Mountain Zebra National Park

Tanya and I are trying out national parks which are not the Kruger. Last year we went to Camdeboo (on our way to Kruger), this year we decided to give the Mountain Zebra park a try. It’s a bit further away, next to Cradock, pretty much on the other side of the Valley of Desolation. Also, they have lions and cheetah, which Camdeboo lacks.

Along the way I played with my Canon 100D’s HDR feature (it takes three pictures bracketing two F stops either way, then later you combine them in Lightroom or some such) — this is the road from Nieu-Bethesda.

Breakfast in Cradock. It was National Woman’s Day, so Tanya’s latte was on the house.

A mountain zebra is the shaggy pony edition of a payama donkey. When the park was started, there were only about 60 of them left (the quagga had already been hunted to extinction a century before that), these days there are more than 5000.

Our first day was windy and overcast, but it got better.

Rock Kestrel.

Yellow mongoose. They’re cute.

Tanya and I both called this a plover, but according to the SASOL book it’s a double-banded Courser which is a dry country wader (if such a thing is possible) with crepuscular habits (which sounds terrible but just means they forage at dusk and dawn).

This one had a chick which was almost impossible to photograph.

We suspect that people have been feeding the ground squirrels — they come running straight up to the car and strike this pose.

More yellow mongoose.

There are differing opinions on why it’s called a Secretary bird. I tend to agree with Wikipedia (check this thing’s skeleton while you’re there), the feathers do look like the pen stuck behind a secretary’s ear. But maybe that’s too colonialist for the bird on South Africa’s coat of arms, so some claim that it’s Arabic for “hunting bird”. Either way, I wouldn’t mess with it.

Bat-eared foxes.

We also saw hartbees, kudu, eland, reedbuck, buffalo, porcupine… but let’s talk about cheetah.

The Mountain Zebra National Park has an activity “Drive out with your guide to search for the elusive Mountain Zebra National Park cheetahs. When signal from a collared cheetah is found, you will have the opportunity to get closer on foot.” Having now done this, I strongly suspect the guide fairly quickly figures out where the cheetah is, then takes you the long way around to find it — so as to give you value for money.

See? Cheetah. Right there.

(Yea, it was kind of underwhelming).

So after checking out on Wednesday, we decided to stay in the park a bit longer, so I drove up the Kranskop loop, around the Rooiplaat loop and down the link road to the dam where we had seen the zebras before (close to the E tip of the compass rose on the official map). Sat there drinking coffee, eating ham&cheese sarmies that Tanya had made earlier, didn’t see much, decided to leave. As I pulled out I looked over my shoulder… hmmm. What’s that?

Positioned the car, Tanya going click click, and I noticed…

…another one pop up.

After a while they started moving and I repositioned on the other side of a particularly pesky bush. By then #2 had moved to the other side so for a while we thought there might be three of them. They moved away, I guessed where they were going to go and drove around.

Got it a bit wrong, went too far (the lookout point at the dam is on the far side of Tanya’s head from here, and they’re headed straight for the dam).

Tanya’s shooting the 600mm off a window stedilens (an overpriced essential), I’m shooting a 300mm handheld. These two pics are 600mm uncropped.

Walk walk walk… flop. Yea, they’re cats.


Good times.

Digital Necromancy

As mentioned before, back in the late eighties I built a 68000-based computer. Last time I messed with it was probably in 1991, 30 years or so ago.

Well, it still lives. It runs a hacked version of MVME101bug, and I also have Gordon Brandly’s Tiny Basic along with a bit of code to copy it to RAM at 0x002000 and run it there.

But I have given up trying to hack MVME101bug any further. These days I have the source for the Motorola MC68000 ECB TUTOR monitor, and I know how to compile it, and it’s basically the same thing*, so that’s where I’m going next.

* In addition to the TUTORNEW commands, MVME101Bug has BI (initialise block of memory), BD, BH, BO (bootstrap from floppy), and IOP, IOT (disk I/O). It takes up aroung 22k of EPROM space, while TUTOR had to fit in 16k. I will worry about that when I get there.

Really large PCB

If you need an oscilloscope, or you have an oscilloscope that needs a service, Peter is your man*. I bought an Elteknix OS 620 from him, gave him my Hitachi V650F to service.

In his stash of stuff he had a large PCB with a 68000 on it. Obviously an arcade game of some type, I recognised the JAMMA connector. Gave me a bad case of the 10th Commandment. So he gave it to me.

Apart from the 68000 there’s also a Z80, in close proximity to the only surface-mount IC on the main PCB. Said IC is a MSM6295, a sound chip used in many games, so this does not narrow down what we actually have here. But some searching for the text on the ROMs pointed me at this ROM image, and some further searching gave me this auction.

So it’s a bootleg Street Fighter II.

It’s also to far gone to save, IMO.

Interesting mix of chips, very heavy on the programmables, with lots of GALs, an OTP 27512 and three HY18CV8 EEPLDs. I found the array of 74597 shift registers interesting, I wonder whether they shift the content of the rather large (10 Mbit) ROM / EPROM array straight out to video (maybe to create the background).

And interesting to note, it’s all on two PCB layers.

So now I’m conflicted as to whether I should strip it for spares or mount it in a lightbox for display.

*Assuming you’re in the Cape Town area, that is.

Long haired teenager

This little one has really long tassels on her ossicones. This was close to Crocodile Bridge, note the farmland in the background.

With eyes on the side of their heads, antelope don’t have binocular vision, so they can’t perceive depth. But as you can see from this photograph, this one can just about see behind her head.

Greetings, earthling.