remember the format is in the <zone>:<net>/<node> format. Use ALT-I to add new fields where AKA (Also Known As) addresses can be entered.

This selection allows you to tell PCBoard what your Fido system address in the standard form of zone:net/node. You can make several entries to allow for AKA's. Why use AKAs? If you are involved with multiple Fido based networks, you'll have more than one node address and will need the AKAs to properly identify your node.

A question that gets asked quite often revolves around node number security. If you can enter any node number, how can you stop someone from enter your assigned node number and picking up your mail? The answer is that you cannot stop them from entering the number. However, a password can be defined on the host system to prevent others from acting as your node number.

Example system addresses follow:


NOTE: If running more than one mail network, see The Fido Conference Configuration Screen section for additional fields you may want to change.

EMSI Profile

EMSI could be described as a negotiation protocol for Fido systems. The information regarding your system name, city, phone number, baud, etc. are sent during the negotiation sequence.

Normally this information is available in the node list but PCBoard will gather the information from this screen and use it to override what is in the nodelist. It is important to enter the information accurately because some hosts may use it to update node lists. The following describes each field:

BBS Name Enter the name of your BBS in this field.
SysOp Name In this field, enter the name of the SysOp in the first name / last name format.
City/State Enter the city and state / province information where your BBS operates.
Phone Enter the phone number used for incoming Fido calls. Make sure you do not list your general BBS number if it is different from the Fido number.
Baud Enter the maximum baud rate your system supports. In FidoNet, 9600 is generally considered to be a maximum value. What you enter here has no effect on what speed you call other systems; it is for informational purposes only.
Flags Ask your node coordinator what should be entered in the flags field. If in doubt, leave the default values.

File & Directory Configuration

The Fido configuration needs the locations of several paths defined. On this screen you will be entering the paths you want for incoming packets, bad packets, etc. Each directory location is described in detail in the following sections:

Dir of Incoming Packets

This field refers to the location where incoming mail packets are stored. Realizing that incoming packets can be large in size, specifying a drive with plenty of free space.

Dir of Outgoing Packets

Enter the subdirectory where compressed outgoing packets will be stored before being sent out.

Dir to store Bad Packets

In this field, enter the subdirectory where bad incoming packets will be stored. A packet is considered to be bad when any of the following occur:

* Invalid password in the packet file
* File based errors such as unable to read the file from disk

Dir of Nodelist Database

The compiled nodelist database is essential to Fido especially when dialing out. This field points to the directory where your nodelist file is stored. The location of the nodelist file to compile is located in PCBSetup > Fido Configuration > Nodelist Configuration.

Work Directory

While processing mail packets temporary files will need to be created. In this field, enter the subdirectory where these temporary files will be stored. Remember, the drive where this is located must have plenty of free space available.

An ideal location to specify is one that is local to the node processing mail. This helps cut down on network traffic and therefore increases the performance.

Dir to store *.MSG

A popular standard for messages in FidoNet is known as *.MSG (star-dot-MSG). Using the /MSG switch for the PCBFIDO environment variable, you can have PCBoard keep a mirror image of all netmail messages in MSG format. Additionally, you may place .MSG files in this subdirectory to be imported into the netmail message base. The use of MSG files are particularly useful for third party applications and integrating them with your use of PCBoard.

Archiver Configuration

The Fido implementation in PCBoard supports four types of compressed packets: 1) PKZIP, 2) ARJ, 3) ARC, and 4) LHA/LZH. This particular screen is where the various compression programs are configured. For each archiver the program name for compressing and decompressing must be specified. Additionally, any necessary switches must be specified. The following shows a sample of what may be entered:

Phone Number Translation

The Fido network spans many countries across the globe and relies on being able to call one node from another. Phone numbers for each site are obtained by searching the nodelist database. Each entry in the nodelist contains the FULL contact number for each site. For example, the phone number for a site in the United States may resemble this entry:


Why would any type of phone number translation have to be done if the full phone number is there? The quick answer is that many nodes call one another within a local calling area. Using the previous example number, we could say the following two phone numbers exchange mail:


When the first site calls the second, it needs to be able to strip off the 1-352- because that is used only for long-distance calling.

Creating the translation is very easy. On this screen are two columns. The first is the information to search for in a phone number and the second column lists the replacement information. If nothing is entered in the Change To column, the matching information will be stripped. The following entry shows how the 1-352- can be stripped.

     Find                    Change To
   ---------                 -----------------------
1) 1-352-

International Calling

If the setup of the network requires international calls to be made, you must enter two entries in the translation list defining your country information. These entries will look like the following if you live in the United States:

      Find                    Change To
    ---------                 -----------------------
 1) IP                        011
 2) IPX                       1-

The first entry, IP, defines the international prefix. In other words, international calls made from the United States must begin with 011 followed by the country code, and other appropriate phone numbers. If unsure about the international prefix, contact your local phone service provider for additional information.

The second entry, IPX, defines the country code. The United States country code is 1. Most phone service providers make this information available. If in doubt, contact them for additional details.

Prefixes and Suffixes

Your situation may require the use of prefixes (numbers to dial before every phone number) and suffixes (numbers to dial AFTER every phone number).

A classic example of this in the United States comes into play if you have call-waiting. It is possible to disable call-waiting by dialing *70, before every phone number. Another example for prefixing is in a business situation where a 9 must be entered before every outgoing phone call.

Suffixes are not typically used as much but are still quite useful. For example, some long-distance carriers allow you to require a password or special code on every long-distance call. This code is entered after the phone number–a perfect use of the suffix. Prefixes are defined by entering GP in the Find field. In the Change To field, enter the number(s) to add before every phone number. Suffixes are done in much the same manner. In the Find field, enter GS followed by the suffix to add in the Change To field. As you may have guessed by now, GP stands for Global Prefix and GS stands for Global Suffix.


      Find                                  Change To
    ---------                               -----------
 1) GP                                      *70,
 2) GS                                      ,,1994

The first example shows a prefix defined as *70, and the second shows a suffix defined of ,,1994. The commas are used in modem dial strings to define a 2 second pause.

Nodelist configuration

On this screen, you tell PCBoard where the nodelist file is stored. The nodelist compiler will use this information when compiling the nodelist. There is no limit to the number of nodelists you can have. Each file will be appended into the database until there are no more lists to compile.

Diff Filenames

A Diff (DIF) file is used to update existing nodelist. If you are participating in the worldwide Fido network, you have seen how the full nodelist can be several megabytes in size. To prevent members of the network from having to transfer such a large file each time, updates or DIF files are usually available from the same location where you can find a nodelist.

The nodelist compiler will properly update the local nodelist database using the information stored in these DIF files. To be properly updated, the DIF file must be in the same directory as the nodelist. Just the base filename of the DIF file needs to be entered on the screen as the extension simply refers to the revision of the file.

To help explain the relationship between the nodelist and the DIF files, look at the following entry:

   Nodelist Path (No Extension)         Diff Filename
   ----------------------------         -------------
1) C:\PCB\FIDO\NODELIST                  NODEDIF

Here is what will happen:

  • Begin by compiling just the nodelist file
  • As time passes, DIF files will be distributed by your network. Pick up the DIF files, uncompress them to the same directory where the nodelist file listed in column one is.
  • Recompile the nodelist database with the compiler using the /DIFF switch.

NOTE: All filenames listed on this screen refer to the uncompressed filenames. You must uncompress the files manually before attempting to compile the nodelist database. Compression types range from system to system. Ask if you are unsure about the type of compression.

FREQ Path List

When a Fido node requests a file from your site, PCBoard will search all subdirectories listed on this screen. If a matching filename is found in any subdirectory, the file is sent.

NOTE: It is important to remember that any file in these subdirectories can be obtained from a remote site. Therefore, do not put confidential files in these directories.

FREQ Restrictions

File Requests (FREQs) tie up your system for the time it takes to pick up the files. Therefore, a way to restrict the amount of time, or bytes another site can pick up. Several fields define how the file requests can be restricted. The following describes each:

Session Max Time

Enter the maximum number of minutes another site can spend FREQing during the current call.

Session Max KBytes

Enter the number of kilobytes (1024 bytes) a remote site will be allowed to download during a single connect.

Daily Max Time

The value in this field represents the total amount of time a remote site can spend transferring files during any one daily period. A day to PCBoard is considered to be from midnight to 11:59pm (via the host computer not the remote site).

Daily Max KBytes

Enter the total number of kilobytes a remote site may FREQ during a daily period (midnight to 11:59pm).

Allowed Nodes

This field defines which remote sites will be able to FREQ a file from your system. The following describes each available option:

A All Fido sites regardless if they are listed in your user or nodelist will be able to FREQ a file. Keeping in mind it is possible to FREQ using wildcards is another reason not to put confidential information in your FREQ paths.
L Any Fido site listed in the nodelist or in your user file will be able to FREQ a file.
N Only those Fido sites listed in the nodelist will be able to FREQ a file. This option is ideal when you are involved in a smaller Fido-based network but do not want just any Fido capable mailer to be able to FREQ a file.
U Only those sites listed in your user file will be allowed to FREQ a file.

Min Allowed Baud

Because transferring files can be time consuming, you may choose to limit FREQs to only those sites capable of a certain baud rate or higher. For example, you may want to only allow those systems capable of a 14400 connection or higher to FREQ. With this type of configuration, sites using 9600 baud modems would only be able to transfer mail and not files.

In this field, enter the required baud rate for transferring files. Any site capable of the speed you enter or higher will be able to request files.

FREQ Magic Names

A “Magic Name” can also be seen as an alias to a filename which can be FREQed. A common example of an alias is for a remote site to FREQ a file called “FILES” on your system. This is commonly understood to be a list of files available on your system. What do you do though if your list is called ALLFILES.LST? Since FILES is a de facto standard, you want to make this available to other nodes but do not want to waste the space an additional copy occupies. That is where the magic name comes in handy. Simply make an entry similar to the following:

   Magic Name            Filename
   ----------            --------
1) FILES                 C:\PCB\FILES\ALLFILES.LST

From this example you can tell that the alias or magic name is entered in the left column and the actual filename to send is entered on the right.

NOTE: For this to work, the C:\PCB\FILES\ subdirectory MUST be listed in the FREQ Path list. FULL pathnames are required.

A more sophisticated example involves wildcarding. You produce a program which consists of 3 zip files (3 disks). Rather than having remote sites requesting BOBOB-1.ZIP, BOBOB-2.ZIP, and BOBOB-3.ZIP you want them to simply FREQ BOBOB. The following example illustrates:

   Magic Name            Filename
   ----------            --------
1) BOBOB                 C:\PCB\FILES\BOBOB-?.ZIP

Notice how the ? DOS wildcard character is used to make sure all 3 disks are included when BOBOB is requested.

FREQ Deny Nodelist

Some remote sites may abuse their ability to FREQ. To deny these sites the ability to FREQ from your system, add them to this list. The entire node number/address must be entered.

New to the PCBSetup | Modem Information | Modem Setup screen are fields relating to the Fido configuration. These fields control what command PCBoard will send to your modem for dialing other systems, and how many attempts should be made when a call results in a busy signal or failed attempt. These fields are as follows:

Modem Dialout String           : ATDT
Max # of Redials on Busy       :    1
Max # of Attempts to Connect   :  100

Modem Dialout String

The command entered in this field is sent to the modem before a number is dialed. Notice the default of ATDT which is a standard for nearly every modem. The only time you may have to use something different is when the modem must be switched from say fax to data mode or some other special circumstance.

Max # of Redials on Busy

When dialing a node it is not uncommon to get a busy signal as a response. This field controls how many attempts PCBoard will make before it returns to the call-waiting screen to let the dial-timer expire again.

Max # of Attempts to Connect

A call that results in a NO CARRIER, VOICE, or an unexpected modem response is considered to be a failed attempt. After an attempt fails, PCBoard will return to the call waiting screen. This field controls the number of failed attempts that may accumulate when trying to send this packet. Once a packet reaches this limit, it will not be sent until you view the outbound queue and reset the failed attempts counter.

Call Waiting Screen

Pressing ALT-F from the call-waiting screen reveals the following menu (Fido must be enabled in PCBSetup | Fido Configuration | Fido Configuration):

│         Sysop FIDO Menu          │
│                                  │
│   1) Poll a Node.                │
│   2) Request a file.             │
│   3) Transmit a file.            │
│   4) Force next call.            │
│   5) View/Modify Queue.          │
│   6) Scan for outbound mail.     │
│   7) Process inbound mail.       │
│   8) Compile Nodelist.           │
│   9) Send Mail to a Node.        │
│                                  │
│   Enter selection:               │

Poll a Node

Although it is possible to setup a regular Poll to take place in an event, you may want to make a manual run to pick up mail or maybe even poll a site your event does not normally handle.

When this option is selected, you will be asked to enter the address of the node to queue. The full address can be entered in the form of <zone>:<net>/<node> or if defaults have been entered in PCBSetup for the zone and net, just the node number may be entered. Once the address in entered, an entry to crash poll the node is added to the outbound queue.

NOTE: In order to actually poll the node, you must send the packet from the outbound queue. This can be done by selecting either Force Next Call or Send Mail to a Node from the Fido Menu.

Request a file

It is possible to FREQ a file from another node by selecting this menu option. You are first asked for the address. Any defaults entered in PCBSetup | Fido Configuration | Fido Configuration are in effect.

Next, you are prompted for the filename to request from the site. Either a filename or magic name may be entered as both are perfectly acceptable. Once the filename is entered, the request is added to the outbound queue.

Transmit a file

To send a file to another site, an entry must be added to the outbound queue by selecting this option. First you are asked to enter the site address where the file is to be sent. Next, enter the filename to send. Make sure you enter the full path and filename to send and that it exists. If the file does not exist, the entry will NOT be added to the outbound queue.

Force next call

This option simply forces the next call to occur. If the outbound queue is empty, it will appear as if no activity took place.

View/Modify Queue

The outbound queue stores outbound requests or activities (polling a node, sending a file, FREQing a file, etc.) To view the contents of the queue, use this menu option. When entries are in the outbound queue, entries similar to the following are shown:

│     View/Modify Outbound Queue   │
│                                1 │
│   Filename : POLL                │
│   Address  : 1:311/1             │
│                                  │
│   F) Flag  : POLL CRASH          │
│   S) Send This Packet            │
│   D) Delete                      │
│   N) Next                        │
│   P) Previous                    │
│   C) Clear Failed Connect      0 │
│   R) Re-Address Entry            │
│   Enter selection :              │
Filename This field lists the filename to transfer or it shows the activity taking place if not involving a file request (polling is a good example).
Address Shows the full address where the request is being sent.
F)lag Allows you to change the flagged status of this entry. Valid options are CRASH (send immediately), NORMAL (wait for normal event processing), and HOLD (wait for the other node to call you).
S)end Process this request immediately and ignore the flag status (HOLD or NORMAL) of the packet. All packets in the outbound queue for this node will be sent once a connection is made.
D)elete When this menu item is selected, the current queue entry is deleted.
N)ext View the next entry in the queue.
P)revious View the previous entry in the queue.
C)lear Failed Connect Resets the failed call counter to 0 making a dialing attempt appear to be a first time call.
R)e-Address Entry Use this option to change the current address where a packet is to be sent.

Scan for outbound mail

All netmail and echo mail entered on your system will be prepared for sending to your hub. This option is designed to manually scan for mail as this is normally taken care of by the timers in PCBSetup | Fido Configuration | Fido Configuration.

Process inbound mail

Manually checks to see if there is any incoming mail to be processed. Normally, PCBoard will check at regular intervals for new mail. However, you may have a need to make a manual run and therefore must force the incoming mail to be processed.

Compile Nodelist

This option executes the PCBNLC (node list compiler) program. Use this option to generate a new node list database.

Send Mail to a node

This option lists all nodes with outgoing mail (or requests). Select the site to send all requests to and these requests will be processed immediately. This option is identical to the S)end option when viewing the queue except it lists by node number instead of by packet.

The Fido Conference Configuration Screen

As you are aware, there is more than one setup screen for a conference. Pressing PgDn when editing the configuration of a conference will take you to a screen full of further options beginning with Auto-Rejoin into this Conf. Also on this screen is an option titled Type of Netmail Conference. When this field is set to 5, pressing d will bring you to what is known as the Fido Conference Configuration screen.

PCBoard Conference   : 0
Messages file        : C:\PCB\MAIN\MSGS

Fido Area Name       :
Default AKA          :
Default Origin       :
High Ascii (S/R/C/N) :

The first two fields on the screen are just for reference purposes only and may not be edited. The others, however, can be edited and relate to Fido issues only. The following sections describe each of the available fields.

Fido Area Name

This field holds the tag name for the conference. Every echo area in Fido has a tag name which identifies the topic of discussion. Simply enter the tag for the echo area this conference will represent.

When a large number of conferences needs to be added, look into using UUUTIL. See FIDO.DOC in the same directory where PCBoard was installed for further information.

Default AKA

When you are involved in multiple networks, you'll have more than one node address. These additional addresses are called AKAs which stands for Also Known As. When this field is blank, the address associated with it is the first entry in PCBSetup | Fido Configuration | System Address. For conferences associated with other networks, enter the node address you use for the network in each conference used by this network.

Default Origin

Origin lines are added to each message sent out. When dealing with multiple Fido based networks you may find it desirable to override the default origin line which displays the node number. To override what is sent on the origin information, simply enter the information in the field provided.

High Ascii

Most sites in Fido do not allow high ASCII characters in messages yet if you are involved with other networks they may allow such characters to be entered. To accommodate this problem, PCBoard allows you to determine how high ASCII characters are handled on a conference by conference basis. The following are valid selections:

S Removes all high ASCII characters and replaces with nothing.
R Replaces all high ASCII characters with periods (.)
C Converts high-ASCII characters to similar looking low ASCII equivalents.
N Do no translations or modifications to high ASCII characters.

The safest choice is option C because it guarantees low ASCII characters will be used but yet it still attempts to portray the effect of any high ASCII characters.

Fido Batch Files

There are a few hooks within PCBFido where it is desirable to use third-party utilities to facilitate the flow of messages in a Fido base network. By hooks, we are referring to the use of batch files where these third-party programs can be run. The purpose of this section is to explain detailed information about these batch files.


After a successful Fido transfer, this batch file is run to process the packets before PCBoard imports them. This is of particular interest to those SysOps involved in a file echo (files are exchanged instead of messages). In this type of scenario, a third-party TIC processor must be used to handle the packets after a mail transfer occurs.


Most sites support type 2+ packets which also denote Zmodem capabilities. By default, Fido executes ZMSEND.EXE and ZMRECV.EXE for its Zmodem needs. If you need to use a third-party version of Zmodem, use these two batch files to load the program. The parameters passed to the batch files are identical to those PCBoard passes to an external protocol in your normal configuration (refer to the PCBoard manual for additional information). FIDOSEND.BAT is used when a packet is sent from your system, while FIDORECV.BAT is used to receive a file to your system.

New PCBoard Switches

New PCBoard command line and environment switches have been added to help facilitate those who are running multiple nodes off of one PCBOARD.DAT or who may want to manually control mail transfers.

"SET PCB=" Environment Switches


Disables Fido processing. This is equivalent to answering N to the Enable Fido Processing in PCBSetup | Fido Configuration | Fido Configuration. Example:


"SET PCBFIDO=" Environment Switches

This is actually a newly supported environment variable. The existence of the variable will enable Fido Processing (just the opposite of the /NOFIDO switch). This new variable supports the following switches:


Enable the mirroring support for netmail. .MSG files can be imported if put in the .MSG subdirectory and copies of all netmail messages exported are keep in the same directory (in .MSG format.)


Overrides all settings in PCBSetup and checks for mail every x minutes with x being the number of minutes entered after the colon.


Overrides the settings in PCBSetup and checks for items needing export every x minutes with x being the number of minutes specified after the colon.


This option overrides any setting in PCBSetup and will change the dialing frequency to the number of minutes specified after the colon.



This particular environment setting will check for importing every five minutes and exporting every three minutes.


PCBoard checks every 10 minutes to see if any dialing attempts must be made.

Command Line Parameters

To better facilitate manual processing of Fido mail, PCBoard accepts two new command line parameters. When used, PCBoard will automatically import or export mail.


Manually import all new mail. A synonym for this parameter is /TOSS. Example:





Manually export all outgoing mail. A synonym for this parameter is /SCAN. Example:





Point Support

A point can be best described as a extension to a node. In fact, the node acts as a hub to the point. Look at the following illustration to get a better picture as to what is going on:

+-------+        +------+ ----> Point
| Net   |        | Node |
| Hub   | -----> |      | ----> Point
+-------+        +------+
   	   +----------> +------+
   	                | Node |
   	                |      |

Not every node will have points. It all depends on if you want to share your Fido information with another system down from you on the hierarchical structure.

The main point to realize in regards to a point system is that you will not be listed in any nodelists. This means it is not possible to send netmail directly to a point site.

The addressing for a point is different from that of other sites. For the sake of example, let's assume you desire to be a point under our support BBS (1:311/40). Basically what happens is that you simply add a “point” or period followed by the point number. Since we do not have points underneath us, you would become the first or 1:311/40.1.

Working With a Satellite Feed

Some services offer satellite delivery of Fido echo areas and netmail. This method of delivery cuts down on costs when carrying a full-feed or when you are a great distance from a hub.

How does PCBoard import the messages if it never makes the call? To add mail to your system, PCBoard will simply scan the inbound packet directory (PCBSetup > Fido Configuration > File and Directory Configuration).

All you must do is get the packets from the satellite to the inbound packets directory and let PCBoard import them. A good method for importing is either to use the /IMPORT command line switch or to periodically scan the inbound directory every x minutes with the setting in PCBSetup > Fido Configuration > Fido Configuration.

Because satellites offer just the delivery of messages, you must make arrangements to send new messages from your system to a hub (most likely chosen by the satellite service provider). Making this type of setup requires:

1) Make a user record for the outbound site.
2) Add RS conference flags for every area you send to the outbound site. Otherwise, new mail will not be packetized for export.

Fido User Records

With any site you regularly exchange netmail or echo mail with, you'll need to setup a user record for each site. Why must a user record be setup?

1. All password information for sessions, packets, and AreaFixing are stored in this user record.

2. Information about the echo areas you carry and allow others to carry (if acting as a hub) are extracted from the user record.

To add a Fido user record, follow these steps:

1. Load System Manager and edit the user records by selecting User File Maintenance followed by Edit User Records.

2. Press ALT-A to add a new user record.

3. In the “Name” field, enter “~FIDO~” followed by the address of the net coordinator. To create an account for the Fido node 1:311/0, enter the following:


4. Press F3 to view the Fido Form of the user record. The screen resembles the following:

                      Edit User Record (Fido Form)
Name        : ~FIDO~1:311/0
Session        :
AreaFix        :
Packet         :
Phone Override :
Security Level : 0
Delete User    : N

5. Fill in the apporpriate passwords for the system. If unknown, leave them blank.

6. Press F2 twice to get to the conference view. Here we must mark those conferences that will be exchanging mail. This differs depnding on if you are acting as a node or a hub.

Nodes should put RS in each conference they will be exchanging. Hubs have a little more control in that they put an R to denote a site can access the conference and S to signify that they are carrying a conference.

As far as a hub is conferenced, the following choice exist for conference registration:

<blank> - Site cannot access the conference
R       - Site CAN access conference but is electing not to.
RS      - Site is carrying the conference feed.

7. A helpful hint in setting up Fido user records is to setup all Fido accounts using the same security level. This way, you can capitalize on the global conference changes available within System Manager.

8. Save the changes by pressing ESC and chosing to save changes and you are ready to go.

FidoNet Terminology

AKA Refers to <A>lso <K>nown <A>s. Anytime your site is known by more than one address, the additional addresses are called AKAs.
AREAFIX A process where, as a site, your configuration for the host can be modified. The type of things which can be modified are what echo mail areas can be modified, etc.
CRASH Refers to sending immediately regardless of how your events are configured. In the case of an event, this term has PCBoard send any crash mail to the nodes listed in the parameter list.
ECHO-MAIL The majority of mail sent in Fido is termed echo-mail. Each of the hundreds of conferences or areas send this publicly readable mail.
FREQ Refers to <F>ile <REQ>uest. A Fido node can request a file from any other Fido node. If the destination site/node has the file available, it will be transferred during that call.
MAGIC NAMES In regards to FREQing a file, the name may not be known or multiple files may be involved. In a situation like this, the site may have setup a magic name which will get the appropriate file or set of files.
NET-MAIL Netmail is a way to send private mail between users on two different nodes/sites. Mail must include the users name and the node address.
NODELIST The source file containing all information about nodes involved on the network. Information includes phone numbers, SysOp name, name of the site, maximum speed, etc.
POLL Call another site and request any waiting mail.
ROUTE Refers to instructions on how mail will be sent. Mail can be routed or sent to another node.
fido/start.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/18 13:35
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