STe OrionSD CARD READER - Tech Notes 1/17/2021
GETTING IT TO RUN :
- I'm Running Window's 10 with an internal 3.25 floppy drive. I formatted a quality 2GB SD card With the PC, FAT . I would not use larger capacity SD cards. Larger one's MIGHT be better for the partition method - more on that later...
- I created a new folder on my Win10 PC named "AUTO". I Wrote bigdos.prg AND Orion's driver's to the AUTO folder.
- I wrote the AUTO folder to a Pre-Atari formatted, 720k floppy disk. I have been told extenal USB floppy drives will not work with Win10. External USB floppy drives might work with Win XP. - Not sure yet. Note : There were two sets of drivers provided;The newer drivers DO work and initiate faster.
BIGDOS VS. PARTITION METHOD :
There are two ways of setting up the SD card. I chose Bigdos because I have window's 10 and I thought it would be difficult to read multiple partitions. I just wanted to get it running first. Supposedly, Win XP is better at recognizing multiple partitions.
Atari 4mb TOS 2.06 STe power on : It loads bigdos.prg, then Orion's Sd card drivers. Both programs take up approximatly 56kb in the AUTO folder so I assume it takes up close to that in ST RAM, I'm not sure. At desktop, you will see a "C " HD icon to work from. With bigdos, you can just drag and drop files from Win10 to the SD card as it is one, big, happy partition. ;) Keep in mind when using the Bigdos method, there is more overhead in ram. You can discount games or demo's that require 4mb ram at this point. The Bad Apple demo notes that it has problems with Bigdos so you can assume some other programs do as well. Further testing has told me that the multi-partition method might give less problems in general. Which brings me to :
THE RESULTS SO FAR :
- It Makes The STe OrionSD a GREAT - " MINI-MOD PLAYER " !! You can store many MOD files on the SD. They load complteley into ram, so there is no transfer rate issues, plus it may load a tad faster than a floppy. I put all the MOD songs into one folder and My MOD player ( I suggest oszi ) in another, so it won't be hard to find, mixed up with all the MOD files. Pretty cool use.
- ** GemBench Findings ( with Bigdos ) : Gem display box takes a 2% hit / Blitter takes a 2% hit / VDI Enquire takes a 2% hit !! **
- The STe Orion SD is an excellent, inexpensive way for a developer to implement code on the STe. One hangup would be that it uses Jagport one so games that use the Jagpad would have to use port 2, if they aren't programmed to already.
- I have been using Peter Putnik's HD versions. I'm having mixed results so far and I blame Bigdos.
- The SD Card seems to transfer data a little faster than a floppy - 20 to 25bps. Partition method might be faster..
- Any program that can load all it's data in RAM will be fine. Constant DMA fetching is sketchy - hardware limitation.
- Obsession won't load all the exta sounds because of the driver overhead, but runs. I'll stick to the floppy version in which I get all the bells and whistles.
- Sea of Color Demo - NO GO. RAM overhead and transfer rate issues.
- Bad Apple Demo : NO GO. Transfer rate. The Demo notes state that bigdos is the problem.
- Maxymiser works.
- Vulgar Display of Power Demo : Plays weird. There are graphical issues and timing issues with DMA sound.
- The reader does have space limitations. If I put too much on it it boots with the error - ... " trying to execute from --- instead.. " then freezes up at Atari Boot screen. I forget what the limit in bigdos is... probably 32mb.
- Super Stardust - Tries to load but returns to a functional blue desktop.
- Lethal Excess runs.
- The " Signals " Demo ( STe version, of course ) has trouble with the DMA sound, as, for some reason, does not load ALL the audio file into RAM for playback, so transfer rate again rears it's ugly head.. OR it's bigdos getting in the way again.
- One Word High Res Demo runs.
- Cannot delete SD files from the desktop. Has to be from PC. Will try the newer Driver.
- Tried the Drivers without bigdos. NOPE. - Have to partition it.
- Addams Family - Freezes up.
- Dungeon Master DMA - Runs!
** Update 2/19/2021 ** Multi-Partition Method - ease of use -
I found Peter Putnik's disk image and wrote it to an SD card with win32diskImager. The image has three partitions, but the device only sees what's in the main one because of bigdos. Window's 10 DOES see all three partitions and I CAN write to them. Gamex games seem to run better than other versions on this device. This information is useful for the upcoming Antonio's SD card HD interface. I'm pretty sure most versions of games will be more compatible with those drivers. ODDITY : Some games do not see the joystick and you can only fire with the mouse.. I think this is due to the ports gettting mixed up. This too should be fixed with Antonio's new device + drivers.
I tried to copy the one hard drive desktop icon to match the other two partitions (F, G ) and save the preferences, but it froze up and tanked the SD card. I'm in the process of trying to rescue the SD card.
SD Card Speeds- The higher the class of Micro SD Card you use, the better the transfer rate. Most cards are rated for their write speed .. I think this goes hand in hand with read speed.