View Full Version : Scored an Atari 520ST

February 2nd, 2006, 10:57 AM
Just scored an Atari 520ST (Thanks Kelly!) with external floppy drive, power supplies and even a dust cover. I was a little worried that I didn't get a monitor with it, but it works just fine with my TV.

So now I'm looking for some cool games for it.
I've found some sites that have disk images.
How do I write images to actual floppies?

February 10th, 2006, 03:15 AM
Okay, so here's what I've learned so far...

The floppy images I've been using in the STeem emulator are for double-sided disks. The drive I have, the SF354, is single-sided. :(
So now, I'm looking for an SF314 drive, which is double-sided.

The utilities I've found for writing images to floppy are called MakeDisk and STdisk, the former is for DOS and the latter is for Windows.
I can't tell how well they work though until I get a double-sided drive.


February 10th, 2006, 06:46 AM
Do what I'm gonna do, user terminal to talk from one machine to the next. That way you canmake the floppies on the atari after you ransfer the files directly to it from say, the cd-rom.

Doesn't the atari just LOOK neat?


Micom 2000
February 10th, 2006, 09:43 AM
Then of course there's sneaker-net. You download the zipped file to your PC floppy and then open it with ST-Zip on your ST. No image files involved

I always liked the Atari XE 1300 which I call my 8-bit mini ST.

The XEGS also had an appealing if somewhat cutesy form factor. My favorite Atari 8-bit game machine. With the light-gun you could shoot bugs to your hearts content. And wth the amazing built-in flight simulator program with the paper major airport approach maps you could practice landings.

It's surprising that Homeland Security hasn't put a ban on it.


February 10th, 2006, 10:02 AM
Since this is a diskless sytem with an external fdd, wouldn't you need two floppy drives, one to run a program and one for the program to use? I had to do that with my c64 and the tandy 1000 that I worked with. And the mac 1mb that i used to have. What a pain it was with that mac. Neat machine, and I wish I had gotten a harddrive, but a pain to keep swapping floppies over and over again.

Micom 2000
February 10th, 2006, 10:35 AM
Since this is a diskless sytem with an external fdd, wouldn't you need two floppy drives, one to run a program and one for the program to use? I had to do that with my c64 and the tandy 1000 that I worked with. And the mac 1mb that i used to have. What a pain it was with that mac. Neat machine, and I wish I had gotten a harddrive, but a pain to keep swapping floppies over and over again.

While an extra fdd did make it easier, especially with the 520, it would retain sections in memory and you would switch from the disk being unzipped or swapped to the disk that was being created. It could be painful tho and the tedium of disk in, eject disk, disk in was frustrating.
I managed to obtain an external FDD early on and that did make it easier but still was a pain.

Because the ST, like the Amiga, and Mac had more internal memory it was a bit less of a chore than on other home computers.

For me HDs weren't an option at the time because of their high price.
All because Tramiel (may the gods heap dung on him) wanted a proprietary HD interface to make more money off peripherals.
The Link 2 SCSI adapter freed me from that. Halleluya !!


February 12th, 2006, 07:42 AM
Do what I'm gonna do, user terminal to talk from one machine to the next.
Sigh. It's not about getting stuff to the ST. That's easy.
The problem is that you can't fit 720K of data onto a floppy that will only hold 360K.
As I said, I need an SF314 drive.

February 12th, 2006, 09:01 AM
I found an internal fdd that can replace the one in the 354.


above is al one link

and it looks like I'll be getting one of these too. SF314's seem to be getting really rare.

I asked them about it and shipping. I'm still looking around for us.

/EDIT I'm finding a few sf314's for sale but all across the globe.


February 12th, 2006, 04:24 PM
Really stupid question: in MS-DOS (or equivalent), can you not FORMAT /F:360 /1 in order to make an one-sided 360K DD disk which the Atari might be able to read? I've never tried it myself, so I don't know if DOS chokes on this command or whether there is a low-level BIOS method that could be used to make it happen.

February 12th, 2006, 04:35 PM

the above is a guide to formatting commands. I'm gonna get to formatting. We'll see.

Thanks Terry! I had forgotten about this stuff.

February 12th, 2006, 05:20 PM
Something wierd came up. ALL of the disks that I thought were either bad or blank are coming up on the 95 computer, and not being seen by the st.

Bad floppy drive.

I tried to format a few 1.44 disks but dos wouldn't let me. Incorrect parameters it told me.

NOW I know why this st is choking on disks. I have another one coming in (I ordered from that vintagefun site). I guess I'd better get the win95 computer a cd-rom. I have a lot of atari stuff on cd now(thanks John!). I can terminal from it.

Terry Yager
February 12th, 2006, 05:33 PM
Formatting a disk on both sides shouldn't prevent it from being written on only one side, should it?

Try this DOS command line:

format a: /f:720


February 13th, 2006, 02:38 AM
Ok, rather than giving out false suggestions, I tried it myself. At least in Win98-DOS (4.10.2222), all these commands fail as incompatible or not supported (two different errors) when using an unformatted 3.5" DD disk:

format a: /u /1 /f:360
format a: /u /1 /f:720
format a: /u /f:360
format a: /u /1

Too bad. I assume single sided 3.5" disks have never existed in the PC world. Maybe Linux can help, or transfer software using some emulator or custom program as suggested elsewhere?

February 13th, 2006, 05:42 AM
At least in Linux (my favourite love-hate operating system), I was able to:

setfdprm /dev/fd0 360/720
fdformat /dev/fd0
mformat a:

It results in a 3.5", 360K single-sided disk. Perhaps this MS-DOS command also works:

format /n:9 /t:80 /1 a:

but I haven't rebooted to test it. The corresponding mformat command in Linux gave an I/O error, but the low level fdformat appeared to work. Of course I don't own an Atari ST or other system with single-sided drive so I can tell if it will be able to read disks written to.

Update: No, at least not in the mentioned MS-DOS version it is not allowed to format a disk with 80 tracks, 9 sectors but only one side. Possibly there is some special formatting program one can download, or run in Linux to format the disk. At least it is possible to read and write the disk from DOS/Windows, and I successfully mounted it via CrossDOS on my Amiga to determine that some other computer can access it.

Micom 2000
February 13th, 2006, 02:47 PM
Okay I fired up my Atari with Fastcopy on it and checked an old Atari Format zine disk that could be used with both SS and DS fdds. I scanned it and because it was in fact a DS disk reported that. It used 10 sectors and 00 to 78 tracks unlike the normal 9 sector 00 to 79 tracks. Nothing strange in that because many of the computer zine disks were formatted with 10 sectors so they could cram more goodies on them.

It scanned up to track 39 and then did a jump to track 69. Clicking on the ( drive.. File.. info) showed 360k. Now perhaps someone moved rather than copied the disk, but it did show the headers for what should have been on the DS disk. No DD desity disk handy so I didn't try to copy it or extract the files. Many of the zine disks had a menu once you extracted the files, depending on whether or not your fdd was SS or DS.

In any case the question is esoteric because the problems were greater than with the 5.25 DOS 360 fdds and at least equalled that with the Mac 400 k disks. Forget SS drives unless you want them for posterity or you want to attempt some hack.


Micom 2000
February 13th, 2006, 04:00 PM
Gadzooks !! From what I've been to glean from Google the Atari ST sites with the 3 part FAQ no longer exists nor even the later Quick ST FAQ.

A bloody infidel sacrilege !!

Not on the Atari.org site nor even on the Atari Archives site !!

Fortunately, to my credit as a packrat and servant to the gods of computing , I've found squirrelled away on a previous hard-drive not only the original FAQ, but also the "new" 3 part FAQ, the later ST Quick FAQ as well as the ST A to Z of computing, and my own collection of ST tips garnered from a decade on BBS's and the newsgroups.
The Atari Compendium is also even still online.

"Thanks C-Gods".

I even found an ST master program and it's DOS compliment to transfer files thru the serial ports.
AND how-tos to use a DOS fdd to replace a failed ST fdd.

Now the problem. To edit this all down to a usable file that could perhaps be used on such as atari.org.

No promises as my to-do cup runneth over, but possibly an fdd file to solve the problem of the dearth of the lousy Atari fdd . Some simple solutions ignoring Atarians fixation with HDDs when obviously hard-drives overcame those limitations, some that have to be translated from German,
(Germans were always the best with STs since Atari did the same in Germany as Apple did in US schools), others that required the Ajax chip and TOS v.2.06 to support 1.44 HDfds. Some solutions may be problemmatic because of the magnetic media difference between DD and HD. It ain't gonna happen soon so I would still advise Nathan and Ahn to get a DD fdd. or buy one cheap or even a whole working ST on e-Bay.

Again I would suggest that using FastCopy with the (free)STEEM emulator
could perhaps produce a useable SD disk. I haven't used STEEM so I can't say. But it might be possible.

Perhaps I could send some limited docs in a zip file to both of you on using a 1.44, preferably a rarer DD720 but no guarantees it will work.


Ha, Ha bloody message-gobbling forum board. I copied before I submitted with the mouse-click

February 22nd, 2006, 06:54 AM
Lotsa catching up to do as far as updates. I'll keep it short.

Ahm, try using a needle file the size of the fdd cable pin to gently clean the contacts. My guess is that the contacts have gotten oxidised and can't carry much of a signal any more. But be very gentle, in and out and no twisting, as they can bend pretyt easy. I plan on this myself.

I found plans online for a mouse using a bus mouse and building an adapter for it. The hardest part is finding a db-9 plug that doesn't have the screwholes on the sides. Most of them, if you cut them off it falls apart since they're held together with the metal parts inside the screwholes.

I found parts at mouser.com to make the busmouse adapter and a new fdd cable if needed. Not including the screw-less db-9 jack. Anybody know where to find these? I can always use a cannibalised part, but I'd rather not go that route if I don't have to.


/EDIT Here are the mouser part numbers, cause navigating there isn't really easy:

9-pin inline mini-din jack $1.09/10, $11.90

14-pin male din plug, $13.95 ea

14-pin socket female din, panel mount, $12.59 ea

February 23rd, 2006, 05:34 PM
Ahm, try using a needle file the size of the fdd cable pin to gently clean the contacts.
Sorry, what's that a response to?
It's hard for know without a quoted sentence or paragraph.

February 24th, 2006, 01:45 AM
Sorry, I was going back to when we were talking about how our ST's would see a disk but nothing that was on it. I think that was a related thread, maybe not this one(but still relevant). Is it still doing that? Mine is. If the needle file does nothing I'm gonna look at the instides again and try to reseat any and all seated chips.

February 24th, 2006, 07:01 PM
Sorry, I was going back to when we were talking about how our ST's would see a disk but nothing that was on it.
I'm pretty sure that was just your machine.
I can write and read floppies just fine on my single-sided drive.
If I boot a double-sided image I can still tell there's something there, just not what I expected.

February 24th, 2006, 08:47 PM
Now I'm getting my conversations as well as threads mixed up. Sorry Ahm.

My terminal cartridge came in today, I'm goign to hook up to the '95 laptop with terminal and just bask in it, heh heh. Whenever I can get to do anything with the fdd controller I also got a cable for a second floppy and will actually transfer something.

Micom 2000
February 25th, 2006, 12:38 AM
Nathan. You have to have a disk with a working program on the ST end.
Altho GEM and TOS are in your ST ROM I can't believe any cartridge can do anything without a working ST. You can boot from an external B drive but that must be a valid boot or else the cartridge must supply an address where it can supply the needed information to TOS. I've never heard of any cartridges that either have TOS on them or don't direct the ST to a ROM such as in the Magic Sac or as with PC Ditto. There were several OS for the ST that bypassed TOS but none I know of that treated the ST just as a Dumb Terminal. You've got to bite the bullet and get a working fdd before you can access the magic of TOS and GEM. And a SSfd just cant cut it.


February 25th, 2006, 08:32 AM
The 520ST that I have has tos in rom. I plugged in the terminal cart and hooked up the nill modem cable and they were off! I had them hooked eogether and they were working. The 520 I have is an early one, and based on my reading the early st's had tos in rom, like this one that I have. I can't transfer anything cause there's something wrong with the controller on the atari (among other things). But yeah, I just got iff the st and I was talking with terminal just now. I think there was a miscommunication. The st has the tos in rom and boots without a fdd. It can't do much, but it'll boot and give me the green desktop. I definitely am in the process of biting the bullet (delorme searching) but I think I wasn't being verry descriptive.

The term cart works with the st's rom and makes it a terminal and can go back to desktop mode with the cart on the desktop as little "c". This thing is neat! It has the manual and everything. I wonder if it'll talk to a unix machine...?

And about this ST. The keyboard needs to be replaced SO bad. It's lived a long, hard life and it needs love. The keys on all the left side are very sticky and you have to hit them like stubborn buttons. The top half of the case has small caracks in it, there are three keys missing off of it, one of the screw sockets(?) is broken by the power led so it comes up. All the connectors are a little bit rusty in the back and it has a bunch of scratches on it. Not a good fetch if I were to buy it. This was given to me.

Micom 2000
February 25th, 2006, 02:27 PM
To my knowledge all the STs had TOS in ROM. It's possible the first one didn't. One of the cool things about the ST is that the OS doesn't take up valuable RAM space. The cart sounds very cool.


February 26th, 2006, 03:41 AM
Oh yeah, the cart is cool. It leaves ram alone, it seems to have its own, not that it needs much. I'm still playing with it and am getting used to it. I have PC/InterComm on floppy but it doesn't do me much good.

Next thing is to get an IC puller good for that chip that's inside of the ST. I can lilve with the keyboard like it is (crappy) but I wanna get a floppy working. Maybe two or three.

Micom 2000
February 27th, 2006, 12:17 PM
I use a Syquest EZ135 zip disk with an ICD Link adapter. I also have an Iomega Parallel port Zip which I use with several other computers with small HDs. In wondering about whether there had been any Atari developments to allow using the Atari PP since my ST heyday, which somehow might have overcome this limitation googling "Atari Iomega" I ran across some stuff you might find interesting.



Uwe Seimet developed the HDDriver program which overcame some of the ICD HD driver's limitations. There's also some excellent links.