Total Atari noob says hi and needs some guidance!

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Total Atari noob says hi and needs some guidance!

Postby James68k » Fri Apr 13, 2007 3:33 pm

(warning: interminable post ahead)

Hi all!

I come from the other side of the 68k, the Amiga, but always was curious about the Atari. I actually never got to saw an actual Atari before yesterday as they were simply not available where I lived back in the days. Got myself a 1040 STF yesterday with both SC1224 and SM124 with a switchbox so I don't have to unplug everything each time I ...err...switch. The actual computer also has a mod for the disk drive, a small switch (although it's broken right now, I'll need to go to radio shack this afternoon) that I'm told is to boot from one side of the floppy or the other. The previous owner told me it was fairly standard practice for ST owners to pack up two small one-sided games onto a single DS/DD disk.

As any self respecting collector of old computers, I promptly opened the beast when I got back home and proceeded to clean the 20-odd years of dust and crap accumulated inside, outside, on top, underneath, on the sides and well.. pretty much everywhere. I must say I am amazed at the actual quality of the workmanship. I am used to the cheap yellowing plastic of the Amiga that never quite returns to mint condition no matter how much hard work you put into it. After a couple of hours of cleaning, the 1040STf now looks brand spanking new! :D

So... being fairly ignorant about this machine I have a couple of newbie questions that I hope you guys can help me with, I have looked a bit on the web and found some ressources, but some things remain a little mysterious to me. I am somewhat comfortable with electronics, so I don't mind having to take the soldering iron out if need be. Also, although I want to mod/expand the machine, I'd like to keep it 100% compatible with stock models so mods that ruin some basic functionality are out of the question for me. So here goes:

HARDWARE
1- Simplest, most effective method to transfer disk images from the PC onto an ST disk. Can it be done directly on the PC drive, or will it require some sort of nullmodem-like cable to transfer from PC to ST (that's what I do with my amiga).

2- Although I do have both SC1224 and SM124 monitors, and the image quality of both is impressive, they are a tad on the small side. What are the other common alternatives for video display? It's an STF, not an STFM so it doesn't have the RF modulator already built in, but from what I read about the pinout, the signal seems to be pretty standard RGB fare. An easy way to connect that to a tv, lcd, vga, whatever else?

3- The audio output is bundled in the monitor output. I plan to use this baby for music, so having a dedicated audio output is a necessity. Looking inside the machine, this seems a pretty straightforward process of simply soldering wires to two pads inside the computer and installing an RCA jack somewhere at the back of the machine. Am I correct? Or do I need to take some special precaution to avoid getting an horrible ground hum in my audio?

4- Simplest method of getting an HD inside this beast? I have piles of 2.5" and 3.5" HDs of both IDE and SCSI variety that are just sitting here. Any size limitation (like the 4gb/partition of the Amiga) I should be aware of?

5- Any ways to put more RAM inside? I've got 30 and 72 pin simms around, as well as many DIP chips. I am guessing the RAM inside are the lined-up chips right under the keyboard and its fully populated, but since the STe could be upgraded to 4mb with a simm, I thought that maybe there was a way to retrofit that on an STf?

6- Sound sampler... I read that one can use the cartridge port on the side to sample sounds. Are these easily available, or are they complicated to build from scratch? Also, from the monitor pinout I checked on the web, there seems to be an 'audio in' on that port. How does that work?

7- I have two Wico joysticks, but I'm more a gamepad type of guy. Preliminary tests with a Megadrive gamepad seemed inconclusive. Aren't the joy ports standard sega/amiga/atari2600 type stuff?

8- Any other useful modification I should think about doing?

SOFTWARE
1- What essential music programs should I have? I'm comfortable with standard midi sequencers as well as trackers. What is the best sample-based tracker for ST? And the best chiptune tracker? MIDI is pretty much well covered with Cubase and Notator I guess, or is there others that are equally good?

2- I really would like to use the yamaha chip's synthesis to the fullest. A dream software for me would be a program that accepts MIDI input and does synthesis so I could hook up the Atari to my studio rig and use it as a MIDI synthesizer. Does that even exist? (please say yes!)

3- Being an oldschool demoscener, what are the ST demos that I really really shouldn't miss?

4- I can't seem to find any TOSEC-like collection for Atari apps, games and demos. Are there any archives of the genre around? I really don't feel like downloading disk by disk on PlanetEmu heh.

And finally... any tips for me? A list of do's and don'ts. General tips about the OS. Anything! Lay your wisdom on me!

If you read up to here, thank you very much for taking the time! And on that note.. I'm going back to check out the 400 disks that came with this darling. :D :D

Thanks!
-James

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Postby christos » Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:25 pm

Hello and welcome to the forum and the Atari :)
I believe that some (of your many ;)) questions can be answered through the Atari ST quick faq and the Atari forum Wiki!
http://www.atari.org/hosted/quickfaq/
The link for the wiki is right on top. ;)
I will answer the Megadrive joypad question, in my Falcon it worked on the mouse port but not on the joystick port, but I think that master system ones should work fine.
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Postby SkylineDave » Fri Apr 13, 2007 5:13 pm

this is a good place to get an insight into the megademo side of the Atari ST. ;)

http://dbst2.mysite.orange.co.uk/index.htm
AKA Megadaz / Black Eagle --- STOS, Dungeon Master and Captive fan!

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Postby bullis1 » Fri Apr 13, 2007 5:31 pm

Alot of this stuff is answered elsewhere, but I'm bored so here's a few tips for you:

HARDWARE

1) Makedisk. It's a DOS program, and won't work in Windows, but it's the best I've found. There's also a Windows program by a guy named PPera but I don't remember what it's called. Maybe Floimg? These programs will work with your PC floppy drive as long is it's not a USB one or something like that.

3) If you look at the monitor port FROM THE INSIDE of the machine, the connection on the upper-left of the port is audio. The signal of your audio plug gets soldered or clipped onto that one, and the ground wire gets connected to any place on the metal housing inside your Atari. This mod is the greatest, but remember to turn off the sound on your monitor, so you're not suckin' your juice in two directions. Oh, and I recommend using a 1/4 inch jack instead of a RCA jack. You know, those larger headphone-jack styled ones? That way, you can patch your ST directly into your mixer. I say this because you mentioned that you want to use your ST for music.

7) Sega Master system controllers seem to work 100% of the time. Genesis/Megadrive pads are iffy. Try a few different models, and third-party ones as well. Check local thrift stores and used game shops.

SOFTWARE

1) Sample-based tracker for ST? Unless you have an STE, which you don't, none of them are very good. However, some of them apparently work with a D/A you attach to your printer port, and those will give you much better output. As for chip trackers, maxYMiser is really feature-rich, while the versions of MusicMon from the last couple years are really good. Try Triplex 2k4 as well.

2) MiniMoo does just that.

As for other tips, get a real DSDD floppy drive instead of that switched jobby.

Enjoy your Atari.

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Postby pop » Fri Apr 13, 2007 5:45 pm

hi,
on the subject of trackers there is http://marcer.dyndns.org/
and http://www.dhs.nu/ look for atari utilities at botom left
for midi applications there is http://tamw.atari-users.net/

welcome and enjoy :)
Last edited by pop on Sat Apr 14, 2007 2:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby RetroGamerUK » Fri Apr 13, 2007 5:45 pm

I haven't read any of the above beyond the "hi I am a newbie" due to:
(1). Me being lazy.
(2). See (1).

But I will say Hi and welcome you to the forum 8)
If you struggle in getting the ST games you need then I may be able to help you there :)

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Postby teh3pwner » Fri Apr 13, 2007 6:04 pm

My answer to

Hardware

1.Simplest, and safe way is this: take a normal HD 1.44MB floppy tape over one hole (not the one with the lock/unlock switch), format floppy on PC and use it for data transfer. In Win XP type this in the command prompt: format a: /t:80 /n:9 . It will produce 720KB floppy, usable on all Ataris. If you have a High density floppy drive in Atari, you may use 1440KB standard PC floppies.

The program bullis1 talked about is attached.
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Image
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Postby James68k » Fri Apr 13, 2007 8:05 pm

w00t! Thanks for the fast replies! Many good links there. Enough to keep me entertained for a while :D

Good call there about the 1/4" jack. I'm so used to seeing RCA audio jacks on my various Amigas that it never occured to me how much more practical an 1/4" will be in the studio. I think I'm gonna snap the connection to the monitor completely (unless the monitor requires the signal for some reason?) and avoid possible interference feeding back from the monitor, and get the full juice on a single output.

As for the pads, I guess the IC in the megadrive pad is what's causing the problem then, since master system pads are ok. Master system pads being much harder to find than megadrive ones, I think I'm gonna pick up a pair of mega and bypass the IC. See if that works out.

That tracker site is just great. Even new stuff released in 2005!! I'm amazed really. Can't wait to fiddle around with that and the MiniMoo soft (ok I get the reference to the Minimoog, but I can't help picturing a very small cow in my mind). I do have NoiseTracker already on a disk somewhere. On the monitor's speaker it didn't sound so bad, I even sort of like the graininess of it. What's the actual rate it produces? 16khz?

And for the DSDD drive. You scared the hell out of me for a second. I thought I might be stuck with an SD drive. So I check the disks... all 400 of them single sided. I was about to cry really. So I popped a DD disk in there from my amiga pile, just to see.....and I formated it at 726016 bytes. Phew!

But there's one thing that puzzles me though. I have "Floppy A" and "Floppy B" on the desktop. Is this normal? Dbl-clicking any will reference to the same physical drive (I only have the internal drive anyways, no additional external drives). Although if I open A first, then try to open B, it will pop a requester asking to put a disk in drive B. I just need to click OK and it will access the disk normally. Both will open the exact same thing...all 726kb available on both. Again.. that's normal? If I get an external drive, will it appear as C on the desktop?

Thanks again for the help! Really appreciated :D
-James

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Re: Total Atari noob says hi and needs some guidance!

Postby daeghnao » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:35 pm

James68k wrote:(warning: interminable post ahead)

Hi all!

I come from the other side of the 68k, the Amiga, but always was curious about the Atari. I actually never got to saw an actual Atari before yesterday as they were simply not available where I lived back in the days. Got myself a 1040 STF yesterday with both SC1224 and SM124 with a switchbox so I don't have to unplug everything each time I ...err...switch. The actual computer also has a mod for the disk drive, a small switch (although it's broken right now, I'll need to go to radio shack this afternoon) that I'm told is to boot from one side of the floppy or the other. The previous owner told me it was fairly standard practice for ST owners to pack up two small one-sided games onto a single DS/DD disk.


Sounds like a pretty old machine to still have a single-sided drive. As well as all the other advice, you may need to watch out for some programs not working with your particular TOS version. The version can be inferred from the dates in the "Desktop Info..." menu entry, but unless it's been upgraded it's likely a 1.[0]2 (black Fuji and dates 1986, 1987). You'll likely want to get a standard double-sided drive in there instead - there's probably a sensible way to do this and still have it able to read your double-single-sided disks (the format on the disks you have that use both sides is different to a normal double-sided format, annoyingly).

I've actually got hold of an Amiga 500 recently, not had a chance to do much with it yet though. It came with only half a mouse and some missing pins on the mouse/joystick ports, so some TLC is needed, but it seems otherwise OK. Maybe I'll head on over to an Amiga forum some time later this year...

James68k wrote:HARDWARE
1- Simplest, most effective method to transfer disk images from the PC onto an ST disk. Can it be done directly on the PC drive, or will it require some sort of nullmodem-like cable to transfer from PC to ST (that's what I do with my amiga).


First, about ST disks in PCs:

The ST's disk format is copied from the MSDOS disk format, with a few slight modifications. The modifications that were used in TOS 1.0 and 1.[0]2 meant that a disk formatted from the desktop on one of these OSs doesn't quite work on an MSDOS/Windows PC. TOS 1.[0]4 corrected the slight discrepancy, so a disk with a standard format from this OS should in theory work on MSDOS/Windows. Of course, a lot of disks use extra tracks or extra sectors, so MSDOS and Windows get confused. Some disks that were formatted using a popular formatting system called "fast format" from the program "FCopy" can't be read with a normal PC disk controller, anything else that isn't copy protected can theoretically be read - Linux with its native drivers or fdrawcmd system, and Windows with the fdraw driver and ppera's floimg.

To get the disk image onto the disk for the ST, I'm only really familiar with doing so on Linux. But, your ST should be able to read a disk formatted single-sided, double density on your PC - you can extract files from disk images and write them directly, you're unlikely to find many images for single-sided disks compared to the number of images for double-sided disks.

James68k wrote:2- Although I do have both SC1224 and SM124 monitors, and the image quality of both is impressive, they are a tad on the small side. What are the other common alternatives for video display? It's an STF, not an STFM so it doesn't have the RF modulator already built in, but from what I read about the pinout, the signal seems to be pretty standard RGB fare. An easy way to connect that to a tv, lcd, vga, whatever else?


The output frequency is too low for a typical VGA monitor, so you'll need a scandoubler. Search the forum for scandoubler to see what sort of thing people talk about. There are some monitor mods and hardware hacks available, again have a look through the forum. Some modern LCD TVs apparently can cope with the ST's frequency. I haven't read through the threads in great detail though.

James68k wrote:3- The audio output is bundled in the monitor output. I plan to use this baby for music, so having a dedicated audio output is a necessity. Looking inside the machine, this seems a pretty straightforward process of simply soldering wires to two pads inside the computer and installing an RCA jack somewhere at the back of the machine. Am I correct? Or do I need to take some special precaution to avoid getting an horrible ground hum in my audio?


Here I have no idea, sorry.

James68k wrote:4- Simplest method of getting an HD inside this beast? I have piles of 2.5" and 3.5" HDs of both IDE and SCSI variety that are just sitting here. Any size limitation (like the 4gb/partition of the Amiga) I should be aware of?


For the old STs, hard drives were almost always external. The usual arrangement is from the ACSI port on the back to an ASCI/SCSI adapter to a SCSI drive. Getting hold of the adapters isn't as easy as getting hold of the ST though, so there are a few projects around to use SD cards as hard drives. Still a few months off though - take a look around the forum, there are threads on this too.

More modern Atari machines have internal IDE connections, but the hardware to use external IDE is rare.

James68k wrote:5- Any ways to put more RAM inside? I've got 30 and 72 pin simms around, as well as many DIP chips. I am guessing the RAM inside are the lined-up chips right under the keyboard and its fully populated, but since the STe could be upgraded to 4mb with a simm, I thought that maybe there was a way to retrofit that on an STf?


This is also out of my expertise, the memory arrangements changed a little as the machine evolved though. I've seen a RAM expansion on an ST board, there were lots of wires soldered to lots of places, not all of which were all that close to the memory chips...

James68k wrote:6- Sound sampler... I read that one can use the cartridge port on the side to sample sounds. Are these easily available, or are they complicated to build from scratch? Also, from the monitor pinout I checked on the web, there seems to be an 'audio in' on that port. How does that work?


I guess it's a matter of looking out for them on ebay, although building them from scratch sounds like a fun project. No idea on the audio-in on the monitor port, I assume it gets mixed with the audio-out and doesn't come in as an input to anything you can sample it from.

James68k wrote:7- I have two Wico joysticks, but I'm more a gamepad type of guy. Preliminary tests with a Megadrive gamepad seemed inconclusive. Aren't the joy ports standard sega/amiga/atari2600 type stuff?


The two joystick ports present only 10 signals to the ST. The joystick port has up, down, left, right and fire. The mouse port has all of these, and it has another pin for the right mouse button. However, this is just wired up to the joystick fire button. So, if you've got multiple fire button inputs from the joystick you're trying, you may find that only some of them work because of the way the signals are connected.

James68k wrote:8- Any other useful modification I should think about doing?


Some people reposition the joystick ports. It's easy to build a little extender system for them though. You'll want to sort out a double-sided drive. You might find that a PeST is handy, it lets you use a USB mouse in the mouse port. There's a similar project coming along for joysticks.

James68k wrote:SOFTWARE
1- What essential music programs should I have? I'm comfortable with standard midi sequencers as well as trackers. What is the best sample-based tracker for ST? And the best chiptune tracker? MIDI is pretty much well covered with Cubase and Notator I guess, or is there others that are equally good?


I've only ever played with trackers like Protracker and Audio Sculpture. Not really done anything serious with them. There's probably better.

James68k wrote:2- I really would like to use the yamaha chip's synthesis to the fullest. A dream software for me would be a program that accepts MIDI input and does synthesis so I could hook up the Atari to my studio rig and use it as a MIDI synthesizer. Does that even exist? (please say yes!)

3- Being an oldschool demoscener, what are the ST demos that I really really shouldn't miss?

4- I can't seem to find any TOSEC-like collection for Atari apps, games and demos. Are there any archives of the genre around? I really don't feel like downloading disk by disk on PlanetEmu heh.


There are some disk collections that come up as torrents occasionally, but they tend to get distributed on DVD at meets. Very traditional.

James68k wrote:And finally... any tips for me? A list of do's and don'ts. General tips about the OS. Anything! Lay your wisdom on me!

If you read up to here, thank you very much for taking the time! And on that note.. I'm going back to check out the 400 disks that came with this darling. :D :D

Thanks!
-James


Handy stuff to know:

When it boots, the ST reads the bootsector of the floppy disk and checks to see if it's executable. If it is, it goes ahead and runs it. This is where bootblock viruses come from, but it's also how a lot of games boot up. Otherwise, the OS looks through the AUTO folder for programs ending .PRG and runs them, in the order in which they appear in the directory on the disk (not necessarily the order they're displayed in). AUTO programs are either the game on the disk, the menu on the compacted disk, or a bunch of utilities that patch the OS (TSRs). Once the AUTO folder is done, the GEM environment is set up and you get dropped to the desktop. The file DESKTOP.INF controls how the desktop is arranged. Any files with names ending .ACC are added to the first menu on the screen, they're desk accessories and it's the usual way of controlling settings like keyboard repeat, printing, modem, palette and so on. It's also the only way to multitask under ordinary GEM.

Some of the more popular AUTO programs are a replacement fileselector, such as UIS; rat-trap, which stops the menus popping open until you click; ramdisk programs (there isn't a ramdisk included in the OS). I'm sure there are others, they generally play nicely with one another unless they're doing really hardcore things.

That's all I can think of for now, ask further as you play with things - either in thread or in PM.

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Postby daeghnao » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:40 pm

James68k wrote:And for the DSDD drive. You scared the hell out of me for a second. I thought I might be stuck with an SD drive. So I check the disks... all 400 of them single sided. I was about to cry really. So I popped a DD disk in there from my amiga pile, just to see.....and I formated it at 726016 bytes. Phew!


So you might have a double-sided drive with a side select as well? That would be interesting...

James68k wrote:But there's one thing that puzzles me though. I have "Floppy A" and "Floppy B" on the desktop. Is this normal? Dbl-clicking any will reference to the same physical drive (I only have the internal drive anyways, no additional external drives). Although if I open A first, then try to open B, it will pop a requester asking to put a disk in drive B. I just need to click OK and it will access the disk normally. Both will open the exact same thing...all 726kb available on both. Again.. that's normal? If I get an external drive, will it appear as C on the desktop?

Thanks again for the help! Really appreciated :D
-James


The A and B thing is perfectly normal. Since a lot of stuff is done with floppies, it always has these two 'logical' drives and maps them to the same 'physical' drive when there's only one. It's so you can copy files disk to disk without a ramdisk, and it'll use way more disk swaps on an old TOS than on a newer one. Your hard drive starts from drive C, with extra partitions D, E etc.; ramdisks tend to start looking for a free drive letter from drive D onward. There's also a drive c (lowercase) which is the content of a data cartridge in the cartridge port, but I've never actually seen one of those in the flesh.

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Postby James68k » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:06 pm

Wow! Thanks for all this :)

I've actually got hold of an Amiga 500 recently, not had a chance to do much with it yet though. It came with only half a mouse and some missing pins on the mouse/joystick ports, so some TLC is needed, but it seems otherwise OK. Maybe I'll head on over to an Amiga forum some time later this year...

I'd be glad to help you with anything I know about the Amiga! You can PM/email/msn me anytime :)

The output frequency is too low for a typical VGA monitor, so you'll need a scandoubler. Search the forum for scandoubler to see what sort of thing people talk about. There are some monitor mods and hardware hacks available, again have a look through the forum. Some modern LCD TVs apparently can cope with the ST's frequency. I haven't read through the threads in great detail though.

*cry* I sort of expected that actually. It's the same with the Amiga. 15khz sync rate at either 50hz or 60hz for pal/ntsc. Scandoublers cost an arm and a leg and homemade units aren't easy to scratch-build. The only viable alternatives are those LCD tvs, but results with them vary a lot. Video-to-VGA adapters are another option, but image quality is not that great.

For the old STs, hard drives were almost always external. The usual arrangement is from the ACSI port on the back to an ASCI/SCSI adapter to a SCSI drive. Getting hold of the adapters isn't as easy as getting hold of the ST though, so there are a few projects around to use SD cards as hard drives. Still a few months off though - take a look around the forum, there are threads on this too.

I read somewhere that ASCI and SCSI were pretty similar, but judging from the schematics I've managed to find....not an easy task to build an adapter as I had first expected. The external HDs I've seen look okay though, you can sit your screen on top so it's not like it's taking too much place.

I guess it's a matter of looking out for them on ebay, although building them from scratch sounds like a fun project. No idea on the audio-in on the monitor port, I assume it gets mixed with the audio-out and doesn't come in as an input to anything you can sample it from.

Ahh yes. Mixing the audio in with the ST audio to ouput it to the monitor seems logical. Or else they'd be a plethora of sampler software on ST that would take advantage of that by now.

When it boots, the ST reads the bootsector of the floppy disk and checks to see if it's executable. If it is, it goes ahead and runs it. This is where bootblock viruses come from, but it's also how a lot of games boot up. Otherwise, the OS looks through the AUTO folder for programs ending .PRG and runs them, in the order in which they appear in the directory on the disk (not necessarily the order they're displayed in). AUTO programs are either the game on the disk, the menu on the compacted disk, or a bunch of utilities that patch the OS (TSRs). Once the AUTO folder is done, the GEM environment is set up and you get dropped to the desktop. The file DESKTOP.INF controls how the desktop is arranged. Any files with names ending .ACC are added to the first menu on the screen, they're desk accessories and it's the usual way of controlling settings like keyboard repeat, printing, modem, palette and so on. It's also the only way to multitask under ordinary GEM.

Some of the more popular AUTO programs are a replacement fileselector, such as UIS; rat-trap, which stops the menus popping open until you click; ramdisk programs (there isn't a ramdisk included in the OS). I'm sure there are others, they generally play nicely with one another unless they're doing really hardcore things

Ahhhhh! Very instructive :) Again, similar to amiga which also has this bootblock system to "bypass" the system and jump straight to the game.

So you might have a double-sided drive with a side select as well? That would be interesting...

Indeed I think that this is what this mod is all about. From what the original owner told me, it was a way for them to have a 'double single-sided' floppy. Saved space, and DD disks were more easy to obtain. They would copy a single-sided game on each side. Left in the original mode, the Atari booted on side 1. When switched to the other mode, it would boot from side 2.

I don't know enough about the machine yet to be fully certain that it works. So far the switch seems to do nothing most of the time. I first thought the switch itself was broken but I've taken it out an hour ago and tested it with my multimeter and it works ok. On most disks I have, the switch position doesn't change anything. On some other disks, one position will boot the floppy normally, and the other position will boot to GEM, and opening the floppy will return a window with a ton of icons with garbage text underneath. I can only assume it is because it's reading from the "unreadable" side of a single-sided disk.

I have a few games with little notes on the label such as "Disk1-A, Disk2-B" which seem to refer to the switch position (the user had labeled them A and B). This is also part of my confusion about having two disk drives appear on the desktop. Some of the games seem to indeed load from "disk 2" if I flip the switch and press fire when the game asks to insert disk 2, while others don't do crap. The whole thing is very unclear to me still. As I get more comfy with how it all works I'll run more in-depth tests.

As I said the mod is very very simple. If you open the ST and look at it from the front (as if you were sitting in front of it using it) you just have to snap the third wire from the back on the ribbon cable. The end that goes into the floppy connects to one side of a single-pole double-throw (SPDT, or 'changeover') switch. The end that goes to the motherboard connects to the middle connector of the switch. And the remaining connector on the switch gets connected to the ground pad next to the upper left of the yamaha chip (bottom left if you are looking at the chip as if you were reading the text on it). I can only *assume* it's a ground pad as I don't see any reason to connect something floppy-related to the sound chip.

The A and B thing is perfectly normal. Since a lot of stuff is done with floppies, it always has these two 'logical' drives and maps them to the same 'physical' drive when there's only one. It's so you can copy files disk to disk without a ramdisk, and it'll use way more disk swaps on an old TOS than on a newer one

Ah! Now it makes sense! That is pretty clever actually, a nice way to manage files with a single drive.

Thanks for the info :)
-James

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Postby daeghnao » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:42 pm

James68k wrote:And the remaining connector on the switch gets connected to the ground pad next to the upper left of the yamaha chip (bottom left if you are looking at the chip as if you were reading the text on it). I can only *assume* it's a ground pad as I don't see any reason to connect something floppy-related to the sound chip.


Well, once you look at the chips and their connections, you see all sorts of weird connections. It turns out that the Yamaha PSG has two general-purpose IO registers, and these are used to control, among other things, the selection of floppy drives. Makes it rather exciting doing any low-level programming with the ST, all these chips doing all these random things...

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Postby James68k » Sat Apr 14, 2007 4:26 am

haha!

-What is this?
-The printer port, you connect the screen to it.
-But what about the printer?
-Well it goes in the joystick port obviously!
-and the joystick?
-Solder it to the ram bus.
-...

Gotta love old computers :)

I've checked the floppy pinout and indeed, the 3rd wire from the back would be on Pin32, which is the side/head select pin. On the YM2149 chip itself, looking at the datasheet for the 40pin DIP version, Pin-1 would indeed be the GND connection. So I guess the mod is simply to have the side select bit grounded or not.

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Re: Total Atari noob says hi and needs some guidance!

Postby keili » Sat Apr 14, 2007 8:17 am

James68k wrote: 4- I can't seem to find any TOSEC-like collection for Atari apps, games and demos. Are there any archives of the genre around? I really don't feel like downloading disk by disk on PlanetEmu heh.

Of course. You can search eMule, there's a newsgroup, which offers them or look my home-server (a bit slower) ftp or http://keilis-atari.dyndns.org . The just released TOSEC-dats are very old, but jss and i couldn't get the new version ready in time.
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Postby ppera » Sat Apr 14, 2007 8:29 am

@James68K:
Atari ST has some strange hardware solutions, especially at the first look.
They are probably made because of economic reasons - usage of standard and cheap chips for as many functions as possible.

Therefore is combined sound-parallel port chip and others.

By floppy it was must to combine FDC (1772) with some port chip, because 1772 has no side and drive select lines.
There is btw. couple project on WEB with diverse floppy mods, which are mostly simple - usually it is about HD (high density on Atari ST).

For hard disk interfacing: if you have some electronic experience, cheapest way is internal IDE interface. It is fast and well supported with drivers.

http://www.ppest.org/atari/astide.php

There is somewhere another project without GAL, but with more chips used.
Of course, you may look for ACSI-SCSI IF on e-bay. But prices are not to good.

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Postby Grunaki » Sat Apr 14, 2007 11:57 am

James68k wrote:From what the original owner told me, it was a way for them to have a 'double single-sided' floppy. Saved space, and DD disks were more easy to obtain. They would copy a single-sided game on each side. Left in the original mode, the Atari booted on side 1. When switched to the other mode, it would boot from side 2.


Just thought I'd chime in here.. I've seen this done. My French penfriend's brother made his ST do this by inserting a piece of wire between two pins in the 'Floppy Drive B' port (the round one) on the back of the machine.. Then Drive A would boot from the second head rather than the first.

This was about 16 years ago, so I couldn't tell you which pins to cross (although I'm sure someone here could), but as I recall, all it took was a simple loop of wire.
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Postby pop » Sat Apr 14, 2007 3:12 pm

6- Sound sampler... I read that one can use the cartridge port on the side to sample sounds. Are these easily available, or are they complicated to build from scratch?

this is what you are looking for http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll? ... &rd=1&rd=1

some interesting software http://ds.dial.pipex.com/electronic_cow/cownet.shtml

there is a mod to allow a standard st to have stereo sound,just look around on the forum
enjoy :)

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Postby unseenmenace » Sat Apr 14, 2007 4:51 pm

The more common samplers were the 8-bit ones such as Mastersound 2 and Stereo Master (I have both of these). These do crop up on Ebay from time to time as do the Video Digitizer cartridges such as VidiST (got that too).
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Postby James68k » Sat Apr 14, 2007 11:04 pm

@Keili
Hmmm your home server looks down at the moment. BUt if you say there is a Tosec going around, it's just a matter of time until I manage to find it :)

@Ppera
The IDE interface schem looks a tab over my schematic reading skills unfortunately. Plus I don't have anything to program this GAL thing (is it a PIC like chip?)

@pop
My god. 30ukp! I paid the machine less than that :) That electronic cow page looks simply amazing, can't wait for my week of graveyard shift to be over so I have a little free time to test it all out :)

As for the sound mod. I gave it good thinking yesterday, looking at the chip's pinout and I think I'm gonna go one step further and have a switch that changes between normal monaural output to the monitor for games, and three individual outputs on 1/4" jacks for studio work. That way I can pan/effect each channel individually. I just need to get my hands on a 3pole switch with 6 throws.

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Postby unseenmenace » Sun Apr 15, 2007 7:19 am

James68k wrote:As for the sound mod. I gave it good thinking yesterday, looking at the chip's pinout and I think I'm gonna go one step further and have a switch that changes between normal monaural output to the monitor for games, and three individual outputs on 1/4" jacks for studio work. That way I can pan/effect each channel individually. I just need to get my hands on a 3pole switch with 6 throws.

Thats a good idea anyway since a lot of programs that play samples on ST's use a method that combines the outputs of the three channels to play 8-bit digital sound with far better quality than you can get on separate channels. If you separate the channels this sounds awful so a switch to recombine them is essential.
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Postby keili » Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:16 am

James68k wrote:@Keili
Hmmm your home server looks down at the moment. BUt if you say there is a Tosec going around, it's just a matter of time until I manage to find it :)

Damn, i should check the status more often :( . It will work this evening.
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Postby unseenmenace » Wed Apr 18, 2007 7:18 pm

unseenmenace wrote:The more common samplers were the 8-bit ones such as Mastersound 2 and Stereo Master (I have both of these). These do crop up on Ebay from time to time as do the Video Digitizer cartridges such as VidiST (got that too).

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Atari-ST-STE-Stereo-Master-Sound-Sampler-Very-Rare_W0QQitemZ300102419515QQihZ020QQcategoryZ4193QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

This is probably the best one to get if you want to have a go at sampling on the ST. The Stereo Master software (sampler/editor) is pretty good as well.
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