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Vintage Computers Any vintage computer systems, calculators, video games etc., but with an emphasis on 1980s and earlier equipment.

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Old 23rd Jan 2019, 5:53 pm   #1
Paulus.d
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Default Atari ST

Anyone had any experience with modding and fitting new floppy drives to these machines?

I've tried two different drives....by modding the cable then modding the drive...
Paul
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Old 23rd Jan 2019, 6:08 pm   #2
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: Atari ST

I haven't, although I do own two STs. I suggest you head over to join the community over at

www.atari-forum.com

There are a lot of very technically minded Atari ST specialists in that forum.

You don't say whether the drives are 360K single sided as per original Atari ST, 720K double sided as per later Atari ST, or 1.4MB.

Most STs only natively support the first two, although it's possible that later versions of TOS (2.xx?) may have native support for 1.4MB drives. As I said, the above forum is the best place to pose your question.
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Old 23rd Jan 2019, 8:59 pm   #3
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Default Re: Atari ST

I've just repaired an old Amiga A500+ that had been stored in our loft for many years. On removing the cover and screening I was met with a horrible sight, the NiCad for the RTC had leaked extensive and caused corrosion to the mainboard which is a very common problem apparently. The FDD also required some attention but most of the discs didn't work due to bit-rot and other issues.

I came across details of a floppy emulator made by Gotek and this together with downloaded disc images has given the machine a new lease of life. The set up disk that was supplied with it also has a folder of Atari ST software so may be worth investigating.

Here's some info on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOhRBR66DS0

John.

Last edited by jayceebee; 23rd Jan 2019 at 9:07 pm. Reason: Added YouTube link
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Old 23rd Jan 2019, 9:55 pm   #4
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Default Re: Atari ST

That's one small mercy, the standard ST / STe never had an onboard RTC so had no need for a battery to keep it going. Although an operational nuisance at the time, at least the ST doesn't have the now all too common problem of being eaten silently from within.
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 11:00 am   #5
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Default Re: Atari ST

I found Atari forum to be very clicky , my thread there has over 400 views but only one reply ...I presume no-one wants to help then ….
It is a double sided machine , the STFM...
I've already screwed the floppy cable, broke the top off the pcb floppy socket thingy ...I half expecting to just chuck it back in the cupboard or in the bin...and all because I Fancied getting back to some MIDI work...

Is it ****** worth it

Paul
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 12:00 pm   #6
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Default Re: Atari ST

It sounds as though you need to proceed a bit more carefully and patiently, unfortunately. I assume you are trying to fit alternative drives because the original drive is faulty in some way.

If it's just a broken original drive, there are people around who sell refurbished / tested replacement Atari ST parts like floppy disc drives, so maybe the simplest solution would be to buy one of those. If you've damaged the cable and broken the IDC connector for the floppy on the PCB, you can probably get a cable from the same place as a replacement drive but it will, again, take some care, patience and reasonable soldering skills to replace the connector at the main board end of the cable if that's the one which is damaged. If it's the one at the floppy drive end you could just cut off the original plug and put a new IDC plug on the end of the cable.

If you just want to run Atari ST MIDI sequencer software like Cubase 2, the current version (V2.1.0) of the 'Hatari' ST emulator for Linux computers works very well with a typical USB to 5-DIN midi cable. I sometimes use that setup rather than drag out and set up all the components of my real ST systems.

Historically speaking, MIDI support on Hatari for Windows was mostly non-existent but just lately there have been moves by third-party developers to try to add MIDI capability to the Windows version of Hatari. I don't know how far they have managed to get with that.
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 12:16 pm   #7
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Default Re: Atari ST

Yeah , that means finding a working MIDI adapter for a windows machine...….I've never found a USB one that works …
The older game port ones tend to work more reliably so you need a vintage windows PC
The original drive went ages ago …..also my collection of disks has been ruined by incorrect storage so when I do get the drive working , the disks are not!!
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 12:24 pm   #8
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Default Re: Atari ST

Or get a knowledgeable person to make you up a USB stick of a Live Linux system, with Hatari installed on it.
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 1:30 pm   #9
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Default Re: Atari ST

Good idea, julie, (or a bootable CD).

It's unfortunate that Paulus.d's collection of original floppies has degenerated but there are thousands of .ST images of Atari ST discs to be found - I obviously can't be more specific. These images can written to a real 720K floppy on a Linux PC and then used in an ST, or, again, you can 'load' the .ST file versions in Hatari's virtual floppy drives.

Paulus.d, I don't have any problem with using those USB to DIN MIDI cables in Linux with recent versions of Atari, V2.0.0 onwards. Prior to V1.9.x, MIDI was theoretically supported in Linux Hatari but didn't actually work very well. During the development lifetime of Hatari V1.9, further tweaks were made which let programs like Cubase 2 run without problems, so even under Linux you need to be running V2.0.0 or later for trouble free MIDI support.

I assume your experience is with the Windows version which is most likely looking for an original Roland MPU-401 MIDI port card or clone typically residing at I/O address 330H. Most of the soundcard / game port MIDI interfaces emulate the Roland card at 'UART' level at least.
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 2:07 pm   #10
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Default Re: Atari ST

Oh those USB things give me heaps of problems..... usually plugging in, finding the drivers works but then Cubase has no MIDI in or out! Windows 8 doesn't seem to like any MIDI interface!
I'll dig out some version numbers for you all …..
Yeah none of my Atari disks actually read anymore … they're probably destroying the floppy driver head …. the most I get out of it is the head constantly moving a tiny bit forward then reversing till it hits the end of travel!
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 4:02 pm   #11
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Default Re: Atari ST

Daft question, but have you tried formatting a disc? ideally a blank, never used 720K disc.
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 4:04 pm   #12
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Default Re: Atari ST

If you do it the way I suggested, you'll only need a USB-MIDI interface that works with Linux; and nowadays, if you are running an up-to-date kernel, that seems to mean most of them. Once you have booted from the USB / CD, then you are not using your Windows 8 or any of its drivers anymore; then Linux is talking to the hardware, using its own drivers. Which are part of the kernel of Linux; and pretty much every driver that has ever been written for every piece of hardware that anyone ever got working with Linux is still in the Source Code tree! (But the ones less likely to be used in practice are not built by default, to save your disk space. You can build them and install them if you need, though).

You should still be able to see the drive(s) of your Windows machine from within Linux.
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 5:10 pm   #13
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Default Re: Atari ST

All I have are 1.44 with the hole covered...… the last time I tried all the head did was just kick out a bit and return...…...the cable has probably had it …
I'm gonna put it away for a little while and investigate Linux or Mac running emulators...however that doesn't give me the programs I wanted to use...
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 5:35 pm   #14
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Default Re: Atari ST

If you plugged a second memory stick into another USB port while you had a 'live' distro running, would it let you save stuff onto that?

I have to admit I never use 'live' distros except to use them to install 'full' distros, I disconnect the Windows HDD, put another drive in and properly install whichever Linux it is onto the HDD. I've never trusted any Linux installer to install Linux alongside a working Windows installation, simply due to the sheer amount of time and work it would take to get Windows back to where it was if the Linux installer broke it.

Paulus, what programs would you be deprived of if forced to use a Linux or Mac based emulator? I take it you have other Windows based MIDI utilities which you want to be able to use as well?

You could research the Gotek floppy emulator referred to in #3, but without knowing much about it, I assume you remove your working 3.5" drive and replace it with the Gotek - if so, it's going to need an undamaged cable to go on the end of.
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 5:51 pm   #15
Paulus.d
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Default Re: Atari ST

Atari St has a MIDI App called Sequencer One ...it's so simple ...I also have Cubase 2 …..However they were all on floppy disk!!
The Atari is handy because of the built in MIDI sockets, as opposed to having to set up an interface etc...I have never got a Usb to MIdi to work with my laptop and windows 8.1
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 5:53 pm   #16
Paulus.d
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Default Re: Atari ST

The GOTEK device looks interesting but yes I'd need to fix the cable first , and then I wouldn't wanna find out my issue is down to the Floppy controller...plus then having to get Atari programs as images ...my disks are all shot..maybe!
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 5:57 pm   #17
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: Atari ST

Well, as I said earlier, seek and ye shall find.

Your USB MIDI cable doesn't even work with Native Windows applications? It's not even recognised as a MIDI interface in Windows 8 Control Panel \ System \ Device manager?

What does Windows think it is?
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Old 24th Jan 2019, 7:42 pm   #18
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: Atari ST

This is the exact USB-MIDI cable I have:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Digiflex-Ad.../dp/B00K4UXH5Q

Not particularly well reviewed but it works for me.

And this is how it looks in device manager on my formerly Windows 8.0, now Windows 10 desktop. (Image #1)

As I mentioned, there was a separate issue until quite recently with the Windows version of Hatari not having any support at all for MIDI, but I believe this has changed in the past year or so, so if it's more than a year since you last tried Hatari for Windows it might be worth having another go with the current / most recent Windows version.
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Old 25th Jan 2019, 2:07 pm   #19
Paulus.d
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Default Re: Atari ST

I'll check that this weekend.... Haven't had much of a chance recently
Paul
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Old 25th Jan 2019, 3:36 pm   #20
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Default Re: Atari ST

If you would like some proper (used, wiped) 720k floppies, PM me and I can send you some FOC. I used to use them in an external drive for my Amstrad PCW 8256 that could format them to either PCW or MS-DOS format for exporting files. They were working OK about 5 years ago when I wiped them by formatting to MS-DOS format. I never had much luck getting 1.44 floppies (with the hole covered) to format or write, either on the PCW or with a PC. Apparently the 1.44 disks use magnetic material of higher coercivity that the 720k ones, so attempting to format or write with a 720k drive generally won't work.
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