Z*Magazine: 24-Mar-92 #206From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 10/09/93-04:33:11 PM Z
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From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG) Subject: Z*Magazine: 24-Mar-92 #206 Date: Sat Oct 9 16:33:11 1993 | (((((((( | Z*Magazine International Atari 8-Bit Magazine | (( | --------------------------------------------- | (( | March 24, 1992 Issue #206 | (( | --------------------------------------------- | (((((((( | Copyright (c)1992, Rovac Industries, Inc. | | Post Office Box 59, Middlesex, NJ 08846 | (( | | (((((( | CONTENTS | (( | | | * The Week In Atari History.................Ron Kovacs | ((( ((( | * Atari 8-Bit Hard Drives....................Don Lebow | (((( (((( | * The Bookkeeper..............................Ron Bell | (( (( (( (( | * Modem Noise Killer.................................. | (( (( (( | * Lock And Key For The ST................Rick Flashman | (( (( | * Using A Percom On Your 8-Bit........Andrew C. Diller | | * .................................................... | (( | * .................................................... | (( (( | * .................................................... | (((((((( | | (( (( | | (( (( | ~ Publisher/Editor..........................Ron Kovacs | | ~ Contributing Editor........................John Nagy | (((((((((( | ~ Contributing Editor......................Stan Lowell | (( | ~ Contributing Editor........................Bob Smith | (( ((((( | ~ Newswire Staff...................................... | (( (( | ~ Z*Net New Zealand.........................Jon Clarke | (((((((((( | ~ Z*Net Canada.........................Terry Schreiber | | |-------------| $ GEnie Address..................................Z-NET | ONLINE | $ CompuServe Address........................75300,1642 | AREAS | $ Delphi Address..................................ZNET | | $ Internet/Usenet Address................status.gen.nz |-------------| $ America Online Address......................ZNET1991 | | | Z*NET | * Z*Net:USA New Jersey...(FNET 593).....(908) 968-8148 | SUPPORT | * Z*Net:Golden Gate......(FNET 706).....(510) 373-6792 | SYSTEMS | * Blank Page.........(8-Bit FNET 9002)..(908) 805-3967 ======================================================================= * THIS WEEK IN ATARI HISTORY by Ron Kovacs ====================================================================== 1985 - ATARI MEETS BCS USER GROUP The Boston Computer Society General Meeting featured Leonard Tramiel of Atari, as well as Digital Research's Bruce Cohen, and Bill Bowman from Spinnaker, and marked the east coast unveiling of the new 520ST Computer. The meeting filled Boston's New England Life Hall to capacity. Tramiel reiterated the specifications mentioned in previous reports. I won't repeat any more than I have to. It appears that Atari is still on schedule and is still predicting release of the new machines in late April. Unfortunately, Mr. Tramiel did not have a formal demo package available with him, so the actual demonstration of the machine was exceptionally weak. Tramiel described that the versatility of the ST's was enhanced by the multiple ports which include: 128K ROM slot, Hard Disk DMA Port (10 Megabit/Sec!), Floppy Disk Port (Daisy Chain), Standard RS232C Port, Centronics Printer Port, Monitor Output, RF (TV) Output, (2) MIDI Ports, In/Out, Joystick Port, and Joystick/Mouse Port. Bruce Cohen, from DRI explained the GEM operating system in detail, including how it was being developed in other applications. He indicated that the IBM PC would have a GEM system available in April. 1985 - 32-BIT ATARI PLANNED The first look at the new 32-bit Atari computers will come in April at a computer show in Hanover, Germany. Sam Tramiel privately confirmed that this machine would utilize the new National Semiconductor 32032 and would be a "VAX in a box." The next step for Tramiel, after his current plans, is to "turn around mainframe technology for a hand-held computer." 1987 - ATARI IBM CLONES The ATARI IBM CLONES may NOT be a reality, on the other hand... for a while, anyway. Two problems are are the major hangups: negotiations for GEM for the machine, and FCC acceptance. Neither area has had any positive movement, despite ATARI's optimistic projected "spring '87" release of the $500 do-it-all PC compatible. 1987 - ATARIFESTS IN TROUBLE AtariFests for Detroit and Chicago are in trouble. After a long siege of difficulty in negotiations with Atari, Detroit's 400-plus member M.A.C.E. club threw up their hands and pulled out of the effort, cancelling a planned August '87 show for the Southfield Civic Center. 1987 - MORE PANIC IN DETROIT Antic Magazine's publisher Jim Capperell wrote to Detroit's M.A.C.E. to notify them that they had to remove any and all ANTIC programs from their BBS. He reaffirmed that they are copyrighted, and to exchange them is PIRACY. 1987 8-BIT DOS ON A CART Mike Wheeler of Alaska has put Atari DOS 2.5 on a cart and added true double density support and a ramdisk handler. Although it is memory - greedy (16k when resident), the cart can be switched out manually. 1989 - TOS 1.4 UPDATE All developers should take note that the latest release of TOS 1.4 is the December upgrade. This will be the version that goes to Eprom. Developers should contact Cindy Clavern for more information. 1989 - WORLD OF ATARI The Anahiem World of Atari show has been expanded from 12,000 sq ft to 28,000 sq ft. At the same show, there will be a live concert after with Fleetwood Mac and 2 other name groups. 1990 - ATARIFESTS TO BE MORE CAREFULLY SCHEDULED Atari has discussed and announced the intention to exert more control over scheduling of Atari shows that request Atari's involvement. After some hard lessons last year that resulted in the cancellation of both user and commercial shows due to time conflicts, Atari now intends to firmly stand behind a policy of NO SHOWS WITHIN 30 DAYS OF OTHER SHOWS. 1990 - ATARI SOFTSOURCE READY TO GO Charles Cherry, Atari Corp Developer Support mogul, says that the SOFTSOURCE Program is ready to premier on a major telecommunications network. The system is 100% completed and is in private testing to be sure that it is fully operational when it is formally introduced in April. 1990 - DAVE SMALL/HAPPY COMPUTER LAWSUIT SETTLED A ground breaking lawsuit involving charges of defamation via international telecommunications message systems was settled by a Court Order that also forbids the parties to discuss the details. Dave Small of Gadgets By Small was sued by Richard Adams of Happy Computer over statements posted as messages on GEnie last year. 1990 - 68030 ATARI LIKELY TO BE SHOWN AT WOA DISNEYLAND Late word from TWO locations both point to the 68030 computer(s) to be shown at the Anaheim World of Atari... one from Atari (the TT) and one from Dave Small. 1990 - ATARI REPORTS NET INCOME OF $5.7 MILLION Atari announced last week that income from continuing operations of $5.8 million or 10 cents per share on sales of $170.6 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 1989. 1991 - ST "GEMULATOR" IN PROGRESS FOR IBM Darek Mihocka of Branch Always Software (Quick ST) has confirmed rumors that he has a functional 68000 emulator working on an IBM platform. 1991 - APPLE STRIKES BACK AT SCHOOLS AND ATARI NEW ZEALAND Apples distributor in New Zealand CED, hit back this week at claims that they are over charging the education sector for their products. Responding to the criticism from Alex Davidson the Managing Director of Software Supplies (the New Zealand Atari distributor) Mr Crowe of CED said "At $NZ1895 the Macintosh Classic are as inexpensive as any machine on the market". 1991 - CEBIT '91 Atari surprised everyone with their announcement and demonstration of two exciting new 68000 based computers. ST Notebook - This is to be the smallest 68000 based computer in the world. Its size rivals any PC Notebook style computer. ST Pad - This is similar to ST Notebook and shares most of the features but has a futuristic interface. Although Z*NET has not received final reports from several correspondents at the Hannover CEBIT computer show, early comments include more hints and announcements of new hardware from Atari. Spied or discussed were: CDAR-505, a new CD-ROM player to be released SOON; "ATARIFILE 200", a Megafile with 200 meg hard disk (the clumsy name will be changed, but the "Megafile" moniker will be abandoned soon as well); TT030 machines with 28 meg of RAM and 1.2 GIGABYTE hard drives, available this fall; UNIX for the TT030; IBM emulation for the TT; and more. 1991 - DIAMOND BACK II Oregon Research Associates announces that it will assume the distribution and support of Diamond Back II effective immediately. To celebrate this occasion, Oregon Research Associates will release a major new version of Diamond Back II. 1991 -THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST ATARIFEST ANNOUNCED Vancouver, Canada is hosting the first ever Pacific Northwest Atari Festival over the weekend of June 15th. and 16th. 1991, to be held at the Steveston Senior Secondary School, in the beautiful suburb of Richmond, B.C. ======================================================================= * ATARI 8-BIT HARD DISKS by Don Lebow ======================================================================= HARD DISK? MOI??? Recently, I've run across several messages from folks wondering whether it was worthwhile to upgrade their 8-bit to a Hard Disk. For those who might have been asking themselves the same question, here are some personal notes on how I got mine, and how I use it. First consideration is cost, of course. How much? With a little shopping around, mixing and matching components, you can keep the price relatively low ... assuming you're savvy enough to do the matching, the cabling, and other elements of installation yourself. What you need: The HD itself Controller Board Power supply Interface to allow your XE or XL to access the HD (it's problematic to hook up an older 800 to a HD.) If you're not already, you'll also need to use a DOS that will support the LARGE partitions on an HD. That narrows it down to exactly 2: MYDOS 4.5 or SPARTADOS. (I use SpartaDOS X) Buzzword: a "Partition" is a block of storage on a Hard Drive which is assigned a drive number, and accessed by DOS just as if it were a separate drive. HD partitions often run to THOUSANDS of "free sectors", thus the need for a supportive DOS. I'm no techie, so after some checking around, I decided to opt for a "package deal" from Computer Software Services in Rochester. Cost was $399. For this I received a 10 meg Seagate drive (complete with an IBM logo on the faceplate to make me feel <SPECIAL> .. heh), Xebec controller board, power supply, and, most usefully, a Black Box (aka the "Bob Box," after Bob Puff, who designed it) which provides the interface. Added costs: I also opted for a case for the BB, which is a bare circuit board in stock format. A plastic shell to neaten things up adds $39.95. Since the BB supports a parallel interface for a printer (and includes a Print Screen button!) and serial RS-232 for modems and such, you'll probably want cables. CSS sells ready built cables for each, but they're also VERY easy to build yourself, given a bit of ribbon cable and some crimp on connectors. And with that RS232 interface out there just begging for a 2400 baud modem ... ok, I had one already, but if you don't it's hard to resist. The package is advertised as "ready to run", and that proved to be the case. All cables (except for having to plug the power supply into the HD, which even *I* was able to handle) were in place. I also got a disk including some vital HD support files: HD FORMAT (rarely needed) PARTITION FORMAT (often used) PARK (move the heads in your HD to a safe spot before powering down.) Once I'd unpacked everything, connected the BB to my 256k XL (via the PBI slot in the back), AND found room for all this stuff in my work area (both the HD and power supply are BIG boxes, approx 10 x 6 x 4), I fired up the 'puter and ... nothing. Oh dear. Back to recheck the seating on all the cables, cross fingers, close eyes, power up, and VIOLA! It works!! Now for the fun part. CSS had pre-formatted the drive, of course (else it wouldn't have booted when I turned it on.) But, of course, I wanted to customize it to meet my own needs. The BB docs are great, explaining the ins and outs of setting up an HD. They are general, but CSS also provided the basic stats for my specific drive, so I was able to forge ahead with confidence. With my trusty calculator by my side (aided by that Print Screen button, which let me keep a running record) it was a matter of deciding how many sectors I wanted for each partition, adding that to a starting sector number, then inputting the info into the BB configuration screen. Once done with allocation, I used the FMTDIR program on the included disk to initialize each partition, then started copying files from floppy over to their new homes. What did I end up with? This will, I think, give you an idea of WHY an HD can be so addicting: D1: 4000 sectors D2: 5000 sectors D3: 5000 sectors D4: 4000 sectors D5: Pseudo floppy D6: Floppy #1 D7: Floppy #7 D8: 5000 sectors D9: 7000 sectors Those are *Double Density* sectors, mah friends. My XF-551 shows 1440 sectors in DS/DD sparta format. Add it up and that makes ... lessee here ... the equivalent of around *20* DS/DD floppies! A whole disk box, all in one spot, instantly accessible! Neat, no? D6: is actually my ol' trusty XF, still with it's back switches set to being D1:, wherein lies a point. The BB (like the MIO, the other popular 8-bit HD interface) has the ability to "remap" drives. What does that mean? With multiple partitions, you suddenly have a system with anywhere from 2 to 9 "drives" all on line at once! Once you get over the shock <g>, the possibility of having any ONE of those be "D1:" or "D2:" to match requirements of whatever you might be running is irresistible. Unlike software "swap" commands, these remaps are "permanent" (i.e. until you change them again.) So if you decide you want to reboot with another partition as D1: (perhaps to boot Turbo Basic? Maybe a program that ASSumes AtariDOS, like AMP?. Or even *eek!* a copy protected floppy) No problem. D7: is actually RamDisk, as defined by DOS ABOUT THAT D5: "Pseudo Floppy" refers to a special feature of the BB. You can define a partition, specifying density, to match floppy specs (I use both 720 sector SD for AtariDOS, and 1440 DD sector for Sparta.) Use a sector copier (or DISCOM) to duplicate a floppy to the partition, and you have a "pseudo floppy" on your HD! That's not unusual. But the bonus is that the BB supports more than "active" partitions. In fact, it lets you define up to 96(!) partitions, all kept in a special "partition list" (touch of a key to access, even in the middle of a program), and swap them in and out of the "active" drive map at any time. I actually have <14> partitions set up on my HD. Waiting to be swapped in at need are 4 DOS 2.5 SD "disks", and 4 Sparta DS/DD "disks." How useful is that? I can specify a couple of the ADOS "disks" to D1: and D2: and boot DOS 2.5 from HD! Fast. I like that... IN USE Yes, well. Bells and whistles. But absent all the tricks, what are the more mundane benefits that might justify spending that kind of money? The biggest thing (and the real reason I bought it) is that having all that space means no more searching through floppies, trying to remember where a program is. My experience is probably not unlike yours: There are a few programs I use everyday. There are others I may use once a week or so. Then the OTHERS that I need every once in a while and are inevitably "somewhere" in a pile of 20 floppies. I know, I *should* have all my disks cataloged, but I don't. Find me looking for some obscure utility that I suddenly need at 2 a.m., and there I am, shuffling disks like a Las Vegas blackjack dealer. No more! (well, not as often, anyway ;-) I organized the HD in what works for me as a logical order D1: contains BobTerm and my most used utilities D2: is a "work disk", which I use for temporary storage (reformatted frequently) D3: is games D4: is another work disk D8: has all my TextPro files D9: is the archive, where I keep those not so often used programs. et, comme il dit, cetera. I've lowered my "where did I *put* that" time to just about nil. Second, but just about as useful, is that I've completely lost my old worry about wondering whether an UnARC, or a BIG file download/message capture would run into "disk full" hassles. This is hard to explain until you actually use it, but trust me. I go whole DAYS without feeling compelled to use CHKDSK. That's luxury. And speed, of course. That's a given. It's *not* as fast as a RamDisk, but, heck of a lot faster than a floppy. I mean, if I can boot up DOS 2.5 in 3 seconds (including RAMDISK.COM ... heh), no complaints. Matter o' fact, for some things I still prefer the RamDisk. To that end, I have a batch file on D1: that copies my essential TextPro program, cnf, and macro files (stored on HD, of curse) to RamDisk. Since I tend to use a lot of temp files in my macros, saving THIS then loading THAT, it seems to work better. Not only a bit faster, but saving a little wear and tear on the drive. With a few thousand spare sectors dedicated to text, it's also easy to exit and come back later, without worry. BOTTOM LINE Luxury or Necessity is a matter of personal definition. I've talked about some of the reasons I'm glad I took the plunge. They may or may not make sense to you. Or you may see possibilities matching your own situation that I missed. Whatever, this isn't an insignificant amount of money, especially in terms of the traditional 8-bit market. This is where the real decision comes in: how much do you (or *will* you in the future?) actually USE your 8-bit. That's a question you'll have to work out for yourself. If you answer "a lot", then I think you should give an HD some serious thought. If you have comments or questions, feel free to post... NEXT TIME: backing up and how I learned to love it ;-) >>don ======================================================================= * THE BOOKKEEPER by Ron Bell ======================================================================= Copyrighted in 1982, THE BOOKKEEPER echoes the basic principles of modern accounting. Though somewhat clumsy to use, the program is understandable after, yes AFTER, considerable study of the accompanying textbook-style User's Manual. Four floppy disks are provided with the manual-- Data Entry, Recording, Data Base and Sample Data Base. The first three are absolutely necessary for implementing the program, the fourth a hands-on practice program illustrating the methods described in the manual. Data Entry and Recording are copy-protected and should be carefully preserved. Designed to work with the Atari 800 computer, one disk drive and an 80 column printer, the program is obsolete by present day standards but is invaluable to those who necessarily are restricted to outdated equipment. The manual provides a crash course in accounting methods based on the double entry system of balancing debits and credits. Understanding the contradictions of these entries is the most difficult segment of the course. Debits do not always subtract from an account as the word indicates. Conversely, credits do not always add to an account. However, opposing debits and credits must equal zero, the requirement for a balance. The program will not permit unbalanced entries. Depending on the journal chosen, debits and credits are reversed. An entry to an account in the Checks Written journal, for example, will subtract the amount from the bank account whereas one in the Cash Received journal will add to the bank account provided the bank account was chosen as a control code for those journals. The General Journal has no provision for a control code and will not permit unbalanced entries. There's one escape in the program for an apparent violation of this built-in protection, the avenue used to initialize the accounts. In this case, the opposing entry must result in zero but is posted to a transfer account which reflects the difference between credits and debits which is, in effect, a gain or loss -- the entire purpose of accounting. Four journals are available for entries, three of which can be arranged for automatic credit to a common account. The General Journal requires manual input of balancing entries. All accounts must be assigned code numbers conforming to standards set by the accounting industry. This is fully explained in the manual and is required before the program can function. Entering unassigned account codes for an entry are rewarded with a inverse message line advising that fact. If your code was not a typo, it's back to your list to assign the code, reason for careful thought in preparing your codes! All journal entries eventually are auto-posted to the General Ledger using a command available through the Reporting program which also permits printouts of the various lists and journals in addition to End-of-Month and End-of-Year procedures. Two files may be created to number Vendors and Customers for use in the various journals at the "From" or "To" prompts. These, however, are not necessary. Names can be entered. The most aggravating aspect of the system is frequent swapping of the Data Entry, Reporting and Data disks, a necessity in the era when 48K RAM was the maximum available to computer neophytes and floppy disk drives were the ultimate answer to cassette storage. This time-consuming disadvantage discourages daily updates of transactions and seriously undermines acceptance of the program for all but hobbyists and home-based accountants. Not explained adequately in the manual is the ability to read reports on the screen rather than exercising the printer with the resulting depletion of expensive printer paper. Of course, reading 80 columns on a 40 column screen requires some interpolation but saves considerable time and money when getting acquainted with the mechanics of the system. Tapping the letter [Q] at the appearance of two consecutive no printer error messages sends the data to the screen. An [S] will freeze the output and [G] lets it continue. There's no provision for single sheet printouts, built-in tractor feed being a programmed requirement not mentioned in the manual. Additionally, only a one-line heading is possible with no font or margin changes allowed except those selected by the individual printer modes. Prompts are generously distributed throughout the program at every stage and close attention to their alert will expedite progress through the process. It is next to impossible to crash the orderly advance of the program with the exception of the Reset key. Use of the [Backspace] and [Esc] allows easy return if so desired. As is the case with most accounting programs, human errors in initial entries cannot be corrected with overwriting. They must be compensated by another entry using the General Journal. This emphasizes the importance of being certain that debits and credits are entered in proper order. The balance, Assets equals Liabilities plus Equity, will always be maintained no matter what is done, but the figures for each account will be incorrect. The Bookkeeper provides color to accent portions of the program along with sound that signals errors in procedure. It is obvious that a Certified Public Accountant was consulted by the programmers who designed this program back in the days of computer infancy. Basic procedures are followed religiously and even today, The Bookkeeper can satisfy home and small business requirements while providing a simplified course in accounting better than illustrations in textbooks. (Editor's note: Ron Bell recently joined the Mid-Florida Atari Computer Club and is very knowledgeable in account procedures. His review is well done and the Newsletter staff extends its welcome and thanks to him for his valued contribution.) ======================================================================= * MODEM NOISE KILLER ======================================================================= With this circuit diagram, some basic tools including a soldering iron, and four or five components from Radio Shack, you should be able to cut the noise/garbage that appears on your computer's screen. I started this project out of frustration at using a US Robotics 2400 baud modem and getting a fare amount of junk when connecting at that speed. Knowing that capacitors make good noise filters, I threw this together. This is very easy to build, however conditions may be different due to modem type, amount of line noise, old or new switching equipment (Bell's equipment), and on and on. So it may not work as well for you in every case. If it does work, or if you've managed to tweek it to your computer/modem setup I'd like to hear from you. I'd also appreciate any of you electronic wizards out there wanting to offer any improvements. Let's make this work for everyone! Please read this entire message and see if you understand it before you begin. OK, what you'll need from Radio Shack: 1 #279-374 Modular line cord if you don't already have one. You won't need one if your phone has a modular plug in its base $4.95 1 #279-420 Modular surface mount jack (4 or 6 conductor) $4.49 1 #271-1720 Potentiometer. This is a 5k audio taper variable resistor. $1.09 1 #272-1055 Capacitor. Any non-polarized 1.0 to 1.5 uf cap should do. Paper, Mylar, or metal film caps should be used, although #272-996 may work as well. (272-996 is a non-polarized electrolytic cap) $.79 1 100 ohm resistor - quarter or half watt. $.19 1 #279-357 Y-type or duplex modular connector. Don't buy this until you've read the section on connecting the Noise Killer below. (A, B, or C) $4.95 First off, open the modular block. You normally just pry them open with a screwdriver. Inside you'll find up to 6 wires. Very carefully cut out all but the green and red wires. The ones you'll be removing should be black, yellow, white, and blue. These wires won't be needed and may be in the way. So cut them as close to where they enter the plug as possible. The other end of these wires have a spade lug connector that is screwed into the plastic. Unscrew and remove that end of the wires as well. Now, you should have two wires left. Green and red. Solder one end of the capacitor to the green wire. Solder the other end of the capacitor to the center lug of the potentiometer (there are three lugs on this critter). Solder one end of the resistor to the red wire. You may want to shorten the leads of the resistor first. Solder the other end of the resistor to either one of the remaining outside lugs of the potentiometer. Doesn't matter which. Now to wrap it up, make a hole in the lid of the mod block to stick the shaft of the potentiometer through. Don't make this hole dead center as the other parts may not fit into the body of the mod block if you do. See how things will fit in order to find where the hole will go. Well, now that you've got it built you'll need to test it. First twist the shaft on the potentiometer until it stops. You won't know which way to turn it until later. It doesn't matter which way now. You also need to determine where to plug the Noise Killer onto the telephone line. It can be done by one of several ways: A. If your modem has two modular plugs in back, connect the Noise Killer into one of them using a line cord. (a line cord is a straight cord that connects a phone to the wall outlet. Usually silver in color) B. If your phone is modular, you can unplug the cord from the back of it after you're on-line and plug the cord into the Noise Killer. C. You may have to buy a Y-type modular adaptor. Plug the adaptor into a wall outlet, plug the modem into one side and the Noise Killer into the other. Call a BBS that has known noise problems. After you've connected and garbage begins to appear, plug the Noise Killer into the phone line as described above. If you have turned the shaft on the potentiometer the wrong way you'll find out now. You may get a lot of garbage or even disconnected. If this happens, turn the shaft the other way until it stops and try again. If you don't notice much difference when you plug the Noise Killer in, that may be a good sign. Type in a few commands and look for garbage characters on the screen. If there still is, turn the shaft slowly until most of it is gone. If nothing seems to happen at all, turn the shaft slowly from one side to the other. You should get plenty of garbage or disconnected at some point. If you don't, reread this message to make sure you've connected it right. ======================================================================= * LOCK AND KEY FOR THE ST by R. Flashman [the Flash] ======================================================================= Reprinted from Nybbles & Bytes, September 1987 I was walking by Radio Shack today, and in I went. Under the alarm section, I saw they sell a round key lock like the ones used on an IBM AT. Since it is for an alarm, it has the contact on one side, all read for an electrical wire. Hmmm, I thought. I am always getting annoyed by people who play with my ST at a show or meeting when I am busy doing something else... I bought it... And I found space right over my joystick ports (520) on top of the RF shielding, and now I have an AT style lock and key on my ST! Looks very good, was dead cheap, and in the off position, you cannot turn on the ST! Actually, so simple it is disgusting. (Lock cost $9.99) I haven't tried a 1040 yet, so not sure about location. I found two locations on the 520; on top of the unit, to the back and left, directly above the cartridge port. Turn your 520 upside down and you will see how much space there is. I am hoping that the 1040 has the same space. The other, which is the one I used, is right above the second joystick port. (The one you DON'T plug the mouse into.) There is enough space, and it lies right above the RF shielding, it is also next to the power supply, so not much cable is needed. The switch has two connectors on its end. I connected two wires to it, and then opened up the RF shielding. You will notice that the power switch has three legs coming out of it. The one you want to get is the smallest one. (This is the one closest to the back of the ST.) I cut it right where it meets the main board. (Now that took guts!) Then I soldered one of my wires to it. I then connected the other wire to one of the wires that comes up from the board to that funny round magnet that is to the left of the power switch (and about an inch into the board). The wire that it gets wired to is the one closest to the mouse port. If you don't believe me, look under the board and you will see that originally that wire was connected to the leg that we just cut off the power switch. You NOW have a switch to the power switch. Turn the key off and the power switch becomes useless. This will void your warranty. But it works like a beauty. WE are now offering it as an option for our STs at the store! ====================================================================== * USING A PERCOM ON YOUR 8-BIT by Andrew C. Diller @1992 ====================================================================== For a very long time I have been satisfied with the Atari 1050 disk drive. But that satisfaction came only from the lack of concrete knowledge about a viable alternative. Ever since I bought my first Atari computer, an 800xl, seven years ago, I've pretty much stayed with Atari hardware. I bought a 1050, then another and a 1020 and an Atari printer. In fact, the first non-Atari product I purchased for my system was a P:R: connection to allow me to use a fast Epson printer and a fast modem. Dealing with Atari DOS 2.0s was simple enough-though 720 sectors never went very far. I knew about the US Doubler and Happy schemes to speed up and increase the 1050's & 810's, but it always seemed to much of a problem, for the price. When Atari DOS 2.5 came out, finally taking advantage of the dual density 1050, I felt much better. But you still had to flip the disks. Why couldn't I use a standard drive? Like the one's on my friends IBM XT? They weren't even cutting edge; back then, a 360k drive was the most basic assumption for any system. Using a single density, single sided drive in the T90s is a little too much behind the times. So I decided to inquire about all those rumors I had heard about the other drives for the 8-bit. Those strange 3rd-party drives that I could remember seeing ads for in the back of Antic. The Indus, the Rana, the PERCOM. What about the XF551? You might say, why donUt you just get the 551? It's Atari's official double sided, double density drive. Its the perfect answer. Not really-although I have never used a XF-551, what I have heard about them is not too encouraging. Their hesitation to return to double density is one major point. Besides that, I have never even seen ONE. I live in a very metropolitan area (Washington D.C.) and I never saw one advertised, or saw anyone with one of them in their own system. To me on the east coast the XF-551 might as well have been vaporware. Besides, if it took Atari this long to come out with the technology that had been around for so many years, (as I found out) then they didnUt even deserve my business. Other Drives I began to look for alternative means of disk storage for my 8-bit. What I found was talking to a fellow on my local atari bbs (the best place to find any answer about atari) I asked him about my search for greater density. He told me about his experiences with Percoms, and what was possible with them. Not only that, but he had a number of Percoms that he had collected, and was willing to part with one. We made a trade, and I eagerly went over to his house to pick up and assemble my new drive. The drive itself was old (comparatively speaking) older than my 800xl! The Percom was this: a single sided, double density, full height drive, housed with a controller card and large transformer in a tan metallic case. The back of the case had two standard Atari SIO plugs, a couple of dip switches and an on/off switch. All I had to do was plug it into my Atari and boot up. But I wasnUt interested in the beast of a drive it had in it. I was sick of single sided drives. The most important thing the Percom offered was not the drive, but the controller card. For that card was an interface between the Atari SIO, and ANY standard IBM type disk drive. When this particular drive was manufactured, the full height, single sided drive was top of the line. Today, it was trash. Assembling My Dream Drive I had never done any sort of hardware hacks before, but this was as easy as changing drives on my friends IBM. I located two 1/2 height 360k IBM drives. You can get them these days for about $20 or less, second hand. I removed the old Percom drive and shelved it. I got a standard IBM type floppy ribbon. Any one that goes from the controller to the floppies will work- the connections on the Percom are all of the standard type. I then simply spliced the power leads coming out the the transformer, so that I had two leads, then attached standard plugs on them. Then I mounted the two 1/2 height drives into the original case, where the full height drive had been. I plugged them in and put the case back together. I did have to mess around with the dip switches on the drives themselves, to sort out which drive was 1 and which was 2. That is a simple matter of trial & error. The EPROMS The EPROMS in the Percom tell it how configure itself when the power is initially switched on. The EPROMS in this Percom were burned in with the default drive number one as a double density drive, and the second drive as a single density drive. You could probably acquire different EPROMS that were customized for your system, but that might prove a little difficult - besides you might change your system configuration in the future. So now, I had two DS/DD drives, but the controller thought I had a DD and a SD drive. Normally, with DOS 2.5 I would have been unable to rectify the situation, but not to worry, I also found the next most important addition to my Atari system ---> MyDOS 4.5 Using MYDOS4.5 First, let me say that this is the greatest DOS ever written for the Atari line of computers. Anyone who still uses Dos 2.5 has no real reason to anymore. Even if you only have 1050Us, you should still use MyDos. Mr. Puff is a genius (and I haven't even gotten into hard drives yet!! (BobTerm is excellent also)). MyDos will handle all the quirks of my Percom. I easily configured the second drive as a double density drive, using the P command. MyDos also automatically sees the drives as double sided. The drives stay configured properly as long as they are on - so I only have to configure the second drive once, when I initially turn on the equipment. I now had two DS/DD drives, each with 1428 DOUBLE DENSITY sectors. Finally some room to stretch out in - and no flipping the disks! My Percom is the equivalent to eight Atari 810s or eight 1050s (using 2.0s). That's a dramatic increase. But it gets better! Assuming the the board holds out (it should - no moving parts!) the drive mechs are just IBM 360k's. If one fails, I don't need to hunt down a 1050 mech, I only need to go to the closest computer store and pick up a used 360k drive. Don't dump your 1050's yet.... I did run into some compatibility problems. Since up until then I had been using the 1050s, all my disks were flippies. Both sides were used, but I had to flip the disk myself. The Percom cannot read the back sides of these disks. It also cannot read a dual density disk formatted by Atari Dos 2.5 for the 1050. It can however adjust itself automatically to the density of the disk you insert, provided that its either single or double density. You can of course, put in any bootable single density disk and boot off of it- all of the self booting games, for instance. But some games must be separated onto the front of single density disks. For example, The HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy by Infocom. Normally, just put it in your 1050 and boot up. Then flip it and play the game. This will not work on the Percom. You must have side two of the game on the front side of another disk. One easy solution is to keep one 1050 drive as drive number one, but keep it turned off when using the Percoms. Then if you need to play a game, or boot off the flip side of a disk (or boot off a TdualU density disk) just turn off the Percoms, and turn on the 1050, and voila, you have drive number one. I have three 1050Us, plus the two slaves in the Percom- I use the Percom as drives 1 & 2, the two 1050's as 3 & 4 and keep the third 1050 switched as drive one, and turned off, for booting as I described above. I also needed the 1050's for transferring all my files on flippies onto DS/DD disks. You can force the Percoms into single density, but the 1050's do it much better, plus they still get 999+ single density sectors using Atari Dos 2.5. Next: 3.5 inch As you may have guessed (or known) if the Percom controller will drive 5 1/4 inch 360k drives, it will also drive the high density 5 1/4 drives, plus, the magical 3.5 inch, 720k drive. There is something special about having your Atari store your files onto 3.5 inch disks. It feels as if your 8-bit Atari is right up there with the STs and Macs. Besides, they hold 720k! That means that one 3.5 inch drive is the same as eight 1050's (in single density). Its as easy as just connecting the drive to the ribbon, and getting it some power. The Percom can control up to four drives - of any type. Right now I only have the two 360k drives, the next step is two 3.5 inch drives. So Get A PERCOM! There are plenty of good reasons why every Atari user really needs to step up from the 1050's. The best thing is a hard drive, but that will cost you many dead presidents. The next best thing is having some real floppy power, which is achievable with a Percom. I donUt know exactly how hard they are to find these days, but there were plenty of them manufactured, and they can only be about as hard to find as an XF-551. So start looking for a Percom today, and bring your Atari 8-bit into the 90's. I know a source that has some Percoms drives. If you are interested in their availability, leave me a message at: The Thieves Guild BBS (301) 984-8516 and I'll get back to you. Copyright 1992, Andrew C. Diller ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To sign up for DELPHI service, call (with modem) (800) 695-4002. Upon connection, hit <return> once or twice. At Password: type ZNET and hit <return>. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To sign up for GEnie service call (with modem) (800) 638-8369. 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This publication is not affiliated with the Atari Corporation. Z*Net, Z*Net News Service, Z*Net International, Rovac, Z*Net Atari Online and Z*Net Publishing are copyright (c)1985-1992, Syndicate Publishing, Rovac Industries Incorporated, Post Office Box 59, Middlesex, New Jersey, 08846-0059, Voice: (908) 968-2024, BBS: (908) 968-8148, (510) 373-6792. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Z*Magazine Atari 8-Bit Online Magazine Copyright (c)1992, Rovac Industries, Inc... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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