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Buying a telescope...how important is the mount?

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#326 orlyandico

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 10:35 PM

I think the EQ6 is the best mount that $2500 can buy new.

But wait, you say. It's only $1500.

Exactly. I don't see anything less than $3000+ which is a meaningful upgrade. Obviously I don't consider the G11 to be enough of an upgrade. Others may disagree.

The EQ6 can also be upgraded. With better bearings, a better worm - the Aeroquest worm is only $100 or so.

Good interim choice. I suspect that should last a few years... and congratulations for steering away from the CGEM.

#327 Per Frejvall

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 03:03 AM

That, Jon, is a very good choice! I started my AP "career" with an NEQ6 and haven't regretted it. It hasn't done a single night of imaging since I commissioned the GM2000HPS in April of 2010, but I have upgraded it.

Early on I tore it apart and changed all bearings to SKF ones. SKF, as you may know, actually a Swedish company (hear, hear) started in 1907 and world-renowned for their high quality bearings. It took a bite at the wallet but was well worth it. Over Christmas I tore out the first stage gears in favor of a very good belt-drive mod. It is now smooth as a <fill in you favorite word>.

I intent to put it to good use sometime soon as my GM1000HPS will depart out to an island in the Stockholm Archipelago, an island that will house a very small roll-off on a friend's premises. The NEQ6 will go on the balcony pier and I am working on a reliable optical homing sensor so that I dare to at least half-automate it.

Now, do not expect your new mount to be perfect out of the box. Most of them benefit from a worm adjustment, re-grease (use Barium or Lithium grease) and a general tightening adjustment. Astro-baby has all the relevant guides and the process is straightforward and risk-free.

All the best,

Per

#328 gdd

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 11:09 AM

Well, I'll be happy to start doing actual guided exposures, instead of untracked stuff with nothing but my trusty DSLR and a standard tripod. Been trying to image M31 and NGC281 whenever a clear night rolls around, but it just isn't possible without tracking. I get these barely visible 0.8 second exposures at 600mm f/4 w/ 150mm aperture, and even 100 of them stacked aren't enough. At 100mm f/3.5 wide field, even five second exposures still aren't really enough. It's well past time I got some equatorial tracking involved to actually get some real exposures with some actual SNR. Really can't wait.



You only have a little over a minute's worth of total integration time, that matters more than the length of the individual subexposures. When you are to the point where it takes thousands of subexposures you definitely need to do tracking or guiding.

Gale

#329 Jon Rista

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 11:18 AM

That, Jon, is a very good choice! I started my AP "career" with an NEQ6 and haven't regretted it. It hasn't done a single night of imaging since I commissioned the GM2000HPS in April of 2010, but I have upgraded it.

Early on I tore it apart and changed all bearings to SKF ones. SKF, as you may know, actually a Swedish company (hear, hear) started in 1907 and world-renowned for their high quality bearings. It took a bite at the wallet but was well worth it. Over Christmas I tore out the first stage gears in favor of a very good belt-drive mod. It is now smooth as a <fill in you favorite word>.

I intent to put it to good use sometime soon as my GM1000HPS will depart out to an island in the Stockholm Archipelago, an island that will house a very small roll-off on a friend's premises. The NEQ6 will go on the balcony pier and I am working on a reliable optical homing sensor so that I dare to at least half-automate it.

Now, do not expect your new mount to be perfect out of the box. Most of them benefit from a worm adjustment, re-grease (use Barium or Lithium grease) and a general tightening adjustment. Astro-baby has all the relevant guides and the process is straightforward and risk-free.

All the best,

Per


Thanks for the tips. I'm really intrigued by the belt drive...I didn't know you could put one of those in one of these mounts, but a belt drive would be ideal. I expected to tune and upgrade the mount at some point...I figure I'll exhaust it's initial accuracy and precision at some point soon enough once I master alignment and start wanting to take longer exposures. Since this is my first computerized GEM, I expect it to feel a lot better than manual GEM's I've used in the past, and having never used a nice $10k+ mount yet, I shouldn't be dissatisfied the moment it's out of the box. ;P

#330 Jon Rista

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 11:23 AM

Well, I'll be happy to start doing actual guided exposures, instead of untracked stuff with nothing but my trusty DSLR and a standard tripod. Been trying to image M31 and NGC281 whenever a clear night rolls around, but it just isn't possible without tracking. I get these barely visible 0.8 second exposures at 600mm f/4 w/ 150mm aperture, and even 100 of them stacked aren't enough. At 100mm f/3.5 wide field, even five second exposures still aren't really enough. It's well past time I got some equatorial tracking involved to actually get some real exposures with some actual SNR. Really can't wait.



You only have a little over a minute's worth of total integration time, that matters more than the length of the individual subexposures. When you are to the point where it takes thousands of subexposures you definitely need to do tracking or guiding.

Gale


Aye. It also doesn't really seem to matter much if you take 200 or 500 frames and stack them, either. All that really does in the end is reduce noise further, without actually extracting more detail. Actually, I've also noticed that stacking too many frames, when signal is so low, results in a loss of color fidelity...averaging ends up normalizing pixels towards grayish. The signal strength is just too low to really be all that useful. Only way to fix that is increase the time of each sub.

#331 gdd

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 11:29 AM

The EQ6 can also be upgraded. With better bearings, a better worm - the Aeroquest worm is only $100 or so.

Good interim choice. I suspect that should last a few years... and congratulations for steering away from the CGEM.



Good choice of intermim mount because of the open source support available for it. Another thing to keep in mind when using support for mass produced mounts (especially the CGEM) is they will often simply replace the mount rather than fix it if they find problems. If you did some mods, like the Aeroquest worm, you will have it no longer. Better to stick people like Ed at Deep Space Products for support of modded or hypertuned mounts.

I think the G11 is a significant upgrade over the EQ6/EQ-G in terms of choice of materials, precision, and capacity if you can't afford a top end mount. But the G11 is expensive for an interim solution.

Gale

#332 Jon Rista

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 11:31 AM

I think the EQ6 is the best mount that $2500 can buy new.

But wait, you say. It's only $1500.

Exactly. I don't see anything less than $3000+ which is a meaningful upgrade. Obviously I don't consider the G11 to be enough of an upgrade. Others may disagree.

The EQ6 can also be upgraded. With better bearings, a better worm - the Aeroquest worm is only $100 or so.

Good interim choice. I suspect that should last a few years... and congratulations for steering away from the CGEM.


Yeah, too many people have good things to say about Atlas. Hardly anyone complains about them. Since 2010, a LOT of people have complained about CGEM. Hard to ignore all that.

The mount was only $1400, and since I don't have to buy an ADM Dual Saddle, that saves me another couple hundred. So overall, it really is the best deal on the market right now.

The thing about the G11 is, while it seems it can be tuned and upgraded to get closer to the performance of higher end mounts (<2" P2P PE w/ PEC+guidng), the upgrades are costly. Just the improved worm is $500, and I've read a number of articles about people installing them on their own, and they end up fiddling with it forever trying to get it installed exactly right. If it isn't exactly right, then there can still be a little bit of quirky periodic error. So, you can pay someone to install it, but that only increases the cost even more. After you've paid for all the necessary upgrades and tuning, you've spent as much as an LX850 or CGE Pro, and both of those seem to be able to achieve the same level of performance as a G11 after upgrades with nothing more than PEC, and <2" P2P PE tracking with guiding.

Well, once I get alignment and guiding all figured, and get some upgrades in this thing (probably next year), I'm sure I'll be happy with it while I save for a high end mount. There is also the whole EQMod suite of applications that can be used with it, which includes a mosaic tool and some other handy utilities. I think the EQ6 group of mounts are pretty flexible for their bracket in the market.

#333 Jon Rista

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 11:35 AM

The EQ6 can also be upgraded. With better bearings, a better worm - the Aeroquest worm is only $100 or so.

Good interim choice. I suspect that should last a few years... and congratulations for steering away from the CGEM.



Good choice of intermim mount because of the open source support available for it. Another thing to keep in mind when using support for mass produced mounts (especially the CGEM) is they will often simply replace the mount rather than fix it if they find problems. If you did some mods, like the Aeroquest worm, you will have it no longer. Better to stick people like Ed at Deep Space Products for support of modded or hypertuned mounts.

I think the G11 is a significant upgrade over the EQ6/EQ-G in terms of choice of materials, precision, and capacity if you can't afford a top end mount. But the G11 is expensive for an interim solution.

Gale


Aye, the open source EQMOD was part of the decision. NexRemote doesn't compare really. I suspect I'll be sending in the mount to Ed when the time comes for hypertuning (unless I decide to get this belt drive...that sounds pretty cool.) I can always get Ed's hypertuning DIY kit as well, I guess, to apply as many of those upgrades as possible along with a belt drive. Anyway, I've been chatting with Ed in PM for a while, and I'll definitely be using some of this services at some point.

#334 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 11:39 AM

Well, I'll be happy to start doing actual guided exposures, instead of untracked stuff with nothing but my trusty DSLR and a standard tripod. Been trying to image M31 and NGC281 whenever a clear night rolls around, but it just isn't possible without tracking. I get these barely visible 0.8 second exposures at 600mm f/4 w/ 150mm aperture, and even 100 of them stacked aren't enough. At 100mm f/3.5 wide field, even five second exposures still aren't really enough. It's well past time I got some equatorial tracking involved to actually get some real exposures with some actual SNR. Really can't wait.



You only have a little over a minute's worth of total integration time, that matters more than the length of the individual subexposures. When you are to the point where it takes thousands of subexposures you definitely need to do tracking or guiding.

Gale


Yep you need guiding - thousands of subexposures can be painful.

Just for an example, I used ten 120 second subexposures at ISO1600 for M31 with my 80mm APO.

Though, I have to say I have able to go up to 90 sec unguided with my 130mm APO on my little ol' LXD75.

Of course you could also go with encoders, but we have been chatting about that alread... ;)

#335 Jon Rista

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 12:41 PM

Well, I'll be happy to start doing actual guided exposures, instead of untracked stuff with nothing but my trusty DSLR and a standard tripod. Been trying to image M31 and NGC281 whenever a clear night rolls around, but it just isn't possible without tracking. I get these barely visible 0.8 second exposures at 600mm f/4 w/ 150mm aperture, and even 100 of them stacked aren't enough. At 100mm f/3.5 wide field, even five second exposures still aren't really enough. It's well past time I got some equatorial tracking involved to actually get some real exposures with some actual SNR. Really can't wait.



You only have a little over a minute's worth of total integration time, that matters more than the length of the individual subexposures. When you are to the point where it takes thousands of subexposures you definitely need to do tracking or guiding.

Gale


Yep you need guiding - thousands of subexposures can be painful.

Just for an example, I used ten 120 second subexposures at ISO1600 for M31 with my 80mm APO.

Though, I have to say I have able to go up to 90 sec unguided with my 130mm APO on my little ol' LXD75.

Of course you could also go with encoders, but we have been chatting about that alread... ;)


I am really curious to see how this 600mm lens with 150mm aperture works for astrophotography. A 150mm aperture on a refractor is pretty big (I mean, if one were to buy an actual high end 150mm APO refracting telescope, like the Officina 152mm, it still costs about twelve grand! Even Orion's 150mm APO is $6500), but when I use it as a visual scope, I can only see andromeda's core, and it's just a faint gray blob. There are a lot more glass elements inside this lens than in the average APO refractor (I guess you have anywhere from two to four elements, my lens has 16). I think part of it is due to the fact that I'm using a DSLR as an eyepiece, the mirror is half-silvered, so I'm probably getting less light than one would with a normal scope and a normal eyepiece. But even when imaging with a 1 second exposure, I get a faint grayish-yellow blob for the core, and that's it. I'm really hoping that once I am tracking and doing longer exposures, my results will change dramatically.

#336 Per Frejvall

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 03:15 PM

Jon,

The belt kit is really a good start and a cheap upgrade. The mount gets smooth as silk with it. Check out this:

http://rowanastronom...htm#neq6beltkit

It takes about an hour to two to install and really works. At that price it is a steal. If he cannot ship overseas, just holler and I'll get it for you and ship it UPS.

A note on stacking. A 10-minute exposure is a 10-minute exposure. Take 50 of them and stack, and it is still a 10-minute exposure because stacking is an averaging process, not an additive one. What happens is that the signal to noise ratio increases, which in turn brings out the details from the noise. You cannot get more light into a picture by stacking 1-minute ones. It is still a 1-minute one but with less noise.

So, you need to guide the NEQ6 from day one. Simple as that.

I may get bashed for this, but please, it is a personal opinion; I'm glad you didn't fall into the Celestron trap ;)

All the best,

Per

#337 gdd

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 03:54 PM

The thing about the G11 is, while it seems it can be tuned and upgraded to get closer to the performance of higher end mounts (<2" P2P PE w/ PEC+guidng), the upgrades are costly. Just the improved worm is $500, and I've read a number of articles about people installing them on their own, and they end up fiddling with it forever trying to get it installed exactly right. If it isn't exactly right, then there can still be a little bit of quirky periodic error. So, you can pay someone to install it, but that only increases the cost even more. After you've paid for all the necessary upgrades and tuning, you've spent as much as an LX850 or CGE Pro, and both of those seem to be able to achieve the same level of performance as a G11 after upgrades with nothing more than PEC, and <2" P2P PE tracking with guiding.



For $500 you are getting the Ovision 3rd party worm preinstalled in a single piece wormblock. So a lot of the adjusting has already been done. I got the $300 Losmandy One Piece worm block preinstalled when I ordered the mount to avoid the installation problems you are talking about. Actually it is still 2 separate worm blocks but they are held together in a one piece assembly and aligned to the gearbox. There is also a turn screw so worm mesh can be adjusted without tools or having machinist skills.

Most of the stories you hear about are those attempting to align the original 2 worm block system without introducing the 76 sec error that cannot be removed with PEC and is difficult to guide out if severe.

Gale

#338 Jon Rista

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 03:55 PM

I may get bashed for this, but please, it is a personal opinion; I'm glad you didn't fall into the Celestron trap ;)


LOL. That seems to be the general sentiment. I will still probably pick up an EdgeHD 8" OTA as my first tube (maybe later this year), unless I wait a little longer and get an Astro-Tech 12" RC next year. People do seem to love their Celestron OTAs, certainly a lot more than they like the mounts.


The belt kit is really a good start and a cheap upgrade. The mount gets smooth as silk with it. Check out this:

http://rowanastronom...htm#neq6beltkit

It takes about an hour to two to install and really works. At that price it is a steal. If he cannot ship overseas, just holler and I'll get it for you and ship it UPS.


Thanks for the offer! And you are right, it's actually very cost effective. When the time comes, I'll probably get that, and have Ed hypertune the mount.

A note on stacking. A 10-minute exposure is a 10-minute exposure. Take 50 of them and stack, and it is still a 10-minute exposure because stacking is an averaging process, not an additive one. What happens is that the signal to noise ratio increases, which in turn brings out the details from the noise. You cannot get more light into a picture by stacking 1-minute ones. It is still a 1-minute one but with less noise.


Oh, indeed, I agree. Reduction in noise, however, does allow you more freedom in pushing the exposure around in a tool like Photoshop. In my first wide field shot with my DSLR and 100mm lens (static tripod, untracked), I was able to extract the ULTRA dim red NGC 434 glow enough that you can barely see the horsehead (it's actually my current avatar picture). So increasing SNR, even when your signal strength itself is still low, can offer some value. It just doesn't get you anything more than amorphous blobs of color most of the time, and overall the images are still relatively noisy. I'm actually attempting to do that now with the Andromeda images from last night...we'll see if I am able to get even the most mediocre image (I know it's kind of pointless to do unguided for such an object, but last night was the first clear night in weeks, and I didn't want to let it go to wast! :p)

So, you need to guide the NEQ6 from day one. Simple as that.


Aye. I tested out my Orion SSAG last night. Seems to work with PHD quite fine, so it should be ready to go once the mount comes in.

#339 Chuckwagon

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 04:01 PM

A note on stacking. A 10-minute exposure is a 10-minute exposure. Take 50 of them and stack, and it is still a 10-minute exposure because stacking is an averaging process, not an additive one.


That is generally true, however, you can stack and ADD while stacking. It also adds the noise, so in places where the noise overlaps, it gets worse. As does the sky fog. And you can easily blow out saturated areas very quickly. So adding while stacking may not generally be the best way to do things, but you can do it. :)

Cheers,
Charles

#340 gdd

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 04:05 PM

A note on stacking. A 10-minute exposure is a 10-minute exposure. Take 50 of them and stack, and it is still a 10-minute exposure because stacking is an averaging process, not an additive one. What happens is that the signal to noise ratio increases, which in turn brings out the details from the noise. You cannot get more light into a picture by stacking 1-minute ones. It is still a 1-minute one but with less noise.


But isn't it also true that because the large stack of short images has less noise it can be stretched further in processing before stretching noise becomes unacceptable?

Gale

#341 Jon Rista

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 04:14 PM

A note on stacking. A 10-minute exposure is a 10-minute exposure. Take 50 of them and stack, and it is still a 10-minute exposure because stacking is an averaging process, not an additive one.


That is generally true, however, you can stack and ADD while stacking. It also adds the noise, so in places where the noise overlaps, it gets worse. As does the sky fog. And you can easily blow out saturated areas very quickly. So adding while stacking may not generally be the best way to do things, but you can do it. :)

Cheers,
Charles


My proprietary technique is to do both, actually. In my Orion Nebula shot on my blog, I took 50 or 80 frames, and stacked them (as smart objects in photoshop) in batches of 10 with median averaging. I then stacked those stacks additively, to improve the signal strength. The result was less noisy than a single frame, and had more overall signal. It was, as GDD stated, able to be stretched farther. Even with that, though, while you can get some more contrast, you really don't get much more detail in nebulosity and dust. There is an upper limit on detail that is bound by the initial signal strength, it seems. The only way to do better would be longer exposures for each sub.

#342 davebuechler

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 09:45 PM

The thing about the G11 is, while it seems it can be tuned and upgraded to get closer to the performance of higher end mounts (<2" P2P PE w/ PEC+guidng), the upgrades are costly. Just the improved worm is $500, and I've read a number of articles about people installing them on their own, and they end up fiddling with it forever trying to get it installed exactly right. If it isn't exactly right, then there can still be a little bit of quirky periodic error. So, you can pay someone to install it, but that only increases the cost even more. After you've paid for all the necessary upgrades and tuning, you've spent as much as an LX850 or CGE Pro, and both of those seem to be able to achieve the same level of performance as a G11 after upgrades with nothing more than PEC, and <2" P2P PE tracking with guiding.


You can also get one out of the box that takes unguided 3 minute exposures at 2000mm F/L like this
http://www.astrobin.com/29589/

I am really curious to see how this 600mm lens with 150mm aperture works for astrophotography. A 150mm aperture on a refractor is pretty big (I mean, if one were to buy an actual high end 150mm APO refracting telescope, like the Officina 152mm, it still costs about twelve grand! Even Orion's 150mm APO is $6500), but when I use it as a visual scope, I can only see andromeda's core, and it's just a faint gray blob. There are a lot more glass elements inside this lens than in the average APO refractor (I guess you have anywhere from two to four elements, my lens has 16). I think part of it is due to the fact that I'm using a DSLR as an eyepiece, the mirror is half-silvered, so I'm probably getting less light than one would with a normal scope and a normal eyepiece. But even when imaging with a 1 second exposure, I get a faint grayish-yellow blob for the core, and that's it. I'm really hoping that once I am tracking and doing longer exposures, my results will change dramatically.


I think it will be amazing!!! I for one can't wait to see what you get.

#343 Per Frejvall

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 01:48 AM

Gale,

A short exposure stack can be stretched much further due to the increase in s/n, so that is the key factor. There are, however, diminishing returns as you go up in numbers. I sometimes stack 50-100 10 to 20 minute exposures just for the heck of it, but there really isn't much improvement over 25-30 subs. The good thing is if you use a sigma rejection algorithm in the stacking process. All satellites and airplanes gone. Poof!

Back on track, now... Mounts...

/per

#344 Starhawk

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 01:15 PM

You'll be setting that aside. What you really need to do is go open-choke on the f/# and get that camera sensitivity up. Play with all of the parameters and set aside what you've learned in the past. You should be able to get a MUCH deeper image on the orion nebula than that one, and do it in shorter exposures.

And take some of the pressure off yourself. Even when you get to be an old hand, you're going to have nights where every single frame turns out to be flawed.

-Rich

A note on stacking. A 10-minute exposure is a 10-minute exposure. Take 50 of them and stack, and it is still a 10-minute exposure because stacking is an averaging process, not an additive one.


That is generally true, however, you can stack and ADD while stacking. It also adds the noise, so in places where the noise overlaps, it gets worse. As does the sky fog. And you can easily blow out saturated areas very quickly. So adding while stacking may not generally be the best way to do things, but you can do it. :)

Cheers,
Charles


My proprietary technique is to do both, actually. In my Orion Nebula shot on my blog, I took 50 or 80 frames, and stacked them (as smart objects in photoshop) in batches of 10 with median averaging. I then stacked those stacks additively, to improve the signal strength. The result was less noisy than a single frame, and had more overall signal. It was, as GDD stated, able to be stretched farther. Even with that, though, while you can get some more contrast, you really don't get much more detail in nebulosity and dust. There is an upper limit on detail that is bound by the initial signal strength, it seems. The only way to do better would be longer exposures for each sub.



#345 Jon Rista

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 02:38 PM

You'll be setting that aside. What you really need to do is go open-choke on the f/# and get that camera sensitivity up. Play with all of the parameters and set aside what you've learned in the past. You should be able to get a MUCH deeper image on the orion nebula than that one, and do it in shorter exposures.

And take some of the pressure off yourself. Even when you get to be an old hand, you're going to have nights where every single frame turns out to be flawed.


Well, I'm looking forward to it all. I've ordered an Astronomik light pollution filter for EOS, so hopefully I'll be able to get a lot more use of this equipment without having to drive far all the time. The LP here is going to intrinsically limit my maximum exposure times, hopefully with the CLS clip filter I'll be able to do longer exposures even than I would with a tracking mount, and still have darker background sky. I'm ok with unlearning techniques I've learned so far, if that's what it takes.






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