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Control Freak

 

With the incline built and at least a couple of locos proved with 5 coaches, it was time to power up Evenley. The control panel was built about 2 years ago. See http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/blog/1225/entry-12779-time-flies/. The only modification has been the addition of bell tappers instead of push buttons.

 

I fixed it in place with hinges and wired between the choc blocks on the panel and those on the baseboards. I also ran the connections between it and a double gaugemaster simulator controller and the Banbury panel.

 

Hey presto, the station was working. Trains ran, sections isolated etc. I just needed to connect the frog of the down goods loop exit to the correct lever. That point is not on the original station baseboard.

 

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Next stage was to power up the servos. I hitched a 12v dc power pack to the power buss for the MERG Servo4 boards (6 of them to operate the points and signals at Evenley - each board can operate 4 servos) and ....life! Now for the proof of the pudding....and operating lever 3 made ..... Point 17 throw. Oh.... Not right.

 

A bit of investigation and I found I had reversed some of the choc blocks on my diagrams. Lesson? Always write diagrams looking from the front! Anyhow, some swapping of wires and the switches were coordinated again.

 

Now my only problem is one of the MERG servo4 boards is dead, so I need to swap that out.

 

Some of the points needed minor setting alterations. This is done off a laptop using a little program from MERG. You see I stick my servos directly to the underside of the baseboard using this type of sticking pad. I have bent wire through the servo arm and up through the hole in the point's tie bar. I think a few of them got slightly knocked when the removal guys brought the boards over during the house move. A couple of them chattered when thrown (suggesting they weren't reaching the programmed full throw) and a couple weren't throwing far enough.

 

For the two single slips at the up end I had decided to use Y leads so that 1 channel on a Servo4 would operate the 2 servos needed for each slip. It seemed like a good idea, but there can only be one open and one closed setting per channel. So both servos will move exactly the same amount. These had never really been tested to be honest. Now, in reality, one slip works brilliantly which (now I think about it) is rather remarkable! The other, doesn't. So I am going to put each servo on a separate channel, but operated from a single lever.

 

I have yet to put the signals back in place and test them. I need to be feeling brave.

 

The design intertwines the signals and track control between the various panels. So when I pull off the down advanced starter lever, control of Evenley Down side gets transfered to Banbury panel. Evenley Up controls the up line from the storage loops and continuous run when Banbury panel selects that option. It could choose Buckingham West if its a through train. In due course pulling off Evenley's Up starter will transfer power to Buckingham West.

 

The real fun happens on the branch where, depending on the signals and points power could come from either controller at Evenley, Buckingham West or Brackley Road. However, for a few days I had no power to the branch at all. Just one little wire missing on the back of the panel! I eventually found it though.

 

The junction signals at Evenley also interlock with the points, so the signals will not display a route at variance from the points. Distance signals will not pull off without all the Homes and Starters being off.

 

 

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The 64xx having brought 5 coaches easily up the incline and into Evenley.

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I like the look of those bell tappers!

 

Where did you find those?

 

One day, my new terminus layout will hopefully have home made block instruments as per Denny and those would be a very nice basis.

 

Tony

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Hi Tony,

 

I found them on flea bay. They come from Hong Kong. Look up Morse Code tappers.

 

I'm using bell codes but not block instruments. I know, sacrilage!

 

Rich

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Hi Tony,

 

I found them on flea bay. They come from Hong Kong. Look up Morse Code tappers.

 

I'm using bell codes but not block instruments. I know, sacrilage!

 

Rich

 

Many thanks. I did have a look on the web but didn't know what to put in to find them.

 

Once you have had a "play" with the block instruments here you might end up wanting to add them, even if you do it later. They are very useful in helping us remember just where we are up to in the "sending train" or "receiving train" sequence of events.

 

Cheers,

 

Tobny

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I took delivery today of my Dukedog with Shirtbutton. Sorry, forgot to photograph it.

 

Straight from the box it pulled 3 coaches up the bank. A bit of wheel spin towards the top though.

 

Its been running in since and now needs another test. I will also add some lead anyway and check the spring on the bogie. Previous investigations by Ray (Longsheds) found the spring pulled the front drivers up, off the track a touch. The most it will have to tackle is three coaches anyway. Its a gorgeous looking loco.

 

Whilst the Dukedog was running in, I changed the dead MERG Servo4 board. There were signs of life in a couple of the servos, but all was not well. The board ran hot and I could not ilicit any proper response via the laptop or the switches. Hmmm, I'm going off electronics. So I now have two boards to check out and fix. It may just be time to build another from scratch.

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I have been asked to show the back of the Evenley panel. So...

 

post-15300-0-22548900-1446072572_thumb.jpg

 

I checked the swapped out Servo4 board. All the checks on the MERG instructions were right, but still no joy. That one's a case for a very rainy day or a pleading session with one of the experts at the club.

 

The second board worked perfectly. How annoying, but helpful. I now need to check all the wiring before I connect it back up.

 

Anyway, here's a shot of the Dukedog (correct livery and numbering for my period - thank you for listening Bachmann). The Director is behind. Its just come in from the Great Central via Banbury - of course.

 

post-15300-0-03716000-1446072953_thumb.jpg

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I still need to sort out the last Servo4 board at Evenley. Some of the wiring to it was wrong as well as the board being dead. Linked?????? Who knows. Anyway, i hope to sort that tonight.

 

In the meantime, I built 2 more MERG Servo4 boards. These will be used for the points and bracket signals at Charlton Junction - the double junctions.

 

These boards are quite easy to build if you follow the instructions fully and can solder in a small and tidy fashion.

 

They are excellent value and MERG is very supportive.

 

post-15300-0-02726800-1446316223_thumb.jpg

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A few traces with a multi-meter, a few checks on a wiring diagram, two little wires added and problem solved. All sections working, all points working. I've even added the servo to the trailing point where the goods loop joins the down main.

 

About a year and a half ago, I packaged my signals up for the house move. I carried the box in my car rather than have it in the lorry. Its been in a cupboard ever since. Last night I got them out. There had been one slight casualty: a ladder had come loose. Apart from that, they all looked ok. I connected them to the MERG Servo4s, powered up and....they (nearly) all worked. One needed a minor adjustment on the settings. It jittered when pulled off. The one that now has the independant ladder also needs some attention to the wire between the lever at the base of the post and the arm. The servo moves the lever, but the wire just bows, leaving the arm at danger. It won't take much to sort. Just a bit of fettlin'!

 

I am delighted and have a functioning Evenley station.

 

There are a couple of bits of wiring to change on the panel. The signals are designed to not pull off if the route is wrong. Its a very basic type of interlocking: very basic! The points can be changed as one sees fit, but whilst you can operate any signal lever on the panel, that signal will not clear if the points are against it. Quite simply, you drive in response to the signals.

 

Thats the theory. In practice the down main platform starter can be pulled off even if the points are over to the branch. Whats even worse is that it can be pulled off at the same time as the branch doll on the same bracket. Whoops.

 

The up goods can also be pulled off when the line is directed into the headshunt. Not good!

 

It won't take much to alter that. Each switch on the panel is a DPDT. One pole operates the item itself (point or signal) and the other either switches the feed to another lever (like the point lever switching power on or off to the signal switch) or for switching power/frog polarity etc.

 

So here is a view from the centre of Evenley looking Down. Left to right the signals are: down goods (note the trap point just beyond), up home, up branch bracket (main and bay), down platform starter bracket (main and branch) and the bay starter. I really must clear all the boxes and crap away! That 64xx also needs to be back dated.

 

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The next shot is looking Up, and left to right shows the up main starter and the up goods starter. Ahead of them the two single slips can be seen. They provide a trailing crossover, trailing access back from the up main onto the goods line and yard and direct access, straight accross the mainlines from the goods line to the quarry. Incidentally, the small building on the left is facing one of the two small private sidings.

 

post-15300-0-31673300-1446767040_thumb.jpg

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Making good progress Richard, I need to catch you up!

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A very productive weekend.

 

A very exhausting (am I getting old?) Friday evening and long Saturday doing my bit at my club's exhibition - Wycrail - with HWDMRS. Followed by this morning altering some wiring behind the Evenley panel to ensure all the signals are subserient to the point settings.

 

I have one servo to stick on again. I pulled it off to widen the hole below the tie bar. Thats for tomorrow.

 

I got the first few wagons out this afternoon and found most had plastic wheels, so I spent this evening's TV changing wheels to metal. Only about 100 to go! Ha ha.

 

Rich

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I didn't stick that servo on until today. I mended a signal too. They are all working now, and the simple interlocking, or more correctly signals that won't clear against a wrong road, are all working correctly.

 

However, I have just spent the rest of two and a half hours cleaning track in the storage loops and mostly at Evenley. That was laid about 3 years ago in the loft version and has never really been run on. Just how grubby can it get?????

 

The main problem has been the points. I bought some of those 33 years ago. None had been used before going into Evenley 3 years ago. They are nearly all insulfrog and therefore rely on the wipers on the blades to make contact with the stock rails. Bad design. Well over half, if not most, would not conduct. So I've cleaned them up, bent them into shape again, added Track Magic and adjusted. With a lot of cajoling, they were all working when I ended the session. I am finding that with the servos I cannot get a lot of pressure on the blade into the stock rail. The positioing is fine for the passage of rolling stock, but if I try to increase the pressure and get better elecrical contact by adjusting the servo position, they just buzz/chitter. So often I am not getting a good enough contact between blade and stock.

 

Its my own silly fault. I knew in my heart not to use A- insulfrogs and B-old points. But I had so many already I couldn't bring myself not to.

 

I should have added more track feeds beyond each one, so I don't have to rely on the baldes and contacts. I can see I will be doing this soon.

 

I won't make the same mistake on Buckingham station.

 

So what's the betting that when I next play... Whoops... Test the layout, there will be some dead sections?

 

Incidently, where there are connections made, the locos traverse the insulfrogs far better than I imagined.

Edited by Richard Mawer
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Realy nice work on those semaphores...

 

 

 

 

cheers neil.

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Many thanks. I did have a look on the web but didn't know what to put in to find them.

 

Once you have had a "play" with the block instruments here you might end up wanting to add them, even if you do it later. They are very useful in helping us remember just where we are up to in the "sending train" or "receiving train" sequence of events.

 

Cheers,

 

Tobny

 

It's a fairly easy job to make up a couple of block instruments using cheap needle-pattern voltmeters. They don't even need to be centre-off if you wire a variable resistor into the circuit.

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It's a fairly easy job to make up a couple of block instruments using cheap needle-pattern voltmeters. They don't even need to be centre-off if you wire a variable resistor into the circuit.

So how would I do this? Obviously applying power across the meter: zero to be at one extreme, central votage set via the variable resistor and the other extreme by full voltage. I presume selected by a 3 way switch. Would I need a load betwwen the two wires? Surely I can't just connect the voltmeter between the two wires from the controller /switch?? What load would be sensible?

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So how would I do this? Obviously applying power across the meter: zero to be at one extreme, central votage set via the variable resistor and the other extreme by full voltage. I presume selected by a 3 way switch. Would I need a load betwwen the two wires? Surely I can't just connect the voltmeter between the two wires from the controller /switch?? What load would be sensible?

 

Unfortunately my control panel's packed away at the moment (from last year's house move) - next time I dig it out I'll try to sketch out the circuit, but that's pretty much it. If memory serves, I don't think I used a load - I think the voltmeter's internal circuitry acts as the load.

 

Of course anything else wired into the DC power supply (e.g. station lighting) will also act as a load. 

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It's a fairly easy job to make up a couple of block instruments using cheap needle-pattern voltmeters. They don't even need to be centre-off if you wire a variable resistor into the circuit.

 

I think that this type of instrument was described in a fairly recent (2-3- years ago) MRJ article, by Steve Hall if my memory is working. It did seem a neat solution although possibly not too easy to create something with a "period" look or feel.

 

I have some lovely home made instruments on Buckingham to copy and they have three lights rather than a needle. They work perfectly well but a needle is that bit more prototypical.

 

I had wondered about using a needle with a steel dropper/weight on the back of the pivot. this would normally hang down in a vertical position with perhaps a spring bias to hold it central. A electro-magnet or solenoid either side would pull it one way or the other. It would probably give a nice prototypical "clunk" each time it was activated, which appeals to me. It is one of those ideas that has been in the back of my mind for years now and with all the projects I am involved with taking up my time, it may stay there for a while longer yet. .

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All this talk of block instruments reminded me to get the Banbury/Charlton control panel finished. So I have finally added the labels. It makes a bit more sense now.

 

Not a lot more has progressed this week.

 

post-15300-0-43704700-1448059952_thumb.jpg

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I think that this type of instrument was described in a fairly recent (2-3- years ago) MRJ article, by Steve Hall if my memory is working. It did seem a neat solution although possibly not too easy to create something with a "period" look or feel.

 

 

 

Previously described by CJF in a book on signalling some years ago - (which is where I got the idea from, albeit that the book used centre zero meters), and he was recounting having seen it done some years before that, so by no means a new idea.

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All this talk of block instruments reminded me to get the Banbury/Charlton control panel finished. So I have finally added the labels. It makes a bit more sense now.

 

Not a lot more has progressed this week.

 

attachicon.gifimage.jpg

 

Looking very neat!

 

A bit neater than......

 

post-1457-0-55249400-1448105163_thumb.jpg

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Tony - without wanting to hijack the thread, how's the rebuild going?

 

It is slightly on topic due to the thread title and GCR connection!

 

Put it this way, last night, a good friend came round and we spent three hours operating the timetable, with the layout running very nicely. There is still much to be done. Leighton Buzzard is still not attached, so all the Leighton Buzzard trains terminate at Grandborough (perhaps a horse drawn bus replacement service is in force!). Quite a few signals don't work mechanically and there are many places where scenic work needs patching up but basically, we have an operational layout, with all the stock on it, that gives my and my small band of operators, a huge amount of pleasure.

 

As we finished last night, we agreed that it was probably the best that the layout has run since it has been here and I thought to myself what a lucky sod I am as I have what I think (OK - I am biased!) is the best layout ever built to look after and operate.

 

The photo above was taken in 2008, which was the first time I visited the layout in Cornwall. Apart from the fact that at the moment there is only one block instrument and we don't have power to the bulbs, it looks just like that now.

 

So thanks for asking and I am happy to say that all is well with the old layout. We have made excellent progress and the remaining tasks are being tackled in a gentle, unhurried and most enjoyable way!

 

Tony 

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It is slightly on topic due to the thread title and GCR connection!

 

Put it this way, last night, a good friend came round and we spent three hours operating the timetable, with the layout running very nicely. There is still much to be done. Leighton Buzzard is still not attached, so all the Leighton Buzzard trains terminate at Grandborough (perhaps a horse drawn bus replacement service is in force!). Quite a few signals don't work mechanically and there are many places where scenic work needs patching up but basically, we have an operational layout, with all the stock on it, that gives my and my small band of operators, a huge amount of pleasure.

 

As we finished last night, we agreed that it was probably the best that the layout has run since it has been here and I thought to myself what a lucky sod I am as I have what I think (OK - I am biased!) is the best layout ever built to look after and operate.

 

The photo above was taken in 2008, which was the first time I visited the layout in Cornwall. Apart from the fact that at the moment there is only one block instrument and we don't have power to the bulbs, it looks just like that now.

 

So thanks for asking and I am happy to say that all is well with the old layout. We have made excellent progress and the remaining tasks are being tackled in a gentle, unhurried and most enjoyable way!

 

Tony

 

All bodes well for a couple of week's time!

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Having sorted the points and signals at Evenley, it was time to make the double junctions at Charlton Junction operable. So this is how I do it:-

 

At present the points have had their centre springs removed and they are held in position by bluetac.

 

post-15300-0-51805600-1448575216_thumb.jpg

 

This is the part of the Banbury Control Panel that operates the points. It would be nice and easy to simply have each switch operate a point. But that is too simple for me. I will be adding a bracket signal at the toe of each facing point and a home signal on each of the two lines trailing in from Banbury and Evenley. It has become one of the requirements of my layout that the signals will only clear when the corresponding route is clear. As I the Banbury panel is likely to be operated by either the Evenley man or the Brackley Road man I didn't want the Banbury Panel to get bogged down with individual switches (unlike the stations). Therefore I needed to make sure that the signal arms reflected how the points are set, just using the point switches. I have yet to make the signals, but the wiring had to be ready.

 

The four switches on the panel are DPDT and as only two of the points are live frog, only two halfs of two switches are needed for switching the frogs.

 

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I devised the wiring from simple logic questions. "If this point is set this way, what is dependant on it etc etc". This led to the wiring diagram shown below.

 

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I use servos and MERG Servo4 driver boards. Here are the two junctions and the two Servo4 boards screwed into the framework. Each board drives up to 4 servos. I could have just used one board for the four points, but as I want signals, each board will drive two points and a bracket signal. I will need more boards to do the home signals and I will add distant signals later as well.

 

post-15300-0-99215700-1448575261_thumb.jpg

 

To use servos, you also need a power supply. I keep this separate from the track supplies and use either a 9v or 12 V DC power pack. This will power all the Servo4 boards at this end of the room.

 

post-15300-0-89432000-1448575272_thumb.jpg

 

On the MERG Servo4 driver board you set up a position of the servo arm for when a simple circuit from the board to a return is made (connected) and another position for when that circuit is broken. You also set the speed at which the servo travels from one setting to the other, and back again. So all they need is a simple on/off switch. To fit a complete board operating 4 servos you therefore only need 5 wires (the return is common) and a power supply.

 

Of course, you also need the servos. I use Tower Pro SG 90s. These now seem to be model railway standards. I fit the single arm and then bend piano wire through the predrilled holes to leave a fairly strong wire sticking up above the servo.

 

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I fix them to the bottom of the baseboard with double sided sticking tape. I read an article once that talked of Servo Tape in the States. I couldn't find any here so tried a variety of type of sticky tape and pads. All failed (some sooner than others) apart from the No Nails pads.

 

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I simply stick the servo flat to the underside of the board, with the wire sticking up through the hole in the tie bar. Make sure you remove the sticky label off the servo before you attach the pad. Otherwise you simple stick the label to the baseboard! If I get the dimensions of the wire right, it doesn't need any trimming, but occasionally I need to cut the top off to prevent fowling of stock.

 

post-15300-0-69524000-1448575349_thumb.jpg

 

So far the sticky pads have stuck for over three years, in the loft and garage conditions. They even survived the removals men (apart from one!). Of course since I decided on that approach, there have been many servo brackets and holders come to the market. These look good, but cost about twice as much as the servos themselves. My way seems to work for me. If they fail, I propose to use Evostick! My answer for most things!!

 

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post-15300-0-61628900-1448575332_thumb.jpg

 

By the way, you need to make sure the servos are in their central positions before you stick them under the points. If not, when you power up first time, they will swing to the centre and can damage the points.

 

Once in place you need to connect the servo to the Servo4 board. This may entail the use of some extension leads. I got mine off ebay.

 

post-15300-0-10016800-1448575295_thumb.jpg

 

Finally you plug in a PC via a serial cable and using the MERG software you programme each start and end points and the speeds. The servos move as you move the sliders on the PC. Once happy with the settings, you "send" them to the board and save them to a file for future use if needed. Once they have been sent to the board, the panel switches will work.

 

post-15300-0-94238800-1448575358_thumb.jpg

 

post-15300-0-34230700-1448575370.jpg

 

All I now need to do is make the signals, connect them up to the Servo4 board and set the servo travel limits. As long as my wiring at the control panel is correct they should clear when the correct road is set.

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I am a lucky guy. This weekend I achieved something I have wanted to do for about 35 years, but never really thought I ever would.

 

For me, the enjoyment of model railways is operation. I enjoy recreating the glory days of block sections, communication by bell codes, plenty of varied stock and locos, timetables crammed with interesting and varied trains, trailing points only, run rounds, shunting, private sidings and industry, puzzling how to get trains through complicated and restricted track layouts. I'm not so keen on building layouts, but I do like working out wiring or timetables. So for me, certain layouts appeal instantly - those with operating potential.

 

Since my teens I have been fascinated by Peter Denny's Buckingham Great Central. I don't think there are many better concepts. So much so, that my own layout is more than a tip of the cap in his direction. I make no bones about it.

 

But over and above the concept, Peter hand built the whole thing (with help from a few good friends and family of course as is well documented). The layout was ground breaking and he was never daunted by the fact that whatever he wanted to do had not been done before. He found a way round and invented so many things that are now common place, and most of it from wood, scrap, string, nails, all sorts of odds and ends. One of his locos has a wooden chassis and still runs. Its older than me!

 

The layout even has its own homemade analogue computer so there is always another operator. It looks like something out of Bletchly Park. He really was ahead of his time.

 

When Peter passed away a few years back, I feared the layout was to go the way of many classics, but it hasn't and Tony Gee has taken it on and is restoring it.

 

I am delighted that this weekend I spent a massively enjoyable few hours fulfilling that boyhood dream in the company of Tony Gee, Tony Lambert and the venerable Buckingham. I was not disappointed. The layout is amazing to operate - just great fun. When you stop and consider the age of the stuff it is truly amazing and then when you look at how it runs, the wiring, the work arounds with strings, elastic bands, springs, homemade switches etc, it is mind blowing how it works at all, but it does. And its all interlocked with track power determinded by signals etc. As I said, fairly common stuff now, but in the 1940s and 50s?! That was the age of Hornby Dublo.

 

Here are a few pics taken on the day.

 

 

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There is still work to be done. For example that bunch of wires hangs below Grandborough Junction. Tony is still not quite sure what it all does.

 

Operating Buckingham makes me even more sure that I am building the right layout. I only intend to build one and I look forward to being able to have a bunch of mates over for involved and interesting operating sessions.

 

Thanks Tony and Tony and I hope you continue to restore and enjoy this wonderful layout that is both a piece of history and a contempory compelling layout.

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