BananaCom will help you to start using your modem.
BananaCom does not require you to specify parity, data bits,
stop bits, echo, duplex, terminal emulation, flow control, etc.
General practice has made it clear that most of this has been
standardized and the need for variation is rare.
BananaCom does not require megabytes of memory or disk space.
In fact, BananaCom can easily run from a 360k disk and have room for
file transfers on the same disk! BananaCom will give ZModem, ANSI
and high speed capability to some of the most feeble computers.
First time configuration of BananaCom usually takes under a minute.
Alt-M will show you a menu and list the "Alt" commands.
Note that with "Alt" commands, you use the Alt key like a shift key:
For Alt-M, hold down your alt key and tap your M key once.
"Alt" commands only work from the main terminal screen.
The latest version of BananaCom can be found on
The Montana Banana BBS (406)543-8234
(use your arrow keys to see the rest of this information)
BananaCom is free for private use.
Registration of $20 will get you voice phone support.
Commercial, nonprofit and government users must register.
We offer excellent site license and custom distribution rates.
Make checks and money orders payable to Paul Wheaton and mail to:
Paul Wheaton 1916 Brooks #205 Missoula, MT 59801
Visa or M/C orders can be called in to (406)543-1928
BananaCom is a Banana Programming product.
Call for your custom programming needs.
Getting started with BananaCom
After you have your modem and BananaCom properly configured, getting
connected to your favorite modem service should take just a few
The first step is to configure your "COM port" (also called your
"serial port"). if you know what COM port your modem uses, tap Alt-P
until the appropriate COM number appears at the bottom of your
If you don't know what COM port your modem uses, press Alt-V to
verify your current COM port setting. If "OK" appears, your COM
port is now properly configured! Otherwise, press Alt-P to change
your port number and then try Alt-V again. Repeat until you see
"OK" or have tried all the ports and nothing happens (in which case,
see "Troubleshooting" below).
If your modem is connected to a phone line where you have to "dial 9
to get out", press Alt-M and then select "modify dialing
prefix/suffix". Change the prefix to "ATDT9," and then press F2.
Make sure your modem is plugged in to a working phone line. Press
Alt-D for the Dialing Directory. Use the up and down arrow keys to
select a modem service. When the service you want to dial is
highlighted, press your enter key. If your modem's speaker is
turned on, you should hear dial tone, dialing, ringing, a whistling
sound, a kind of harsh static and then silence. Within ten
to thirty seconds your modem should report "CONNECT". At this time
you follow the instructions of operation for your modem service.
Sometimes you need to tap your enter key a few times to get things
rolling. Between the time that you press enter to select the modem
service you want to dial, and the time you get the "CONNECT"
message, pressing any key will stop the call and you will get a "NO
BananaCom may be run from any directory on any DOS disk-type device.
Just make sure that you have BCOM.EXE and BCOM.DOC in the current
directory before you type BCOM to start BananaCom.
When BananaCom is started, you are immediately put into the "main
terminal screen" - this means that BananaCom is now forcing your
computer to behave like a terminal. The bottom line tells you some
information about the current BananaCom settings and will try to
direct you to keys that will help you do things. The rest of the
screen is the space that your favorite modem service will use to
Note that for any menu in BananaCom (this includes the dialing
directory), you may press your escape key to exit and do nothing.
If you are in a BananaCom editing screen, you may press your escape
key to exit and any changes you made will be ignored. As with many
programs, your escape key helps you to "back up" or "get out" of
things. The only time that escape will not give you this effect is
at the main terminal screen. The reason is that the escape key is
often used to be passed to a modem service. Instead, you must use
Alt-X (to exit BananaCom).
Dialing Directory (Alt-D)
To call a modem service, you tell your modem what the phone number
of the service is and it will do the dialing. Since most folks
can't remember the phone numbers for all the modem services they
use, we have provided a dialing directory. You press Alt-D and then
use your cursor (arrow) keys (your home, end, page up, page down
and alphabet (A to Z) keys will work too) to highlight the modem
service that you want to call, press return and BananaCom will feed
your modem the appropriate phone number.
Note that it will take a few seconds for your modem to dial up and
connect with the modem for the service. Pressing extra keys does
not speed things up, it hangs up the phone! Some people seem to do
this without being aware of it!
If you have the phone number for a modem service that you want to
add to the dialing directory, press Alt-D, go to the bottom of the
directory and press your enter key. Fill in the fields for the name
and phone number for the service (be sure that the phone number is
the modem number and not a voice or fax number!). For the "speed"
field, use your + (plus key), - (minus key) and space bar to select
the most appropriate speed (you may press your F3 key to select the
speed with a menu). If you are not sure what speed to pick, start
with 2400bps (or slower if your modem is a slower modem) and try
faster speeds later. When the name, number and speed all look
correct to you, press your F2 key to save the changes.
When the dialing directory is on the screen, you may press your
Alt-R key to revise an entry.
Note that if you have a very long phone number such as
10288,,,406-543-8234,,,40654382349999 (interpretation: use AT&T;
pause; number to dial; pause; calling card number) that the number
might overwrite part of your modem service name.
Main Menu (Alt-M)
The menu will show you all of the "ALT" commands available plus any
other commands that don't get used often enough to warrant an "Alt"
command. Essentially, all of the functionality of BananaCom can be
accessed through the main menu!
Most modem services offer a collection of files that people may
download. A "file transfer protocol" is a technique that both the
terminal software (BananaCom) and the host software (the modem
service or BBS) agree upon for copying a file from one to the other.
There are usually a dozen or more file transfer protocols available
on most systems. The most popular is ZModem.
Downloading: Once you are connected to a modem service and have
specified to the service one or more files that you want to download
via ZModem, the service will send some special characters to
BananaCom that will begin a ZModem download. BananaCom will then
put a box in the top, right corner of your screen and show you the
progress of the file transfer. When an exact copy of the file is in
the current directory of your computer (the same directory that
BananaCom is in), the box will be taken away and you will be able to
continue with using your modem service. When your modem service
session is over, you can exit from BananaCom (with Alt-X) and work
with your downloaded file just as you would with any other file on
Uploading: When you tell your modem service that you want to
upload via ZModem, it will send some text that will alert BananaCom
to ask you for a file name. After you have typed in the file name,
press return and the upload will begin. If your modem service is an
odd duck, it might not send the appropriate characters and instead,
wait dumbly for you to send these characters. If this happens,
press Alt-M and select "ZModem Upload".
Terminates the BananaCom program. If you happened to be on-line,
the modem will be hung up.
Hang Up (Alt-H)
When you are ready to end a call to a modem service, the best thing
to do is to follow the instructions of the service for terminating
the call. If you seem to be stuck or cannot find a way to have the
service terminate the call, type Alt-H to hang up the phone on your
Verify Configuration (Alt-V)
When you press Alt-V, BananaCom will send a command to your modem
that should work on almost all modems. If the port and speed are
set properly, the modem will put "OK" on the screen. This is a
signal that you are now ready to make calls.
Note that some modems have been programmed so that when they come
on, they will behave in a nonstandard manner. This may make your
modem work better with BananaCom or it may make it not work at all
with BananaCom. If you use BananaCom later and find that things
don't seem to be working, try Alt-V again. If things then work,
look in your modem manual to see if there is a way to get your modem
to remember what you told it with Alt-V (on some modems, you would
type "AT&W"). Otherwise, you might want to put the commands from
Alt-V into your dialing prefix. See "Edit dialing prefix and
suffix" later in this documentation.
DOS Shell (Alt-S)
Sometimes when you are using a modem service, you need to pop out to
DOS and do something real quick. Press Alt-S and you will see the
DOS prompt. Do what you need to do and make sure that you end up
with the same "current directory" that you started with. Type
EXIT and then press enter. It will look like you never left!
Rate (or speed) (Alt-R)
This is how fast BananaCom talks to your COM port (technically, the
DTE speed). Sometimes, this is faster than your modem speed. This
is the speed that is shown at the bottom of your screen when you
first start BananaCom. It is the default speed for when you add
modem services to the dialing directory. It is the speed that is
used for everything you do before you use the dialing directory.
As a rule of thumb, you set this to be the speed of your modem. If
your modem has "data compression" you set it for the next higher
speed. HOWEVER, you should not set this to higher than 9600 if your
serial port won't go that fast.
Example 1: You have a plain 2400bps modem. Set your rate to
Example 2: You have a 14,400bps internal modem that supports data
compression and has a built in 16550NA chip. Set your rate to
Example 3: You have a 14,400bps external modem that supports
data compression, but your serial port does not have a 16550NA
chip. Set your rate to 9,600bps.
Note that internal modems requiring speeds faster than 9600bps
generally have a 16550NA or equivalent chip. If you have an
external modem and want to set the rate to something higher than
9600bps AND do not know if you have a 16550NA chip, see
Clear Screen (Alt-C)
Clears the screen and sets the current color to be Yellow on Black.
Toggle Text Capture (Alt-T)
Tap Alt-T once. Now all of the new text that appears on the screen
will be stored to the file CAPTURE.TXT. If CAPTURE.TXT already had
some stuff in it, the new stuff that appears on your screen will be
appended to the end. Tap Alt-T again and text capture will stop.
o all ANSI sequences are stripped and not in the file.
o the current date and time are put into the file each time
you tap Alt-T.
o all ANSI sequences are still processed.
o you may delete or edit the file CAPTURE.TXT at any time. The
next time you tap Alt-T, a new CAPTURE.TXT will be created.
This is especially useful if you want to print something from a
modem service. Capture what you want to print and load CAPTURE.TXT
into your favorite word processor. Now you can edit and print just
as you would any other document.
Note that text capture starts the second that you tap Alt-T.
Anything that was already on the screen when you tapped Alt-T did
not get stored.
Upload Text (Alt-U)
Usually a text upload is so you may compose a message off-line and
upload it quickly when on-line.
When you have prepared your modem service to receive a message, type
Alt-U and provide the name of your text file. BananaCom will pass
the message very quickly in a standard text upload format acceptable
on most modem services. The modem service will have no idea that
there is a text upload in progress - it will think you are a very
Back scroll terminal screen (Alt-B)
Sometimes when using a modem service, you find that information has
scrolled past that you need. To look at that information again,
press Alt-B. You can now use your cursor keys (up arrow, down
arrow, page up, page down, home and end) to view the text that has
passed in the last few minutes. How much text is saved depends on
how much memory you have available.
Edit Dialing Prefix and Suffix
This feature can only be accessed through the menu.
Note! The following instructions are for modems that use the "Hayes
compatible" or "AT" command set. All instructions to the
modem begin with "AT" (meaning "attention!"). "ATD" means
"dial the following number". "ATDT" means "dial the
following number with touch tone".
The dialing prefix is the command that is passed to the modem before
every modem call. Usually, it is set to ATDT although you may
need to modify it. Use:
ATDP if your phone does not support "touch tone"
ATDT9, to "dial 9 to get out"
ATDT*70, to temporarily turn off call waiting
You might also want to insert another command or two depending on
what your modem may need to work properly:
M0 turns the speaker off
M1 turns the speaker on while dialing
M1L2 turns the speaker on "loud" while dialing
M1L0 turns the speaker on "quiet" while dialing
E1 so you can see what the autodialer sends to the modem
Q0 so the modem can report problems and "CONNECT"
V1 so the modem will report "CONNECT" instead of "1"
Always insert these commands between the AT and the D. You may
include as many instructions as you like. e.g. ATM1L2E1Q0V1DT9,
or AT M1 L2 E1 Q0 V1 DT 9,
Note that some modems require that all of these commands be in upper
case and no spaces between commands!
Note also that most modems default to M1, L1, E1, Q0 and V1. We
recommend that you only use these if your modem seems to be an
exception to the rule.
Use of the dialing suffix is rare. If you have a phone where you
must type a "22" in after every number you dial before the call will
go through, you would make your dialing suffix ,22
The most common problem is COM port devices improperly configured.
Usually, an internal modem will be set to use COM2 and an external
serial port will also be set to use COM2. Or maybe an external
modem will be set to use the serial port COM1 and so will a mouse.
The symptoms to indicate this problem are varied. If you think
this could be your problem, you should ask your computer dealer (or
friendly computer geek) to verify that you do not have "serial port
conflicts". This process involves opening your computer and
comparing the settings of your serial devices (some of which may be
on your computer's "motherboard").
Sometimes, if a modem has two phone plugs, the modem is picky about
which plug is for the phone line that goes to the wall and which one
goes to the telephone. If you suspect this could be the problem,
swap the plugs.
Check to make sure the serial cable is tightly connected to the
modem and your computer.
You MUST use a cable that has at least 9 wires in it (pins 1
through 8 and pin 20). While 4 wire cable is great for a lot of
terminal setups, it doesn't cut it for today's modem user!
If you are trying to go faster than 9600bps and the serial port
that your modem uses does not have a 16550A chip, you stand a good
chance of losing characters. Set your speed to 9600 and see if
things improve. If they do, call the Montana Banana BBS at
(406)543-8234 and download IS16550.ZIP - this tiny program will
tell you what your chip situation is.
Many laptops have a power conservation method that shuts off
certain devices, such as your modem or serial port, when not in
use. See the manual that came with your laptop to find out how
you turn your serial port or modem on. Usually it is a command
that you type in at the DOS prompt.
Newer modems have become predictable and standardized. Some older
modems will work with modern modem services, just differently. If
you suspect that you may be having difficulty with your modem
because of its age, register BananaCom and give us a call - we
have experience with a variety of older modems and may be able to
get you rolling.
Garbage on the screen
Unwanted characters on your screen could be caused by
a) a low quality modem.
b) somebody picking up the phone while you are using the modem.
c) line noise from the phone company or long distance carrier.
d) line noise from your house wiring, caused by: too much "flat
wire" - the wire the runs from the phone jack to your phone
is usually flat and acts as a sort of antennae - the more you
have, the more noise you get; phone wire that is close to a
fluorescent light fixture; phone wire that has a bad/loose
e) there is another phone, answering machine, fax machine
connected to this phone line that is somehow contributing
noise. Try unplugging all unneeded devices at the wall.
f) call waiting (or similar "services") solutions:
1) Call your phone company and permanently cancel call
2) Temporarily cancel call waiting by changing your dialing
prefix to "ATDT*70," (most phone companies support this)
3) Have your modem hang up, pick up your phone and say
A modem is a common, inexpensive device that connects computers
together through phone lines. It takes computer signals and
converts them into sounds that can be used on a regular phone line
All computers need communications software (like BananaCom) to
make the modem work with your computer. Usually, your computer
ignores your modem. The software will make it so that what you
type will go to the modem and what comes in from the modem will be
displayed on your screen. There is communications software
available for almost every computer ever made.
Years ago computing was usually done by hooking up lots of "dumb
terminals" to one computer. A terminal was nothing more than a
keyboard and a screen (or printer). Without the computer, the
terminal was less useful than a calculator. When micro computers
came out, people still needed to access the data on the big
computers. Programs were then written so the micro computers could
emulate popular terminals. Those terminal emulations have
weathered the years and are now what a modem service expects to
interface with. "ANSI terminal emulation" seems to be the most
BPS (Bits per second) is a rate of speed that modems can send
information. To send the character "a" through a modem, takes 10
bits. So, to send a thousand characters will take 10,000 bits. A
1200bps modem (a fairly common speed) will pass 120 characters per
second. "Baud" can be very similar to BPS and many people are now
in the habit to use the term when they really mean "BPS".
When your modem and a modem on the other side of the phone line
agree to communicate, this is the beginning of a "connection" (you
now have "carrier"). As long as the modems continue to exchange
information, you still have a connection. When one or both of the
modems hang up, you have lost carrier (or, lost your connection).
ANSI terminal emulation
ZModem file transfer protocols
no parity, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit
RTS/CTS flow control, no XON/XOFF flow control
no echo, full duplex
no CR/LF conversion (except in text uploads)
destructive backspace and direct screen writes
if BananaCom can detect a 16550A, it will turn the buffer on.
IRQ variations: BananaCom uses IRQ4 for COM3 and IRQ3 for COM4 by
default. To change this, create a file with one of these names:
"COM3IRQ2.TXT", "COM3IRQ5.TXT", "COM4IRQ2.TXT", "COM4IRQ5.TXT".
It does not matter if there is anything in the file, only the
presence of the file will be tested for. You can make this file by
typing COPY CON FILENAME.TXT at the DOS prompt. Then press return,
ctrl-Z and return. The file will exist and contain one byte.
Blink attributes can be eliminated in a similar way - create the
The BCOM.TXT file
This file will be generated if it does not exist. You may edit
this file if you have an appropriate text editor, knowledge and
are careful. The layout:
Line 1: speed (must be "300", "1200", "2400", "9600",
"19200", "38400", "57600" or "115200")
Line 2: COM port number (must be "1", "2", "3" or "4")
Line 3: dialing prefix (usually "ATDT")
Line 4: dialing suffix (usually blank)
The remaining lines are for the dialing directory. The format
is important - 29 characters for the name (left justified); 1
character for a space; 19 characters for a phone number (right
justified); another 1 character space; 3 to 6 characters for
If BananaCom cannot establish RTS/CTS flow control, it will issue
a warning and continue on with no flow control.
There may still be a few services that require XON/XOFF instead of
RTS/CTS. Check with your service provider - almost all modem
services offer an RTS/CTS alternative number or are in the process
There may still be a few services that require E71 instead of N81.
Check with your service provider - almost all modem services offer
an N81 alternative number or are in the process of converting.
The Montana Banana BBS: (406)543-8234 (14.4kbps with QWK)
Internet: [email protected]
You may distribute copies of BananaCom to friends, computer clubs,
user groups or modem services so long as
a) no fee is charged (other than a nominal media fee not to exceed
b) both files (BCOM.EXE and BCOM.DOC) are included without
c) a BCOM.TXT (containing a dialing directory) file is NOT
included without the express written consent of the author,
Paul Wheaton (you may obtain a special distribution license
for a small fee), and
d) If BananaCom is stored in a compressed file (such as a zip
file), the name of the file, sans the extension, shall be
1) BCOM, or
2) BCOM00 where 00 would be replaced with a version number.
e.g., the file name for BananaCom version 1.2 would be BCOM12.
If you are using BananaCom from a computer that is owned by a
corporation (whether commercial, nonprofit or government), or
claimed as a business expense then you MUST register BananaCom or
not use it at all.
THIS PROGRAM IS PROVIDED "AS-IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND.
THE AUTHOR DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL OTHER WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR
IMPLIED, ORAL OR WRITTEN, INCLUDING ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE LIABLE FOR ANY INCIDENTAL,
CONSEQUENTIAL, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES WHATSOEVER ARISING OUT OF USE OF
THE PROGRAM OR YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE AUTHOR, INCLUDING WITHOUT
LIMITATION ANY OR ALL DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF PROFITS, BUSINESS
INTERRUPTION, LOSS OF INFORMATION OR ANY PECUNIARY LOSS, EVEN IF THE
AUTHOR HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.