Falcon Compact Flash (CF) & Secure Digital (SD) Hard Drive Conversion - Malcolm Ramage

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Falcon Compact Flash (CF) & Secure Digital (SD) Hard Drive Conversion - Malcolm Ramage

Post by exxos » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:33 pm

Atari-Falcon-IDE-Compact-Flash-Adapter-Adaptor-Bracket.jpg
Atari-Falcon-IDE-Compact-Flash-Adapter-Adaptor-Bracket.jpg (83.81 KiB) Viewed 1339 times

Most Atarians know that the Atari Falcon 030 can use Compact Flash (CF) and Secure Digital (SD) cards instead of the old, noisy 44-pin IDE hard drive. This mod job is discussed all over the internet. I've seen a lot of ghastly frankenstein mod jobs using electrical tape, twisted homemade brackets, and loose components flopping around inside the case.

I understand these folks may go by the old motto "as long as it works", however, given that the Falcon is almost 20 years old, I believe it's time to start treating any Atari mod as if you were working on a vintage sports car. You wouldn't use electrical tape and cut up the insides of your vintage 1978 Lamborghini to install an mp3 player, would you?

Atari-Falcon-IDE-Hard-Drive-Bracket.jpg
Atari-Falcon-IDE-Hard-Drive-Bracket.jpg (29.5 KiB) Viewed 1339 times

As these beautiful machines become more rare, any physical modifications should be done with professionalism and aesthetics in mind - inside and out. Doing so will also help to increase your Atari's value; I know I wouldn't want to buy a Falcon with its insides looking like a bowl of spaghetti!

Most people don't know that Best Electronics in the USA still sells 2.5" internal Atari Falcon IDE hard drive brackets for $14 US plus shipping. This is crucial in making sure your new IDE > CF or SD Adaptor isn't flopping around loose in your case or being taped to another component it shouldn't. Unless you are creating external slit in the back of the case to make your CF card swappable with a PC as seen here, there really isn't a good place to put your CF adapter other than on a bracket.

Atari-Falcon-IDE-Compact-Flash-Adapter-Adaptor.jpg
Atari-Falcon-IDE-Compact-Flash-Adapter-Adaptor.jpg (42.92 KiB) Viewed 1339 times

Finally, you need a compact flash or SD card adapter designed for a 2.5" IDE ATX slot so the screw holes match up. I bought my CF adapter from from Uxcell Products here for $11 US plus shipping. Make sure you're using the latest version HDDRiver to format and partition your new drive.

If you use two CF cards at once, make sure their they are the same specs otherwise your Falcon may crash or refuse to boot to GEM. I always use the 'slave' CF card as a backup copy of the 'master' in case one of them ever failed. After all, all flash memory has a limited number of writes and eventually fail. For this reason, it's better to use two 1GB or 2GB cards with multiple partitions to space your files out and prevent multiple rewrites to the same disk sectors.

Nonetheless, don't get paranoid - Atari files are extremely small and considering CF cards are often used to run Windows on a laptop, disk failure is not very likely.
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