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Stage 3

So far, everything was easy. But to get PC compatibility I had to fiddle about a

You could get another CF->IDE adapter for your PC, but  then you  can't hot swap
and you have to  open the PC up and play with BIOS settings each time... Effort!
Obviously, we'd like  to be able to  use a cheap and cheerful CF disk USB reader
on the PC, or  an even cheaper CF disk PCMCIA converter (much faster if you have
a laptop). The next info took me some time to research.

The problem  is that using CF via  PCMCIA or USB on a PC running Windows gives a
major problem - the CF is not working in IDE mode, but in PC Card mode. Window's
shitty drivers for this mean only the first partition on a disk can be accessed.

But there are ways around this single partition access problem on Windows:
* A software  called 'CardWizard' by SystemSoft allows you to access multiple PC
  Card partitions with Windows - but its $70, and I'm a cheapskate :)
* Use Linux - you can easily mount all partitions on a PC Card device :)
* A utility supplied by the manufacturer of your CF disk allows you to make your
  CF disk 'fixed' rather  than 'removable'. I read  on a  Embedded Windows  site
  that all partitions can  then be read  by Windows, but no hot-swapability. For
  my specific CF  disk I used  the '' program  from SanDisk. It  was
  free, but in order to get this I had to fax them a signed legal  disclaimer in
  case I  screwed  up my CF disk. As well as changing the fixed/removable status
  you can access  the individual  configuration byte of the  CF disk with  these
  utilities, so  obviously  you  can  really  fuck  things  up. I tried  it non-
  seriously, and  couldn't get  it working... I  would be  interested to hear if
  anyone else does.

Uwe explained  some points to me  about using HDDriver, and after pissing around
with loads of other HD tools I found, like many other Atarians, that HDDriver is
the only way to go.

Lets assume  that on the  PC you're  using a PCMCIA or USB reader under Windows,
without 'CardWizard', and you don't what to hack the CF disk configuration... so
you can only  access the first partition on the CF disk, which should be some PC
compatible  format. It seems to me that as you can't access higher theres little
point in making more than one partition on your CF disk.

Its easy  to make a single  straight FAT or FAT32  partition on the PC, or using
one of the  several Atari HDD drivers  supporting this, and  using Magic or Mint
you can of course access it with no problems.

I have a simple  TOS setup, so this doesn't help me - but HDDriver has an option
for a single  TOS/DOS compatible  partition which does. As the CF disk is on the
IDE bus you  need also to check the byte swapping box. However, as Uwe explained
to me, with the byte swapping activated it is then not possible to boot from the

Ignoring all these points, of course its possible to simply partition the CF for
TOS and boot from it just like a normal hard drive with no PC compatibility.

What do we see from this? Windows sux and Atari rulez :)

Stage 4

So lets recap - so far  we can access  the CF disk  on PC and Atari  in  various
ways. But if  we want PC compatibility then  we can't boot from it. In this case
we need to boot  from a floppy, or  another hard disk. Booting from floppy sucks
big time, and  we just  filled the 2.5" drive  bay with  a CF disk that we can't
boot  from.... What  now? OK, so  I could put  the whole thing  in a tower but I
wanted to keep things standard.

This is  where DiskOnModule technology  comes  in. DiskOnModules were  initially
made for expensive  embedded systems, but  now that custom PC cases and  modding
are main stream  with MiniITX etc the  prices have come right down, so that they
are just  a little more expensive  than a CF disk. A  DiskOnModule looks  like a
larger than normal harddisk connector, and it plugs directly into an IDE port on
a computer  motherboard, where  it acts like a standard hard disk. 40 and 44 pin
versions are available for roughly the sameeprice.

DiskOnModule solid state hard drive<

The small size made it perfect for what I needed, but I reckon that DiskOnModule
also makes the perfect hard disk  if you are one of those  Falcon owners who has
no hard  disk  bracket, and  just have  their drive  vibrating  around  the case
wrapped in paper (at Outline I saw a few of these nightmares!) - just plug it in
and thats it.

1) First of course you  need to configure the CF disk  as a slave  device (in my
   case I just unsoldered  the 0ohm 'Master'  resistor on the  adaptor, but some
   adaptors have a real jumper) and the DOM as the master device.

2) Next remove the  short double ended IDE cable from the Falcon  and replace it
   with a 3 ended version from a PC modding shop. 40 pin versions  of this cable
   are  10 a penny, a 44 pin cable  was pretty hard  to find as it goes, but not
   impossible... also look in Amiga stores.

3) Plug one connector  into the Falcon, and the other into the CF adaptor. There
   is a small  problem with  plugging the  DOM on to  the last  connector - both
   sides have female connectors. To solve this you can use a 2mm, 50 way, 2 row,
   header  connector as a simple and  cheap adaptor. If you like cut the 50 ways
   down to 44 so it doesn't look too ugly.

4) By inventive  cable folding, you can fit everything in the Falcon case... Try
   using the middle connector for the Falcon motherboard.

The End

So thats it - now you have a super-easy and fast way to transfer lots of data to
your Falcon, your  HDD is faster and  its easy to  swap and change it... Also it
didn't  need too much  effort (or money)! I  would recommend  these  methods  to
anyone using  an Atari Falcon  computer, it already made my life much easier for
PC->Atari transfers.


After few months  the 32/64Mb solid  state combination was  looking rather tight
for space, although the compact flash drive was being used many times each  week
for transfering files.

I decided to replace the 32Mb solid state drive for a 20Gb 2.5" harddisk  taken,
of course, from  an old laptop.  but where to  put it? the  arrangement with the
compact flash adapter took up all the space in the usual Falcon drive bay.

the laptop  drive was  a good  deal more  slim than  the fat  beast that  was my
original falcon ide drive  - i found that  there was sufficient clearance  above
the falcon floppy drive to fit it without touching the uper part of the case.

i opened slightly the  internal metal sheilding of  the falcon to allow  the ide
cable to pass through.  then i removed the  upper cover of the  floppy drive and
carefully drilled four holes in it to attach the new hard drive. the screws  did
not affect  the operation  of the  drive at  all, and  they held  the hard  disk
stabley in place.

finally i was statisfied  with the storage arrangements  on my falcon ;)  a 64mb
compact  flash combined  with a  rather large  harddisk. what  could be  better,
except for a USB2 and a hotswappable pen drive? roll on CTLink...

gwEm for Alive (May/June 2004 and Jan 2005)

Alive 9