Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

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ppera

Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby ppera » Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:31 pm

Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

There is two situation, which require different approach and tools.

First is writing of files onto floppies from some directory on PC or some CD/DVD. In such case simple copy of files on floppy with Windows Explorer, Total Commander or Norton Commander in DOS is the way. What causes troubles is the floppy format.
Atari ST and PC use very similar floppy formats, but not same, and it causes confusion and problems.
General advice is this: format floppy on PC to 720KB, and it will be perfectly usable on Atari ST, any TOS version. Win XP offers not such format in Explorer, but it can be done in command prompt. Type: format a: /t:80 /n:9 and you will get 720KB floppy usable on all Ataris (except those rares with single sided floppy).
Other way is to format floppy on Atari. But I recommend to use only specialized format programs which have PC compatible formats in list.
Use always DD (marked often as 1MB) floppies. HD ones may work after covering hole, but it is not so reliable.
On Atari ST, floppy formats of 800, 820KB were very popular. Unfortunately, modern Windows as XP, 2K and Vista can not work with such floppies (as Windows 95 did).
Worst is that such floppies usually are accepted by system, but reading or writing on them will result in corrupted files.

Second situation: floppy image files.
As name says, they are exact 'images' of complete floppies, with all files and same structure as disks from which they are copied. 2 formats are most popular - ST and MSA.
Most of available ST and MSA images are images of diverse, so called 'menu disks' - floppies with more programs, usually games, and some fancy menu for starting desired title(s).
For writing such disks onto floppies special programs are required - it is the only way.
For DOS, best is MAKEDISK - it handles almost all formats (except hyperformat, 880KB floppies, but it is not programs fault, because PC's hardware can not write 11 sectors/track). Usage is simple, there is help in executable.
In currently most popular Windows XP Floimg is required tool - it overrides limitations of XP's floppy driver by using special kernel mode driver (by Simon Owen).
Get it here: http://www.ppest.org/atari/floimgd.php .
There is manual about usage, so I will not go here in details about it.
Program has options for writing files directly onto Atari format floppies (800K, 1600K, etc.)- by using same spec. driver).
There is couple other image writing program for PC, but I don't recommend them - DOS ones are not so versatile and easy to use as Makedisk. Most of Windows programs are obsolete, and can not write usual image files correct under Win XP.

Conclusion: 720KB, DOS format is only compatible on both systems (Atari ST and PC with DOS, Windows) - use it for file copy under DOS, Win.

Writng ST and MSA image files goes with specialized programs, mentioned above.

Note: this is intended to be sticky because Atari floppy writing on PC is often asked here.

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Postby unseenmenace » Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:45 pm

Well done Ppera, excellent little guide.
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Postby simonsunnyboy » Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:14 pm

Short and to the point - well done! :D
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Postby defender of the crown » Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:36 pm

Great stuff just what I need :D

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Postby 030falcon030 » Sat Jan 12, 2008 12:37 pm

Hey
Does anyone know how to convert st image files to floppy using Linux?
I have just acquired an st and I want to get loads of games for it!
Cheers
hmmm:/
I have an ste 4mb... with a 20mb powerdrive slimline and a cumana external fdd.
And a falcon 14mb w/ ct63 + ctpci

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Postby Desty » Sat Jan 12, 2008 2:21 pm

I think Ppera's floimg works in Linux too?

[edit]
Oops, nope, that's another program I guess.
tá'n poc ar buile!

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Postby daeghnao » Sat Jan 12, 2008 6:37 pm

I wrote up a note about this:

http://www.atari-forum.com/wiki/index.php/Linux_Disk_Commands

Should all be relevant still. Let us know if you're having specific issues.

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new pre-release Version of Omniflop

Postby blinddarm » Mon May 12, 2008 9:55 am

Hi all,

i only want to show you an new pre-release Vesion of Omniflop,
now containing a Format/Write Option for 11 Sector Disks and Disk Images,
(83/2/11-913kb) especially used for the game PowerUP plus.

http://www.shlock.co.uk/Utils/OmniFlop/OmniFlop.htm

I think this is very Intresting for those who have Problems to write back this Images
for a real Atari ST. Now its possible to format, read and write this Special Format on a PC.

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=13631&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

Greetings... :cheers:

ppera

Re: new pre-release Version of Omniflop

Postby ppera » Tue May 13, 2008 8:57 am

blinddarm wrote:Hi all,
i only want to show you an new pre-release Vesion of Omniflop,
now containing a Format/Write Option for 11 Sector Disks and Disk Images,
(83/2/11-913kb) especially used for the game PowerUP plus.


Hi,
I think that you should open new thread with this, since here is some general guide.

Anyway, after struggling with registration I tried hyperformat. Was pretty suspicious, but it worked fine. Little slow, formatting and writing took some 15 minutes.
So, it is possible with PC. I think that Ijor and Simon (Obo) will be interested to hear about this...

Btw. I think that usage of prg. is not quite easy. I know that it is general purpose, not special for Atari ST serie.

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Re: Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby obo » Tue May 13, 2008 10:18 pm

Writing 11-sector disks isn't too difficult on the PC, it's generally just a problem reading such disks that were formatted on the ST. The first sector position and minimal gaps are usually too tight for the PC controller to handle, and even if it can see the sector headers the data may be too close to them to read.

Writing such a tight format on the PC often requires more than one attempt to format and write each track. The disks would be best treated as read-only once written, as writing new data to the sectors may overwrite the sector header following it (particularly the final one). That's even more likely if the disk is used in a different floppy drive that happens to rotate slightly faster. Reading the disks back on the PC is no problem as they were formatted with standard gaps, with only gap3 reduced to its minimum.

The 83-track format might also be a problem for a lot of PC drives, which often can't access more than 82 tracks. Are you sure that the 83rd track was written correctly, without it just overwriting the 82nd one? If the image you're writing uses the final track, does reading it back into an image file match the original disk image? It's very much dependent on drive speed too, and will take longer (or may even be impossible) if the rotation speed is even slightly above normal.

As a format I think it may be more trouble than it's worth, but if people know what they're letting themselves in for I'll enable it in SamDisk too. I suppose I already support the Sega System 24 format on high-density disks, which is even tighter! (1,925,120 bytes per track).
Last edited by obo on Wed May 14, 2008 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

ppera

Re: Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby ppera » Wed May 14, 2008 8:39 am

OmniFlop does first format, and after it writing of image file.
I don't know is slowness result of multiple attempts, but fact is that it calculates remaining time pretty well during whole formatting and writing.
Anyway. I'm out of this now. Not much interested for whole hyperformat on DD floppies. It was unreliable on ST too.
And game Power Up Plus could be distributed on some better and more reliable floppy format, for instance 3 floppies 8O . Not to mention that no need for 83 tracks, since there is some 60/27KB free on floppies... There is a long thread in forum where troubles to transfer it on usable floppies are described.

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Re: Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby no1453 » Sat Jul 06, 2013 4:54 am

I recently figured out how to use a Windows 8 computer to write .ST images to disc, and thought I'd share my outcomes. The trick I had to cope with is I was using a usb floppy drive.

I used Omniflop (http://www.shlock.co.uk/Utils/OmniFlop/OmniFlop.htm) run as administrator to actually write the .st files to disk. It will warn you that you don't have the special driver installed, but if you just choose "Write image to disk" (and not "Format-Write"), and be sure to leave "Auto-detect format" box checked, it will allow you to select the "Atari-only" st format, and then write the image.

The tricky part was formatting the discs. Windows 8 doesn't know how to format 720KB discs. My solution involved using a virtual machine (see VMware, Virtualbox) running WinXP Pro, with the usb drive plugged into the virtual machine (under Removable Devices). Then you could click "Start"->"Run" and type in "cmd" to get a command prompt (on the VM), and the format command is simply "format [drive letter]: /t:80 /n:9" (for the standard atari 720KB format). If you have a non-standard disk image (like 800KB), you'll have to figure out the right t and n numbers.

Hope this helps someone struggling with the same problems. :cheers:

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Re: Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby obo » Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:32 am

You'll (almost) always be limited to a 9-sector 720K format when dealing with double-density disks in USB floppy drives. The problem is that they're addressed using logical block numbers, like modern hard disks, and the mapping from LBA to CHS (+FDC access) is hidden within the drive unit. That means there's no way to access a 10th sector needed for 800K disks, even if you pre-format the disk to a 10-sector format on a system that can do it.

So I'm afraid there's no magic solution. Any format that is a true subset of the 720K format will work (with the appropriate CHS->LBA mapping), but anything larger (10 or 11-sector disks) or any level of custom format won't.

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Re: Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby AtariZoll » Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:06 am

Right. But even with internal floppy drive, and older Windows (Like XP) you can not format 800K. Actually, you even can not read it correctly. The reason is floppy driver of Windows.
With special SW internal floppy can handle 800K - and not with USB floppy drives, to repeat it again.
I think that in few years, floppy support on PCs will complete disappear - there will be no internal FDC, so you will be able only to use external USB drives, which are not cheap and are limited. What means that best would be to keep older PC . Or get some - likely will cost less than for Atari pretty much useless USB floppy.
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Re: Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby Dal » Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:35 am

Seriously. For the hassle, time wasted and limitations inherent with trying to create a valid disk from an image in Windows, spend a little extra cash and get a HxC emulator. Hook it up the the ST's external port. I have provided tutorials on how to force the external drive as Drive A if you want to play image files on real hw.

http://www.septicsurgeon.net/Hardware_M ... n_STE.html

If you really must create floppy disks, you can simply mount the required image on the HxC and use FCopy (or your favourite sector copier) like in the good old days.
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Re: Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby bullis1 » Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:25 am

Also, keep in mind that you can always format the disk to your liking on your ST, then write the image using Omniflop on your PC. No need for a virtual machine.
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Re: Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby Striker » Thu May 21, 2015 9:38 am

Thank you for the guide ppera but how can I do the following.
I am on a PC with the steem emulator. I have a blank ST floppy disk image: Blank Disk.st
On the PC I want to copy a program called HDDRIVER.PRG on this "Blank Disk.st" image so I can later write this image to a real floppy disk.

How can I achieve this?
A step by step manual would be very helpful.

Thank you for your kind help.

Cheers,
Striker

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Re: Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby Striker » Thu May 21, 2015 9:39 am

Thank you for the guide ppera but how can I do the following?

I am on a PC with the steem emulator. I have a blank ST floppy disk image: Blank Disk.st
On the PC I want to copy a program called HDDRIVER.PRG on this "Blank Disk.st" image so I can later write this image to a real floppy disk.

How can I achieve this?
A step by step manual would be very helpful.

Thank you for your kind help.

Cheers,
Striker

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Re: Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby AtariZoll » Thu May 21, 2015 11:04 am

To add some file in floppy image you even don't need Steem, if using FloImg - it has option for adding files. Open Image file, File Transfer ...

In Steem it's easy too: must "insert" your image file in "floppy A". Set directory where are your files to copy as Hard Drive C in Disk menu, then open A and C, and copy in usual way. Then close Steem - only then changes will be saved to image file, and can write it on floppy.
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Re: Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby Striker » Thu May 21, 2015 12:04 pm

Thank you AtariZoll,
it worked with Steem and a the C: harddisk directory on the PC. :cheers: :D

Datei kopieren auf ST Floppy Image.jpg
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Re: Writing Atari ST programs onto floppies with PC

Postby qq1975b » Thu Apr 28, 2016 7:23 am

FloImg helped me a lot when transferring .ST images to floppies and to extract specific files from the image to a floppy or to a SD (for use it on my Ultrasatan). Thank you.
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