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Old 08 February 2021, 12:50   #1
masteries
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New Atari ST/E hard disk interface - Faster and more SD card compatible than Satan

A new Hard Disk interface compatible with Atari ST family computers,

Results: The ACSI2STM works perfectly; loading the 3.5 MB size of current Metal Slug port takes around 12 seconds (aprox. 300 KB/s).
Tested against old SD cards, such 1 GB card; 4 GB SDHC and 8 GB SDHC. All these are detected and works correctly!




New firmware that solves hard disk writing problems on my STE, probably useful for many other ST computers:

On the video, a game is executed from hard disk; a savestate of the game is created, followed by a copy of this savestate, and finally load this savestate copy and resuming the game.



[ Show youtube player ]


Usage video:

[ Show youtube player ]

Photographs of the hard disk interface, Prototype one, final version do not have flying wires









The hard disk image (DOS & TOS compatible, readable on Windows) I used: http://atari.8bitchip.info/DiskImgPP1.html
You can use Win32DiskImager (Windows) in order to write it.
The ST / STE with a hard disk is another world!



Performance & micro SD card compatibility testing:

SDHC 8 GB







SDHC 4 GB







Normal SD 1 GB










Each unit is completely built and tested,

price is 32€ + shipment , with tracking number (6€ for Spain or 9€ for Europe; shipping for USA, Canada, Japan, Australia is 10€).

Shipment cost is increased (1€ regarding previous cost) due to Courier prices changed on June 2021


Lower cost and better SD card compatibility than any Satan disk, and much lower price than UltraSatan.
Its the Atari ST hard disk suitable for the masses,



Thanks to user Dreadnought:

If you have a very old TOS operating system, such 1.00 or 1.02; you will need to use this disk image, due to some incompatibilities with hard disk partitions on these ancient TOS versions:

https://atariage.com/forums/topic/31...omment-4821616


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MEGA GREAT UPDATE

You will smile a lot,


I was waiting until the new firmware is stable for any STM32 version, from original one to clone ones,

I added DMA transactions for the SD card, using a triple buffer...


Now the reading speed is near 650 KB/s and writing can reach up to 385 KB/s (when SD card has plenty free space); this device is turning very similar to an UltraSatan, in terms of performance. Maintaining its lower cost nature!












All users that acquired my manufactured hard disk units, will receive a link with the update file.



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tested micro SD cards:

-Working micro SD cards:

Kingston de 8 GB clase 4
Kingston de 4 GB clase 4
Intenso de 8 GB clase 4
Intenso de 16 GB clase 6
Intenso de 4 GB clase 10
Intenso de 8 GB clase 10
Kingston de 16 GB clase 10
Sandisk de 16 GB clase 6
Kingston 2GB class ?? (SD-C02G - Tested by Jltursan )
Kingmax 2GB class ?? (Tested by Jltursan)
Nisu 2GB Class 6 (Tested by Jltursan)
Toshiba 16 GB Class 10 UHS-1 (Tested by Real Larry (AF) )
Mitos brand 1 GB and 4 GB Class 10 (https://de.aliexpress.com/item/1005002096781542.html, Tested by Real Larry (AF) and Philgood1351fr (EAB) )
Intenso de 32 GB clase 10 (Tested by Real Larry (AF) )
Kingston 1 GB (tested by Shaoth)
Kingston 2 GB (tested by Shaoth)
Philips 64 GB UHS-1 A1 V10 Micro SDXC (tested by Shaoth)
Sandisk Extreme Plus 64 GB UHS-3 Micro SDXC (tested by Shaoth)
Samsung Evo Plus 128 GB UHS-3 Micro SDXC (tested by Shaoth)


-Non working ones:

Sandisk 1 GB (With the new firmware, it turned incompatible, things of life)
Cloudisk 512 MB
No brand 4 GB
MediaRange 8 GB class 10 (3 bombs appear, non compatible)
Sandisk 32 GB clase 10 UHS-1


-Tested power sources that work ok:

Old Ipod 5V 1A (from old Ipod times, when Ipod had a hard disk inside)
Farnell USB power source 5V 2A
Original Raspberry Pi 2/3 5.1V 2.5A power source (Tested by Real Larry)
Apple 10w USB psu model no A1357
Flextronics A/12981EA LPS output 5.1 v 2.1 A (tested by Thesofa2) Its the power source of an Ipad2
Attached Files
File Type: pdf ACSI2STM instructions.pdf (143.8 KB, 255 views)
File Type: pdf Readme - How to update firmware.pdf (188.9 KB, 233 views)

Last edited by masteries; Yesterday at 12:42. Reason: TOS 1.00 - 1.02 compatible disk image - Another suitable power source
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Old 08 February 2021, 13:48   #2
dreadnought
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That's very impressive (especially the price). Congrats! So, is any soldering required? How do you exactly connect it, and would it work with my 1040 STf?
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Old 08 February 2021, 16:10   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreadnought View Post
That's very impressive (especially the price). Congrats! So, is any soldering required? How do you exactly connect it, and would it work with my 1040 STf?

From an user point of view is a completely plug&play device; soldering is not required.


You need a micro SD card, and write this hard disk image file; the hard disk is self bootable, you don´t need a diskette with a driver. The driver resides in the micro SD card. This hard disk image is compatible both for your Atari and Windows PC!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vqA...ew?usp=sharing


You need to power it with any mobile phone charger (via micro USB). The device its externally connected to your Atari STf hard disk port.
The operation instructions, as well the update instructions are attached to the original post.


It shall work on your 1040 STF; this device is based on the code of Jean-Matthieu Coulon. He tested on a STF with TOS 1.04, and a STE with TOS 1.62, and STE with TOS 2.06



My machine, the Atari from the videos, is a 1040 STE with TOS 1.06

Now I can execute the larger size games I am developing, such the Metal Slug port Loading speed is around 10 - 12 x faster than diskette.




However there are two firmware versions, the original and the modified one that worked on my STE. Other users, with STFM reported that modified one operates correctly, and original not.


-On the update package, the two firmwares are available; the device is easy to update.



Prior to modify the firmware, I encounter many hard disk writing problems; now I am implementing a circular buffer in order to process up to two ACSI (hard disk port) commands at same time in order to enhance the performance more. But this will take many time, many experiments.




Currently the units are shipped with modified firmware and complete instructions about how to operate it, and how to update it.


The price is a compromise on components cost, soldering materials, and needed time (it requires many manual work). The idea is to provide an accesible mass storage device for everyone, and more SD card compatible and faster than Satan.





Obviously UltraSatan is better, and much faster, but it cost more than 3x; and the difference for any Atari user is not much noticeable.

Last edited by masteries; 08 February 2021 at 16:15.
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Old 08 February 2021, 16:26   #4
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I really like it, maybe I will get one, haven't bought anything for my retro machines in a long time

I thought about Satan before, but ST is not my favourite machine and I couldn't justify the expense. Just got by with a Gotek.

So, to clarify one more time, this works just like Satan and I can run all the games compatible with Satan, plus also write to disk (eg make savegames) ?

PS: you should post this on AtariAge, I'm sure there is a bigger audience
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Old 08 February 2021, 16:40   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreadnought View Post
I really like it, maybe I will get one, haven't bought anything for my retro machines in a long time

I thought about Satan before, but ST is not my favourite machine and I couldn't justify the expense. Just got by with a Gotek.

So, to clarify one more time, this works just like Satan and I can run all the games compatible with Satan, plus also write to disk (eg make savegames) ?

PS: you should post this on AtariAge, I'm sure there is a bigger audience

Yes, you can understand it as an improved Satan (its not the same hardware, of course). You can use SDHC cards and reading / writing is double speed than Satan. And cheaper,



About savegames, you can view this video:


I uploaded this past weekend; a hard disk installed game is executed, and a savestate is created; after this, the system is returned to desktop and a copy of the savestate is created and the game resumed via loading the copy of the savestate(as a demonstration of correct hard disk writing operation, with the new firmware):


[ Show youtube player ]




Yes, it is posted also on Atari Age, Atari Forum, Spanish RetroWiki...
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Old 08 February 2021, 17:48   #6
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I am really interested in one of these. I have a STE with a 4mb memory upgrade and I have upgraded TOS to 2.06.

Will this work OK with this set up? Does it have any of the compatabilty issues the Ultrasatan had with some STE machines?

Thanks
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Old 08 February 2021, 18:19   #7
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Nice work! If I'm not mistaken that's the Bluepill as used for Flashfloppy! If the price includes that then it's even more of a bargain.
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Old 08 February 2021, 19:02   #8
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Nice work to whoever created this. I am sure lots of people will like what you have created.

How does the performance compare to UltraSatan and CosmosEx?

The problem with any ACSI device (IIRC) is the mythical "Bad DMA". I assume that this device is as likely to suffer from issues as any other ACSI device? For those reading, it's an as yet undiagnosed issue with the DMA controller chip and grounds/termination on some ST motherboards. I personally have never seen this, just read about the problem.
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Old 08 February 2021, 19:12   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psiq View Post
I am really interested in one of these. I have a STE with a 4mb memory upgrade and I have upgraded TOS to 2.06.

Will this work OK with this set up? Does it have any of the compatabilty issues the Ultrasatan had with some STE machines?

Thanks

If your STE is manufactured after 1989 and middle 1990; it will include the Good DMA chip, and mainly all hard disk devices will be able to read and write.


If you have one of the very first STE mainboard, your machine can read from hard disk, but most probably you will encounter writing corruption.


As well, my STE (from 1990) had hard disk writing problems, but a minor firmware modification solves this.


FYI: There are 14 revisions of STE motherboard, that is far from normal.
Otherwise, reading always work.




As far I have knowledge, these UltraSatan problems with some STE is not UltraSatan problems, these are motherboard problems for some STE revisions. There is a large research about this, that contain solutions:


https://www.exxoshost.co.uk/atari/last/DMAfix/index.htm


My STE behaves such UPDATE July 11, 2016 ; with an oscilloscope I detected that the timing signals are very restrictive; I modified the firmware to deal with these restrictive timing; with succesful results!


Currently all units are shipped with the modified firmware; an user with a STFM reports that modified one works ok, but original not. Due to last STFM units are shipped with the same circuit board and components for hard disk management as early STE. But some other STE still have writing problems; one of these motherboards have the large CPU instead the small square one, and many airwires crossing the board... its appears more a prototype than a commercial one...




There is an easy way to know if your STE is one of the first or not; what is the original TOS of your machine?

With your machine, you can play Metal Slug













Last edited by masteries; 08 February 2021 at 19:18.
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Old 08 February 2021, 19:25   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexh View Post
Nice work to whoever created this. I am sure lots of people will like what you have created.

How does the performance compare to UltraSatan and CosmosEx?

The problem with any ACSI device (IIRC) is the mythical "Bad DMA". I assume that this device is as likely to suffer from issues as any other ACSI device? For those reading, it's an as yet undiagnosed issue with the DMA controller chip and grounds/termination on some ST motherboards. I personally have never seen this, just read about the problem.



This device reads and writes twice faster than Satan.
A savestate of 524 KB takes 6 seconds to be written.

Read speed varies from 250 to 300 KB/s



UltraSatan and CosmosEx are ultimate state of the art, but from an Atari user point of view, practically there is not much difference.
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Old 08 February 2021, 23:16   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masteries View Post
There is an easy way to know if your STE is one of the first or not; what is the original TOS of your machine?

I am not sure of the original TOS, I think it was 1.62. I still have the chips and they have @1990 on them and TOS 1.62 was released in 1990. TOS 1.60 was in 1989. Is it best to open it up and see what version motherboard it is?
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Old 16 February 2021, 18:49   #12
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Quote:
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I am not sure of the original TOS, I think it was 1.62. I still have the chips and they have @1990 on them and TOS 1.62 was released in 1990. TOS 1.60 was in 1989. Is it best to open it up and see what version motherboard it is?

You shall have no major problems; your STE (originally TOS 1.62) appears to be newer than mine (TOS 1.06).
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Old 21 March 2021, 12:04   #13
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Hi,

I'm interested in one unit, if still available.
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Old 21 March 2021, 12:21   #14
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Interested in one unit too. please PM if you can provide.

Thanks a lot.
Phil
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Old 21 March 2021, 21:09   #15
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Hi,

I'm interested in one unit, if still available.

Thanks!


I sent a PM to you,
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Old 21 March 2021, 21:15   #16
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Originally Posted by philgood1351fr View Post
Interested in one unit too. please PM if you can provide.

Thanks a lot.
Phil

Thanks!


I sent a PM to you,
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Old 06 May 2021, 12:34   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UberFreak View Post
Hi,

I'm interested in one unit, if still available.

UberFreak, you are requested, your unit is ready!
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Old 08 May 2021, 22:39   #18
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Payment done!
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Old 09 May 2021, 16:44   #19
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Payment done!

Received


Your unit will be posted on courier, tomorrow, day 10 May 2021
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Old 12 May 2021, 14:29   #20
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I have received my unit last week, but only had time to play around with it yesterday. I suppose that my TOS is 1.02 PAL (I have a German 1040STFM with 1986,87 dates in GEM) and the image from google drive doesn't really work with it. You can see the directories but there is either nothing inside ("0 bytes") or some corrupted files and names.

I have tried several different SD cards and couple of chargers - using RPi3 one now. But it's always like that. I tried it in Hatari and the behaviour is the same in 1.02, but when I changed TOS to 1.04 it worked!

Then I tried another image on your interface, from Atari Age (1000 games in 1GB) and this one has mostly worked. Some games don't work but it might something to do with that image config and my machine.

So I suppose that I'd need to upgrade to 1.04 for full compatibility? This page says that TOS 1.00-1.02 is not really good for HDD operations.
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