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Atari ST(E) quick FAQ

Started by Petari, 16-04-2011, 10:28:51

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  Atari ST quick FAQ

 ST, STE, TT ... what it means ?

ST = sixteen thirtytwoo . CPU MC68000 is partially 32, partially 16 bit. Data bus is 16 bit wide, address bus is 24 bits, and there are 32 bit registers.
STE = STE enhanced. New features are: DMA stereo audio with samplerate up to 50066 Hz. Color palette of 4096 instead 512 c., HW scroll support ...
TT = thirtytwoo thirtytwoo . Real 32 bit CPU 68030 with 32 bit data bus.

 I digged out old Atari, and if turn it on nothing happens - just green screen with few icons.

 You need floppy disk with Atari SW to make machine 'alive' . Disk may be in regular DOS 720KB format. Atari ST executables have usually extension PRG or TOS. May be ACC (Desktop ACCessory - resident), APP, TTP ...

 How can I write programs, files onto floppy disk with PC, for running them on Atari ST ?

 Since Atari ST uses practically same floppy format as DOS it may be easy. But HD floppies (1440KB) are not good (except for TT,Falcon ..). You need DD (720K) floppies. It may be hard to find now - then may try with HD ones. Must cover hole at right (where no movable tab), so PC will recognise it as DD. It is not so good as real DD floppy, but may serve. You need to format floppy. In XP must open command prompt and type in:    format a: /t:80 /n:9    . It will produce 720KB floppy, usable on all Ataris.  Copy files onto it, while taking care that only DOS 8.3 format of filenames is supported, so capital letters ...

 Where I can find Atari ST games ?

 May DL thousands on Internet. May buy originals (of course old editions) from some specialised dealers, or look on E-Bay, Usenet, Atari forums.
DL sites - curently best:

 I can not write 800KB ST or MSA file onto 720 KB floppy. How to put downloaded game on floppy disk ?

 ST and MSA files are not ordinary files usable directly (on Ataris), but so called image files. They contain all data from floppy as it's image, copy.  You need special SW to write such files onto floppies. If using Windows XP, Vista or Win7, you need Floppy Imager :   . If still using DOS, best is MAKEDISK. Linux users may do it by some floppy tools which are usually in distros - I can not go here in details. In any case, need to carefully read manuals, usages. All this is not so simple always as we would like.

 I connected Atari to my TV, but picture is noisy and unsharp, or can not get it at all

 RF modulator works on VHF channel 3-4, so very low freq.  For better quality you need to use video/audio inputs on TVs or monitors.
Best is with original Atari monitors, but you can get same good quality with TV equipeed with SCART connector using RGB. You will not find Atari ST's 13-pin video output connectors in shops, so need to order them from specialised online shops or few people who still make it.

 Why I con not select ST high screen resolution ?

 It can not work on ordinary TVs or old color computer monitors. You need Atari monochrome monitor as SM124.  Luckily, ST high res may work with practically every VGA monitor, so new LCD ones too. Just need special cable for it. You will get only B/W picture, but pretty sharp.  ST high res. is not for gaming, but for more serious SW as MIDI, text editing, CAD etc. Few games work: Starglider, Battle Zone ...

 I connected Atari ST(E) to my LCD TV, but picture is shaking, or is very bad, distorted

 The reason is that modern, digital TVs usually require more standard video signal than old Ataris can produce. What was good for old, analog TVs may be not good enough for modern ones. Special cable may serve in some cases as too strong contrast, but it is best to make some tests before buying monitor/TV, if plan to use with Atari. Or try to get infos on forums.