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Want to buy Atari ST (Mega): Advice needed


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I have started with the Atari 400 which gave me much fun. No some decennia later I am thinking of getting an Atari again to relive all the happy hours. But I missed the whole development on this part. So I have a few questions and hop to get answers.


1. So I am thinking to get me an Atari ST and guess that it is best to go for a Atari ST Mega. Is that correct or are there drawbacks? I guess all ST software will run on the Mega. I think I prefer the mega also because I never was a fan of the cartridges.


2. I discovers sites with software for downloading. But how do I get that from my Mac to the Atari? Best (I guess) is to connect them thru my local network. However in my Atari time the only way to the Internet (in that time mainly BBS) was using a now old fashioned modem connected to the phone line.


So question: how can the Atari physically be connected to a existing network and thru that to the outside world?


3. When buying a used Atari ST (Mega). What are the things to watch out for. Versions that should be preferred? Or whatever.



Thanks for all the info that can be giving.

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I would get a 1040STe if you are looking to get an ST. The Mega has a nice case but other than a seldom used internal expansion slot, it offers little else as an advantage. The 1040STe uses normal 30 pin SIMMs so ram upgrades are simple.


As for networking, you can get a Netusbee http://www.lotharek.pl/product.php?pid=192

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I've never owned a Mega ST, so some of this is from memory of things read in the past and from talking with friends who do.


The Mega ST was the same as the regular ST for the most part except that it came in a pizza-box configuration with the keyboard plugged in separately, similar to the style that was increasingly popular in the late 80s. It does include a cartridge port, which is important here as the NetUSB device Fletch mentioned requires it.

As mentioned above, there was also a later STE variation, also available in "Mega" form, for which they used the Atari TT case plastics albeit in a slightly different color. Again the keyboard plugged in separately. The Mega STE has space for an internal hard disk which is handy, and an expansion bus that pretty much no one uses.


MegaSTEs seem very rare, especially in North America, and so be willing to pay a premium if you really want one.


Note: There is no single ST that will run every software title without some issues.


Problems occur with different TOS versions - from V1.0 to V2.04. TOS 1.62 seems the most compatible with everything.

Also video modes. A lot of games require 50Hz "PAL" mode, although the latter STs can easily switch to this with a simple program in the AUTO folder.

Hard disk drivers can interfere with some picky games.

The STe/Mega STe had extra hardware for audio and visual. Few games every used it but there might be some games that simply won't run on a stock ST or Mega ST.



If you are adamant that you want the Mega version, look out for:


Is the keyboard included and does it look to be in okay condition?

Demand pictures of the battery bay. Many Mega's suffered from leaking batteries when their owners boxed them up and forgot to remove the AAs. Battery leakage can destroy a motherboard. Non Mega Atari STs did not have battery backed clocks.


And for all STs:


Look for proof the unit boots up to a desktop - not just a power LED. Fixing STs is a rare and special skill so unless you are good with scopes and soldering irons...

Is the unit from your country? STs were much more popular in Europe than North America, leading to many enthusiasts later importing Europrean units to the U.S. - that's fine but the composite signal is going to be PAL, not NTSC, and the power supply will be 220V.

Look for pictures from all angles. Many ST owners hacked their cases to accommodate Gotek drives, or turbo switches, or whatever, and most of them were not very skilled with a dremel.

Is the mouse included? The ST mouse is unlike the Amiga or PC, so you can't just swap them over, although they are still plentiful on Ebay.

Does it include a video cable? The Atari video plug is unique so you will need to buy or make a special cable for the Atari's 13-pin DIN video port.


To move files from your Mac to any ST:


NetUSB has already been mentioned, and is a good method - but you will also need somewhere for the transferred files to land. The Mega STE can house an internal hard disk but other STs, including the original Mega ST, could not. Look up the Ultra Satan as a SD-card based hard disk alternative that plugs into the ASCI port. The SD card can be removed and read on an OS that can handle FAT file systems, which I believe the Mac can. Then you can drag and drop your files.


ParCP is another option. Plug the adapter into the ST's parallel port and run a USB to your Mac. I can't remember if the software supports MacOS or not so you might end up having to run Windows or Linux in a VM. Then you can transfer files to the ST over the USB cable.



Overall I'd agree with Fletch. If you are just looking to get into some games consider a 1040STE. Easy to upgrade, can run most applications with little fuss and besides the daft mouse/joystick port location under the keyboard they are easy to live with.





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Everybody "thanks for the wealth of information". Main reason for interest in the Mega is because it was the latest version and fastest. I like the regular ST (no pizza box) personally more.


I live in the Netherlands and there are quite a number of ST's and Mega's offered. mega's are always with the Mega 30 harddisk included. But probably using NetUSB/ParCP is more interesting. According to "https://joy.sophics.cz/parcp/"it runs on a Mac and would solve many problems and eliminate the need for Internet access on the Atari.


First I must decide "which one to buy". Luxury problems!!

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Some mistakes here: Mega ST is not faster than any other ST model. And it was even told here that Mega ST is same as ST, except case and internal expansion slot (really barely used) . I guess that OP TonVH simply meant Mega STE actually. It is really fastest, and latest ST model. 16 MHz CPU, internal hard disk adapter (although now little outdated) ...

Since OP don't like pizza :) then I agree that should go on STE. Because better sound, more colors ... Compatibility is actually very good, when SW is patched, and it is in big %.


I don't think that using some serial adapter like NetUSB/ParCP without mass storage is good idea. What you can do with it then: writing to floppies - but it will be troublesome, since you need SW for transfers, SW for writing floppy images - and then comes problem that image don't fit on floppy, so splitting, joining ...

So, instead networking, better go on some mass storage first. Some modern one, with Flash cards. Then can perform data transfers with Flash cards. MAC can access FAT16 partitioned medias, so will be able to write on that card, and on Atari you can access all it, and write onto floppies in case of need - some SW still can not run from hard disk, Will be no problems with file sizes. Of course, you can get network adapter too right same time as mass storage or later. but as said, without it will be not easy to use.

There are ways to write floppy images onto floppies with PC and MAC - of course if there is floppy drive.

And not mentioned solution is to use HW floppy emulator as HxC or Gotek, CosmosEx (what is mass storage, network too, all in one) ...

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In the mean time I found out that the Mega STE is nowhere (continental Europe, at affordable price) on sale. Also I probably are confused by all the types (ST, STE, STFM, ....).


Most interesting offers I see (Netherlands) are for (Mega) STf + Megafile 30 + software. Looks like a good combination to start and see from there how I will be going further. Most important is to see the system running before buying which excludes systems from far away.

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