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Lumpy01

Creating 8-bit floppies on a PC with Internal 5.25 drive?

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I'm throwing together a "Franken-PC" from older parts with an internal 1.44MB 3.5 floppy drive for archiving and/or creating floppy disks for my recently acquired 4MB 1040STE. As documented HERE. This made me think... Besides the popular 1050-2-PC process (SIO2PC interface attached to a Atari floppy drive), is there software out there similar to the ST world's FloImg that can make use of a PC with an internal 1.2MB 5.25" floppy for creating/archiving Atari 8-bit disks?

 

Lump

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If I understand you correctly, you want to take an Atari disk and read it on a 1.2 meg HD mech. then write the image out to another disk using the PC for the entire process. (?) If not, can you be more specific as to what hardware you want to use.

 

Yes, but with caveats. There are a number of ways to create a 5-1/4" Double Density floppy on a PC, but a 1.2 meg mech is not a good choice since it writes "narrow tracks," even when "double-stepped" as the drive normally does in reading/writing 40-track disks. Reading with a 1.2 is not too bad, but all PC's mechs that I know of use the timing hole, so the odds are great that if you take an Atari disk formatted on a 1050, etc. the PC won't even read it, or will read it with lots of errors.

 

Edit: 99.9% of PC floppy controllers will not read a single density Atari disk. If it is not MFM. it's unlikely to work.

 

But even with a 40-track DD mechanism (as out of an XF551) or older PC, it is not a very reliable process. You will likely get some few disk errors. Look at Hias page for one such software solution.:

 

http://www.horus.com/~hias/atari/#ataridsk

 

There are other more expensive hardware solutions (KryoFlux, etc.), but when you get to the bottom line, the best results will come from Atari 8-bit hardware. BTW, I always got more reliable results when writing an Atari image on a PC by using 720K (3.5") disks. A 5-1/4" DD disk on an Atari is not a really reliable image, except on an XF551. Why? The Industry Standard mechs used in the XF551 seemed to provide more stable disks. And (again in my experience) the data separation capabilities of the WD 1772-02-02 is superb compared to earlier controllers.

 

-Larry

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I guess I was hoping to use the internal 1.2MB 5.25" drive in my PC for extracting 8-bit ATR image files back onto floppy for use in my 8-bit machines. Guess I'll keep using the SIO2PC... bleh.

 

This is why I love this site. Lots of really smart people like Larry. Thanks for all the great info!

 

Lump

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Reading with a 1.2 is not too bad, but all PC's mechs that I know of use the timing hole, so the odds are great that if you take an Atari disk formatted on a 1050, etc. the PC won't even read it, or will read it with lots of errors.

This is where the beauty of the Marslett Util PC program came into it's own. The way around the index hole issue was to make several disks with the same files on them with the atari. When Util stopped reading or wouldn't read in the first place, you popped in another copy and it's index hole stood a fair chance of being in the correct spot to recover that sector and several others to follow. This extra step wasn't in most directions for using Util though. Just by chance I happened across them and it actually works - you want three and better yet four atari disks with the exact same file layout. Util was written to refuse errors and to just re-try to read the sector forever. When you present it with a disk with index mark close enough it picks up where it left off and transfers only the good data.

 

Beg to differ about reliable comment though. Happy had a PC to atari disk program that worked flawless but any disk used had to first be formatted on the PC as 180K single side precisely for the index hole issue you point out. At that point, the Happy drive works gangbusters on it and so does the PC, but NEVER windows. Same story for AtariDsk, but much nicer to use and does fantastic in a Window's DOSbox too. In both cases one needs a DD capable drive on the atari side though. I've never had a transfer go bad using either program so that's about as reliable as it gets? Dare I say just as good as an atari floppy drive?

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It's been quite some time since I've used my AtariDsk and writeatr programs, but I also have to add that I've never had any issues using various 1.2MB drives to write Atari floppy disks.

 

I'd recommend using writeatr to transfer ATRs to floppies, chances aren't too bad that your FDC will even be able to write enhanced density disks.

 

I didn't receive much feedback about this feature back then but my own tests with various PCs showed that all of them could write enhanced density and only one of them could read it. So disabling verify in writeatr is all that's needed.

 

BTW: you can also use writeatr to write single density ATRs out as enhanced density floppies (writeatr doesn't support the FM format required for SD). Being able to write SD and ED ATRs to a floppy also means you don't need to have a doubledensity capable Atari floppy drive, a stock 1050 will do. Also quite a lot of ATRs are single or enhanced density.

 

Check out the writeatr.doc file in the ZIP, it contains a lot of background information.

 

I'd say just give it a try, maybe all works fine.

 

so long,

 

Hias

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Hey Hias,

 

So WriteATR will write ATR files to floppy using a 1.2MB internal floppy drive? Sweet! That's exactly what I need to do. Does the software need to be run in a pure MSDOS environment (for best hardware control) or will it work in a VM on Windows?

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I can tell you right now that 1.2M drives make weak DD floppies. They may work for a while but the heads are all wrong for DD tracks. The best way to do this is to get a 1050-2-PC cable and write directly to an A8 drive.

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In addition to what Bryan says, you should bulk erase any disk you are going to use on your 1.2m drive for use on the atari. The head there is half width and will have to fight old data on the disk, by wiping it with a strong magnet first, the only tracks on there are put on there by the 1.2m and it should do fine then.

 

Probably boot to DOS mode is best for WriteAtr but it's worth a shot in a Windows DOSbox? What flavor of Windows were you hoping to run it with Lumpy01?

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I've already made a few disks with a Happy-modded 1050 and Atari8Warez's USB SIO2PC/10502PC device. From everything I've heard so far, this is still the best way of creating problem-free disks. I was just hoping to make use of the ST disk creating station for 8-bit disks as well.

 

Thanks to all of you for the wealth of knowledge provided.

 

Lump

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