Over the last few months, I have been on the lookout for an Atari STe again. Important to me was a generally good condition, ease of use and as little yellowing as possible. Certainly, there are even more exotic systems around on the net, but my beefed up Atari
WILL be impressive - I think anyway.
Below I will list all the components and explain the reason for purchase, its functionalities and the price.
What will not be discussed here: the hi-res screen SM124, network / internet mods or MIDI solutions. I never used the system for serious applications or to play music, even though the Atari STe was, and still is, capable of both.
All images of the components come from my system. Contained links are not be advertising but show potential sources for those who wish to upgrade their system as well.
Atari 1040 STe. – 108€
The Atari 1040 STe
was my system
at the time. It replaced my Commodore C64
(the Aldi Bread Box
version) and felt technologically like a quantum leap. The STe was the technically advanced (e = enhanced) variant of the Atari STF / STFM. My father, who never had anything to do with computers, bought the system together with me, a 14-year-old teenager, at the Hobbytronic fair in Dortmund
The STe should be equal to the competing Amiga 500
(home computer wars) and therefore received, in relation to the Atari STFM, essentially (or for me the most interesting) a larger color palette and stereo sound, which I also enjoyed on my HiFi
The also new, extended joystick / gamepad ports on the left side were a mystery to me at the time (no internet to look it up!), but in general were hardly supported. It looks different today - but more on that later.
The capabilities of the STe were unfortunately only used by a few games. On the one hand, because the manufacturers preferred to continue to support the old systems, on the other hand, Atari soon went bankrupt itself, and the PC experienced its heyday
In the last few years Atari STe retro fans have adapted games on their own and also released very good demos that push the system to its limits.
On Ebay I´ve found my new system in great condition for a comparably acceptable price.
4MB RAM expansion (aka Atari 4160 STe) – 11€
1MB out (it was Intel
RAM inside?!) and 4MB in (Ebay again). Why? Because I can! Especially current
games like to use 2MB. 4MB is basically superfluous, but who cares, right?
Replacing the memory is quite simple, because the Atari STe already used socket slots. For older STs it needed considerably more complex soldering.
4 x 1MB makes 4 x 1040KB (1024 would actually correct!) = 4160KB. So now I own an Atari 4160 STe! In fact, there used to be some "4160s" that were shipped to developers. I need a new label now…!
Atari 4160 STe Label - 5€
Since Atari 1040 STe is no longer original, I had to buy a new name tag for it. The price of an original Atari 4160 ST label however, goes through the roof. But on the world wide web I came across a manufacturer who made replicas ... a silver 4160 label. BRING IT ON!
The labels can be bought here
. My old tag later went to France for free, for someone who extended his 520 ST to a 1040 ST ....
TOS-Update to Version 2.06 – 10€
My original system, as well as this new one, had TOS
1.06 installed, also known as the Rainbow / Rainbow TOS
. TOS is the graphical user interface or operating system of the Atari ST. At that time it was very advanced and similar to the first Windows interfaces. The Atari logo in the info screen was animated with a rainbow, hence Rainbow TOS.
Why TOS 2.06? It is just the latest TOS. However, I was most interested in the new Atari boot logo, and the newly integrated RAM check also confirms the built-in 4MB! Only the rainbow does not exist anymore.
For the untalented layman like me it was a bit tricky: Pry out old the BIOS chips carefully, mount new ones according to instructions, and rewrite jumper resistance
. They broke down promptly - but instead of the 0 ohm resistors, there was also a solder bridge
on the jumpers W102 to W104. Something that worried me was the label of the chips with the imprint FR
. I can not and do not want to speak/read French! But it is the DE version. The DE labels were probably out ... This upgrade was bought at st-freakz
Replacement of the internal floppy by a GOTEK USB - 31€
Floppy disks are not always reliable after many years. Most of the software can be found on the internet today, but of course it wants to be transferred to disk, because my 90s system knew no internet. The tool of choice for me is a GOTEK USB drive.
With a bit of fiddling it can be mounted in place of the old floppy disk drive and looks quite stylish with the LED display. There are also newer versions of the GOTEK with an OLED display, but mine does its job very well.
Super: no housing modifications are necessary.
The initial setup of the GOTEK is usually a bit of a hassle and usually requires a small piece of hardware. I purchased a pre-flashed
drive, which saved me this step. Now I can store boxes
of disks on a single stick and select them with ease.
Found on Ebay
... but ...
GOTEK Sound-Mod 3€
… the speed is almost equal to the classic floppy disk drive. The waiting time underscores a normal floppy drive with clacking operating noise. Waiting in silence now feels wrong. Others probably thought that too, and a solution to this problem
was created. The solution...I have now also acquired a sound modification
- a mini-speaker and installed it. Now it buzzes again quite authentically.
Found on Ebay
Joystick – 15€
Today, they are hardly known anymore - but in the old days, everyone had them: Joysticks
. Although there were already gamepads
at that time, the C64, Amiga, Atari (and others) were played with joysticks. The hand wraps around the sometimes a less ergonomic handle, the other holds the fire button(s).
So I searched for a short time, and again decided on the variant that I had back then. A QuickJoy Top Star with a plexiglass base. The thing is apparently hardly used, and therefore still quite tight and a little laborious to use. But practice makes perfect ... again.
The condition is top, yet it was a bad buy, because it is the PC Gameport variant. The PC print was not visible in the Ebay images, the plug is not described. What to do now? - Waiting for the next expansion ...
One point for the ToDo list: A second joystick for multiplayer games.
9 to 15 pin Joystick Adapter – 15€
As expensive as a second joystick, but the interest outweighed somehow. And if there are no 9 port joysticks in the distant future, I can still use the gameport sticks.
With this adapter I can now use the previously purchased gameport joystick. This works flawlessly! In the unfortunately positioned 9 pin joystick port we now have the adapter. The ribbon cable protrudes quite comfortably on the right side of the ST out. Nice side effect - nobody knows that. There were already some questions about the thing
Jagpad - 19€
Back in the day, on the left side of my Atari Ste, I had noticed two 15-pin ports with a joystick symbol on top. Officially they are called Enhanced Joystick Ports
. How I would like to have used them, because the 9-pin joystick connection underneath the STe is very difficult to reach. A connection of the standard 9-pin connector is not possible. There were no suitable devices in my orbit, so the ports were as useless as they were mysterious to me.
In fact, the power pads appeared around that time. The design is a bit chunky, but already comparable to today's gamepads. The color also matched that of the Atari ST. About 4 years after the appearance of the Atari STe, in1993, the Atari Jaguar
was released on the market. Its game controller is known as the Jagpad
. These are approximately identical and differ essentially only by the colour design. They are black with red buttons.
If I had such a power or Jagpad back then, I would have been disappointed, because hardly any of my games would have supported them. But time heals the wounds. Welcome to 2020! Today, it's easy to research which games support the new ports
. And at the end of 2018 two of these games appeared:
- Rox Zero
The latter can even be controlled only with a 15-pin controller! It was the reason for me to get a Jagpad in the end.
Laser Mouse – 47€
I think the original Atari mouse has always been rather clumsy, and so I struggled again with that part. But I did not want another one - just an original. Somewhat by accident I came across a conversion kit, which provides the mouse with a new inner life, and even uses laser optics.
But 47€? Honestly, it's worth it! The new laser mouse is my secret favorite in the system. There are several different variants of the ST mouse. Unfortunately, I own the least suitable one. Inside the mouse, a plastic dome is permanently installed, which was first to be removed cleanly. So, as a proud owner of a Dremel, I set to work.
Unfortunately, the mouse cable was also not very useful (just the stupid ST mouse version), but Tim Lenke / Lavago provided me in exchange for my cable a more suitable example. Once it is all ready, it is a dream to use! The mouse pointer just rushes over the picture. Have a look
Buy it at the Tim Lemke / Lavago website
Flat-Screen: Panasonic TX-26LXD80F – 35€
Picture, I need a picture! Great for work and cheap to have: the Hi-Res
Atari SM124 monitor. As a player, however, because of its monochrome limitation, this was not an option. My former color monitor, the Atari SC1224, was nowhere available or only for moon prices above and beyond 200€.
The solution: a modern flat-screen. But not too modern, because SCART is needed.
For an unbelievably cheap 30€ I found a Panasonic TX-26LXD80F on Ebay. The price is certainly not very representative. The device is not really flat with 12cm depth for current flatscreens, but very easy to connect. VGA, component connection, HDMI, SCART - everything is included, so it is also suitable for other purposes (TV, The C64mini, RASPI
). The image of the Atari is comfortably scaled to full screen with sufficient quality.
What could I want more? Well, just hold on a little ...
Atari 13 Pin Monitor port to SCART Cable – 17€
With this cable, the aforementioned screen can display the low and mid-res screen color resolutions. The sound also comes through it.
Dust-Cover – 18€
Your Atari ST will thank you. UV rays and dust - rumored to be the cause of the dreaded yellowing. Here too I was lucky enough to find the same cover that I once had before. Pure nostalgia for me.
Atari SC 1224 color monitor – 50€
As mentioned earlier, one of my goals was to restore my original system. The flat screen has a nice, big picture, but less retro feeling. Every now and then I rummaged through the Ebay classifieds. Someone sold his Atari 520 with some accessories. Somewhere, hidden in the background there it was, the Atari SC1224 color monitor - the same model that I had earlier (there are 2 versions).
After short but very fruitful negotiations, we agreed on €50 - a good price for this relatively rare device. The condition is visually also very acceptable. Once it arrived at its new home, the monitor replaced the flatscreen TV. The picture is sharp, the colors strong. Unfortunately, the image is not vertically centered. An error that occurs frequently. Unfortunately, the vertical position can not be influenced by the controls. More know how is needed to solve this issue. However, this is not really an issue for me.
Atari SM 124 monochrome monitor - 10€
At the DoReCo Party, a big party of a German retro computing community, I was able to get hold of an SM124 monochrome monitor for 10€. A price that is not really worth talking about. A realistic price in the internet second-hand store is about 25€. Previously, I had inherited an old trackball
for 20€, and thus directly invested the money. Granted, the thing was badly battered. Foam adhesive strips on the underside, a lot of dirt and a very bad picture with very thick, black edges.
With some alcohol-soaked cleaning cloths, I removed the dirt, and after a bit of internet research, I also found the necessary places inside the case, in order to readjust the image. As a layman, I naturally had due respect for the high tube voltage and was accordingly careful. At this point: Do not fumble yourself - leave it to a specialist! I'm not a kid, but I'm still alive, and it works. I would say, the picture is really nice.
SF-314 External Diskdrive – 50€
Why would you buy an external floppy drive when you just added a GOTEK to your system? Well, it completes the whole system, and I still have my original Turrican II
disc. I wanted to use it. The drive has also become quite rare, especially complete with power supply and data cable. Everything was here. It was part of the same offer, from which I could release the SC1224 monitor. Connected, tested - works. Now I can also drag the disk images, from the internet if necessary, onto new "correct" disks.
One nuisance remains, but it is not that bad. I can't seem to boot from the external drive when the GOTEK is connected.
UltraSatan – 115€
What is still missing? Oh yes, a hard drive. Another priceless dream for the student at the time. In particular, the Megafile / SH-204 drives come into consideration. They are bulky though. The modern solution is called UltraSatan
. But that has nothing to do with Satan or occultism. Except ... the board adorns a little devil. Because of this fact, and also that the metal case is quite ugly (despite the Atari gray), I bought the UltraSatan in a plexiglass case, which is a bit cheaper. Thus, the hard drive
matches the look of the joystick.
UltraSatan reads two SD cards at the same time and is significantly faster than floppy disks. It is therefore ideal for exchanging data with the PC. Another reason, if not the main reason for the UltraSatan, are special game versions which exceed their originals in size. Like Giana Sisters
or Xenon II - Megablast
with boldly extended soundtracks.
The mentioned 115€ includes the UltraSatan, the connection cable and also the 10 € for the required driver.
The topic of UltraSatan is not an easy one. You're going through a jungle of manuals, specifications, and drivers, which can be frustrating. Ultimately, the following instructions
would have been great. Would have been
, because it did not work ... Any change to the SD card configuration or to the data on the card has always resulted in a total loss of the same. After MUCH research I found the cause: I have an STe with a faulty chipset (C025913-38)!
You can read all about it here
Change the chip (soldering, urg!). Other sources advise the 68000er processor to be replaced for a more current version.
Quick and dirty:
SD card write protection. The small slider prevents the modification of data at the Atari. Thus, I can read / play everything, only
write accesses such as saving high scores do not work then currently. That's enough for the moment.
Looking back at it, a GOTEK and an UltraSatan together is basically overkill. The former is cheap, the latter a lot faster and can handle even larger files but is more complicated.
But now that I have played and heard Giana Sisters with the orchestration of Chris Hülsbeck, I don't want to play any other version ever again.
You can buy the UltraSatan over at Lotharek
CPU – MC68000FN8 VS MC68HCßßßFN8 VS MC68HC000EI20 – 21€
As already written above, write access was not possible because of the bad
DMA chip. Unfortunately, the correct one is just hard and expensive to get. An alternative approach is to swap the 68000 CPU with a 68000 HC CPU, and the problem should no longer occur. I got a made in China
variant with a MC68HC000FN8 CPU.
This fixed the problem with the write access! BUT now I encountered problems with the graphics from time to time. So far, I've only noticed them in demos and not in games, but it bothers me. I could not find a correct explanation, but replacing the CPU yet again with a serial number ending on EI20 instead of FN8 solved the matter.
You can find the correct chip here
Netusbee (Lite) - 44€
Once you have achieved everything you have planned for, you are looking for new challenges. I was suddenly interested in making my Atari accessible via the network. Actually it was more important for me that I found a network extension for the module bay on the left side of the device: The Netusbee (Lite)
So far, I had only seen modules that were used in connection with the adjacent MIDI ports. Netusbee is an expansion board that provides both an RJ45 network port and a USB port for modern mice. The name: Net (network) -usb (mouse port) and - (b) ee for the Atari Bee. I found it very fitting. Since I do not need a modern USB mouse because of my existing laser mouse upgrade, I have the "lite" variant, which only makes the RJ45 network port available, but it is about 10€ cheaper.
The configuration is unfortunately quite tricky. Although there are various instructions, but most are incomplete, or do not consider everything. Also many download sources of the required driver files are dead. But once you have done so, it opens up a whole range of possibilities. Accessing HTML pages, providing a web server, file transfers with the PC or reading / writing emails - all this is basically possible. Have a look at: Atari ST Video Snack 3 - Atari ST im Internet oder LAN
Unfortunately, the configuration here is about as complicated as the commissioning of the network port itself. But hey, an Atari ST on the Internet - It's like making your car fly - it shouldn't be easy.
Found at: Lotharek
I´ve got the (USB) power! - 12.15£
I am always open for new developments. So I stumbled upon a new piece of hardware for the ROM port, provided by The Backoffice
. It is a small Plug-in module that provides 3 USB sockets. However, these only offer 3 x 300 mA of power. Enough to fire my UltraSatan and a small USB-fan: Atari ST Video Snack 4
Found at: The Backoffice
Atari - Mauspad
The laser mouse does not need it, but then I had one too - so it is mandatory. Beautifully themed with Atari ST print.
Atari – Cup – 15€
Stalking the coffee and completing the picture of the Atari desk …
Atari LED-Sign – 30€
Only look good. But that's enough..!
SD-Card Prints – 3,50€
I stumbled on these by accident. Someone offered preconfigured SD cards for the UltraSatan. If I had seen them before... They were sold with Atari logo and the words "Atari SATANDISK". I contacted the seller and asked for some stickers. 5 pieces for 3,50 € including shipping from England - more than fair, I think...
The end / packaging reproduction - 40 €:
I call it a stroke of fate that at about the same time I discovered a post in the Atari ST Facebook group, where someone presented his project of the reconstructed Atari ST packaging, and looked for potential buyers. The things are so well done that I wanted to unpack the ATARI ST right after the first wrapping, in order to be able to relive the unboxing experience. I admit, of all investments, this was the most absurd and takes my nerd-being to a whole new level. But someone put a lot of love and work into it, and the shipping costs for a well-packaged cardboard box also had a considerable share in the final price.
The Atari STe 1040/4160 "My Dream Edition" in action
So, what can we do with this beast of an Atari STe? Play games of course, and if possible - STe enhanced versions! Some games have been enhanced by the manufacturer or even expanded by fans. These usually offer better graphics with more colors, DMA sound and thanks to the Blitter chip often also better scrolling. In order to be able to use the advantages of the UltraSatan, the games should (if possible) also be able to be started from the hard disk
. Some games use it deliberately and play several megabytes of music files.
Here is my Top 12 (10 were just not enough) :
1) The Great Giana Sisters
: My all time favorite
, still from C64 days. The STe version
from 2014 by ZAMUEL_A
offers the finest scrolling and DMA sound effects. In contrast to the normal Atari ST version, because it flipped
the picture (head shaker!). In a special hard drive version, the game was underpinned by an orchestral soundtrack by Chris Hülsbeck. An absolute dream! An UltraSatan is required!
2) Xenon 2 : Megablast
: A vertical shooting classic. Now also equipped with a fat soundtrack. Much longer in the intro than in the original, and in the game itself too. Bomb the Bass! UltraSatan is required!
: 3D (isometric) Pacman with soft full-screen scrolling and hopping. This game has also been reworked by ZAMUEL_A.
4) Lethal Excess
: Another vertical shooter. The original release of this game takes advantage of the STe functions.
: A Bomberman / Dynablaster - Clone. Beautifully colorful, good sounds and still an ingeniously simple and funny game - multiplayer recommended!
6) North & South
: No STe version! Nevertheless, a classic with a lot of action, humor and a little strategy - multiplayer recommended!
: "It's the nineties and there's time for ..." Klax is still working. I do not know the ST version, the ST version should have at least had some decent sound effects. The gameplay still makes you happy!
: One of the most graphically complex ST games ever - and very entertaining. The effort that was done here is still somewhat surprising, especially compared to the wire frame graphics of the original Asteroids
: Unfortunately, my PC pinball favorite "Pinball Fantasies" is not on the Atari ST - it was not ported. Luckily we have Obsession to solve this problem.
10) Escape 2042
: This game actually released recently in 2018 and bought for 10€. One should support something like that. A mix of Jump & Run and Mission Impossible. Graphically not necessarily great, but quite entertaining.
: I already saw Frogs at the DoReCo party, at the time for the C64. The programmer Christian Gleisner, alias dr. Wuro Industries, was also present. Thomas Ilg
, known for his Atari ST game Anarcho Ride
, converted this game to the Atari ST. The result was a very funny multiplayer game with keyboard, joystick and even Jagpad support. Probably unique: Two Atari STs can be connected for even more multiplayer action via the MIDI interface! For me especially: As a beta tester, I have here and there made a few comments on the game in development, the homepage and the shop. I was rewarded with the inclusion in the "Credits" of the game guide and on the Frogs homepage.
12) Rox Zero
: Winner of the "Silly Venture Atari Falcon / ST Games Competition 2018"! A very fast vertical shooter that can only be played using a Jagpad on the STe enhanced joystick port.
This is my list, it does not have to be yours. You can argue about the rather arbitrary order. There are also many others, maybe even better games. Elite
, Carrier Command
- the list basically goes on and on. But three high-quality games in 2018 show that the Atari scene is far from dead.
I could watch demos for hours. It's crazy what the still active scene can get out of the old systems. The Atari ST is no exception. In particular, the DEMOs like to use all the possibilities of the STe. Here are some of my favorites.
: Bad Apple is more of a film and not a demo in the classical sense, but shows in black and white pictures what is possible. Friends of Japanese comics and Japanese music will get their money's worth. All others, too. UltraSatan is required!
We Were @
: Winner of the demo competition STNICCC 2015. For me, the first demo I started on the new system. What a WOW effect!
Rise of the black storm
: Mystic Bytes Special programming techniques allow 512 instead of the normal 16 simultaneously possible colors. Amazing soundtrack as well.
The Union Demo
: At that time my first demo. A playable demo menu, even then good effects and vocal samples. Flashback!
- 2nd in the Sommarhack (2019) Combined Demo/Intro competition by SMFX. Awesome sound, great graphics.
All in all, the fun cost me about 700€. That scared me in retrospect. The question arises: Was it worth it?
Absolutely! The total was distributed over months. Even higher sums hurt a little less. There were
- many happy moments, when the (longed for) parcels arrived
- challenging handicrafts, which were mostly crowned with success
- Time travel almost 30 years into the past
- Having the feeling of owning previously unaffordable or unimaginable things - Interesting conversations and recognition
in various Facebook groups (I am not feeling so crazy alone in the world after all).
- the incomprehensible looks of my wife and son - priceless!
I can now enjoy my Dream Edition
to the fullest. Soon it will be the first meeting with like-minded people, be it from the Atari, be it from the Commodore camp.