Noob hardware questions

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LardoBoffin
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Noob hardware questions

Postby LardoBoffin » Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:19 am

Apologies for posting questions doubtless asked a million times before but the problem is one of too much information!

I have a 520STFM and need to:-

Upgrade the RAM - is there a recommended amount to upgrade to or upgrade to use? Should I just go to 1mb or 4?

Install an SD card reader or similat (gotek?) in order to use downloded software. I do like to buy originals of software I use but that is not always practical! For example Dungeon Master (apparently one of the biggest sellers ever) - I have never seen a copy for sale.

Any advice / links appreciated!

Thanks

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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby Atarieterno » Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:42 am

If you are going to do an extension of RAM, I recommend you to 4 Mby. Visit for example the eXxos store and send an email:
https://www.exxoshost.co.uk/atari/last/storenew/

The Gotek is for to use floppy images, and I think you lose the original floppy drive (or you will need an external one), it does not work to use SD memory, Pendrive, CF, etc., as if it were a hard disk. You need a device like UltraSatan, CosmosEx, MonSTer or GigaFile.

UltraSatan_SD_01.jpg


cosmosex_front_described.jpg


MonSTer para STe.jpg


GigaFile - 01.jpg
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby LardoBoffin » Sun Jul 01, 2018 3:13 pm

Many thanks!
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby 1024MAK » Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:23 pm

Most games will run on a 512K byte or 1M byte system, no need for 4M bytes. However, as the cost of 4M bytes is not that much now, you are better off going with 4M bytes. Even more so if you intend on getting a modern solid state storage device (or even a real HDD).

How to actually expand, or fit extra RAM does depend on which board revision you have... (easy if yours has SIMM slots).

The internal floppy disk drive is drive 0. The external socket is wired so that a drive plugged in, will act as drive 1. On my first Atari STFM (which came with a single sided FDD), I carried out a modification so that both the DS0 and DS1 lines went to the external FDD socket. Now I could use a twin external double side drives. Add a switch to cross or not cross the DS0 and DS1 signals, and you could have a HxC or Gotek and a real floppy drive.

If you prefer, you can also do a modification of the internal drive bay. But as the IDC cable connector on the PCB is a permanently connected type, you either have to desolder it and fit a normal IDC connector, or better and easier, get an extension lead with an IDC line plug. This may have to be custom made, as they are not common.

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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby LardoBoffin » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:00 am

Thanks Mark. Would this be the correct type of extender cable? https://m.ebay.co.uk/itm/Retro-Atari-ST ... %7Ciid%3A1 I am not keen on cutting holes to fit a gotek if I can avoid it and I assume I probably would have to in order to get it to fit internally.

Not sure which revison motherboard I have but from what I have read I think it is unlikely to have SIMM slots. I have seen 1MB for around £40 and 4MB for around £60 so I may as well future proof.
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby Atarieterno » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:20 am

Peter Putnik has more than a thousand games adapted for HD, CF, SD, Pendrive ... etc; most need 2 Mby or more of RAM. If you spend money on expanding the ST's RAM: do it for 4 Mby.

http://atari.8bitchip.info/fromhd2.php

Gotek is very limited, to work as hard disk with an SD card there is a "Satandisk" that connects directly to the ACSI port of the computer, does not need cable and does not modify anything (you keep your original floppy disk drive); Its price is € 55.
Think things over or you will spend your money twice.

https://www.arananet.net/pedidos/product/satandisk-v4/

Satandisk IV (Arananet) - 01.jpg


Satandisk IV (Arananet) - 02.jpg
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby LardoBoffin » Mon Jul 02, 2018 9:26 am

Atarieterno wrote:Peter Putnik has more than a thousand games adapted for HD, CF, SD, Pendrive ... etc; most need 2 Mby or more of RAM. If you spend money on expanding the ST's RAM: do it for 4 Mby.

http://atari.8bitchip.info/fromhd2.php

Gotek is very limited, to work as hard disk with an SD card there is a "Satandisk" that connects directly to the ACSI port of the computer, does not need cable and does not modify anything (you keep your original floppy disk drive); Its price is € 55.
Think things over or you will spend your money twice.

https://www.arananet.net/pedidos/product/satandisk-v4/

Satandisk IV (Arananet) - 01.jpg

Satandisk IV (Arananet) - 02.jpg


Thanks. I can see Dungeon Master in the converted list so that is a bonus! I will go for 4Mb.

So a gotek emulates a floppy and the satandisc emulates a HD?
I had seen a couple of satandiscs on eBay but they were all around £100 - $55 is a good price. I will get one when they are back in stock. I take it they work ok on a STFM? Not sure what difference the model numbers (STE etc.) actually makes.

:D
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby Atarieterno » Mon Jul 02, 2018 9:52 am

Yes, Gotek emulates a floppy disk drive and uses diskette images, and Satandisk emulates a hard drive and can use files and folders normally.
The greater or lesser efficiency depends on the TOS (operating system) that usually goes in relation to the type of computer: STfm can have TOS 1.0 up to 1.04, and STe v1.62. Only TOS 1.0 can be problematic for hard disk management, so use the SYSINFO program on your Atari and find out what TOS has installed.
Study the size of SD (it should not be more than 4 Gby), the size of its partitions, the drivers you will use to make it compatible with the PC and easily exchange data (Peter Putnik's driver, HDDriver, etc).
Updating an ST to enjoy it comfortably in 2018 requires an initial investment of money, but it is necessary and you will be glad of that.
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby jury » Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:11 am

LardoBoffin wrote:So a gotek emulates a floppy and the satandisc emulates a HD?
I had seen a couple of satandiscs on eBay but they were all around £100 - $55 is a good price. I will get one when they are back in stock. I take it they work ok on a STFM? Not sure what difference the model numbers (STE etc.) actually makes.


Yes, gotek is floppy emulator and satandisk is hdd.
And are you sure that you have seen Satandisk for £100? Maybe rather that was Ultra Satan? Differences are described by the author of those devices here:
http://joo.kie.sk/?page_id=192
I would definitely go for Ultrasatan, mainly because its way, way faster thatn Satandisk. But Satandisk will be fine also.

If it goes for ST vs STE, well, STE was what Atari called it those days "Amiga killer" :) They gave it some more enhancements compared to ST, like enhanced palette, blitter chip, digital sound, memory in SIMM sticks ... Here is more on this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_ST#STE_models
There is not much software/games that were taking advantage of those new features, but here is one for which I just love the STE :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Olmk2Mrmi4&t=136s

( edit: sorry, double post as I did not see that Atarieterno answered meantime )

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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby LardoBoffin » Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:31 pm

Thanks for all the detail.
It may have been an ultraSatan to be fair.
To be honest if it loads from a standard satan disc as fast / faster than floppy then that is good enough for me. I don’t have loads of spare cash at the moment. Repairs + 4 meg of RAM and a basic satandisc will come to about £150 by the time I am done.
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby jury » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:55 pm

LardoBoffin wrote:To be honest if it loads from a standard satan disc as fast / faster than floppy then that is good enough for me


No worry, Satandisk will be faster then floppy. I do not remember exactly, but Atari ST floppy had a read speed somewhere around 40 KB/s and Satandisk is a little above 100 KB/s, so it will be faster at least 2 times :)
And you can see some benchmarks ( for example Satandisk and Ultrasatan ) at below link ( the last table ):
http://joo.kie.sk/?page_id=241

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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby 1024MAK » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:27 pm

LardoBoffin wrote:Thanks Mark. Would this be the correct type of extender cable? https://m.ebay.co.uk/itm/Retro-Atari-ST ... %7Ciid%3A1 I

Yes, that looks suitable.

Mark
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby LardoBoffin » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:18 pm

Atarieterno wrote:Only TOS 1.0 can be problematic for hard disk management, so use the SYSINFO program on your Atari and find out what TOS has installed.


Is this built into the ST or loaded from disc? I don’t have any kind of system disc with it - just a bunch of games.
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby DoG » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:30 pm

LardoBoffin wrote:
Atarieterno wrote:Only TOS 1.0 can be problematic for hard disk management, so use the SYSINFO program on your Atari and find out what TOS has installed.

Is this built into the ST or loaded from disc? I don’t have any kind of system disc with it - just a bunch of games.


Not built in. Get it here. A lot of other great stuff there too.

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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby 1024MAK » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:02 pm

The first ST machines (with external PSU, external FDD) only had a boot loader ROM. These loaded TOS from floppy.
All versions since are in ROM and are present at start-up.

If, when you power on or reset the system (assuming a standard unexpanded system), TOS will look for a boot sector on any inserted disk. If there is a formatted disk, it will load and run any auto-run files. Otherwise it will start the GEM desktop (also in ROM).

If there is no FDD, it will immediately start the GEM desktop. If there is a FDD with an unformatted disk, it will take it's time, and then start the GEM desktop.

So to sum up, TOS and GEM will both be in ROM on a STFM. Most likely you will have TOS 1.02 or TOS 1.04, but SYSINFO will confirm what version you have.

I would point you to the wiki, but it's still sulking about not getting any TLC :(

Mark
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby LardoBoffin » Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:45 pm

DoG wrote:
LardoBoffin wrote:
Atarieterno wrote:Only TOS 1.0 can be problematic for hard disk management, so use the SYSINFO program on your Atari and find out what TOS has installed.

Is this built into the ST or loaded from disc? I don’t have any kind of system disc with it - just a bunch of games.


Not built in. Get it here. A lot of other great stuff there too.


Thanks. As soon as I have some method of getting inages onto the ST I will do so.
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby FedePede04 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:28 pm

that an ok price, thought they was more expensive

Atarieterno wrote:Peter Putnik has more than a thousand games adapted for HD, CF, SD, Pendrive ... etc; most need 2 Mby or more of RAM. If you spend money on expanding the ST's RAM: do it for 4 Mby.

http://atari.8bitchip.info/fromhd2.php

Gotek is very limited, to work as hard disk with an SD card there is a "Satandisk" that connects directly to the ACSI port of the computer, does not need cable and does not modify anything (you keep your original floppy disk drive); Its price is € 55.
Think things over or you will spend your money twice.

https://www.arananet.net/pedidos/product/satandisk-v4/

Satandisk IV (Arananet) - 01.jpg

Satandisk IV (Arananet) - 02.jpg
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby LardoBoffin » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:14 pm

Hopefully my ST will be back with me in the next week or so, fixed and upgraded to 4MB of RAM.

In preparation I have bought a copy of Frontier Elite 2 as I used to play this on the PC BITD. From what I have read recently it seems the frame rate on a 520STFM will not be brilliant. Is there anything that can be done about that? Aside the obvious buy a faster Atari...

The V1.5 booster from here (https://www.exxoshost.co.uk/atari/last/storenew/) looks interesting. Anyone got one and if so does it make any noticeable difference to games such as these?

Thanks!
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby tzok » Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:39 pm

To be completely precise Gotek has an ability to emulate a Hard Disk (up to 32MB), but it can't boot from it (so also no AUTO folder), and it locks both floppy drives while using this mode. It also uses the floppy interface to transfer data, so the speed isn't its strong point (it is faster than regular floppy though). Software for this is called HxCMount and (obviously) works with the HxC firmware, and also with the Flash Floppy.

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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby joska » Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:09 pm

LardoBoffin wrote:The V1.5 booster from here (https://www.exxoshost.co.uk/atari/last/storenew/) looks interesting. Anyone got one and if so does it make any noticeable difference to games such as these?


I have one, and while I haven't tested it with Elite (a game that has never appealed to me for some reason) I have tested Stunt Car Racer. Speed increase is quite modest to be honest. You really need an accelerator with cache to get a noticeable speed increase.
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby LardoBoffin » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:15 am

joska wrote:
LardoBoffin wrote:The V1.5 booster from here (https://www.exxoshost.co.uk/atari/last/storenew/) looks interesting. Anyone got one and if so does it make any noticeable difference to games such as these?


I have one, and while I haven't tested it with Elite (a game that has never appealed to me for some reason) I have tested Stunt Car Racer. Speed increase is quite modest to be honest. You really need an accelerator with cache to get a noticeable speed increase.


Thanks. As I know very little about these computers what would I be looking for in terms of accelerator and cache?
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Re: Noob hardware questions

Postby arf » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:40 am

jury wrote:
LardoBoffin wrote:To be honest if it loads from a standard satan disc as fast / faster than floppy then that is good enough for me


No worry, Satandisk will be faster then floppy. I do not remember exactly, but Atari ST floppy had a read speed somewhere around 40 KB/s and Satandisk is a little above 100 KB/s, so it will be faster at least 2 times :)
And you can see some benchmarks ( for example Satandisk and Ultrasatan ) at below link ( the last table ):
http://joo.kie.sk/?page_id=241


For DD disks it is ~20 KByte/s and for HD ~50 KByte/s - that is waaaay less than the slow Satandisk. And the faster Ultrasatan is > 600 KByte/s.


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