Moroccan Chicken Stew with Green Beans

Green beans being relatively cheap and quite plentyful at the moment.

The original recipe uses cooked chicken. I used four thighs. Season and fry in the black pot, remove. Fry a chopped onion and some garlic, then add your spices ( original recipe calls for Tandoori spice which is basically paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander and cardamom. I used five spice and added cumin and coriander) and some tomato paste.

Then a tin of chopped tomatoes, a stock cube, a tablespoon honey, and a handful of lentils. Add the chicken and enough water to cover.

Meanwhile boil your fresh green beans cut into 1cm lengths in water with lots of salt. Drain all the water, rinse with cold water.

Cook until the lentils are done, remove the chicken and remove the meat from the bones, stick the meat back in the pot, add the beans, and you’re done. Serve with rice.


Kids today…

I have a… idunno, I guess I’m (one of) his Elmer(s) but I don’t know what that makes him. PFY, maybe. Told him I’d drop some stuff off for him to use to try to revive the PLL on an Icom IC-240 (the TC5080 had snuffed it).

Anywayz, so this Whatsapp convo goes down:

(Yea, I wind him up. I feel it’s my duty).

Dogs and Stormy Weather

This was Sunday, the 24th of September. Cape Field Trial Club Retriever Field Trial competition. They need someone to make a loud noise* while someone else tosses a dead bird (or sometimes a live one) and then doggie has to fetch (in this specific event the tossed bird was a decoy, the dog first had to fetch three other birds and not the one it saw going down — a Real Test of control, both self- for the dog and the control over the dog by the handler).

In the picture above, we’re next to the Bot River close to the town of, well, Botrivier. By the time we left there was an inch of water on the ground.

This was a part of the N2 heading back home. They closed it later the evening.

This was the Bot River the next morning. The bridge washed away a bit later.

We were supposed to do it again on the Monday, but with the N2 and at least three of the alternative routes closed that event was cancelled.

My shooting buddy was trapped in Pringle Bay until Wednesday afternoon, waiting for debris to be cleared off one of the two roads available to him (the other one might take a while they say).

So if anyone asks what I did during the Great Storm of 2023, I can say that I was sitting in the rain playing with some dogs.

* And South African gun laws being what they are, not just anybody can make the noise. You need a licence and stuff. So they call on us, and we like it because free ammo, they treat us like royalty and we get a nice certificate out of it, for NHSA purposes.

Peek & Poke


Rijeka is home to quite a large computer museum (as these things go, and measured in number of computers, not floor space). You will find the expected Apple / Atari / Commodore / IBM PC and clones… but those don’t interest me so much. What is interesting is the cold war East Bloc stuff that we never got to see or experience in the West.

Unfortunately a lot of the exhibits are behind glass and don’t photograph well.

This is an Ivel Ultra, a Croatian Apple II compatible computer designed by Branimir Makanec and developed by Ivasim Elektronika (in Ivanic Grad close to Zagreb) around 1984. It has a Z-80 (for CP/M) onboard like Franklin did with the Ace 1200.

The Robik is a Soviet ZX Spectrum clone produced between 1989 and 1994 in the Ukraine.

Spica Ines: A decent keyboard for your ZX Spectrum. And a bare PCB would be easier to import as “washing machine parts” than the whole computer…

Much more interesting (and also an unavoidable self-portrait) is the Galaksija.

In 1983, Voja Antonić designed the Galaksija, using a Z-80 processor, some interesting hardware and some hectic software to render the screen directly from memory using interrupts and code that does nothing in a very specific way while using the Z-80 RAM refresh function to pipe the scan lines to the monitor.

The design was published in the October 1983 issue of Galaksija magazine (hence the name) and at least 8000 of these things were built. At least.

Several versions of the PCB has now been recreated, and there’s even a way to get graphics if you have enough memory.

Then there are the commercial “home” computers. The Galeb (“Seagull”, codename YU101) was an 8-bit computer developed by the PEL Varaždin company in the early 1980s. Only 250 were produced by the end of the summer of 1984, before being replaced by the Orao. It’s a 6502 machine “inspired by the Compukit UK101” but if this Ferguson Big Board “(C) Mikro Slovenija” is an indication, it might have been very similar indeed.

One of the Galeb prototypes.

The Orao (“Eagle”) replaced the Orao. Still 6502 based, it was developed by PEL Varaždin in 1984. It was used as a standard primary and secondary school computer from 1985 to 1991.

The Pecom 32  and Pecom 64 were 1802-based educational/home computers developed by Elektronska Industrija Niš of Serbia in 1985. Both had 32k RAM and 16k ROM, but the Pecom 64 supported colour while the Pecom 32 was B&W, as far as I can tell.

These used the standard 1802 (CDP1869 + CDP1870) VIS display system.

The GETI 3220 is an AY-3-8500-based pong game made by Gorenje, who is better known for their household appliances (our fridge in Globoka is a Gorenje).

They also have calculators.

Lots of calculators.

I have a Triumph/Adler 108T, that Triumph looks like an 81S.

I also have the exact same Tvornica Računskih Strojeva TRS612 calculator, although mine is missing a few pieces. Made in Zagreb in the seventies.

They also have TVs, and audio equipment, and cameras, and test equipment. And I have the exact same Philips PM2421 Nixie-tube multimeter (top center of pic).

They cram a lot into 300 square meters.

I knew there was a camera, but I never knew there was a printer for the Game Boy. You could take a picture, print it out (in glorious monochrome) — the electronic version of Polaroid.

A bit more modern but still historically significant — the badge for the Hackaday Conference in Belgrade, 2018.

The website mentions that they’re looking for bigger premises. I will have to go back someday.




Wetter than ever before

We’re still expecting a bit more rain this year (it’s raining at the moment) and we’ve already received more rain this year than at this time in the past 42 years.

Look at that graph. At least three places where the slope is pushing 90 degrees.

It’s official. It pissed down this past winter.


We decided to go to Zagreb for the weekend, then take it from there (meaning that I’d booked accommodation in Zagreb earlier, but everything else would be based on the weather (yes, it was still raining. And a month later my brother experienced high thirties. And (since I’m blogging this retro-actively) three months later they had some of the worst floods ever), what we felt like and where we could find accommodation).

The place I booked is on Josipa Kozarca and it’s a little strange, but not in a bad way. Nice big bath, private little dungeon with a massage table… yea OK. Whatever floats your boat. It has a washing machine, and it’s close to the Britanski Trg market, where I could have bought all kinds of interesting things, but sanity prevailed.

We had lunch at the nearby Bistro & Pizzeria BAS, where the small Calzone looks like this (which is a good thing, since it was 7 Euro at the time, at R22/Euro). Recommended.

I have a mental image of how they serve the eggs and sausage… anyway, moving right along.

Saturday morning we went walkabout, to the Dolac market, up Opatovina ulica to the park of the same name…

My old enemy, stairs this is Mlinske stube, at the other end of which you will find Caffe Bar Domus, a great place to have a beer at 10:15 in the morning after having climbed all those stairs.

Here they figure that the dragon was more of a catfish, looks like.

Yea, it was raining a bit, lens got a few drops on it.


Enough of Zagreb. We’ll go there again. We decided to go to Zadar, via the Hrelic Sunday market which is just too huge for a picture.

Tanya had a very valid question — if they have all these beautiful markets (and they do), how come their food is mostly meat-on-a-stick or sausage-on-a-bun?

From Zadar we drove up the coast to Rijeka, where I went to the Peek & Poke computer museum and Tanya had a McDonalds burger. Different strokes.

Opatija’s Girl with Seagull.

Pula has the oldest and I think nicest colosseum in the world. It was built from 27 BC – 68 AD. They play soccer in it.

We stayed in a very nice apartment on Ulica Nikola Tesla, which is just on the other side of Crkva sv. Anton (St. Anthony’s).

Herman Potočnik a.k.a. H.P. Noordung was born in Pula, of Slovenian parents who moved to Maribor when he was about two years old. He conceptualised the first space station (before 1928 when his only book was published) and unfortunately died way too young at 36.

And then we drove back to Globoka, getting lunch at Atlantida in Koper — they have a daily two-course set menu, in this case Pumpkin Soup with Hazelnut and Moroccan Chicken with a salad, for €10.50. Tanya complained that the salad (that’s it, next to the camera) did not meet the sales brief.

I had a beer. Actually (checks invoice) I had two beers. At €3 each. But they are 500ml.

CMAC R2133 20.48MHz TCVCXO

I have two PCBs from a piece of defunct Nortel equipment with this oscillator. CMAC R2133 Freq 20.48 MHz. Looking at the circuitry around it, there’s a 16-bit DAC (AD7846), a 5V regulator (78L05) and a buffer (74F00). Google could not find me a datasheet, so I removed the oscillator to trace the pinouts (Nortel used the outside layers as groundplane, you will see nearly every trace goes from a component to a via. Makes it difficult).

Pin 1 is 0V, pin 2 is the output, pin 3 is 5V, and pin 16 is the control voltage from the DAC which is configured to supply 0-5V out via the 51R1 resistor R40 and a 47u capacitor C77. The output goes to pin 2 of the 74F00 via 33R2 R53.

I posted the above pic to Facebook, within an hour or two someone sent me the datasheet (well, the Nortel spec sheet, which is basically the datasheet in reverse). It is indeed a TCVCXO, pinouts as I’d already determined (pins 4-15 are N/C), giving -10 to -15 ppm with 0V on the control pin and +10 to +15 ppm with 4V on the control pin.

Stick this thing through an 11 stage binary counter and you get 10 kHz, add a PIC and a GPS and it could be the most accurate thing on your bench.

Ljubljana Invaders

I first spotted these invaders back in 2021. Apparently there were 20 installed in 2006 and a further 22 in 2020.

I found a few more but nowhere near all of them.

This one on Stari Trg.

Židovska steza.

Na Jami on my way to the Ljubljana Computer Museum.

So now I’m up to seven… out of 42… gotta go to Ljubljana again I guess.


Slovenia, 2023

We decided to take the train from Budapest to Ljubljana. Had fun finding the ticket office (can’t buy from the machine because International).

The ticket office it through that door. The one that looks like a radiation hazard.

The train trip takes all day, so pack food & drink and a book. We got to Ljubljana around 1700. It was raining. _sigh_

We didn’t feel like going far so we ended up at the wine bar next door, they’re either part of or affiliated with or VAR-ing the burger place next to them, so it was burgers and wine on the menu.

This is where we stayed in Ljubljana.

Right next to the “Erotic Shop”.

Quite a nice area, really.

No, seriously. Right next to the Dragon bridge, and despite the graffiti the place is clean (Europe in general is clean, Ljubljana very much so) and quiet and we had a river view.

(OK I’m joking about the river view. I mean, that is the river down there, technically, but…)

Same thing as in Budapest. Father went to Dachau, mother went to Auschwitz, kid died fighting. “Osvobojen” = “freed”, so amazingly both Evgen and Amalija survived the war. Or that’s how I read it.

Anyway. Not so many nice pictures of the scenery because the weather was kind of miserable.

We went up the funicular to the castle, climbed the staircase all the way to the top, then walked down the hill.

Yes, it was raining a bit.

We stopped at the Apotheka coctail bar for a beer and a hot chocolate. Excellent, recommended.

The next day the sun was out and we got a few better pictures.

We went to see the Plečnik library. For 5 euros per person, this is what you can see. The reading room, with NO BOOKS. Oh, and the staircase is also included as an attraction. NOT recommended.

Yea, we didn’t know either.

Anyway, the main point of Ljubljana was to go to the Friday market (which rained out) and to get a car. Ended up hiring a car from They’re a bit bait and switchy in that you can’t book a car through their website, and their special (20 Euro / day for the 25 Euro / day cheapie if you take it for two weeks or more) is only available if you book it. So I ended up with the 25 Euro / day option. Which was still the best price out there.

The weather forecast told me that this Monday was going to have the best weather of the whole week, so I made a beeline to Jeruzalem, specifically lunch at the Gostišče Taverna. Recommended.

And from Jeruzalem it’s only a short trip home (where “home” = our Vikend in Globoka).

The rest of the week was kind of meh, weather-wise. We went to Varaždin for lunch and Ptuj for second-hand clothes (lots of second-hand clothes) and for the rest stayed in, made fire, cooked, and drank. Which is probably no different from what we would have done had the sun been shining.

Then for the weekend we went to Zagreb, and from there to Zadar and Pula, but that’s for a different blog post.