Mulbin

Custom hardware / simpit repository. For people who take KSP a little too far.

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It's all that Functional? WOW again! :o

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Ok, I realize that a lot of these projects are a work in progress, but are any of you guys willing to do an Instructibles style DIY tutorial once you have your projects fine tuned? I'd love to make something like this but when I start looking at boards and switches and controllers and... my eyes go cross, and I start twitching a bit. :)

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Ok, I realize that a lot of these projects are a work in progress, but are any of you guys willing to do an Instructibles style DIY tutorial once you have your projects fine tuned? I'd love to make something like this but when I start looking at boards and switches and controllers and... my eyes go cross, and I start twitching a bit. :)

Yeah, definitely. I made mine with modularity in mind, so making this reproducible is part of my goals.

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Ok, I realize that a lot of these projects are a work in progress, but are any of you guys willing to do an Instructibles style DIY tutorial once you have your projects fine tuned? I'd love to make something like this but when I start looking at boards and switches and controllers and... my eyes go cross, and I start twitching a bit. :)

I forgot to post it here, but I put out a three part series on getting started using Arduino+Python+Telemachus to create a controller from scratch:

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I've logged about 350 hours in this game over the past few years. I bought a cheap Logitech joystick for atmospheric flight and it has served pretty well till recently. The yaw pot. has started drifting which makes it nearly impossible to use. I decided that it was time for an upgrade and bought a Saitek X55. Turns out it is useless for this game. I still had the 1 year warranty on the Logitech and was considering exchanging it, but then I got to thinking, why not just build my own controller.

A quick Google search brought up this thread and I'm truly in awe of the work being done here. The only issue is that I'm not that great at moding game files to support a truly custom controller. So with inspiration gatherd from this thread I'm going to embark on build of a customized controller using the plug and play components of the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro. I've already done a proof of concept by soldering up some momentary switches and pots to the existing Logitech boards.

Compared to the work being done here, this will be a very simple build and relative to the Saitek, cheap as well. 20150528_2153131.jpg

For about $20 you get 4 pot inputs and 16 switch inputs, all pre-programmed and plug and play with KSP. Since all the hard work is already done, the main focus of this build will be the fit and finish of the switches and box.

I already have the 4 pots lined up. I pulled the gimbals out of an old, but high end RC transmitter (at the time). The rest of the inputs will be going towards 10 momentary toggles and 6 cherry key switches.

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Nobody planning an overhead console? Realistic, atmospheric, and above all the only thing I can fit in the tiny area around my desk!

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Nobody planning an overhead console? Realistic, atmospheric, and above all the only thing I can fit in the tiny area around my desk!

I originally had plans for a console that would go above and either side of my monitor.

But there aren't enough 'switches' (so far as I calculated) in-game to justify such a space :P

A single above-monitor console would probably work well. Depending on the monitor, it could be attached to the rear Vesa-mount.

Darn it -- now you got me thinking about doing that! :P

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I'm just getting started. I'm at the part collection stage at the moment... But boy do I have some lovely parts! :cool:

KerbalCMAbort.jpg

EVERYONE loves big red glowy buttons! :D

KerbalCMStage.jpg

This was a bad, temporary print. See the meter pic below for a better image of the final insert.

KerbalCMThrottle.jpg

My throttle lever. In a former life, it was the fade controller taken from a video effects board. It's really nice, as it has a screw adjustable tensioner inside it!

KerbalCMVideoBoard.jpg

I will NEVER run out of illuminated buttons with user replaceable labels. EVER. :confused:

**NOTE** this is NOT the command module. I HAVE considered using this as a base for my command module, but I might not. It's a source of buttons and the throttle lever.

KerbalCMVFD.jpg

These displays are 10 inches (24.5 cm) wide!!! I have two.

KerbalCMMeters.jpg

This is an absolutely beautiful image! :D

KerbalCMMetersDetail.jpg

The meters are about 6 inches tall (14.7 cm tall). If you look at the Apollo meters below, you can see that these meters are FAR more similar to the style used than your typical meter. It was very hard to find edgewise meters of this size... and at a reasonable price AND measurement range. They tend to not be cheap. You can get 3 inch edgewise meters for much cheaper. I may need to notch my computer desk to fit this stuff! That's okay though. I built my desk during a time when used to run three CRT monitors. Now I run 3 LCDs. There is some empty space. I can afford to notch it out! :sticktongue:

spsgauges.jpg

Edited by richfiles

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So much lovely hardware there! Very jealous.

Is that a panel-mounted track ball on that effects board? I'd love one of those!

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Yes, that is indeed a panel mounted trackball. The internal connector is the same as an ethernet jack, but obviously different. I do not yet know the protocol.

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That panel is absolutely beautiful for a KSP project. Use that on a horizontal mount with your meters in front, and you are way ahead on the layout side.

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You need to build a complete KSC control room with a Kerbin map on the wall. Those 10" displays are perfect to show position and mission time. There's a lot of people building cockpits, but you got the stuff for Kerbin Control too. Plenty fun for you and five to ten friends. (where do you live by the way?) :-)

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That panel is absolutely beautiful for a KSP project. Use that on a horizontal mount with your meters in front, and you are way ahead on the layout side.

Part of why I'm considering using the panel is simple... It opens like a car hood, complete with spring and lever mechanism that holds it open without a stand rod. You turn those two screws on either side a quarter turn, and lift the front lip, and it pops right open! Unfortunately, it's larger than I may need, and I'd need to replace the top panel anyway, so I can mount the switches and stuff I want. By that point, you have an all new surface, and you may as well do the entire thing from scratch to fit the application. If I had a dedicated Kerbal computer, and space for a genuine cockpit space, then I'd totally consider using the panel as it is.

I will most likely need to notch my computer desk. I built it back in 2001, when I ran 3 giant CRTs. I can stand on it if I like! It's pretty strong! Since I have LCDs now, It kinda goes without saying that there is wasted space. I might also create a removable false top that can cover the controls to give me a proper desk surface when the controls are not in use. If I mount it into the desk, I WILL have to sink the meters into the desk though. They are so big that they almost interfere with my view of the monitors anyway!

I may only salvage the spring mechanism though, for servicing. Maybe not even that. I don't know. Truth is, that panel is VERY thick (maybe 5 inches), and would prevent me from having a comfortable keyboard tray. I need to thin the base by a significant amount for it to even fit. Even the picture I did is not going to give me much leeway. The depth of the joystick mechanism may be my biggest limiting factor in terms of thinning the horizontal panel. I may also make the notch trapezoidal. That'll give me better clearance to reach controls**. In addition to the meters and controls that are handled by this hardware mod, I might also tear apart a USB keyboard and map all the other keys that associate with things like warp and IVA views, etc as well. I'd LIKE to have no need to use the keyboard at all with this panel. Fortunately, I'll have plenty of clearance for the mouse under the desk, even with the tray pushed all the way back.

**I just realized, that if I make the side panels at a shallow enough angle, I could theoretically mount the pair of VFD character displays on either side panel... I kinda like that

KerbalDesk.jpg

I guess I should explain some of the stuff in my image too...

The round meter on the right is going to be the vertical velocity meter (aka: the am I gunna die meter). :D These meters are readily available online in the round, center rotational configuration that matches the in game meter. I want to keep this meter familiar. I guess the other question, is it better to have a reversible polarity, center zeroed meter, or just have a 0-100% meter and have the arduino output 50% for the centered zero position?

On the left are the edgewise meters that will indicter resources.

In the center, is going to be the LED displays, arranged in a DSKY layout. We've already seen Kerbal themed DSKYs here, so we all know what to expect there. On the top right, I will try to fit one of the large VFD displays. If there isn't room, I'll either surface mount them in the horizontal panel, mount them to the side panels, if I put them in at a shallow enough angle to be properly viewed, or overhead mount them on the bottom edge of the upper shelf. I'll try to keep the data there limited to lesser used things, like semi-major axis, etc. The DSKY will do Altimeter, Apoapsis, Periapsis, and Inclination, along with dummy light indicators for SAS, RCS, Brakes, Gear, Lights, and maybe some other things. I may try to fit a few extra lines of LEDs on the DSKY, so I can fit Velocity and Radar Altimeter on it as well. I definitely want to have time to Apoapsis and Time to Periapse somewhere too.

The second right... My brother owns a custom deuce and half as his everyday truck... To his credit, he DID take off the third axle, so it only has 4 wheels now... :cool: He built it ALL from military surplus. He has some connections, spent time serving, and knows places to look, and I've asked him to keep an eye out for an FDAI. I don't care if I never get it to function... I'll have a spot reserved for it, if he ever snags one! I do know they come up on the market from time to time. The great part is, that these fighter jet FDAIs are full 3 axis units like the ones used on spacecraft. They even tend to use the same color scheme and markings as the Apollo ones (minus the red gimbal lock zone). If I never get one... I'll be bummed, but I suppose LED displays or the VFDs can go there. Otherwise, a Saitek FDAI configured LCD panel readout could go there, or an old phone or tablet, setup with something like Telemachus.

I might also "stair step" notch the desk, so a small cutout sits on either side of the larger center cutout. If I do that, I could do stuff like setup a tablet or two for additional readouts using Telemachus... Or it could be ANOTHER place to put the VFDs... :rolleyes:

...

I do have a deep, dark confession though... I am 100% a hardware guy... I build walking robots with no computers... It's all neural. I haven't done programming since my Commodore 64 and my TI-85. I don't even KNOW what language an Arduino even uses! :huh:

When I see a problem, i think in terms of digital logic and analog circuits... Not code. I may need help to get this off the ground.

I am also curious, as to what defines the 6 analog meter/64 7-segment display limit. is it simply the limitations of the hardware selected, and how feasible is it to go BIGGER? Is there more capable hardware that can handle more outputs, or could one have two arduinos, and have each display different data outputs, across 12 analog meters, and 128 7-segment displays? My two large VFD displays are another thing. I don't know the first thing about coding on an arduino, so I don't know what extra is necessary to communicate with both a VFD and with LEDs. They use a parallel interface, but I'm sure that can be fed from a serial to parallel chip to save I/O on the arduino. I wouldn't know the first thing about coding the thing to make any of it work though.

Edited by richfiles

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Ha!!! Snagged this beauty for my vertical velocity meter. I'll replace the faceplate with one that matches the logarithmic vertical speed scale in KSP, and I'll mount it rotated 90° (as shown) to match the way the meter appears in the KSP window. The vertical velocity meter is of critical importance to me. As I said earlier, it's the "Am I gunna die" meter. :D

KerbalCMVerticalVelocity.JPG

UPDATE: I'm broke... Like, seriously BROKE... But I BOUGHT ONE...

KerbalCM_FDAI.jpg

Edited by richfiles

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I do have a deep, dark confession though... I am 100% a hardware guy... I build walking robots with no computers... It's all neural. I haven't done programming since my Commodore 64 and my TI-85. I don't even KNOW what language an Arduino even uses! :huh:

When I see a problem, i think in terms of digital logic and analog circuits... Not code. I may need help to get this off the ground.

The language most uses to program Arduino is basically standard C and you only have to know a subset to get going. If you've done any coding in C and have a basic knowledge of electronics, you'll be reading potentiometers, playing sounds, and blinking LED:s within the hour. It took me a couple of hours more as I my C knowledge was a few programs in university 15 years ago and I hadn't built anything digital in 25 years. If you don't know how to do something it is almost always possible to find program libraries, code examples and explanations on the web.

The world of digital electronics have changed during the last decade. I also started out thinking about shift registers and latches for serializing data to conserve Arduino IO-ports, but when I realized that I could buy Arduino Pro Mini for $4-5 apiece from China I realized that it is simpler to add more computers and use an I2C interconnect bus than to build with TTL circuits.

My newly started simpit project, should it proceed further than planning, will be modular with a main Arduino Pro Micro that handles most of the logic, acts as I2C master, USB serial and keyboard emulation. Every module will be equipped with its own low cost Arduino Pro Mini communicating with the central unit using I2C as a slave unit. The theoretical upper limit is 119 modules with a total of 600-2000 lights, buttons, potentiometers, analog instruments, digital displays, speakers, switches and other parafernalia.

There's really no real practical upper limit to how much IO you can have. Just buy MOAR KOMPUTERS. :-)

- - - Updated - - -

Ha!!! Snagged this beauty for my vertical velocity meter...

I really must go dumpster diving for analog instruments. :sticktongue:

EDIT: I don't know why, but I remembered erroneously that the first 8 addresses were reserved, they are not. It's possible to use 128 slave devices as no adresses are reserved and the master doesn't use an address. In other words, my original maximum number of 119 modules is too low.

Edited by Antipaten

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You need to build a complete KSC control room with a Kerbin map on the wall. Those 10" displays are perfect to show position and mission time. There's a lot of people building cockpits, but you got the stuff for Kerbin Control too. Plenty fun for you and five to ten friends. (where do you live by the way?) :-)

Haha! :D

I wish I had that kind of space! I live in the fine state of Minnesota, don't cha know, where the state bird is the -l-o-o-n- mosquito, and winter lasts 6 months. The only other seasons are mud (1 month), road construction (4 months), and dust (1 month). Road construction also overlaps with both the mud and dust seasons. Good reasons to stay inside and Kerbal all year round! :sticktongue:

I think I have decided I will do a notched stair step cutout, so there will be a left and right side area around the controller. My tablet will go in one side, and the other side... I dunno. The two VFDs take so little vertical height, that I think overhead mounting is begging to happen. I might do additional meters on the other side cutout, or reserve it for now. I STILL can't believe I have a REAL FDAI on the way! I just hope I can do something with it other than have my controller look pretty.

The language most uses to program Arduino is basically standard C and you only have to know a subset to get going. If you've done any coding in C and have a basic knowledge of electronics, you'll be reading potentiometers, playing sounds, and blinking LED:s within the hour. It took me a couple of hours more as I my C knowledge was a few programs in university 15 years ago and I hadn't built anything digital in 25 years. If you don't know how to do something it is almost always possible to find program libraries, code examples and explanations on the web.

I kinda figured it was C... But you see, I lever learned C. :confused:

I suppose I need to do something to remedy that.

The world of digital electronics have changed during the last decade. I also started out thinking about shift registers and latches for serializing data to conserve Arduino IO-ports, but when I realized that I could buy Arduino Pro Mini for $4-5 apiece from China I realized that it is simpler to add more computers and use an I2C interconnect bus than to build with TTL circuits.

The one thing I'm good at... TTL logic design... I designed a walking robot in 17 74xx series chips once. It had 9 walking gaits (if you count stop). When i designed it, I had stayed up al night working on it. The next day, i forgot how it worked, and took 3 days to decipher it! :confused: I'd taken to Xilinx CPLDs to pack large amounts of logic in a single chip, cause that's simply what I know. WHY!!! Why logic, Y U no good enough! ;.;

My newly started simpit project, should it proceed further than planning, will be modular with a main Arduino Pro Micro that handles most of the logic, acts as I2C master, USB serial and keyboard emulation. Every module will be equipped with its own low cost Arduino Pro Mini communicating with the central unit using I2C as a slave unit. The theoretical upper limit is 119 modules with a total of 600-2000 lights, buttons, potentiometers, analog instruments, digital displays, speakers, switches and other parafernalia.

There's really no real practical upper limit to how much IO you can have. Just buy MOAR KOMPUTERS. :-)

KRIKEY!!! Display ALL the telemetry!!! :cool:

Edited by richfiles

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The one thing I'm good at... TTL logic design... I designed a walking robot in 17 74xx series chips once. It had 9 walking gaits (if you count stop). When i designed it, I had stayed up al night working on it. The next day, i forgot how it worked, and took 3 days to decipher it! :confused: I'd taken to Xilinx CPLDs to pack large amounts of logic in a single chip, cause that's simply what I know. WHY!!! Why logic, Y U no good enough! ;.;

With your TTL skills you actually don't need computers. Logic IS good enough. After all a computer is built from logic circuits and a program is just a bit pattern that is shifted through a bunch of gates, multiplexers and demultiplexers. Both AD and DA converters can be bought as individual components or built from scratch using simple resistor ladders and OP-amps.

Computers makes complex logic easier than using discrete logic, but this is a hobby. A hobby doesn't have to be easy, it have to be fun. There is a fun value in building your own stuff from TTL and feel that Apollo feeling. I guess using RTL would be the ultimate Apollo feeling, but I don't think its easy to find a seller nowadays. I have a few RTL circuits that I scrapped out of some old electronics 30 years ago, but those are the only ones I've ever seen.

PS.

I live in northern Sweden. We have similar seasons as you have in Minnesota (guess that's why so many swedes emigrated there). Instead of dust season we have a two month rain period and the mud season is also two months. In between those we have a two month insect swarm period when we have to impregnate ourselves in poison to survive outdoors. Travel is all but impossible during the less cold months as the roads are dug up and what's left of them are filled with slow moving caravans constantly moving between identical beaches where they sell identical ice cream cones.

In other words Kerbal season is all year round here too. :cool:

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Apologies to those waiting to get added to main post, will try to get some admin done later!... problem is I've bought an oculus rift and I dont visit the real world very often now ;)

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UPDATE: I'm broke... Like, seriously BROKE... But I BOUGHT ONE...

http://richfiles.solarbotics.net/eb/KerbalCM_FDAI.jpg

You need to start your own thread dedicated to all this so we can follow it properly :)

You've got so much awesome equipment. I wouldn't even know where to begin finding a navigation ball here in Australia.

Ditto for those edge-meters. I think the USA has a lot more better and older surplus equipment than we do.

But then, you guys did a heck of a lot more back in the mid-century than we did :P

Very interested (and slightly jealous) of what you will build ;):D

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Sputnix said:
You need to start your own thread dedicated to all this so we can follow it properly :)

You've got so much awesome equipment. I wouldn't even know where to begin finding a navigation ball here in Australia.

Ditto for those edge-meters. I think the USA has a lot more better and older surplus equipment than we do.

But then, you guys did a heck of a lot more back in the mid-century than we did :P

Very interested (and slightly jealous) of what you will build ;):D

Hmm...I'll post the data here... but I might do that later...

 

 

This type of FDAI uses a 115 volt 400 Hz signal**, driven through synchro control transformers (rotated by the gyro assembly) wired in either a Y or ∆ configuration... I haven't determined that detail yet, but I'm 90% sure it's Y configuration. There are 9 synchro signal lines (3 per synchro/axis) as well as the base inverter reference signal going into it. My FDAI has not yet arrived as of this writing (ARU-11A, from an Israeli F-4 Phantom simulator)... Mil spec site says 3 axis, specifically "Three axes attitude indicator used to provide continuous pitch, roll and azimuth information". Funny, I used to BUILD synchros for both the US DoD and some weather tracking equipment suppliers at my old job! IF ONLY I STILL HAD SOME SYNCHROS!!!

Reference/Power is 115 VAC @ 400 Hz

Synchros are supplied by 28 VAC @ 400 Hz

 

Unit displays: PITCH OF ACFT; BANK OF ACFT; GLIDE SLOPE; BANK STEERING; PITCH STEERING; RATE OF TURN; INCLINOMETER

Elsewhere, I found the pinouts: "The heading, pitch and roll can be moved using synchros. Pin connections are: A=Ground, B=115 V- 400 Hz, F=Heading-x, G=Heading-y, H=Heading-z, J=Glide-slope-flag+, K=Glide-slope-flag-, P=rate-gyroscope-power-warning-flag+, R= rate-gyroscope-power-warning-flag-, S=glideslope-pointer+ , T=glideslope-pointer-, U=vert-ptr-flag+, V=vert-ptr-flag-, W=horiz-ptr-, X=horiz-ptr+, Y=vert-ptr-, Z=vert-prt+, a=pitch-x, b=pitch-y, c=pitch-z, d=roll-x, e=roll-y, f=roll-z, g=lighting (5 V), h=lighting (GND), C,D,E,L,M,N and j not used.

Funny thing, I almost panicked and thought that I had bought a 2 axis unit by mistake, cause I couldn't see the yaw X, Y and Z in the pinout. Using heading as the label threw me WAY off! I eventually figured it out. :confused:

The flag items are small solenoid like actuators that flip out warning flags on the unit. The pointers are basically analog meters. I do not know if they are voltmeters or ammeters. I have not yet determined this information. The lighting only requires 5 volts.

aru-11a_connector.png

You could operate this two ways... You could use an arduino with 10 analog outputs (smoothed PWM, I guess) and processing to simulate the 10 phase shifted 400 Hz sine waves needed (one reference, and 9 synchro signals), and feed those into an amplifier that can drive the 115 volt outputs at the 400 Hz frequency...

The other way is to buy three synchros, and mechanically pair them to some stepper or continuous rotation servo motors, and drive the motors using a more traditional motor control program to represent the three axes. Then all you need is a single 115 volt, 400 Hz inverter to supply the FDAI and synchro control transformers.

Simple! Right! :confused:

***NOTE***

This information is specific to the ARU-11A Flight Director Attitude Indicator, but other 3 axis FDAIs will likely have similar controls. Due to the fact that 115 volt signals are used... You DEFINITELY want to confirm you have accurate connections before applying power.

Edited by richfiles
Don't feed the synchros -a-f-t-e-r--m-i-d-n-i-g-h-t- 115 VAC

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With your TTL skills you actually don't need computers. Logic IS good enough. After all a computer is built from logic circuits and a program is just a bit pattern that is shifted through a bunch of gates, multiplexers and demultiplexers. Both AD and DA converters can be bought as individual components or built from scratch using simple resistor ladders and OP-amps.

Computers makes complex logic easier than using discrete logic, but this is a hobby. A hobby doesn't have to be easy, it have to be fun. There is a fun value in building your own stuff from TTL and feel that Apollo feeling. I guess using RTL would be the ultimate Apollo feeling, but I don't think its easy to find a seller nowadays. I have a few RTL circuits that I scrapped out of some old electronics 30 years ago, but those are the only ones I've ever seen.

You should SEE some of the stuff I play with... I collect and occasionally restore vintage calculators. Restored a Sony Sobax ICC-600W last year. My oldest machines are my Smith Corona-Marchant Cogito 240SR and my Friden EC-132. Both machines use RDL... Resistor Diode Logic, using discrete resistors, diodes, and transistors! :cool:

The Cogito is the blue black and white machine on the bottom shelf. The Sony Sobax is the black and silver one with the handle on the middle shelf. The keyboard on the middle shelf is from a 1976 Sperry-Univac Uniscope 100 police terminal. I have actually considered trying to use that on the control module as a regular keyboard... But a LOT of the keys have non modern shifted special characters, and it's a very non standard layout... Not sure I want that as my "regular" keyboard. If I ever move into a bigger place, and find myself in the situation where i can dedicate a computer to gaming... Then i may use it then... Someday...

CalculatorShelf.jpg

Look at all those resistors and diodes... Not a chip in sight!!!

CogitoPCB.jpg

I do apologize for the derail, but I couldn't help but respond to an RTL comment with an RDL reply! :P

Edited by richfiles

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