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Borg 90FL - Ultimate optics in small form factor?

refractor equipment observing
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#1 jay.i

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 03:28 PM

I've been doing a lot of reading and a heck of a lot of talking, and I have decided I definitely want a maximum-aperture travel scope, that will absolutely be used at home and out at dark sites. I currently have an AT72EDII which is an excellent little scope for quick views and carefree use due to its relatively low cost compared to much more expensive optics, like the 90FL, and I also have my SW120ED for long nights at dark sites, or if I feel particularly inclined to check something out in my Bortle ~8.5 skies on a clear night with just a little more aperture.

 

Minnesota has the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a beautiful escape from city living, near the border of Canada. It has true Bortle 1 skies, and I would love to take a scope up there and get lost in the sky. I cannot do this with the SW120ED, but I could with the AT72EDII. However, I would love to max out my aperture and weight, for travel, and the AT72EDII isn't quite there. Thus, I have been heavily considering getting an AT92, which is due Q1 2018, which is very short (only 16.5"), but will be quite heavy as a triplet, probably around 4kg. The Borg 90FL is only 2kg(!!!) and about 17" long I believe (~400mm), so it is even more portable than the AT92, and can still be brought onto a plane as a carry-on item. Weight is a significant concern for backpacking, so the massive weight reduction is a huge plus for me.

 

I have found a very limited amount of reading material for the 90FL, mostly saying that it is popular among birders and imagers due to the fast focal ratio. I am sure it makes a wonderful widefield astrograph, but for the time being, I am only concerned with its use as a visual instrument. This is where I start wondering about CA in a fluorite doublet design, uncorrected like the imaging configuration. Allegedly the objective is almost the same as the Takahashi Sky90 (made by Canon Optron), but the spacing is tighter, so collimation is much less of a problem. I know some people were not thrilled with the level of CA on the Sky90/II, but others seemed to think it was good enough for such an aperture in such a compact tube.

 

Can anyone provide first-hand experience with the 90FL? I have half a mind to buy one and sell it if it doesn't meet my expectations, but I would like any extra feedback if possible. Should I get a different scope entirely (that doesn't involve waiting an unknown amount of time for it to appear on the used market)? Should I just learn to love the AT72EDII and get a more premium scope like an NP101/FC100DF in the next 6-12 months? I don't want to have to remove a dew shield and focuser just to fit a scope in its case so that is not an option for me at this time.

 

Any and all feedback is appreciated. Thanks!!

 

-j


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#2 Edwin

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 03:34 PM

I don't know this person is active on CN, but here is a recent review of the Borg:http://scopeviews.co.uk/Borg90FL.htm



#3 jay.i

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 03:51 PM

I have seen that one -- in fact, it's the only 90FL review I found. There's no date on it either, even in the source code. I wish there were more!



#4 ron scarboro

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 05:17 PM

I'm a pretty big fan of Borg products.  IMHO, they're the ultimate in modular lightweight scopes.  Additionally, the fit and finish is exceptional.  I have a 71FL and have looked through and compared my scope to a 90FL.  Additionally, some months ago I spent an evening evaluating a Takahashi Sky90.

 

The color correction is similar in each of those scopes is very similar.  Ed Ting's review of the Sky90 would prove a very good surrogate for the Borg90 from an optical perspective.  http://www.scoperevi...m/page1m.html#6  The Borg though will have none of the mechanical issues the Tak had if properly configured.

 

Essentially, there will be some false color on the limb of the moon at high magnification and around Sirius and Vega.  For visual it certainly isn't objectionable for me.

 

My opinion...

- The Takahashi FC-100D series are better visual scopes unless you need the Borg's backpackability.

- For visual, get a rack and pinion focuser instead of the helical focuser from Borg.  

   - The Borg unit is good, but the Feathertouch is lighter and smoother.

- If the color bothers you, then the 1.4X tele-extender cleans up all the false color.


Edited by ron scarboro, 21 November 2017 - 06:46 PM.

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#5 bobhen

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 06:23 PM

I got to use a Borg 90FL for about a month. I’ll just say that it did not meet “MY” (please read “my”) expectations for “my” visual needs: like “high power” use. I knew it would be good for low power observing and imaging. Others might feel differently so I want to be careful in what I say. But the doublet lens configuration is pushing performance boundaries.

 

If you only want to do deep sky observing, consider a fast achromat like a Sky-Watcher 102mm F5 or 80mm F5 refractors. Or, if it is not too large, the Orion 120mm F5 refractor. These are inexpensive and work really well in a dark sky. No need for an expensive apo. They also make nice daytime spotting scopes.

 

If you want an ED or Triplet...

 

TS has a F5.5 ED 90mm apo and a 90mm F6.6 Triplet Apo with a segmented tube that might work for you. HERE is a link.

 

Takahashi offers their 100mm doublets. They are a little long and somewhat expensive but they are light and have killer optics.

 

Bob



#6 Aleko

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 06:47 PM

I've been doing a lot of reading and a heck of a lot of talking, and I have decided I definitely want a maximum-aperture travel scope, that will absolutely be used at home and out at dark sites. I currently have an AT72EDII which is an excellent little scope for quick views and carefree use due to its relatively low cost compared to much more expensive optics, like the 90FL, and I also have my SW120ED for long nights at dark sites, or if I feel particularly inclined to check something out in my Bortle ~8.5 skies on a clear night with just a little more aperture.

 

Minnesota has the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a beautiful escape from city living, near the border of Canada. It has true Bortle 1 skies, and I would love to take a scope up there and get lost in the sky. I cannot do this with the SW120ED, but I could with the AT72EDII. However, I would love to max out my aperture and weight, for travel, and the AT72EDII isn't quite there. Thus, I have been heavily considering getting an AT92, which is due Q1 2018, which is very short (only 16.5"), but will be quite heavy as a triplet, probably around 4kg. The Borg 90FL is only 2kg(!!!) and about 17" long I believe (~400mm), so it is even more portable than the AT92, and can still be brought onto a plane as a carry-on item. Weight is a significant concern for backpacking, so the massive weight reduction is a huge plus for me.

 

I have found a very limited amount of reading material for the 90FL, mostly saying that it is popular among birders and imagers due to the fast focal ratio. I am sure it makes a wonderful widefield astrograph, but for the time being, I am only concerned with its use as a visual instrument. This is where I start wondering about CA in a fluorite doublet design, uncorrected like the imaging configuration. Allegedly the objective is almost the same as the Takahashi Sky90 (made by Canon Optron), but the spacing is tighter, so collimation is much less of a problem. I know some people were not thrilled with the level of CA on the Sky90/II, but others seemed to think it was good enough for such an aperture in such a compact tube.

 

Can anyone provide first-hand experience with the 90FL? I have half a mind to buy one and sell it if it doesn't meet my expectations, but I would like any extra feedback if possible. Should I get a different scope entirely (that doesn't involve waiting an unknown amount of time for it to appear on the used market)? Should I just learn to love the AT72EDII and get a more premium scope like an NP101/FC100DF in the next 6-12 months? I don't want to have to remove a dew shield and focuser just to fit a scope in its case so that is not an option for me at this time.

 

Any and all feedback is appreciated. Thanks!!

 

-j

 

J,

 

It's a never ending quest, isn't it?  Large enough aperture, but sharp and contrasty images, all in a package small and compact enough to carry in our backpack or carry-on. Curious about the Borg myself, as well as where the AT92 specs will land.  Though I've got two scopes that can do the job (TV85 and AP105), still hoping for that best combo of aperture, weight, and quality.  Get the Borg and let us know how it is. :-)

 

Meanwhile, for whatever scope I take with me next trip, my VamoTraveler arrived this week. 

 

Alex


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#7 jay.i

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 06:51 PM

Though I do not really need it, I want excellent optics in the 90mm-class scope. I just don't think I could be happy with any of the cheap fast achromats. I don't really want a triplet due to the weight. Also I don't think TS has a 90mm f/5.5, just the 72mm f/5.5 FPL-53 doublet which is too small. I did look long and hard at the TS 90mm f/6.6 FPL-53 triplet, but something about it just doesn't "do it" for me. The glass should be pretty good, but to be honest... I don't really like how it looks, the focuser looks questionable as well, and the rings are ugly IMO. This is subjective. What's objective, however, is its weight at 4kg and length at 500mm, or 8.8lbs and 19.7" long. This is even closer to the max length for airplane carry-on, leaving maybe an inch of padding on each side of the max size case. Not ideal. The 90FL at 2kg and 405mm (4.4lbs and 16") is a much more compact package and looks a lot sexier if you ask me, while still being stealthy.

 

Cutting the weight in half is a big deal when the overall package with a Pelican 1525 Air case, 8-10lb triplet, 2" diagonal, and 5 1.25" and 2" eyepieces would weigh 22-25lbs from my estimations. Cutting 4lbs off 25lbs is a big deal, but cutting 4lbs off 22lbs is an even bigger deal. It could be the difference between the case being somewhat of a burden, and being just under the weight where it starts to wear on you. Keep in mind I'm talking about backpacking or traveling with it, where you may have it on your back for 2 to 8 hours at a time. Having it as compact and light as possible is definitely a strong desire for me, so I think the longer scopes that require disassembly are scopes for a very different use case.



#8 jay.i

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 07:04 PM

J,

 

It's a never ending quest, isn't it?  Large enough aperture, but sharp and contrasty images, all in a package small and compact enough to carry in our backpack or carry-on. Curious about the Borg myself, as well as where the AT92 specs will land.  Though I've got two scopes that can do the job (TV85 and AP105), still hoping for that best combo of aperture, weight, and quality.  Get the Borg and let us know how it is. :-)

 

Meanwhile, for whatever scope I take with me next trip, my VamoTraveler arrived this week. 

 

Alex

 

Alex, consider me a little envious of your Traveler. I saw a completely unused Stowaway f/7 pop up on Astromart for a ridiculous price the other day, I got so excited for a second and then my jaw dropped. Not for me! The Traveler would be an incredible artifact to possess, but I'm not in that deep yet!

 

I have definitely considered a TV-85 but haven't quite been tempted enough by any of the ones on the used market. For just a little more money, I can get a nice new 90mm scope...

 

The AT92 should be awesome, but it's gonna be heavy. Someone made a TMB92"SSL" a while back by replacing the 2lb dew shield with some plastic, made a plastic lens cap, got lighter rings, and swapped out the stock focuser for a lightweight FT, and got the whole thing down to like 4.5lbs, which is amazing. I hope Mike has gotten the weight down on the AT92, and maybe it can be cut down further by using a plastic dew shield. Argh, I oughta ask Mike to weigh the prototype, he said a week or two ago that it should be there by now. If the AT92's weight can be tamed, then I will probably get that instead. But the lure of the fluorite Borg is strong... I could just get it and sell it if it doesn't live up to my hopes. I won't be doing much planetary work with it, and nothing higher than 100x for lunar and solar, so I don't think CA could be that bad... might have to just find out......... moneyeyes.gif


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#9 t.r.

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 08:01 PM

J...You are on the right track picking a 90ish apo for an all a rounder/grabngo/travel scope. I've played quite a bit here at 70, 80,90,100 mm for the above duty and concluded 90mm is spot on to satisfy at the eyepiece. 80mm and below just doesn't do it for me and 100 is just too big in form. I've owned three 90's although I have never tried the Borg FL...I did own a Tak Sky...if the residual CA is on par with a Borg, you will be fine for visual only if you simply care about absolute detail resolved and not residual CA. No detail is destroyed by the CA except at the very extreme and then so minor you would never notice. I've been considering the TV 85 recently...the build quality is phenomenal and should be very close to a 90 in detail resolved...the Borg 90FL is a close second choice to delve back into this niche...not sure why I sold out of my 90's...I loved them all!!!

Edited by t.r., 21 November 2017 - 08:03 PM.

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#10 t.r.

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 08:06 PM

Ah...I remember...I was on an "scts are just as good kick" and replaced them with a C6XLT! While it is a good sample (tested to 1/7 wave very smooth optics) I simply like apo refractors more even when smaller!!! 😉
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#11 jay.i

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 10:17 PM

t.r., as far as I can see, 90mm is right in a sweet spot for airline carry-on and most are small enough to fit on lighter, cheaper mounts. I think they fit perfectly between 80 and 100mm. There seem to be a lot of 90mm bygones that were amazing in their day, and still would be today if new people could get them and talk about them on the interwebs.

 

Funny enough, the Borg 107FL is 480mm, or 18.9", still carry-on capable! I think I would remove the objective for transport but put it in the same case as the tube. It seems like such a portable scope, still fairly light at 2.8kg for the OTA, maybe 3.2kg for OTA + rings + dovetail, so around 7lbs. With another 3lbs for diagonal and eyepiece, I think one could easily keep this setup at 10lbs or less. Unfortunately that's still quite a bit heavier than the 90FL, and $800 more as well, which would lead me to be more anxious about it while traveling, and it's pushing it for size/convenience. And with the dew shield extended, I think it looks really cool but might attract attention. Hm, no... I think the 90FL is definitely still the right option.

 

I think I'm gonna do it. What have I got to lose but some silly money?



#12 Aleko

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 10:54 PM

 

 

... and $800 more as well, which would lead me to be more anxious about it while traveling, and it's pushing it for size/convenience...

 

This is something that still bothers me a bit with the AP105, which surprises me a bit, since I didn't think it would be a factor. Finally landed the AP105, my dream travel scope, and because of the cost, I'm a bit anxious when I travel with it.  I'm a lot better now than at the beginning, but the thought is always there about damage/loss to something that expensive, or nowadays, rare.  However, it has made me completely comfortable flying with the TV85 now. smile.gif

 

The other consideration is that the 105 does require a more substantial mount.  The DM4 is a dream, but is a bit bulky for travel, at least for my liking.  Thus my interest in the 90mm class scope.  

 

Looking forward to hearing your experience with the Borg!

 

Alex



#13 slack

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 11:34 PM

I'm a Borg fan, but for visual use, this is screaming "too much field curvature" for me in non-astrograph configuration, and too short a FL for visual use in astrograph configuration (it would take a 3.5mm EP to reach 100x).

 

Btw, someone mentioned Borg helical focusers as a negative (of which there are many different options)... Given the modularity, and compatibility with numerous third-party products, you can use any kind of focuser you want.



#14 North of Sixty

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 12:24 AM

No matter how I crunch the numbers and specs (size, weight, aperture) and test out what limited gear I have, for my planned future refractor upgrade, t.r.'s past advice of around 90mm seems to be golden. Not sure which brand but it looks like that's the sweet spot for my needs rather than 80 or 100mm. If travel near and far wasn't a concern it would be different. That Borg looks real fine as do the other scopes mentioned. 


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#15 jay.i

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 01:41 AM

I'm a Borg fan, but for visual use, this is screaming "too much field curvature" for me in non-astrograph configuration, and too short a FL for visual use in astrograph configuration (it would take a 3.5mm EP to reach 100x).

Btw, someone mentioned Borg helical focusers as a negative (of which there are many different options)... Given the modularity, and compatibility with numerous third-party products, you can use any kind of focuser you want.


I hear what you're saying... My f/6 AT72EDII definitely has a fair bit of field curvature, but it's dealt with just fine in most of my eyepieces. The 24 Pan suffers from a bubble effect while panning and is only really sharp for the center 50% maybe. It quickly falls off. If there really is a 1.4x extender, that puts it at f/9, perfect for more corrected views. My eyes are fairly young and I don't seem to have too much of a problem correcting for curvature and refocusing my eyes as I look around. That said, it is a little noticeable in my 72. I planned for field curvature in the AT92 as well, as that's just what you get when you want a short and wide package. Also, I don't plan on going above 100x except with an extender or with a Powermate on a night of exceptional seeing, so I could almost get away with using it with the reducer too. But ehhhh...

#16 t.r.

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 09:23 AM

I would not consider the Borg 107FL for visual use. At 480mm it is pushing the limit at f4.5 at being able to deliver a diffraction limited image. IMHO the ability to do so correctly ends at f5.56 with reference to even the TEC110 triplet being able to just produce a 1/4 wave diffraction limited image in past posts. For visual f5.56 is my speed limit!!! Too many compromises faster than that and actually too many already for most at that limit!

Edited by t.r., 22 November 2017 - 09:25 AM.


#17 trurl

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 09:33 AM

I would not consider the Borg 107FL for visual use. At 480mm it is pushing the limit at f4.5 at being able to deliver a diffraction limited image. IMHO the ability to do so correctly ends at f5.56 with reference to even the TEC110 triplet being able to just produce a 1/4 wave diffraction limited image in past posts. For visual f5.56 is my speed limit!!! Too many compromises faster than that and actually too many already for most at that limit!

The Borg 107FL currently on their website is 600mm f/5.6

 

http://www.sciencece...gPackage/24.htm


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#18 nicknacknock

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 10:10 AM

The shorter focal length Borg 107FL is the photographic version fitted with field flattener / reducer.

Visual configuration is without the flattener and is at f5.6...
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#19 jay.i

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 10:31 AM

Even with the 107FL 1.08x flattener, I still think it would still be less than ideal for visual work. It seems like Borg has a few tele-extenders though; I think 1.4x would be awesome, putting the 90FL at f/7.8, a sweet spot for visual observing in my experience. Fast enough to have reasonable exit pupils, but slow enough for excellent color correction with ED glass.


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#20 George9

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 02:35 PM

The AT92 should be awesome, but it's gonna be heavy. Someone made a TMB92"SSL" a while back by replacing the 2lb dew shield with some plastic, made a plastic lens cap, got lighter rings, and swapped out the stock focuser for a lightweight FT, and got the whole thing down to like 4.5lbs, which is amazing. I hope Mike has gotten the weight down on the AT92, and maybe it can be cut down further by using a plastic dew shield. Argh, I oughta ask Mike to weigh the prototype, he said a week or two ago that it should be there by now. If the AT92's weight can be tamed, then I will probably get that instead. But the lure of the fluorite Borg is strong... I could just get it and sell it if it doesn't live up to my hopes. I won't be doing much planetary work with it, and nothing higher than 100x for lunar and solar, so I don't think CA could be that bad... might have to just find out......... moneyeyes.gif

 

 

Hi, J. I was the one with the TMB92SSL. "SSL" was a real model, lighter and smaller than the regular "SS" but with the same lens. They come up occasionally on AM. Then I made it even lighter, so perhaps I should call mine an "SSLL." The original focuser was not that great, so the FT both reduced the weight and served much better fine focus at f/5.5.

 

I agree with you on the Stowaway. Even if I wanted to spend that much, I would just be too afraid of losing it to bring it on rugged trips. My TMB92SSL with a new focuser and adapter cost one sixth to one eight as much.

 

Good luck in your search!

 

George



#21 jay.i

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 05:56 PM

George, I think it was called the TMB92L. Different focuser and a single tube I think, instead of the two part tube for binoviewing.



#22 jay.i

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 09:15 PM

I have been emailing with Ted Ishikawa at Hutech and he has been unbelievably helpful and patient. He informed me that Borg has a 1.2x visual flattener coming that can be used with 2" diagonals and large eyepieces. I told him that sounds amazing, where do I sign up? After Thanksgiving wraps up I'll be pursuing a unit with a FeatherTouch focuser, because if you're gonna jump, jump!

 

Oh, and he also said that not only is the spacing between the 90FL lens elements closer than on the Sky90, but there is also a different mating element. This is not something I remember reading about! More than ever I am eager to try this little speed demon.


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#23 George9

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 11:49 PM

George, I think it was called the TMB92L. Different focuser and a single tube I think, instead of the two part tube for binoviewing.

How do you like that. You are correct. Thanks. I just checked the metal dew cap. Makes sense that this cheaper tube would not be called Signature Series (SS). When I bought it, the ad said SSL, and I just assumed it was right. So I guess mine is now a TMB92LL. 

 

George



#24 M44

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 12:25 AM

I have been emailing with Ted Ishikawa at Hutech and he has been unbelievably helpful and patient. He informed me that Borg has a 1.2x visual flattener coming that can be used with 2" diagonals and large eyepieces. I told him that sounds amazing, where do I sign up? After Thanksgiving wraps up I'll be pursuing a unit with a FeatherTouch focuser, because if you're gonna jump, jump!

 

Oh, and he also said that not only is the spacing between the 90FL lens elements closer than on the Sky90, but there is also a different mating element. This is not something I remember reading about! More than ever I am eager to try this little speed demon.

Is it available in white? I believe it comes only in black. 



#25 jay.i

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 12:59 AM

I was reading that it only comes in black now, even though Hutech has the white objective assembly still listed on their site.




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