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Atari ST bought with faulty disk drive


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Sorry if this has been brought up before, but I am quite a novice on the Atari ST and disk drives in general.

 

I bought an Atari 520ST from EBay which arrived yesterday. The computer powers up fine and connects well to my TV. But I have tried loading a few different disks to no avail. I have followed the instructions in the handbook and have also double-checked online, but keep getting the message that the disk drive is not responding.

 

When the computer was up for sale, there were photos to show it powering up and the screen display, which is fine as it was just the same when I set it up :-) But there was nothing to say anything was untested or not working,e.g. the disk drive.

 

I am happy to invest in cleaning materials, a new disk drive or whatever is needed to rectify the problem, as long as it isn't too costly or complicated as I'll need some guidance and assistance and don't have a huge budget. Can anyone help/point me in the right direction?

 

Also, I emailed the seller explaining the problem, and they told me they're not an expert and that the computer/disk drive was displayed correctly as shown in their pictures. I replied to say that that wasn't the problem, and even sent them a photo of the error message, but they haven't replied.

 

I don't like confrontations and don't want to forward to eBay as a dispute, but think I should get partial compensation for this...if I knew the disk drive was untested I may not have bought the item :-/

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I don't know how your ST cost you, but standard STs are usually cheap on eBay...

 

Expecting a 30 year old drive to be functional is a little optimistic, IMO. It could work, it might not... cleaning usually solves most problems, but if you're expecting not to spend more money replacing capacitors on the PSU and general maintenance and cleaning, it might not last long anyway...

 

If you want hassle free Atari mode, it's better to use an emulator. If you go the hardware way, be ready to spend some money restoring and keeping the machine functional...

 

You can always open a dispute on eBay and as per eBay policies, you will most likely win and be refunded upon sending the machine back.

 

The next one might have a working floppy or not again, or it might work for some time and then fail.

 

The hardware retro scene is not easy nor cheap, but Atari has a great community of people that will help you

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There are devices out there that will allow you to run software from an SD card. However, if you want to run floppies then look for modified Sony floppy drives on eBay. These are standard floppy drives that have had some minor modifications added to them to allow them to run on the ST. The only issue is that you may need to do some case cutting on the ST around the opening for the eject button. However, this is the cheaper option. The original ST drives were pretty poor quality so they are starting to fail.

 

Here's one:

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NEW-Atari-520-1040-ST-STFM-STE-Mega-Falcon-floppy-disk-drive-DS-DD-720K-1-44mb-/162070512913?hash=item25bc27c511:m:mc56B_BLB1ruS97h7rGnLXw

 

 

Replacing an ST floppy drive is no more complicated than putting one in a PC. Just some unscrewing, unplugging the old one, putting the new one in (and cut a piece from the case - very easy if you have a dremel or junior hacksaw) and screwing everything back together again.

Edited by Tickled_Pink
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Thanks for that Anzac. I am happy to spend money on getting the drive cleaned, but not sure how to go about it, e.g. what materials to use. As long as the price won't burn a hole in my pocket lol.

 

You're right - the Atari was cheap, £18.00 plus postage of just over £10, no problem there. I've only ever bought a computer with a disk drive once before, and that was an Amiga in the early 2000s. I never had any problem with that - either because it was circa 15 years younger than it would be today, or because I got lucky lol.

 

I used to own a bulky PC, but that had a totally different kind of disk drive, plus it was given as a present by kind friends who had spare computers at work that their boss was happy to let them give away. Also I was more accustomed to that kind of computer and have PC-literate friends who were there to give me a hand should any problems arise :-)

 

I probably was too optimistic like you said, but if I see anything like "untested", " unsure if it works", "for spares or repair" etc, I generally don't buy the item as I'm not so good at fixing technical stuff.

 

This looks like a good forum to me, and I appreciate all the support in advance :-)

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Thanks for that Anzac. I am happy to spend money on getting the drive cleaned, but not sure how to go about it, e.g. what materials to use. As long as the price won't burn a hole in my pocket lol.

You're right - the Atari was cheap, £18.00 plus postage of just over £10, no problem there.

This looks like a good forum to me, and I appreciate all the support in advance :-)

Floppy drive cleaning is not hard and in terms of products usually isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs are enough.

There was another suggestion by tjlazer that is very insightful... very early STs were shipped with 360k single side floppy drive that was later replaced by 720k dual side floppy drives. This major miscalculation caused no end of trouble back then (ST magazines had to think about the SS users out there and for a long time SS cover disks were used until more creative formatting modes allowed for A and B sides until they finally dropped all that and went with DS disks) and still manage to be an issue today where you might be unlucky to have a SSDD drive on your Atari. It would be unlikely, yes, but possible.

 

Without more information about your system, like full model description (is it an 520ST, 520STf, 520STm or 520STfm? I'm guessing from your wording about TV and no mention of external floppy that it is a 520STfm, year of manufacture and floppy drive make and model.

 

Also if you don't feel comfortable with the cleaning and upgrading, you could talk to exxos (Chris Swinson) and have the drive sent to him to be checked. In your place, I would send him the whole machine and do the works on it, like floppy upgrade if yours is unrecoverable, TOS and RAM upgrade, replacing capacitors on the PSU, etc... you won't believe what your machine can be capable of with a little work and money... :)

 

Also there are a couple of facebook groups that you might be interested to join... search for "Atari ST and STe users" for example...

 

Best regards

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I just installed an HxC-flashed Gotek unit into my ST if you want to go that route too. It took 10 minutes and you don't need to do anything to the case - the buttons and USB port are in the perfect spot for access. Makes life much easier and I've still got a couple external drives if I really need a floppy.

Edited by Luigi301
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Thanks for all your suggestions guys :-) Sorry for the lack of response, I was working overtime and shattered lol. The eBay seller has accepted my return request - unfortunately I did this before receiving all of your responses.

 

However, I have not ruled out getting another Atari ST, and will follow your helpful advice if/when I do. If/when I get another one, I will keep you guys posted on what happens.

 

The model was a 520 ST FM, the original Discovery Pack with a disk drive built in on the right hand side :-)

 

Cheers

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Thanks for all your suggestions guys :-) Sorry for the lack of response, I was working overtime and shattered lol. The eBay seller has accepted my return request - unfortunately I did this before receiving all of your responses.

 

However, I have not ruled out getting another Atari ST, and will follow your helpful advice if/when I do. If/when I get another one, I will keep you guys posted on what happens.

 

The model was a 520 ST FM, the original Discovery Pack with a disk drive built in on the right hand side :-)

 

Cheers

 

It could have the 360k drive in it! I have one just like that. A 520STFM with built in 360k SSDD drive. The very first 520STFM's came with these drives as Atari cleared stock of current inventory.

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  • 3 months later...

This type of problem with older computers is to be expected and most of the time they are simple fixes such as drive cleaning, bad disks and such. Occasionally it is a bit more, but even then its not too big a deal, and usually fun to open up and fix things.

 

I just had this happen on my Atari 1040 STf and wrote it up to share the ordeal here: http://fetchrex.com/2017/02/12/oh-no-atari-1040-st-floppy-drive-issues/

 

I have a good sized collection of classic computers from 80s like an Amiga, Mac Classic, Nextstation, etc. and the Atari ST is no different in the types of care and feeding they need... makes me love them even more after their tune ups. :-)

 

Russ

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