Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk1SMQ9HkBY
Top 3 Atari ST Gadgets For Getting Started - UltraSatan, Netusbee & mouSTer!
Whether you’re just getting started or you’re an Atari ST veteran, there are so many modern gadgets that promise to make life easier that you’ll be spoilt for choice! So here I present 3 of my favourites - the UltraSatan SD card hard disk solution, the Netusbee, which adds networking and USB, and the mouSTer, which adds support for modern USB mice and game controllers.
As you’ve probably already noticed, I’m an Atari ST fan - in fact I’ve been one since I got this very STE for Christmas - the Discovery Xtra pack if you hadn’t guessed - way back in 1991.
And while the ST has always been a versatile machine and an easy one to work with, thanks to over 30 years of progress there are now plenty of modern gadgets to make it even better - so in this video I’m going to take a quick look at 3 of my favourites and show how they can be used together to make life even easier.
I’m Rees, and welcome to ctrl-alt-rees.
So this isn’t going to be an in-depth review of all of these devices or a tutorial on how to get them set up, I don’t want the video to drag on too much, but just an introduction and a jumping off point for people who may be new to the ST or indeed getting back into it and maybe not fully up to speed on what’s been happening in the ST world.
So with that in mind the devices I’m going to be looking at today are an SD card based hard drive solution called the UltraSatan - odd choice of name I know but I promise it’s a great bit of kit - the Netusbee, which adds - well - networking and USB, and a USB mouse and controller adapter called the mouSTer, which I reviewed on my channel a year ago, but there have been some big changes that I wanted to check out as well as revisiting some of the shortcomings that I ran into at the time to see whether they’ve been addressed.
And just to be upfront with you, the mouSTer was sent to me for that original review by its creators at RetroHax.net. The UltraSatan I bought myself, and the Netusbee is very kindly on loan from one of my Patrons, Dave Velociraptor, so big thanks to Dave and I’ll more than likely be buying one for myself when I finally have to give it back.
So, first things first, I wanted to talk about the UltraSatan, as it’s something I have permanently connected to my ST and I use it all the time.
One thing I should probably address right off the bat is the name - so this is the new and improved version of an old device called the SatanDisk, and that’s pretty much the creator Jookie’s entire explanation for the name. I can only assume that it’s because it has the letters S and T in it in that order and to be honest the name doesn’t bother me, but it is kind of an odd choice. The website does stress that it isn’t anything to do with satanism or occultism and I can at least confirm that I haven’t had to call in Doomguy in the time that I’ve owned it.
“Demonic presence at unsafe levels.”
The UltraSatan basically emulates one of those huge old Atari hard drives like the Megafile, and it plugs into the ACSI port that has been present on all STs since day 1, although I should point out that those very first machines like my 260ST here - there’s a video on that that I’ll link up above and down in the description - had pretty flaky hard disk support due to the early version of the ST’s operating system TOS, so you’ll want to be running version 1.04 or above, which to be fair will probably apply to over 99% of the STs in the wild anyway.
As with all of these gadgets I’ll be demoing this on my STE running TOS 1.62.
So it works with the standard hard disk drivers like ICD PRO and HDDRIVER, and the cool thing is that the SD card partitions are FAT formatted so you can copy files over to them using any PC, Mac or Linux system with no issues whatsoever. Partitions are limited to 512MB which is a limitation of TOS itself, and it’s worth noting that some older software might have problems with sizes over 128MB. But do bear in mind that most of us were using Double Density floppies back in those days, so ST software is generally in the region of hundreds of kilobytes at most.
And of course most people will be interested in games, and an amazing member of the community known as PP or Petari has been working on adapting these to make them hard disk compatible for over 14 years now, and has converted over 1,500 games, which covers not only everything actually worth playing on the ST but pretty much every game you could possibly think of, and he very kindly makes the images available for download on his website over at 8bitchip.info, so that’s what I and most others use as a starting point and of course I’ll link that down in the description.
A lot of those games include fixes for memory compatibility issues and even STE enhancements, and trainers and stuff like that, and that’s a whole rabbit hole that I’ll explore in another video but I should take this opportunity to point out his excellent version of Xenon II which replaces the original YM chiptune music with an awesome sampled version.
There’s also a very cool STE port of Wolfenstein 3D which I covered in a previous video, I’ll of course link that in the usual places if you want to check it out.
Finally just before we move on, I should mention that there is a known bug with a very small number of STEs - and it hasn’t been an issue with mine - but it can cause data corruption with any kind of hard disk and this is due to a faulty batch of DMA chips that Atari fitted back in the day, so if you’re going to be buying an UltraSatan to use with an STE that’s definitely something worth looking into.
The next device that I want to show off is the Netusbee and, as I mentioned before, this adds networking and, well, USB.
“So it’s not just a clever name?”
So to get up and running with the Netusbee, you of course need to power your ST off, plug the device into the cartridge port, and power it back on, and all models of ST have this cartridge port so it works great with all of the various machines out there. It has rubber feet so the weight doesn’t put any strain on the port itself, which is a nice consideration. Of course, TOS doesn’t have native support for networking or indeed USB, so you’ll need to use some additional utilities, and the one I’m going to demo here is UIP Tool, which allows the ST to connect to a standard TCP/IP network, with DHCP for the IP address, er, just FYI.
It then fires up a fileserver to allow us to copy files to and from the machine using either FTP or a standard web browser.
So it’s just a case of downloading the TOS executable and copying it over to a floppy, a floppy image for use with a Gotek, or indeed an UltraSatan, which is what I’m doing here.
Now one thing that I found using the two together is that the Netusbee doesn’t seem to provide enough juice to be able to power the UltraSatan - at least not on this machine - which is a bit of a shame as that would’ve been handy, but I guess that would draw more current than the ST’s cartridge port can provide and to be fair I’d rather not overstress this old machine anyway.
So running the tool gives us our IP and MAC addresses and that’s all there is to it - now we can connect.
Just moving over to my Raspberry Pi here and I’ll very quickly show you the web interface. This gives us full read and write access to all of the drives in the machine - I have my UltraSatan connected so you can see all of the partitions on that as well as the floppy drives. This is a really handy solution but I prefer to use FTP, and that’s just a case of connecting using any old standard FTP client - I’m using FileZilla here - and I should point out that you need to disable encryption and use an anonymous connection, so maybe don’t expose your ST to the outside world or a public network while this is running if you don’t want some leet 1980s haxxors messing with your files.
Then copying stuff across is just a case of dragging and dropping as per any other server, and then they’ll just work on the ST side as per any other files. And one area where this comes in really handy is if you want to copy ST compatible files to floppy from a modern machine without a floppy drive, or if you’re using an original Megafile hard disk or have an UltraSatan or other internal solution installed inside your ST and don’t have access to the SD card slot.
On the USB side there are also drivers for things like floppy drives, mice, keyboards, game controllers and even printers, and that’s a whole side of this device that I must admit I haven’t explored as I was really only interested in the networking aspect of it, but there are some great videos out there covering this and I’ll pop some links down in the description for anyone who’s interested in that side of things and perhaps it’s something I can look at in a bit more detail in a future video.
And so the reason I’ve not really explored the USB side of the Netusbee is this - the mouSTer, which is a USB interface for mice and game controllers designed for our favourite old systems like the Atari and Commodore 8-bits, the ST and the Amiga, and this just plugs into the standard 9-pin controller port.
Now, this was sent to me a year ago by Retrohax for a review, which I did at the time and overall I was very impressed with it, although they were still fairly on its development and there were a few features that were still works in progress when that video went out.
A huge amount of work has been done on the mouSTer in the year since I first took a look at it, including a major firmware rewrite at the end of last year, so I really wanted to revisit it and show off what it can do one year on.
On the mouse side of things I just wanted to clear up a few people’s misconceptions that came up last time, and that’s to do with those cheaper USB mouse adapters that you may have seen for sale on ebay and the like. Now, they only work with older USB mice that only speak PS/2, so it’s essentially a PS/2 device that connects over a USB port which was a very common thing back in the day.
Where the mouSTer differs is that it basically implements a full USB HID stack on its microcontroller, and that’s what allows it to offer much more functionality like USB controller support and full configurability to not only allow it to work with an ever growing range of systems but also make it possible to tweak sensitivity and button and stick mappings and - well - pretty much everything.
One issue I wanted to look at was with my Xbox 360 controller - I tried this in my previous video and speculated that maybe it just drew too much power and that was why it didn’t work. As it happens, Retrohax contacted me after the video went out and told me that it was just a case of them adding it to the firmware, and I’m very happy to confirm that they’ve done just that and that it is indeed now working fantastically well.
Another thing I wanted to try was a PlayStation controller, and my patron and long term friend of the channel Andrew very kindly loaned me this PS4 controller to try it out with, and I can confirm that that’s also working perfectly too.
One tweak that I always like to make is to map one of the controller buttons to the up direction on the joystick so it acts as an accelerator or a jump button, and you could really go to town with this - mapping shoulder buttons to accelerate and brake for racing games for example so they play much more like their modern counterparts - if that’s what you’re into.
Oh, and just for a bit of a laugh, I thought I’d try it out with this wireless all-in-one keyboard and trackpad thingy that I use with my media centre PC, and of course the keyboard doesn’t work as that’s not supported over the mouse port, but the trackpad does! But it is awful so I can’t really recommend it for playing Lemmings.
So there we have it - 3 great devices that make the Atari ST an even more fun and convenient machine in the 21st Century. I’ll put links to buy them down in the description as well as some other videos which show them individually in a bit more detail.
So all that’s left is to thank Dave and Andrew for all of their support for the channel and for lending me the Netusbee and the PS4 controller, it’s really appreciated and this wouldn’t have come together like it has without your kindness so thank you very much. They’re both patrons of the channel and you can see their names up on the screen along with all of my other lovely supporters - who of course I’m also incredibly grateful to - as I speak.
But that’s all there is for now, thankyou ever so much for watching and - as always - I’ll hopefully see you again next time.
Support the channel!
Become a Member: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe7aGwKsc40TYqDJfjggeKg/join
Jookie UltraSatan page: http://joo.kie.sk/?page_id=192
260ST Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLmC5jWXTP8
8bitchip / Petari Game Conversions: http://atari.8bitchip.info/fromhd3.php
Xenon 2 STE: http://atari.8bitchip.info/SCRSH/xen2s.html
Wolfenstein 3D Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jThOhgiIC8I
STE DMA Bug Information: http://joo.kie.sk/?page_id=250
UIPTool Download: https://bitbucket.org/sqward/uip-tools/src/master/
USB Driver Download: https://www.perdrixapps.com/usb
Setup SD Card For UltraSatan (Depeche72): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVHmk7AJ1iI
Using SD Card / UltraSatan to Transfer Files from PC to Atari ST (James Mackenzie): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddwDJn8CV8I
The official Perdrix Apps channel has a few videos about using their Netusbee: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsIKfcZNJ3FaLhjgfH0vqIQ
The mouSTer, by Retrohax (Mr Lurch’s Things): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8rbam3OjGY
Links To Purchase (Non-Affiliated):
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