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How would you rework/improve this STE?

Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:08 pm
by stween
In my collection, I've pulled out of storage my original STE, the one I've had since 1992. It's been mostly in storage for the last 15 years, but it's still ticking. it's had some work done over the years:
  • a nice full 4MB RAM
  • replacement PSU when the original failed. I presume it was a refurbed unit, or perhaps simply pulled from another ST; it's a DSP-508A on an SR98 base.
  • TOS 1.62/2.06 switcher
  • internal 2.5" IDE HD, 170MB from The Upgrade Shop
  • 56kbps modem upgrade, which I've never used: IIRC Dave at The Upgrade Shop installed it when the HD upgrade was delayed
Here's how it's looking.

Questions:

The machine has always had one persistent problem: DMA audio requires I put pressure on the bottom of the unit, to push something up. Like, just a slice of cardboard to nudge a couple of millimetres is all that's needed, and then DMA audio seems good. I've never known what the actual problem was. Were there similar problems on other units, or do I just have the tiniest little unhappy solder joint somewhere?

The HD still spins, and I'm going to find a way to archive the contents. That drive must be 20 years old, and I don't want to rely on it. Has anybody used one of these upgrades, then subsequently removed it? What is the current best internal HD setup for old STs? Alternatively, what can I get away with via the IDE interface I currently have?

PSU: I did buy one of exxos's red boards, and this is the unit I want it to go into. But I think that work will wait until after I've relocated to the US in the next few months.

Audio: via the phono ports on this machine, I hear a lot of the buzzes and whirs mentioned on this page. If the PSU exacerbates this, then I'll wait until I've done the PSU switch to investigate further. If I still have some glitches, I'll consider some of the fixes for this.

The 56kbps modem upgrade is pretty certainly never going to be used. So I could remove it, just leaving the hole in the case.

So, the topic. Given this machine, how would you go about fixing it up/modernising it?

Re: How would you rework/improve this STE?

Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:55 am
by DoG
Replace HDD with IDE to SD or IDE to CF card.

Re: How would you rework/improve this STE?

Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:21 am
by rubber_jonnie
I'd probably start by doing a re cap of the PSU. It's a nice easy task and will ensure it runs well for years to come. EDIT - I just saw you'd got an exxos PSU board, get that puppy installed!

Then you might want to consider a Gotek replacement for the FDD, and as as already been said, replace the hard drive for a CF card, or you could also use an IDE to SD adapter. I've used one of these in my A1200 and it works well.

You could also consider a booster like this: https://www.exxoshost.co.uk/atari/last/storenew/#0147, but since it plugs in on top of your CPU, it may clash with your IDE interface.

Though, if you wanted to go booster, you could always get an UltraSatan for use via the ACSI interface.

Other options are things like CosmosEx, but they are quite rare second hand, and although production has been taken over, and although a version 3 is being made, I know a lot of folks have ordered one, but I don't know if they've yet been delivered, so that may be a dead end. Or at least a very narrow track with potholes, mud and brambles to navigate!

The great thing about CosmosEx is the sheer number of features it added. Here's some links so you can make up your own mind:

http://atari.sk/cosmosex-3-0/
http://joo.kie.sk/?page_id=384

Be aware that Jookie doesn't make them anymore, he handed off to the guys doing v3.

Lotharek does quite a few bits too, you can find him here: https://lotharek.pl/products.php?id=15

As for the DMA audio, I'd suggest a strip down of the machine and check for dry solder joints in the area where you need to put pressure.

As for the audio glitches, have a look at this: https://www.exxoshost.co.uk/atari/last/storenew/#0071

Good luck!

Re: How would you rework/improve this STE?

Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:22 pm
by stween
rubber_jonnie wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:21 am
I'd probably start by doing a re cap of the PSU. It's a nice easy task and will ensure it runs well for years to come. EDIT - I just saw you'd got an exxos PSU board, get that puppy installed!
I'm planning a move to the US within the next couple months, I think, and I'm holding off until I know for sure whether I should be wiring for 240v or 110v. But, yes, it goes in eventually!
DoG wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:55 am
Replace HDD with IDE to SD or IDE to CF card.
Then you might want to consider a Gotek replacement for the FDD, and as as already been said, replace the hard drive for a CF card, or you could also use an IDE to SD adapter. I've used one of these in my A1200 and it works well.
Are there any obvious things to avoid here? I'm sure I've read about people having hard times with particular types of SD card. I guess that's more an issue for the IDE->SD controller than anything.
You could also consider a booster like this: https://www.exxoshost.co.uk/atari/last/storenew/#0147, but since it plugs in on top of your CPU, it may clash with your IDE interface.

Though, if you wanted to go booster, you could always get an UltraSatan for use via the ACSI interface.
One day, I might boost another STe. Perhaps not this one though :)
Other options are things like CosmosEx, but they are quite rare second hand, and although production has been taken over, and although a version 3 is being made, I know a lot of folks have ordered one, but I don't know if they've yet been delivered, so that may be a dead end. Or at least a very narrow track with potholes, mud and brambles to navigate!

The great thing about CosmosEx is the sheer number of features it added. Here's some links so you can make up your own mind:

http://atari.sk/cosmosex-3-0/
http://joo.kie.sk/?page_id=384

Be aware that Jookie doesn't make them anymore, he handed off to the guys doing v3.
Somehow I'd missed this! That does seem real neat.

The more I think about it, the more I like staying internal since I have the pieces already in place. So maybe this isn't for now, but I like it.
Lotharek does quite a few bits too, you can find him here: https://lotharek.pl/products.php?id=15
Yes! I've wanted a netusbee for ages. I should rig up a new HD setup and get this thing back online.
As for the DMA audio, I'd suggest a strip down of the machine and check for dry solder joints in the area where you need to put pressure.
Yeah *sighs*. It's been this way for years, and you're right, I guess it needs some quality time spent on it. Such a weird bug.
As for the audio glitches, have a look at this: https://www.exxoshost.co.uk/atari/last/storenew/#0071
*nod* yes, I think this may be necessary at some point. But I'm going to do the PSU replacement beforehand, see how much of a culprit that is.
Good luck!
Thanks!

Re: How would you rework/improve this STE?

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:32 pm
by rubber_jonnie
BTW,it is my understanding that with CF cards, there can also be compatibility issues, so SD or CF, you may run into issues.

I did use a CF card on my STE for a while, and had some issues getting one that was happy with my IDE interface, but eventually went to SD in my CosmosEx.

I think mine is an 8GB Sandisk card and it works fine. You may also want to get HDDRIVER https://www.hddriver.net/ as it is probably the most up to date driver and will give you the best performance with any hard drive. I am using ICD Pro which you can get from Jookies site (Original CosmosEx guy) and there is a great tutorial for using it there. I should get HDDRIVER myself, but I have other stuff that I need/want more.

If you are interested in Gotek, I did a how to here: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=593&hilit=going+gotek that may be of interest.

Standard Gotek mounting does require case cutting, but if you have access to a 3d printer, one of these will avoid all of that: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2664753

Re: How would you rework/improve this STE?

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:52 pm
by stween
rubber_jonnie wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:32 pm
BTW,it is my understanding that with CF cards, there can also be compatibility issues, so SD or CF, you may run into issues.

I did use a CF card on my STE for a while, and had some issues getting one that was happy with my IDE interface, but eventually went to SD in my CosmosEx.

I think mine is an 8GB Sandisk card and it works fine. You may also want to get HDDRIVER https://www.hddriver.net/ as it is probably the most up to date driver and will give you the best performance with any hard drive. I am using ICD Pro which you can get from Jookies site (Original CosmosEx guy) and there is a great tutorial for using it there. I should get HDDRIVER myself, but I have other stuff that I need/want more.
Okay! Thanks for the pointers. I've ordered this and I have a handful of SD cards lying around. I'll see if anything flies!
If you are interested in Gotek, I did a how to here: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=593&hilit=going+gotek that may be of interest.

Standard Gotek mounting does require case cutting, but if you have access to a 3d printer, one of these will avoid all of that: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2664753
I've always liked the idea, and I might get one eventually. What I do have is a kryoflux and a large floppy collection, and so I like being able to use real disks but with an archived copy elsewhere.

Re: How would you rework/improve this STE?

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:53 pm
by exxos
A lot of the CF interfaces fail as they mostly all copy the same poor design which seriously violates all the timings. Its why we are working on a better IDE/CF interface for the ST which works properly with all CF cards.

Though I would suggest you look in the tweaks and fixes section and some of those..

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1417 (this will fix some drive faults ) Also change the CPU for a HC type which will fix a lot of DMA related issues.

Also...

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=135

Re: How would you rework/improve this STE?

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:29 pm
by stween
exxos wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:53 pm
A lot of the CF interfaces fail as they mostly all copy the same poor design which seriously violates all the timings. Its why we are working on a better IDE/CF interface for the ST which works properly with all CF cards.
Okay, got it!
Though I would suggest you look in the tweaks and fixes section and some of those..

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1417 (this will fix some drive faults ) Also change the CPU for a HC type which will fix a lot of DMA related issues.

Also...

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=135
Actually I'd forgotten about doing an HC switch, but I'd planned to do one at some point just for fun. What DMA issues does it fix?

Re: How would you rework/improve this STE?

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:20 pm
by exxos
stween wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:29 pm
What DMA issues does it fix?
Problems reading and writing to hard drive and floppy.

Re: How would you rework/improve this STE?

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:41 pm
by stween
rubber_jonnie wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:21 am
As for the DMA audio, I'd suggest a strip down of the machine and check for dry solder joints in the area where you need to put pressure.
So I stripped the machine right down, and tested while it was running with some DMA audio playing. The culprit seemed to be right under the PSU, where around where the shifter (C301712-001?) sits. I didn't see anything obviously bad on the solder joints. I wondered about the little bodge wire on the back of the motherboard, but investigating that was going to be my step 2.

Step 1: pop out the shifter and reseat it. Result: voila! The audio glitch that my STe has had since day 1 appears to have been fixed. At least, no amount of wobbling, nudging, or pushing the board disrupts the audio. Success, I think!