September 2023

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.