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Falcon 030 Upgrades and Mods


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#1 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:35 AM

After waiting for years to find a good Falcon 030 purchase, I was able to make a purchase yesterday, it has not even arrived yet.

 

Now, I am interested in upgrades and mods.  I know the first question in these situations is "What do you plan to do with it?"  For the purposes of this thread, I think that it is not relevant.  I would like to use this thread to collect resources for the Falcon into one spot.

 

It can be anything that can be attached to a Falcon (even ST Items), like hardware add-ons or modifications. But it can also be software, like patches to allow ST software to run on a Falcon. Or even where to purchase software.

 

You can also share what upgrades and modification you are using on your Falcon (or describe your current set up), even if you do not have a source for it.  Maybe we can find a place to acquire such items.

 

What I have found so far:

 

Exxos - Hardware

Lotharek's Lair - Hardware

Best Electronics - Hardware

B&C Computer Visions - Hardware/Software

Jookie's Home Page - Hardware

Atari ST Pages by PP - Software

Inventronik GmbH - Hardware

Software that is no longer Supported - Software

Some Hardware Projects - Hardware

Big DOS - Software

HDDRIVER  - Software

Jay's Retro Computers - Hardware

Klaz' Hideaway - Fresh Versions of old games - Hard Disk Installable.

The Game Archives - Software

Atariforce - Software

Atarimania - Software

Old Games - Software

DopeROMS - Software

Emuparadise - Software

The ISO Zone - Software

TOSEC: Atari ST - Software

Info-Coach - Links

Falcon Specific Games - Software

Atari Documentation Archive - Documentation

UIP-Tool - Software


Edited by SoulBuster, Mon May 8, 2017 8:13 AM.


#2 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:47 AM

My Falcon:

 

4MB RAM

128MB HD

VGA adapter and cable.

 

I plan to upgrade to 14 MB of RAM

 

I remember reading somewhere that there is an IDE mod that allows you to keep the internal and have two other external drives.  I would like to find this and add an IDE SD adapter to one of those external slots. [Found it at Best Electronics]


Edited by SoulBuster, Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:53 AM.


#3 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:49 AM

After finding this, I may skip the SD adapter:

 

A 44pin IDE SSD

 

https://www.amazon.c...ords=ide 44 ssd

 

This could be a direct replacement for the internal HD to a memory based storage system.

 

Anyone have experience with this type of drive?



#4 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:57 PM

New Link Added to post 1

 

https://shop.inventronik.de/index.php



#5 Tillek OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:12 PM

So..... I like the idea.  When I was a new Falcon owner I was curious about a lot of this too.  You can do a lot of searching but in many cases, some of that stuff isn't produced, or has been replaced by newer versions, etc. etc. etc.  Since I'm guessing you don't want to just talk to the crickets....

 

Currently my Falcons are both out of commission and I miss them (but my TT can keep me happy for now).

 

But here is my $0.02 so far. Mind you, I'm really old school

 

Consider upgrading to 14mb a top priority.  If you want to get the most out of the Falcon (or even just run Mint without issues)....   You won't find it hard to install.

 

I haven't used an SSD drive (really haven't used one on any of my machines, vintage or PC).  I like old hard drives.  That said, my first Falcon did come with an IDE/CF card adapter.  Fairly quick.  It also had the benefit that I could pull the card and read the first partition on my PC.  (Of course, there are ways to improve on that which brings me to....)

 

Uwe Seimet's HDDDriver   http://hddriver.seimet.de/

 

I consider this the best piece of software for my vintage system.  If his driver doesn't handle your storage device, send him an email and it will soon (and then question your life and whether you really need that particular device).  I believe in supporting people who still support Atari by writing software.  That said, it's still the best thing out there.  There are those who will tell you all about the free stuff, (but my philosophy is that if you're a cheapskate, you have no business owning a Falcon or driving a Ferrari).  Seriously though, I think you'll find a lot of your problems go away if you invest in that.

 

You'll hear a lot about UltraSatan.  Frankly, I prefer CosmosEx.  Not only does it not invoke images of the prince of darkness, but it provides a lot of functionality that UltraSatan doesn't.  (Like file sharing with your PC directly over the network in TOS, floppy emulation, SD cards as partitions, the ability to use USB keyboards and mice and thumb drives, the ability to set the clock from a time server and more).  Plus it's controlled by a Raspberry Pi, so you could probably use it for anything you'd want to use a Pi and your Falcon for.  (It also has experimental STing stack so you can use the internet on your Atari.

 

The ability to set your system clock from a time server?

 

Yeah...... Unless that Falcon was owned by someone who replaced the NVRAM battery in the past decade or so, it's probably dead.

 

Uwe (I think I mentioned him above) has some utilities which will help with that.  Check his free utilities section.

 

The only thing about the CosmosEx I would caution against, is that in my experience it didn't play well when I mixed it in with real external drives on my Mega STE (My BBS machine as I was going to use it to make backups).  It seemed to work just fine on it's own, and generally ok with the TT's internal drive.  But when I'd put it on the TT (on the ASCI), with the internal drive (internal SCSI) and the BBS "external" drive (connected directly to the SCSI) it would often miss the internal drive (50% of the time).  In short, it doesn't always play nice with others.

 

NVDI is a must in my opinion.  It will increase the screen update routines in a massive way.  (Not that you're probably into BBSing, but just running BinkleyTerm (an all text Fidonet mailer) with and without VDI is a huge night and day difference, you'll wonder how Atari thought it was acceptable to release the machines with the VDI routines so broken.

 

Replacement desktops, AES's, etc... a lot of that is going to be specific based on personal taste and what you're actually going to do with it.

 

Of course, we may be getting ahead of ourselves.... do you have a monitor you plan to use with it yet?  Not all monitors out there will give you a good picture.  Maybe you should start there.



#6 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:17 PM

Things I plan on doing immediately after receiving:

  1. Get the 14mb upgrade
  2. Wizztronics Falcon Second Hard Disk (3 1/2 IDE) Adapter board! So I can move the current internal drive to a secondary port and put an SSD on the boot port.  I will also need a 44 pin to 40 pin adapter to move the internal drive.
  3. Get HDDriver.

I have a CosmosEX and used it with my Mega STe along with a mega file 30 and do not recall any issues.

 

I will take a look at NVDI and other desktops.

 

I was able to look at the boot up process of my machine before receiving next week.  It has the following installed.

Atari Hard Disk Driver
AHDI 6.05C

 

Speedo GDOS
ver. 5.0b with FPATCH 2 installed.

 

Warp 9 Software Accelerator
ver. 3.81

 

Mouse Accelerator 3
ver. 4.0



#7 Tillek OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:39 PM

I have a CosmosEX and used it with my Mega STe along with a mega file 30 and do not recall any issues.

 

I will take a look at NVDI and other desktops.

For the record, my MegaSTE's external HD is ICD Link based so that might have been part of it... I just remember it was a disaster and I actually thought the whole drive (and my whole BBS from the 90's) was destroyed only to find thankfully when the CosmosEx was no longer part of the chain, all was good).  If it worked for you (and still works for you with the Falcon), then all the more reason to just stick with it (or buy another for use with the Falcon).  AES and desktops and such are really personal preference items.  Thing, Teradesk, Jinnee... ask a dozen people get a dozen answers (Jinnee seems to be a favorite but I haven't been able to install it so that it runs more than a few seconds without crashing under a multitude of environments).

 

But for functionality sake.... Look into Mint.  Unless all you want to do is play games or such, then TOS may be fine.  But if you want to do anything serious, look into MiNT.

 

 

NVDI isn't a desktop (just making sure that's clear, not saying you didn't understand that from the outset)..... You can find it here.  http://www.s21293914...e.co.uk/awarez/

 

There are other places and other resources if you're interested.  I have seen some recent (as recently as 2015) that suggest Warp 9 may be better.  I only found them like... well  the 2015 one was tonight... the other was prior to NVDI's last release so I kinda ignored it.  It might be worth revisiting since you already have Warp 9 on the Falcon you're getting.  (I am going to revisit it with my TT030 since it also had Warp 9 and I'm finding NVDI, as much as I love it, conflicts with my VME video card sometimes).



#8 Tillek OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:40 PM

(Which is something I'd love to give you more insight in, but I am only starting to dive into that pool myself....)



#9 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:28 PM

You have a VME video card for your Mega STe?  Oh cool.  I have been looking for one but they are hard to find.



#10 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:40 PM

I have added a few more links to post #1



#11 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:28 AM

Ordered the following today:

 

Best Electronics

CB103078 Falcon Second Hard Disk (3 1/2 IDE) Adapter board! $45.95
CB101102 Falcon Dust Cover $12.95
CB101980 "TT" Touch "The Best" $21.95

 

Exxos

14MB expansion $65.25, includes shipping

 

eBay

16MB Simm $5.46, includes shipping

 

Lotharek's Lair

2 NetUSbee $148.02, includes shipping (I also have an Mega STe)

 

HDDriver $50.60, includes shipping

 

I would have ordered a SCSI CosmosEX, but it is out of stock, but should be in soon.  My current CosmosEX does not have SCSI, plus I will leave it with the STe.



#12 Tillek OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:43 PM

You have a VME video card for your Mega STe?  Oh cool.  I have been looking for one but they are hard to find.


No, I have that on my TT, but it would work on the MSTE.

#13 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:38 PM

Though I have not seen this first hand, I read that windows can only see one partition on a 'Flash Card' (SD, CF or Thumb).

 

So I bought a 32 GB KingSpec SSD 1.8" PATA (44 pin IDE) from Amazon that I will put several partitions on for the Falcon.  Since it is a hard drive I should be able to see all of the partitions on a windows machine.  In any case it will be a good experiment.



#14 Tillek OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:43 PM

Though I have not seen this first hand, I read that windows can only see one partition on a 'Flash Card' (SD, CF or Thumb).

 

So I bought a 32 GB KingSpec SSD 1.8" PATA (44 pin IDE) from Amazon that I will put several partitions on for the Falcon.  Since it is a hard drive I should be able to see all of the partitions on a windows machine.  In any case it will be a good experiment.

Jookie's site has a good document about partitions and all that... I don't have a link handy but you seem to be good at finding that.... let me know if you have trouble.

 

If you're going 32gb, look into BigDos if you're running stuff in TOS (2gb partitions)... If you're going MiNT or one of the others.... may not be so necessary.

 

I found I had a sealed copy of MINIX (not the newest release though) when I was cleaning out my old place and I'm looking forward to playing with that, but I don't think it will end up being anything more than a "hey, this was cool to play with for a day" environment.  I don't forsee myself using it on a regular basis as I am looking to create a MiNT and TOS environment for software development.



#15 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 30, 2017 1:17 PM

Update:

 

I added some more links to post #1

 

I received the Falcon and it booted up fine.  I tried to put HDDriver on it but was having difficulty with the floppy. Come to find out the floppy is bad.  Contacted the previous owner and he refunded some money to me for it.

 

I had some external ST floppies and I used one of the mechs from one of them (720k).  I am thinking of getting a 1.44 from Exxos since they are ready for an ST/Falcon already.

 

I received the following purchased items:

 

Best Electronics

CB103078 Falcon Second Hard Disk (3 1/2 IDE) Adapter board! $45.95
CB101102 Falcon Dust Cover $12.95
CB101980 "TT" Touch "The Best" $21.95

 

eBay

16MB Simm $5.46, includes shipping

 

HDDriver $50.60, includes shipping

 

32 GB KingSpec SSD 1.8" PATA (44 pin IDE) from Amazon

 

And I am still waiting for the following, but they have shipped already:

 

Exxos

14MB expansion $65.25, includes shipping

 

Lotharek's Lair

2 NetUSbee $148.02, includes shipping (I also have an Mega STe)

 

After replacing the floppy, I installed the Falcon Second Hard Disk (3 1/2 IDE) Adapter board.  I placed the 32 gig SSD as the primary drive and put the original HDD from the Falcon as the secondary drive and put HDDriver on a floppy.

 

I Installed HDDRiver and made 31 1 gig partitions on the SSD. I was going to use the Falcon Second Hard Disk Adapter to have a second hard drive on line all the time, but with 31 1 gig partitions available, decided not to.  That adapter did come in handy to transfer everything though. It took less than an hour to get everything on the SSD. 

 

You can only have up to drive P: on the Falcon, 16 drives active at once. It looked messy so I limited it to the 4 Partitions and will add others or swap them out when needed.

 

I will mount the SSD to the underside of the shield when the rest of my items arrive. For now the Falcon will remain open.

 

The 22 inch flat panel monitor looks crisp at 256 colors with 80 column on and double off.

 

20170430_120939_HDR.jpg

 

That SSD I bought is a really small 1.8 inches.

 

20170430_115213_HDR.jpg

 



#16 Tillek OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 30, 2017 1:34 PM

I would suggest looking into BigDos  http://rainer-seitel....de/bigdos.html

 

 

That will allow you to have partitions up to 2gb and will increase the number of drive letters available to you.



#17 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 1, 2017 8:48 AM

I will probably stick with the original GEM for the Falcon.  I am good with 1 gig partitions.  I most likely will not use them all anyway.



#18 Greenious OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 3, 2017 4:10 PM

After finding this, I may skip the SD adapter:

 

A 44pin IDE SSD

 

https://www.amazon.c...ords=ide 44 ssd

 

This could be a direct replacement for the internal HD to a memory based storage system.

 

Anyone have experience with this type of drive?

Personally, I'd go for a cheap dual CF/IDE card. IDE cannot have more than 2 drives on one bus, 2 CF cards would be just right, and small enough to fit.

 

The reason I would do that is mainly because CF-cards (the faster ones anyway) are way faster than the F030's IDE bus is capable to transferring. With an SSD, you pay a lot of extra for speeds F030 isn't capable of utilizing..

 

But I'm sure it will work.

 

Any external drives will have to be SCSI though, you can have up to 7 connected to the F030 with narrow SCSI-2.

 

Edit: I believe there are also cheap IDE->SD cards around today.


Edited by Greenious, Wed May 3, 2017 4:17 PM.


#19 Greenious OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 3, 2017 4:15 PM

Oh, and check your TOS version, if not 4.04 I recommend that you upgrade. I think Exxos got'em.


Edited by Greenious, Wed May 3, 2017 4:15 PM.


#20 Greenious OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 3, 2017 4:23 PM

Another cheap upgrade that is very easy to make is to add a 68882 FPU.



#21 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 3, 2017 4:47 PM

Personally, I'd go for a cheap dual CF/IDE card. IDE cannot have more than 2 drives on one bus, 2 CF cards would be just right, and small enough to fit.

 

The reason I would do that is mainly because CF-cards (the faster ones anyway) are way faster than the F030's IDE bus is capable to transferring. With an SSD, you pay a lot of extra for speeds F030 isn't capable of utilizing..

 

But I'm sure it will work.

 

Any external drives will have to be SCSI though, you can have up to 7 connected to the F030 with narrow SCSI-2.

 

Edit: I believe there are also cheap IDE->SD cards around today.

The 32gig SSD only cost $35 and I boot in 10 seconds (it may even be less) after the memory test or from a reset.  If I need more space, I will add an IDE to SD.  I wanted to use the SSD because it is a "Hard Drive" and all partitions are accessible from a PC, instead of just one on an SD or Compact Flash.

 

Oh, and check your TOS version, if not 4.04 I recommend that you upgrade. I think Exxos got'em.

I do have TOS 4.04 already.

 

Another cheap upgrade that is very easy to make is to add a 68882 FPU.

I have been meaning to check for the FPU, but just have not done that yet. If I need it, I will get it.

 

Thanks for the input.



#22 KLund1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 4, 2017 1:32 PM

Highly suggest a recap of the PSU! Soon after, a recap the motherboard. Unless the previous owner had already done so. A 30 year old cap blowing could kill many parts inside. Best not to take a chance.

Also IDE/CF and SD is all you need for a Falcon HD solution. They draw less power, and take up less space. Also are more than fast enough to keep up with the falcon. I have the CF card sitting on the HD cage, and the SD card going out a small slot in the rear of the case. So the SD card can go easily from Falcon to PC and back.

Be sure to re-flow the solder on the Keyboard Mouse/Joystick connections. They are a big source of failure.

fyi



#23 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 4, 2017 2:22 PM

Highly suggest a recap of the PSU! Soon after, a recap the motherboard. Unless the previous owner had already done so. A 30 year old cap blowing could kill many parts inside. Best not to take a chance.

Also IDE/CF and SD is all you need for a Falcon HD solution. They draw less power, and take up less space. Also are more than fast enough to keep up with the falcon. I have the CF card sitting on the HD cage, and the SD card going out a small slot in the rear of the case. So the SD card can go easily from Falcon to PC and back.

Be sure to re-flow the solder on the Keyboard Mouse/Joystick connections. They are a big source of failure.

fyi

I will have a NetUSBee for file transfer so I think the SSD will be enough for now.  The SSD is slightly smaller than the CF/SD Adapters I have researched and the one I have for my 8-bit. It is a 1.8" laptop 44pin PATA SSD.  Plugs right in like it was meant to be there.

 

I have plans for a recap, but want to get other things done first.

 

Thanks for the info.


Edited by SoulBuster, Thu May 4, 2017 2:23 PM.


#24 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 8, 2017 8:12 AM

I received the NetUSbees on Saturday. Started installing on the Falcon on Sunday.  It seemed to not be connecting to the router and I found out why.

 

I have a 48 Terabyte NAS with 4 Ethernet connectors on it.  One of the connectors was spamming the network for some reason.  I rebooted the NAS and updated the firmware. After that the NetUSbee fired right up.

 

I did not get time to play with it much but it makes a nice interface for a PC to transfer files to the Falcon using UIPV43 found here.

 

I had the chance to see If I had an FPU, I did not.  I am making a list to make another purchase from Exxos.

1. FPU

2. 1.44 Floppy

 

Right now that is all I have on the list.



#25 SoulBuster OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 10, 2017 7:58 AM

Received the 14mb upgrade board from Exxos yesterday.  Installed the $7 16mb simm I bought from ebay and it all tested good.

 

Time to make another order for the floppy and FPU.






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