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Best 8-bit Atari disk drive? 810, 1050, XF551

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It appears to me that the 810 with an MPI mechanism is the winner. I say MPI mech because I think most 810's with the Tandem mech ultimately suffer the dreaded pin failure and the door ends up in your hand. Their fate was probably to the trash in the 1990's. The 810 was still solid, but few knew how to fix them. The 810 with MPI is truely a tank. That's probably why they are still showing up on Ebay some 30+ years later. Yes, there are lots of 1050's on Ebay, and it's a fine machine as well, but I don't think they are as robust as the MPI 810's. It's probably a close call between the 810 MPI and the 1050, but I'm a little biased to the 810 since it was my first Atari disk drive. Bought one (Tandem) in 1983 for $475. Yes, the door came off in my hand in the late 80's, but I knew a guy who had the new replacement parts. I probably owned 4 MPI 810's and they all worked great.

 

The 810 was SS/SD, but does anyone know of another SS/SD drive. I think everyone else had started with SS/DD (Apple, Tandy)? Anyway, I've had 1050's that have failed me, but never an 810. For me, the 810 is as iconic as the original 800. Stout, but beautifully engineered machines that last over the years. As they say, they sure don't make'em like that anymore. The only benifit I ever found to the Tandem mech 810 was you could attach tape to the disk and jiggle it while writing to make a bad sector on purpose. I want an 810 for some reason and I don't know why other than pure nostalgia.

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It appears to me that the 810 with an MPI mechanism is the winner. I say MPI mech because I think most 810's with the Tandem mech ultimately suffer the dreaded pin failure and the door ends up in your hand. Their fate was probably to the trash in the 1990's. The 810 was still solid, but few knew how to fix them. The 810 with MPI is truely a tank. That's probably why they are still showing up on Ebay some 30+ years later. Yes, there are lots of 1050's on Ebay, and it's a fine machine as well, but I don't think they are as robust as the MPI 810's. It's probably a close call between the 810 MPI and the 1050, but I'm a little biased to the 810 since it was my first Atari disk drive. Bought one (Tandem) in 1983 for $475. Yes, the door came off in my hand in the late 80's, but I knew a guy who had the new replacement parts. I probably owned 4 MPI 810's and they all worked great.

 

The 810 was SS/SD, but does anyone know of another SS/SD drive. I think everyone else had started with SS/DD (Apple, Tandy)? Anyway, I've had 1050's that have failed me, but never an 810. For me, the 810 is as iconic as the original 800. Stout, but beautifully engineered machines that last over the years. As they say, they sure don't make'em like that anymore. The only benifit I ever found to the Tandem mech 810 was you could attach tape to the disk and jiggle it while writing to make a bad sector on purpose. I want an 810 for some reason and I don't know why other than pure nostalgia.

I have a Percom AT88-S1 which is only SD according to the photocopy of the manual I have. I was also unable to format a disk in DD, I tried when I first acquired it before I had a manual

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The 810 I bought new in '83 for $440 had the Tandon Mech and has been my primary 810 after all these years and the pin has never fallen out.

Same with 6 other Tandon 810's I've bought since then...

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I just got a 810 tandon in a big haul and it works great. It has a blue round sticker on the inside of the drive that has the # ao2111 and says 'special drive 6-2-82'. My indus is getting fixed, and my 1050 is going strong.

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from time to time this subject repeats itself in new threads.

 

The question always was and will be: what is the thing you are looking for. Since you tagged this thread with the label 'reliability' That makes the 1050 not the winner unfortunately although I love that drive very much (with Happy indeed). Why isn't it the winner? Simple: it's using a drive belt. That will simply not last.

 

The XF551 does not have that counterpart, but.... there in the PCB is terrible.

 

I have no information about 810, but as soon as it is with a drive belt, it can not be the best when it comes to reliability.

 

I think that xf551 finally will last the longest...

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Since you tagged this thread with the label 'reliability' That makes the 1050 not the winner unfortunately although I love that drive very much (with Happy indeed). Why isn't it the winner? Simple: it's using a drive belt. That will simply not last.

My box of 30 year old, still working 1050 disks drives take exception to this.

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My box of 30 year old, still working 1050 disks drives take exception to this.

 

That's not the right conclusion imho.

I did not say they won't last 30 years or longer. I did say that it won't last.

 

My XF551's do also functionate properly all this time.

 

The question is which one is the best, when it comes to reliability. I think that when treated right the XF551 will live another 30 years from now, and I doubt the drive belt of all these 30 year old 1050's will survive another three decades from now.

 

That's what I meant to say.

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Come back in 30 years and tell us what is still working. :P

 

I may have to replace a drive belt in the next 30 years, but at least I won't be re-flowing half the solder joints.

 

In my experience 1050s are more reliable than xf drives. I have not even had to change a belt yet on over 20 drives that have passed through my collection.

Happy upgraded 1050 is my favorite, although I would Love an Indus gt some day

 

Oh, and xf drives are fugly IMO

Edited by mimo

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That's not the right conclusion imho.

I did not say they won't last 30 years or longer. I did say that it won't last.

 

My XF551's do also functionate properly all this time.

 

The question is which one is the best, when it comes to reliability. I think that when treated right the XF551 will live another 30 years from now, and I doubt the drive belt of all these 30 year old 1050's will survive another three decades from now.

 

That's what I meant to say.

To be fair, I bought a box of drive belts back in the 80s. I have used one so far. The 1050 is a great drive with cool enhancements. There are enough of them still working that I think we can all agree they are very reliable. None of my 810 disks still work. Never had an xf551 -- maybe I'll buy one when I run out of 1050s ;)

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When it comes to 'overall' favorite, the happy 1050 is my favorite by far. I am more a XL-design lover anyway.

But I'm very pleased with my stack of XF551 drives for the future. If that planned new XF551 PCB will be finished, I would be glad to install that in my XF's.

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You could also manage to write a bad sector on a 1050 by pressing down on the disk sufficiently to slow it down

 

Took some practice but Ive managed to copy bad sectored disks this way without a Happy/laser etc

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Personally I owned a couple of Indus GT drives and while I did love them, I would say that the best and most practical drive is a modded 1050. It's hard to beat the Indus in the looks department, but Syncro-Mesh wasn't supported by enough stuff to be useful.

 

For general use a 1050 with a U.S. Doubler is exceptional in terms of compatibility and speed. Of course the Happy has almost all of the features of the USD (I think it's slightly slower) so it's fine too... every 1050 I ever owned had a US Doubler in it eventually (though I somehow ended up with a working unmodded one that I have now)..

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You could also manage to write a bad sector on a 1050 by pressing down on the disk sufficiently to slow it down

 

Took some practice but Ive managed to copy bad sectored disks this way without a Happy/laser etc

You could also fold a piece of scotch tape over one of the corners closest to the edge of the door and pull a little pressure on the tape as the disk was being formatted. You never forget your first...

Edited by WizWor

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XF, although it's the only A8 floppy drive model I've ever used much. Mine got flogged to death non-stop between 1989 and 2001 and still works perfectly today. I can't imagine anything else still working after the daily punishment I gave it. :)

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Niether apple or commodore "started with double density".. They use a GCR recording method to get alot more data per number of bits recorded on the media. apple's 143k and commodore's 170k are actually single density formats. MFM is not very space-efficient by comparisson (90k per single density side) and that's the recording method that atari (as well as the vast majority of industry standard floppy controllers) uses..

 

The happy or super archiver modded 1050 is the drive that does the most..

 

In my oppinion, 810s are a huge assed waste of desk space and have alot more potential failure points in their design than a 1050. If atari had any design sense back then, they'd have done something like percom did, and at least allowed you to chain multiple MFM drives off of a single controller, instead of making you waste a cubic yard of space just to have two SS/SD slow assed floppy drives.,.

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Look at my avatar picture: 8 indus GT drives, but overall if I had to have one: Happy 1050

 

 

Ps: I have more Happy 1050s that Indus Drives...

Edited by IndusGT

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Timing counts for something.

 

Early on I wanted (badly) an ATR-8000 by SWP. They were expensive but also somewhat of a bargain considering they had floppy, serial and printer interfaces all in one. When 810s were still $499 or more the ATR-8000 cost $499. (I can't remember if that would be the 16K or 64K version for that price) Floppy mechs could be found for around $150 and power supply/cases perhaps another $100. So at the time (circa 1981-82), you'd have everything you'd need (or almost everything) for well under $1000.

 

As it turned out I didn't get the ATR-8000 for another 2 or 3 years. It cost me a little cash and a little labor. Call it $350 total. Two drives (180K) and a power supply only cost me $50.

 

The ATR-8000 plus drives has been the only drive system I've owned.

 

6-7 years ago I learned how to connect 1.2MB HD units to it. Not very practical for A8 usage but the combination works and it does provide with roughly 2MB of games ready to go should I just want to exercise the old equipment.

 

A couple of years ago I finally got 360K mechs for the ATR-8000 but since I discovered SIO2PC interfaces (and some other wonderful devices) I haven't really had a need for them.

 

I don't need anything else but I'd probably also choose a Happy 1050. Well, two of them. That's my top choice unless someone can tell me that some Speedy 1050s were sold in the USA.

Edited by a8isa1

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810 is the best quality floppy drive I've had. IndusGT the best third party.

 

I've had two Xf551, lightly used, and one is completely toast, and the other can't do DS DD. It does SS SD, DS SD, and SS DD. For some reason it refuses to read DD on the second head -- and these are disks the same drive wrote a few years ago.

 

I'm down to a kryoflux and generic PC drives to make images of the disks I have left.

After I don't need a floppy drive anymore the best Atari drive is an SD card reader.

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My box of 30 year old, still working 1050 disks drives take exception to this.

As do mine! :)

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Personally I owned a couple of Indus GT drives and while I did love them, I would say that the best and most practical drive is a modded 1050. It's hard to beat the Indus in the looks department, but Syncro-Mesh wasn't supported by enough stuff to be useful.

 

For general use a 1050 with a U.S. Doubler is exceptional in terms of compatibility and speed. Of course the Happy has almost all of the features of the USD (I think it's slightly slower) so it's fine too... every 1050 I ever owned had a US Doubler in it eventually (though I somehow ended up with a working unmodded one that I have now)..

 

The Happy 1050 has track buffering... it is faster than a USD 1050.

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"Happy 1050" I want one, I had a chance to use two Happy 1050's back in the day in the Atari club I was in. The speed :-o and what I'd liked the most was not having to notch any holes in the disks just to use side B of a disk. :-o Now fast forward to today my Xf551 with Hyper FX installed is just Awesome! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

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