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David PavlichAdministrator
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Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Mandeville, LA USA
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: korborh]
      #5211209 - 05/07/12 10:56 PM

Let's keep it on topic, gang.

David


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jmiele
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Reged: 12/04/10

Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #5211295 - 05/07/12 11:46 PM

Let's see if I can't get into trouble in this thread.

I've all the Paramounts and AP mounts. As for the MX vs. the 900, I think it comes down to what you want to accomplish. IME, for imaging on a portable OR perm setup it's hard to beat The SkyX Pro and a Paramount. No doubt that AP makes a fine mount, just saying.

I also saw a post from someone quoting setup time for an MX that doesn't own one. I'll let you guess who. The comment stated it took forever to get an accurate alignment with The Sky X and MX. I can run a 150 point calibration on a portable setup and have sub 10 arc second pointing all sky in about 25 minutes. I can do so while the evening sky is still useless to image and still have time for darks. I have posted these results and the tracking of my paramounts here and on the bisque forums. After that 25 minute setup I can turn on pro track and do unguided images of 20-30 minutes at will. I don't go longer only because of the risk inherent to long subs.

As for comparing APCC - I don't see how we can.

1) it isn't released
2) it doesn't have a similar scope to the bisque software. it only covers "some" of what The SkyX does.

I'd also like to point out that becoming a software vendor doesn't happen overnight. It has taken over a decade to produce The Sky at it's current level. To date AP has only sub contracted the development and support of a driver...driver! And the APCC is little more than an extended driver. At lease in it's first release phase.


Joe


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blueman
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Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: jmiele]
      #5211301 - 05/07/12 11:51 PM

Ray stated before NEAF, that APCC is close to release, very soon. Hopefully it will be soon, but honestly, I don't need it, but still it would be cool.
I think you could not go wrong with either mount.
Blueman
Quote:

Let's see if I can't get into trouble in this thread.

I've all the Paramounts and AP mounts. As for the MX vs. the 900, I think it comes down to what you want to accomplish. IME, for imaging on a portable OR perm setup it's hard to beat The SkyX Pro and a Paramount. No doubt that AP makes a fine mount, just saying.

I also saw a post from someone quoting setup time for an MX that doesn't own one. I'll let you guess who. The comment stated it took forever to get an accurate alignment with The Sky X and MX. I can run a 150 point calibration on a portable setup and have sub 10 arc second pointing all sky in about 25 minutes. I can do so while the evening sky is still useless to image and still have time for darks. I have posted these results and the tracking of my paramounts here and on the bisque forums. After that 25 minute setup I can turn on pro track and do unguided images of 20-30 minutes at will. I don't go longer only because of the risk inherent to long subs.

As for comparing APCC - I don't see how we can.

1) it isn't released
2) it doesn't have a similar scope to the bisque software. it only covers "some" of what The SkyX does.

I'd also like to point out that becoming a software vendor doesn't happen overnight. It has taken over a decade to produce The Sky at it's current level. To date AP has only sub contracted the development and support of a driver...driver! And the APCC is little more than an extended driver. At lease in it's first release phase.


Joe




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saadabbasi
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Reged: 08/23/09

Loc: 29N
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: jmiele]
      #5211795 - 05/08/12 11:00 AM

Quote:


I also saw a post from someone quoting setup time for an MX that doesn't own one. I'll let you guess who. The comment stated it took forever to get an accurate alignment with The Sky X and MX. I can run a 150 point calibration on a portable setup and have sub 10 arc second pointing all sky in about 25 minutes.




Is this 150-point calibration process automated? I am assuming that The SkyX automatically plate-solves the image to find it's coordinates. Would appreciate some info on this.


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frolinmod
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Reged: 08/06/10

Loc: Southern California
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: saadabbasi]
      #5211960 - 05/08/12 12:32 PM

Quote:

Is this 150-point calibration process automated? I am assuming that The SkyX automatically plate-solves the image to find it's coordinates. Would appreciate some info on this.



Oh yes, it's automated. Yes, TheSkyX plate solves images. TheSkyX calls a plate-solve an "image link." It works quite well. When I set up in the field at a remote site I try to do as little as possible manually. Worst case when first setting up I might need to manually map a dozen stars at most before the I'm able to go full auto from that point on.

Initial set up at a new site goes something like this:

I put the mount on the tripod and point it North. Home the mount and tell TheSkyX to slew to a star. I adjust the alt and az to center the star, then I sync on the star. Then I take a picture and have TheSkyX plate solve it. If it is successful, I do an automated calibration run on 25 or so data points. If it's not successful I just manually map a few stars on each side of the meridian to get things going, plate solves will now be successful, then fire up the automated calibration. After doing that short automated calibration I tweak the polar alignment, re-sync and do another 25 or so point automated calibration, repeating alt and az adjustments, syncing and short automated calibration runs until TheSkyX tells me I'm polar aligned close enough and can stop being so anal retentive. That usually takes two or three short automated runs. Then I do a 150-180 point automated run to get 10-arc second or so RMS all sky pointing. That may sound like a lot, but it's not. It takes maybe an hour or a little more for the entire process. The mount and software are doing most of the work while I relax in my lounge chair. It also only needs to be done once for the entire time until I go to some other site with the mount. I usually stay three or so nights, so no biggy.

When you turn the mount on for the evening it just needs to be homed. Mouse click (or double tap on the hand controller), you're homed and on your way for the evening. If you disengage the worms to balance the mount, you just need to click home afterwards and then it's as if nothing happened and you're on your way again. If you forget to move a step stool out of the way, the mount bumps into it and immediately stops and starts beeping at you, then you just move the stool, click home and it's as if nothing ever happened.


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jmiele
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Reged: 12/04/10

Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: frolinmod]
      #5212000 - 05/08/12 12:52 PM

As fro stated, yes fully automated. And it learns as it goes - applying the points and becoming more accurate as it builds the model.

I'll be honest with ya, after becoming so used to The SkyX Pro and TPoint is took me longer to setup the AP900 and get pointing 2 nights ago. Of course being accustom to any routine makes it easier regardless of the initial complexity. But I just want to point out it (The Sky X/TPoint) is most definitely not as complex as many make it out to be. IME it's the folks that have the least practical experience with things that are the loudest to complain.

Blueman's point is also a fair one - you will be well served by either mount. As always, understanding your requirements is the best place to start making a decision like this.

By the way - the APCC = Driver association may have been a bit over the top on my part. Ray is a good guy and AP a great company. I was only attempting to make the point that in comparison (IMO) APCC/The Sky X aren't apple to apples.

Joe


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saadabbasi
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Reged: 08/23/09

Loc: 29N
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: jmiele]
      #5212056 - 05/08/12 01:22 PM

Thanks frolinmod and jmiele, this does sound very very good. I read the manual and it doesn't seem to difficult to setup. But the question is, is it good enough to forego the polar scope? The polar scope is pricy and I'd rather save the money and put it towards a tripod. I will be setting up every night as I don't have a permanent setup.

Speaking of tripods, I find the SB tripod quite pricy and I was wondering if i would be possible to make a custom adapter (I have access to a CNC machine shop) that fits the MX to the Losmandy tripod.

Would you folks recommend that or should I get the Rob Miller tripod?

Edited by saadabbasi (05/08/12 01:24 PM)


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jmiele
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Reged: 12/04/10

Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: saadabbasi]
      #5212094 - 05/08/12 01:39 PM

I have never used a polar scope with the MX. I always start with a level tripod and that results in little to no change in Alt. I use my compass to point north. From there I leave it to The Sky X to tell me what small changes are required after its modeling. As stated earlier, a small run of a dozen or so points will get you a model that will give you some corrections to make. I do that if I think I need to make some initial gross adjustments. Then I make the suggested adjustments, deleted that model and start a new larger one.

On my portable setup I always start a new model when setting up. You can get all the help you need in the Bisque forums. The best part of those forums is the community is also very helpful in the support of the products. The reason is the community is a big part of the development of the product. Suggestions are taken and moved into the product at a very rapid pace. The daily build process has allowed for teams all over the world to have advanced, cutting edge environments working how they require. Later the best of these ideas are built into the standard product. I think it's a wonderful support model.

Joe


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frolinmod
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Reged: 08/06/10

Loc: Southern California
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: saadabbasi]
      #5212102 - 05/08/12 01:43 PM

Quote:

is it good enough to forego the polar scope?



Different people will have different opinions on that. Some people really like their polar scopes. In my opinion a polar scope only gets you so close and you have to do fine polar alignment anyway. I don't use a polar scope. Also, a polar scope reduces the amount of through the scope extra cabling that you can do. You can get more cables through the mount without having the polar scope in there too.

Quote:

I will be setting up every night as I don't have a permanent setup.



I hope you at least have a semi-permanent setup like I do. My mount and scope stay in my backyard covered with a Telegizmos 365 while they're set up. When I want to use it I just take the cover off, home the mount and I'm on my way.

Quote:

Would you folks recommend that or should I get the Rob Miller tripod?



If you're ever going to take your mount into the field then a Rob Miller tripod is essential. Be sure to get the levelers and the rotating top plate. Buy direct from Rob Miller.

If you're just setting up in your backyard ever only, you could build or buy a pier, it'll be more rigid than a tripod.

The Astro-Physics 10" portable piers are also nice (and comparatively inexpensive), but do need a fairly level spot to sit on (as well as a custom local machine shop made adapter plate, Rob Miller can make custom adapter plates for AP piers too if a local machine shop isn't convenient). I like it and used one with my Paramounts for many years, but I sold mine when I got a Rob Miller tripod!


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saadabbasi
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Reged: 08/23/09

Loc: 29N
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: frolinmod]
      #5212184 - 05/08/12 02:29 PM

Quote:


I hope you at least have a semi-permanent setup like I do. My mount and scope stay in my backyard covered with a Telegizmos 365 while they're set up. When I want to use it I just take the cover off, home the mount and I'm on my way.




I only have a semi-permanent setup in the winters. In the summers, the heat is around 45C (113 Faherneit for you guys :P) or so. I really don't think such a climate would be beneficial for the mount. In the winters, the max. during the day is 25-30C.

But... I am sort of used to spending at least an hour to setup my G11. I used to setup my pointing model in a similar way - after polar alignment, I used MaximDL with PinPoint to do plate-solves. I used to slew the mount to about 35 degrees above the horizon and sync on a star. Then I would move slew the mount about 10 or so degrees, take an exposure and plate-solve. Once I had a solution, I would do an "additional align" on the coordinates found by the plate-solve. I could get a very reasonable pointing model in the way. So I'm quite used to using software to do the "dirty work" - except this was mostly manual, in the sense that I had to slew the mount myself, do a plate-solve and then sync. The method using Tpoint sounds far more automated.

I think I'm going to forego the polar-scope, invest that money towards a tripod and hopefully place the order for the MX within this month.


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Alph
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Reged: 11/23/06

Loc: Melmac
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: saadabbasi]
      #5212232 - 05/08/12 02:54 PM

Quote:

he method using Tpoint sounds far more automated.



MaxPoint can work with MaximDL in fully automated mode. Though I am not sure what PinPoint is.


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frolinmod
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Reged: 08/06/10

Loc: Southern California
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: Alph]
      #5212246 - 05/08/12 03:05 PM

Quote:

Though I am not sure what PinPoint is.



PinPoint is an astrometric engine written by Bob Denny. It's used by all manner of applications for plate solving. See: http://pinpoint.dc3.com/


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Alph
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Reged: 11/23/06

Loc: Melmac
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: frolinmod]
      #5212284 - 05/08/12 03:26 PM

Quote:

PinPoint is an astrometric engine written by Bob Denny. It's used by all manner of applications for plate solving. See: http://pinpoint.dc3.com/




Thx - brain freeze. I forgot that PinPoint is integrated with MaximDL.

BTW. I used to play the game of building pointing models with my CGE, MaximDL/MaxPoint. I finally got tired of it. It does not make any sense to me. I normally work on a single object a night. I can get to it using simple mount alignment with the NexStar controller. The most accurate Polar alignment method is drift alignment anyways.
Your arguments fall short of convincing me that the Parmount MX is easy to use in a portable environment - been there and done it.


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frolinmod
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Reged: 08/06/10

Loc: Southern California
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: Alph]
      #5212308 - 05/08/12 03:43 PM

Quote:

The most accurate Polar alignment method is drift alignment anyways.



At the risk of derailing this thread, there is no such thing as "the most accurate polar alignment method." There is no one single polar alignment location for every sky position. For every single HA/DEC position you might track on, there is a different polar alignment that is best for tracking on that position. Polar alignment is therefore always a compromise. It is sufficient to be close and that's good enough. However, some large observatories even adjust (or do the equivalent of adjusting) the polar alignment for the specific HA/DEC of the object being observed.

One of the nice things about having a robotic mount is that you can use software such as ACP or CCD Autopilot to automate your imaging program. With ACP Scheduler you can even let it choose what will be imaged that night. The mount might then visit and image from a handful to hundreds of targets over the course of the night. You sleep while all this is going on. Better for your health. I personally don't do this, but a lot of people do.

Quote:

Your arguments fall short of convincing me...



Alph, I'm not trying to argue with you or to convince you. Your way of doing things is just fine.


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Peter in Reno
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Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: Alph]
      #5212348 - 05/08/12 04:08 PM

Saad,

I find that creating pointing models fascinating with Sky X and MX but if you typically image one object per night, then I believe a decent polar alignment and syncing on a known star nearest to your target object is reasonably enough. That's how I do it and get pretty good results. Both A-P and MX mounts have super smooth tracking and very low PE that autoguiding alone all night for one target is enough, at least for me. This way you can save time creating pointing models and spend more time imaging.

With my A-P Mach1, I use a very quick and accurate polar alignment method using finderscope called "Quick Drift Alignment" using Meridian Delay as describe in the manual, then slew to a known star nearest to my target object, "Recal" (or sync) on that star and finally slew to target object. The object is always dead center in camera's FOV. I can get this done long before astronomical darkness arrives and ready for imaging.

Another big plus about A-P mounts is that there is no Meridian limits built into the mount. Bisque web site says up to 2 hours past Meridian before Merdian flipping is required. I don't know if this is a big deal for you. Depending on your latitude, you can image all night without Meridian flipping with A-P mounts. My latitude is 39 degrees and so far the highest Declination of an object I've imaged without flipping is 25 degrees (NGC4565) for six hours (3 hours each side of the Meridian). I believe I can easily go as high as a few degrees below my latitude without Meridian flipping and the scope not hitting the pier/tripod. I use C-8 EdgeHD as my imaging scope.

No doubt both AP900 and MX are great mounts and I am sure you will make an excellent decision. I can see MX is a better buy since it comes loaded with Sky X, T-Point, Camera Add-on software, two 20lbs counterweights and saddle.

Good luck and let us know what you decide.

Peter


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saadabbasi
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Reged: 08/23/09

Loc: 29N
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #5212393 - 05/08/12 04:31 PM

Quote:

Saad,

I find that creating pointing models fascinating with Sky X and MX but if you typically image one object per night, then I believe a decent polar alignment and syncing on a known star nearest to your target object is reasonably enough. That's how I do it and get pretty good results. Both A-P and MX mounts have super smooth tracking and very low PE that autoguiding alone all night for one target is enough, at least for me. This way you can save time creating pointing models and spend more time imaging.




Peter,

I agree that a large pointing model may not be necessary for a portable imaging setup, but I think that one must calibrate with 20 or so stars to refine the polar alignment. I think there are two major steps to polar aligning the MX

1) Use the homing method for "quick polar alignment" as described by Joe.
2) Refine using Tpoint.

So while I'll probably won't create a arc-second accurate pointing model, I'll definitely use 20 or so stars to refine my PA. Since the process is iterative, it may be necessary to do this a few times. Either way, 25-35 minutes are reasonable.

I agree that imaging past the meridian is a great feature of the AP mounts. I don't know if the MX will simply stop 2 hours past the median or it'll keep going. One of my OTAs is quite short (Tak. FSQ-85ED) and I can probably go further without hitting anything, but I"m not sure if the 2-hour limit is hard-programmed into the mount.

However, if a flip is necessary one could just spend some time extra to create an accurate enough pointing model on both sides of the meridian so that when the time comes the targets lands dead-center in the FOV.

My G11 can do this, provided my pointing model catered for both sides of the meridian.

Edited by saadabbasi (05/08/12 04:36 PM)


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Christopher Erickson
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Reged: 05/08/06

Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: frolinmod]
      #5213096 - 05/09/12 12:27 AM

Quote:

<SNIP> However, some large observatories even adjust (or do the equivalent of adjusting) the polar alignment for the specific HA/DEC of the object being observed. <SNIP>




I would be very curious to hear more about this polar alignment adjustment being done at some large observatories. Can you provide more information? The names of the observatories in question?

Thanks and clear skies.


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frolinmod
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/06/10

Loc: Southern California
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: Christopher Erickson]
      #5213137 - 05/09/12 01:40 AM

Quote:

I would be very curious to hear more about this polar alignment adjustment being done at some large observatories. Can you provide more information? The names of the observatories in question?



I searched back through my archives to see from where I got this information into my head: The UK 1.2M Schmidt Telescope (UKST). All other papers, quotes and references I have to such telescopes appear to inevitably trace back to this one single telescope.

Quote:

The polar axis has to be adjusted for optimum off-axis image quality at different declinations, to counter differential atmospheric refraction. This is done for each exposure by means of a motorised jacking system.



The following webpage is also an interesting related read: http://canburytech.net/DriftAlign/DriftAlign_3.html


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Christopher Erickson
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Reged: 05/08/06

Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: frolinmod]
      #5213191 - 05/09/12 05:04 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I would be very curious to hear more about this polar alignment adjustment being done at some large observatories. Can you provide more information? The names of the observatories in question?



I searched back through my archives to see from where I got this information into my head: The UK 1.2M Schmidt Telescope (UKST). All other papers, quotes and references I have to such telescopes appear to inevitably trace back to this one single telescope.

Quote:

The polar axis has to be adjusted for optimum off-axis image quality at different declinations, to counter differential atmospheric refraction. This is done for each exposure by means of a motorised jacking system.



The following webpage is also an interesting related read: http://canburytech.net/DriftAlign/DriftAlign_3.html




Ah! King Rate!

In the old days before modern electronic controls, telescopes were driven by mechanical clock drives. Fudging the polar alignment when imaging near the horizon to the East or West helped to compensate for the effects of atmospheric refraction.

Modern electronic motor control systems don't need that bad-old-mechanical-drive-way to compensate for King Rate.

And modern mounts do NOT need their polar alignment modified to compensate for King Rate.

http://www.brayebrookobservatory.org/BrayObsWebSite/HOMEPAGE/King%20Rate.html

http://canburytech.net/DriftAlign/DriftAlign_3.html

http://leq.one-arcsec.org/e/Gallery/Simulation/simulation_e.html

http://www.celestron.com/c3/support3/index.php?_m=knowledgebase&_a=viewarticle&kbarticleid=2223

All modern professional observatories understand King Rate perfectly well and the do NOT modify their polar alignment to compensate for it. Especially the ones with Alt-Az mounts! They all modify their sidereal tracking rate instead.


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JAT Observatory
NOT a Wimp
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Reged: 02/20/05

Loc: In the Primordial Soup
Re: Has anyone here used an Paramount MX and an AP900? new [Re: Christopher Erickson]
      #5213684 - 05/09/12 12:24 PM

One reason that I have not seen mentioned here to consider building a pointing model if you buy a Paramount is the ProTrack function an exclusive feature for ME and MX mounts.

While the pointing models correct the repeatable errors in pointing, the ProTrack functions uses that same data to correct those errors while the mount is tracking. So even if you only image one object during the session, your mount still has to track that object.

The issues that cause repeatable errors in pointing (such as flex) don’t occur at just discrete points in the sky. They occur continuously and gradually as the mount moves.


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