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Hello! (and a question on archiving floppies)


jczarn
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Hello all,
Long time lurker, first time poster. I recently attended the Vintage Computer Fest Midwest which rekindled my interest in the Atari 8-bit gear sitting in my basement.

I have a bunch of floppy disks with games that I used to play as as kid - mostly fuzzy memories as I was probably 4 or 5 at the time (it was my older brothers' stuff). Looking at them now, many of the disks were probably compilations of pirated gates that my brothers got from their friends. But I imagine there might be some other neat stuff on there as well. I'm mostly interested in archiving the bootleg or other non-copy protected disks.

A few years back, I remember digging everything out and trying to load up the old games. A handful of them still worked (mostly the legit commercially produced games), but many of them wouldn't boot, or they would boot to a menu/loader screen and then die when I would try to select a game. At the time I just kinda gave up and boxed everything back up.

I'd like to try again to recover what's on the disks. I realize a lot of the software has probably already been imaged and available for download somewhere, but as I mentioned my memories are pretty fuzzy, and I thought it would be neat to recover the compilations/images as they stand.

I have an Atari 400 and an XEGS. As for disk drives, I have:
Atari 810 (what my brothers had back in the day)
Atari 1050 (thrift store find a few years back)
Indus GT (another thrift find from a few years ago)
(but only a single SIO cable)

I've done some reading on the various SIO2PC and SIO21050 cables/solutions out there, but I'm still not sure what would be best for me to buy. (Also keeping in mind that some of the suggestions in the past are out of stock e.g. Atari8warez or no longer being made.) I was looking at the atarimax USB prosystem cable, but it seems pricy, I still might need to buy an extra SIO cable, and I read some complaining on how it is rather proprietary (e.g. will that be an issue when trying to do some semi-manual work in recovering these damaged disks).

What would you suggest as the best setup/flow for trying to archive these disk images? I read that some people have luck with troublesome disks by reading them on several different drives and then manually editing the best blocks from each read to form a complete image. So not sure whether I would be better served by a SIO2PC or SIO21050 flow in that regard.

Thanks in advance!

Edited by jczarn
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Your best bet is to connect your Atari disk drive to your PC or Mac to make disk images.

 

http://www.atari8warez.com/buyDualUSBv3.html

 

Also I would clean the disk drive heads with alcohol on a qtip and make sure that the disks are not moldy or dirty.

Edited by tjlazer
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Looks like the atari8warez ones are all sold out?

 

I got mine here: (Requires atari computer to do the actual copying from physical drive to virtual drive on AspeQt/RespeQt)

http://lotharek.pl/product.php?pid=98

 

And I see there's a newer one that does both Sio2PC-USB and 10502PC as well:

http://lotharek.pl/product.php?pid=198

 

Edit: Sorry, I should have read Kyle22's post first lol. Department of Redundancy Department.

Edited by Nezgar
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A few years back, I remember digging everything out and trying to load up the old games. A handful of them still worked (mostly the legit commercially produced games), but many of them wouldn't boot, or they would boot to a menu/loader screen and then die when I would try to select a game. At the time I just kinda gave up and boxed everything back up.

 

For most games to load properly you need to hold down the <OPTION> key while turning the system on, which disables the internal BASIC programming language.

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Thank you for all of the help!

I ended up snagging an Atarimax SIO2PC/Prosystem USB board for $40 shipped on ebay (I really like how it can function in both SIO2PC and 10502PC modes). I should be receiving it in a couple of days, so we'll see how it goes. From what I understand, the free version of the prosystem software should be good enough for trying to archive my old presumably non-copy-protected disks.

If I hadn't gotten it as cheaply as I did, I probably would have gone the FTDI breakout board approach.

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So I received my SIO2PC USB board and hooked it up. I am using it in prosystem mode (1050 or Indus GT connected through the SIO2PC directly to the PC, with no Atari system in the loop).

Out of the first three disks I tried, I was able to get one mostly copied over, just one bad CRC error.

The other two tend to either not want to even start (error about unrecognized format), or they will start transferring a few sectors over, but at some point will just continuously get read errors.

 

I've been keeping a cloth and alcohol handy to clean off the read head when it gets dirty. And I do suspect at least one of the troublesome disks might be binding in the sleeve, so I'll have to try transplanting the magnetic disk into a new sleeve (and gently washing the ones that look dirty).

 

Aside from that, is there any way to copy over only specific sectors? For example, one disk I have almost a completely good image save for a single sector. It would be nice to try to just read that one sector rather than having to read the entire disk each time I want to try. But I can't seem to figure out how to do this in prosystem. It looks like prosystem is the only software out there that supports 10502PC mode, right?

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So I've had some luck manually holding up the lever that applies the felt pad to the top side of the disk above the read head on the 1050. I'm still having a hard time getting 100% good CRC on most of the disks, but it's at least promising. I'm guessing things like this compilation (see screenshot) are not particularly interesting, preservation-wise.

 

 

post-14955-0-91858500-1506475452.jpg

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So I've had some luck manually holding up the lever that applies the felt pad to the top side of the disk above the read head on the 1050. I'm still having a hard time getting 100% good CRC on most of the disks, but it's at least promising. I'm guessing things like this compilation (see screenshot) are not particularly interesting, preservation-wise.

 

 

Cool - I had disks like that!

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Cool - I had disks like that!

 

As did I, 74 of them to be exact. By all means preserve these, you never know what treasures may be lurking. Lots of old alpha/beta versions of games out there that were found on disks like this, Fractalus/Jaggi Lines, Star Raiders II/Last Starfighter etc.

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