(dual)TOS & Memory upgrade Atari STE

Because of technical differences between ST & STE, this guide only covers TOS upgrade of STE. Tools necessary for this upgrade: screwdriver, plier, soldering iron, IC removal tool. Tools that might come in handy: Multimeter (To check for shorts & connections after soldering), drill Before you start, consider the dangers of static electricity. Remove all cables, and ground yourself. Be careful as to not destroy any components with a static discharge. Handle electronic components with care. Turn your computer upside down, remove all screws, even the three holding the floppy. (The TOS sockets are located under the floppy). Note where the screws are located since they are of different length & dimensions. If you are not careful you’ll end up with screws going through the plastic enclosure. Turn the STE back. Now you can remove the upper part. Remove the keyboard, you don’t have to disconnect it. Internally the STE is covered with shielding plates. It consists of 4 parts. Remove the one covering the floppy. To the left of the floppy there’s a plate covering the simm sockets. Remove that if you are going to upgrade RAM. To the far left there is a plate covering the PSU. Remove the floppy. (You can do the upgrade from here, but it is recommended to completely remove the motherboard, especially if you are a novice at soldering) Beneath the floppy you will find two 32 pin sockets. The one closest to the front is TOS-LO. A little bit to the right of TOS-HI you see three jumpers. Denomenated W102, W103 and W104. They look like resistors, but are in fact 0-ohm resistors. If you like you can replace them with pins and use standard jumper caps. Pin 1 is marked on the motherboard, should be the one closest to the TOS socket.

If you are lucky, you already got two 32 pin eproms seated in the sockets, then all you have to do is to exchange them for the new ones. But normally you have two 28 pin roms there. If so, looking at the figure above, you’ll see that you’ll have to rearrange the jumpers for your Atari to properly handle the new 32 pin TOS eproms. W102 & W104 need to jumpered between pin 1 and 2. W103 does not need to be changed. Insert the eproms in the right direction! Look at the motherboard, the eproms and the figure above. The eproms got a small jack that indicates direction, similar to the figure above. Also note the difference on how to insert 28 pin & 32 pin eproms in case you want to switch back in the future. Other things of interest. E0-E7 are jumpers that are activated by creating a connection between them. They are used to activate various functions in TOS. The only one of interest is E6. It activates formatting of 1.44 mb floppys in TOS 2. However, for it to be of any use, you actually have to have a 1.44mb floppy installed. (On STE it also requires aditional logic, aswell as a floppy disk controller able to handle 1.44mb drives. (16 MHz))

DualTOS is very useful upgrade that let you have 2 (or more) different TOS in your STE. This is useful because TOS 2.06 is not compatible with all software written with TOS 1.6x in mind. With a simple switch you can easily switch between them and always be able to run your favourite game or application. First, follow the directions above installing a TOS 2.06 upgrade. If you stop there, your upgrade will work as a simple TOS 2.06 upgrade, if you want to be able to switch TOS, read on… The principle behind a DualTOS is simple. By using an eprom that is twice the size of a normal TOS eprom, you can divide it into two banks, and program it with 2 different TOS instead of one. Banks are selected by connecting a switch that either feeds ground, or +5v, to the highest adresspin of the eprom, which effectively selects which part of the eprom that you want to use. The principle easily adapts to even larger eproms, in theory letting you choose between 4 or even as many as 8 different versions of TOS. Even though it is of little interest to most people. Now, carefully bend out pin 30 (A17) of both your DualTOS eproms, until they point straight up. It must not be in contact with the socket, since pin 30 on the socket is connected to +5v. Grounding that could lead to the destruction of your computer! The next step involves soldering. First you solder a wire between pin 30 on both EPROMs, and the middle connector of your switch. After that you solder a wire between +5V and on of the other connectors of your switch, and finally a wire between ground and the last connector on the switch. In case you have a QuadTOS using 27C040 eproms, you simply do the same procedure with pin 31 (A18) with another switch. Then both switches in conjunction will decide which TOS (or bank) you want to use. With the help of a drill, you make a hole at a suitable place in your STE’s enclosure (behind the diskdrive is a good spot), and secure your switch(es) there.

TOS switching can be done during reset, or when your computer is turned off. If you accidentally hit the switch when your computer is on, it should not spell disaster, but it will most likely crash and need resetting. As always with these kind of modifications, it is a very good idea to check the connections, aswell as possible shorts, after you’re done using a multimeter or similar tool. Look carefully after dropped solder or anything else that can cause malfunction. Also make sure that the shielding doesn’t cut into any wires, or accidentally shorts your switch if you put it close to any shielding. In case you don’t want to use +5v and ground from the eproms, a multimeter can also be used to find alternative points where you can extract these.

Memory upgrade
As you can see after removing the shielding of your STE, it is equipped with 4 simm sockets. Depending on your model and/or previous uppgrade, 2 or 4 of these are already populated. In this guide we will number the sockets 1 thru 4, with number 1 closest to the back, and number 4 being the one closest to the front of the STE. SIMMs in the STE are always installed in pairs. With 2 identical SIMMs in socket 1 & 3 (memory bank 0), or 2 & 4 (memory bank 1). Most SIMMs work, although the STE can only use 256kb & 1 mb SIMMs. Parity is not used in STE and SIMMs with parity works aswell, but have been known to cause problems for some. The speed should be 120ns or faster, usually speed is not a problem, since slower SIMMs are somewhat rare. The following memory configurations are possible: 512kb, 1mb, 2mb, 2,5mb* & 4 mb. Memory size 512kb 1mb 2mb 4mb 2.5mb* SIMM Socket 1 256kb 256kb 1mb 1mb 1mb SIMM Socket 2 empty 256kb empty 1mb 256kb SIMM Socket 3 256kb 256kb 1mb 1mb 1mb SIMM Socket 4 empty 256kb empty 1mb 256kb

Important notes: Going all out with 4mb is really nice, and since SIMMs are abundant today it is cheap too. But keep in mind, that due to some programmers lack of understanding of the hardware, some software (mostly older games) will accidentally write past the 4mb barrier, which causes a hard buserror. So, if some apps/games stops working after the upgrade, just yank 2 mb out and you’ll be safe. This ”bug” is not STE specific, it applies to all STs aswell. *After you have installed 2.5mb in your STE, it will not configure memory correctly. Your STE will actually believe it has 4mb. If this is a bug in TOS, or because the MMU officially doesn’t support 2.5mb, I’ll leave for others to decide. A program called simmfix exist to fix this, and if you do not apply it right after boot, you will find that your STE crashes very easily, in fact, I’d be surprised if you can do anything but look at the desktop without it crashing.

Good luck with your upgrade! At the keyboard: greenious@hotmail.com