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Booting the Falcon's internal hard drive

Falcon Hard Drive booting internal

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#1 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:09 PM

Hey all,

I decided to drag out my ol' Falcon to do a little C programming on it. In addition to the internal hard drive, it also has an external SCSI one. I booted it up the other day and the hard drives were there and accessible. After pulling out a ton of floppies to see what I had, I noticed that the falcon wasn't showing the hard drives and appears to be booting to the default desktop. I'm assuming that either I need driver disks at boot time in the floppy, the drivers on the hard drive got corrupted, or the drive itself went end up on me.

I found a bunch of system disks for the Falcon but none said, "Hard Drive disk" and the Falcon manual I have doesn't really say that I need drivers.
So, instead of a bunch of trial and error, I thought I seek advice. Any ideas what the issue is and how best to resolve it? I really don't care about what's on the disk since it seem that most software is available for it online.



#2 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:02 PM

OK, I did a little more troubleshooting and this is very interesting. If I unplug the internal hard drive, I can read data off the floppy disk. If I plug it, I can't and I get an error that the floppy isn't accessible. Now, why in the heck would this happen I do not know.
Now, I have some more troubleshooting to do but since the drive in the Falcon is IDE, as long as a PC can read the format, I could test to see if it works.

Another option would be to test out another 2.5" IDE drive into the Falcon but then I'd need to know how to format it.



#3 Fletch OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 10, 2013 7:30 PM

I sadly sold my Falcon a dozen years ago, but I seem to remember that there is a hard disk driver on the Language Disk.  Maybe you can try another drive and set it up from the Language Disk.

 

I really need to find a Falcon again.  I loved that damn machine :)



#4 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:05 AM

OK, I did a little more troubleshooting and this is very interesting. If I unplug the internal hard drive, I can read data off the floppy disk. If I plug it, I can't and I get an error that the floppy isn't accessible. Now, why in the heck would this happen I do not know.
Now, I have some more troubleshooting to do but since the drive in the Falcon is IDE, as long as a PC can read the format, I could test to see if it works.

Another option would be to test out another 2.5" IDE drive into the Falcon but then I'd need to know how to format it.

Floppy and internal IDE drive share same IRQ line in Falcon. So, most likely your IDE drive is broken, and keeps IRQ line active all time, what results in not working floppy. Of course, you may try that IDE drive on some PC - there is possibility that not drive, but Falcon's IDE port is bad.

With this SW you can access data on Atari hard disks:  http://atari.8bitchip.info/drimus.php



#5 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 11, 2013 8:52 AM

Yea, a bad port is what I'm worried about. It's much easier to replace a hard drive. Well, I guess I'll try a bit more troubleshooting to narrow down the problem. I want to thank everyone for the info. I'm sure more questions will follow.

#6 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:24 PM

Floppy and internal IDE drive share same IRQ line in Falcon. So, most likely your IDE drive is broken, and keeps IRQ line active all time, what results in not working floppy. Of course, you may try that IDE drive on some PC - there is possibility that not drive, but Falcon's IDE port is bad.

With this SW you can access data on Atari hard disks:  http://atari.8bitchip.info/drimus.php

Thanks for the info. It's a bit hard to decipher but I'd on my to-do list to review more.
I did find this link (http://joo.kie.sk/?page_id=306) but unfortunately when I run ICDFMT.PRG, it says to run ICDBOOT.PRG first, so I do that. It detects the drive but states that no ICD host adapter, which is fine because I'm not using one, but then all of the rest of the info (which goes by pretty quickly), says they're disabled except for DOS BUFFERS : 10K, EXTRA FOLDERS: 65, and SYSTEM CLOSE SET: N/A.
When I run ICDFMT.PRG again, it says the same thing as before.
If I run RATEHD.PRG, it finds the drive...

ID: 16,

LUN: 0,

Device Name: IBM-DADA-25120

Data Rate" 1941 K/s

Av Access: 12ms

 

If I run, IDCHECK, it also sees the device (16)IDE: IBM-DADA-25120.

 

So, I either need different software or a different drive.
BTW: This is only a 5 gig drive, not 8 like I previously mentioned.

There is HDDriver, but thats a lot more than I wanted to spend for, hopefully, a one time use.
I do have the option of getting an adapter so I can plug this into a PC and either format it there (if this is possible) or run Spinrite on my old drive but I'd like to handle this all on the Falcon so any help would be appreciated.



#7 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:41 AM

ICD hard disk drivers work not with IDE disks, only SCSI . What it detects is the SCSI drive, as I see.  Forget Jookie's site until you don't have some ST(E) or TT . Falcon has no ACSI port, and you don't need ICD adapters for it too.

What you need to do first is to remove internal drive. Then try is SCSI works well. And check is floppy works then - if yes, most likely IDE drive is broken. Then better don't torture Falcon with it. You can buy 4GB CF card for some 10-15 Euros, need little cable and adapter +  , and it is much better solution than other 2,5 IDE drive.

For case that IDE blocks not floppy work:

It would be best to check IDE drive on some other computer. If can not do it, then remove SCSI drive and put back IDE.

There are diverse IDE drivers around, some free versions, which may serve for test. For instance:  http://atari.8bitchi...fo/IDEDUD91.ZIP

Extract IDED_7.PRG from it, copy on some floppy and run on Falcon with attached IDE disk. It should detect disk type and capacity. If that happens maybe can use that drive still. More after your reply ...



#8 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:32 AM

Thanks for the link to the driver. The ICD software mentioned being able to deal with IDE drives but it isn't exactly clear.
Yes, I'm pretty sure the new IDE HDD I put in there is fully functional so I suspect that everything will work when I try those drivers you gave me. As previously mentioned, the floppy drive does work when I boot up with the IDE cable unplugged from the old hard drive but not with it plugged in. It does, however, work when the IDE cable is plugged into the new drive. That suggests that the problem is with the old HDD and not the IDE controller. That is very good news!
I do have the ability to plug these drives into a PC, which gives me much more diagnostic abilities.

Yes, the SD card option is very attractive and the price for the device itself seems very reasonable but a quick search again suggests I use HDDRiver to format and partition. That seems to be where the monetary investment becomes unattractive.

Additionally, SD and CF do have a write limit. I can't remember what this is but I wonder how it would compare to the life of a HDD (Something to think about).

I'll try to install those drivers tonight and get back with the results.



#9 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:33 AM

You need CF card, and not SD. + 44 pin IDE to CF adapter. I recommend Sandisk CF cards as most secure - with some others may experience writing problems.

SD cards are little cheaper, but then you need expensive IDE to SD converter.

There is cheaper SW for partitioning with driver:  http://atari.8bitchip.info/pphdr.php

10 Euros.

Don't worry about Flash card write limits. It is pretty high by quality brand cards. And not shorter than classic drives lifetime, where often mechanic gets bad.  I would worry more about 22 year old Falcon :)

Alternative may be some little older 2.5 inch drive, with capacity of 4-20 GB - if you can find for low price.


Edited by ParanoidLittleMan, Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:34 AM.


#10 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:16 PM

Well, I did what you said. It looks like it loaded up but it said, "Partitions: 0", which is expected since I probably need to make a partition but I don't seem to have any that work with these drivers. I would think I might be able to create a raw partition on my PC. If this is possible, what is the max size limit? Also, how does one format.
I don't think I've ever had this much trouble with formatting and partitioning.



#11 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:35 AM

If you have the Falcon Language Disk, boot to that as it has the HDD drivers on it and should load them upon booting. There is 'hdx.prg' that should allow you to set up the drive (format & partition) and 'hinstall.prg' that should install the drivers on the drive after it is set up.



#12 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:32 AM

You can find everything on my site, so even AHDI : http://atari.8bitchi...GamexUsage.html

There is link to DL AHDI 6.04 . It contains simple partitioner (formatter) + driver.  May serve for test well.

Before jumping into partitioning/format, try first with AHDI driver - it may find partitions. My old driver is for DOS type ones, while on that disk are likely TOS partitions.

 

In fact. you can create partitions on PC, and use with my old driver - what is not bad solution with old, small size disks - then best to create partitions below 32MB, so no need for BigDOS .  Well, with Atari and hard disks it is not simple, because there is only partial DOS compatibility, then byte-swap, and pretty much misinformation around.

 

Possible that all troubles were because some bad contact/rust, and it will work fine ...

 

SIze limits ?  Falcon TOS can handle partitions up to 1GB . And that disk is likely much smaller. If your drive is very old there are some other limits, but it is not relevant because size of disk is smaller then limits. 



#13 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:00 PM

If you have the Falcon Language Disk, boot to that as it has the HDD drivers on it and should load them upon booting. There is 'hdx.prg' that should allow you to set up the drive (format & partition) and 'hinstall.prg' that should install the drivers on the drive after it is set up.

Thanks Guitarman.
I found the Language Disk online and performed a partition and am formatting now. Since there is no feedback, other than the busy bee and the light on the keyboard is lit up (Not flashing like I would expect), I can't tell for sure that it's actually doing anything but I'll let it sit for a while to do it's work...unless you tell me that isn't normal.

 

Thanks ParanoidLittleMan.
I'll try you suggestion next. Actually, the replacement drive I just dropping into my Falcon is a 5,120Mb (5~Gb) drive. When I ran hdx.prg, it didn't give me an option to break up my drive into partitions, which I thought strange. It's possible that since HDX came on a language disk that Atari never intended it to deal with HDDs over 1 gig but the fact that partition a drive isn't something that is uncommon, even for the old drives, I still think this is strange....but we'll see.
Since Xmas is coming, I'm starting to really think hard about going Compact Flash. I just have no real use for this laptop hard drive and would like to repurpose it and I thought this was a perfect option. 
 



#14 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013 10:52 PM

Well, good news and bad. The HDX.prg did format and partition the HDD but it appears that it broke it up into 4 "Hard Disks" of 224149504 bytes (213.7 Mb). Multiply that by 4 and that  896598016 bytes (855 Mb). Since the drive is 5120Mb, it appears that either I did something wrong or HDX.prg just doesn't auto-partition that large. I expect a little size loss but not that much.

Plan B will be to try ParanoidLittleMan's suggestion.

The good news is that I know the drive is good and can be used so I can pull out the old drive and put my Falcon back together.
When I figure this all out I will post some easy to follow steps so others can save time and effort.  :thumbsup:



#15 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:01 AM

Just an update. I did a little reading last night about partitioning in general as well as some of the limitation with reguards to the ST/TT/Falcon. I think Paranoidlittleman was trying to explain some of this to me but I wasn't picking up on it. In any case, it seem a lot of the responsibility lies on the drivers. This is probably why HDDriver is so popular since it seems to be able to create partition > 1 Gb. I'd be happy with 3 normal partitions and 1 extended that would use up as much of that 5 Gig as possible.
In any case, very interesting info and stuff I think most people take for granted.

#16 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:38 AM

With better partitioning SW you can create up to 14 partitions for Ataris. And that limit is because TOS, which can not handle more than 16 logical drives - 14 is because we have floppy A and B too.

I don't know about old partitioners, some may be limited to only 4, so called primary partitions.  Hddriver may create logical partition over 1GB, but it is not TOS compatible, so better forget about it. With Hddriver you can create enough partitions to utilize all 5GB.  Maybe that >1GB means extended partition with multiple logical drives? But it is not interesting for end user, since he will see only logical drives, and no need to care is it primary, or some logical in extended part.

 

Hddriver is popular because is regularry updated, even now. AHDI is very old, and not good for modern disks. HDX program can make only AHDI (TOS) type partitioning, not DOS compatible. And it works not wise - must perform low level format, what is very slow with larger disks, not to mention that is completely unnecessary. It was good in era of disks with max 200-300MB .



#17 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:01 PM

So, if I get what you are saying, it seems the only formatting/partitioning software I can use to use all of my 5Gb is HDDriver. Correct?
As I mentioned previously, It's been quite some time since I've touched my ST and Falcon so the memory is pretty faded so consider me a n00b at this but are there any other options? You mention "TOS partitions" and "DOS compatible". I assume I want my partitions to be TOS readable due the TOS. I'm also assuming this has to be the case for MINT and even MultiTOS so how to "DOS compatible play into this? I mean, if I could plug this drive into one of my PCs (Have have an adapter for that), could I just partition and format it there, or even partition and format it?

 

I was just reading a file "IDEDP.TXT" that came with one of the HDD device drivers I think you (ParanoidLittleMan) sent me. It talks about FAT16 and FAT32 BigDOS partitions. Fat16 would allow up to 2Gb partitions, which is just fine for my needs but it mentions that the Falcon needs BIGDOS-F, which was not supplied. I wonder if this is what you are talking about when you mention DOS. The document also mentions slow transfer rates due to high/low byte swap unless I use a twisted cable, which I take to mean that I need a IDE cable with a couple of the wire that have be swapped (Like in the olden days of PCs).

 

I know I could probably save a bunch of time by just getting HDDriver but I look at this as a learning experience...and $60 USDs is a little more than I want to spend for formatting/partitioning software at this time. In fact, I'm more interested in writing my own if I can't find some for free.  :grin: 
I really do appreciate you all explaining this stuff to me. It's good to have such a helpful group when getting back into such things. I haven't had the same experience, in the past, with Linux folks. I ended up having to cut my teeth on Solaris.


Edited by Justin Payne, Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:17 PM.


#18 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:40 PM

Hddriver is not only which can create 14 TOS/DOS compatible parititons. There is cheaper alternative:

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

 

TOS/DOS compatibility is good because then you can access Atari partitions, files directly on some PC, Mac, without need for special SW what understands TOS partitions and format.

Considering Mint - it can work with TOS and DOS type partititons, but TOS can only with TOS. TOS/DOS compatible partiitoning is special, with purpose that you can access data on both systems (OS) . DOS sees then it as DOS type, while TOS sees as TOS (AHDI) type.  You can not create TOS/DOS compatible on PC, only on Atari, with special partitioner SW for it.- and there is only 2 what can it:  my (PPTOSDOS) and Hddriver.

Of course, you can do partitioning on PC, with DOS partitions, but then will need program BigDOS, what is pretty bad solution. It is not problem to get Bigdos-F, but you will have some problems with it and some SW.  Yes, TOS/DOS or just DOS compatible is slower than pure TOS. but it is not so slow - rate on Falcon is about 1.5 MB/sec .  Twisted cable is a way , but then you lose autoboot - will need floppy to load hard disk driver.

  Unfortunately, all it is complicated with Atari and hard disks. May blame Atari in first place. They should do IDE byte-swapped in HW, so would be fast with DOS partitions, like it is by Amigas.  They use FAT16 with Intel byte order in FAT table and file data, but TOS (AHDI) FAT16 is not compatible with DOS FAT16 when partition size is bigger than 32MB - this is why we need special TOS/DOS partitioning.

If you want to do self partitioning SW, need first to understand fully what type of partitions with what parameters TOS expects. As I did it myself, I can say that it is not easy task. Even doing simple DOS FAT16 partitioner is not simple.

Finally, it is not good idea to make large parititon(s) on 5 GB drive. Better is to make more smaller ones. Then you will have more free RAM, because used RAM by hard disk driver depends mostly from largest partition's size.  2GB sounds good, but then will need Bigdos-F and will have slower work, less compatibility  and will occupy more RAM,  than with TOS/DOS .







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