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Omegon Minitrack LX2, or "the Kitchen timer mount".

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#1 Traveler

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 03:11 AM

Yesterday, i saw in Essen Germany at the ATT, a little new (for me) astrophoto mount for wide field lenses. It is called the:

 

Omegon Minitrack LX2.Here a link. (130 euro)

 

The funny thing about this mount is, it doesn't need any batteries or somethting, it is powered for 1 hour like an old analog watch, kitchen or egg timer.

 

Wondering, what do you think about this mount and also, does anybody have experiences with this little mount at this time already?

Hope to read about it.


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#2 konzy

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 05:52 AM

It looks like an interesting alternative to classic travel mounts. 2kg seems more than enough for a camera and standard lens, and even my Samyang 135mm on a Fuji X-T1 is well below the limit (< 1.2 kg). The sample pictures are amazing, and I wonder how long were the exposures.

 

I'm also interested in a feedback! If there are indeed hundreds of happy users, as claimed on Omegon's website, surely a few of them are crawling this forum :)



#3 skysurfer

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 07:45 AM

This device has a major flaw: it only works on the northern hemisphere.

An extra cogwheel to reverse the direction could fix it.
Or the camera mount should be on both sides one for the north and the other for the south which rotates in reverse direction.
But both require modding the device.

Edited by skysurfer, 19 July 2018 - 07:45 AM.


#4 dciobota

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 12:44 PM

Interesting device.  It says it has "pole alignment" but not sure where?  I didn't see a polar scope anywhere.

 

It is inexpensive, which is great for those getting into the hobby.  But one advantage touted, no batteries, isn't really an advantage if you think about it.  Any camera you will use needs batteries or some form of power supply, so charging a battery is not really much of a hassle since you're doing that already with your camera battery.  Plus you're limited to one hour.  The iOptron SkyGuider Pro has a rechargeable battery that lasts about ten hours, and can be recharged through a regular micro usb port.  But, yes, it is more money though, so I can see the one advantage this mount has.

 

I wonder what the PE is?



#5 skysurfer

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 01:42 AM

According to the website, there is a small optics-less PVC tube which acts as a pole finder, not a polar scope due to the lack of optics. But because Polaris is 40' off the pole, this would be very inaccurate.
The 1 hour limit is the least disadvantage. After shooting frames just crank up the motor between frames.

Worse issues are:
* The already mentioned inaccurate polar finder
* Northern hemisphere use only (unless one is able to mod the device, if it is possible at all)

IMHO, the Skywatcher Star Adventurer (even the Mini) would be a better option, it can handle 3kg (the original SA 5kg) payload (e.g. a Canon SLR + 100-400L) and battery is not a big deal anyway. It is powered by standard 5V which can be a power bank.

Even my 30 years old Vixen SP which I use as a travel mount for my ED110 is powered by a simple USB power bank.

Edited by skysurfer, 20 July 2018 - 01:46 AM.


#6 konzy

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 04:09 AM

 

IMHO, the Skywatcher Star Adventurer (even the Mini) would be a better option, it can handle 3kg (the original SA 5kg) payload (e.g. a Canon SLR + 100-400L) and battery is not a big deal anyway. It is powered by standard 5V which can be a power bank.

 

I'm afraid you are comparing two very different things, designed for different needs. Just like the Star Adventurer is meant to be a cheaper and lighter alternative to a classic GEM, this Minitrack mount is meant to be a cheaper and lighter alternative to the camera mounts like the Star Adventurer or SkyGuider. Especially today, as bulky DSLR are in decline and are slowly being replaced by smaller and lighter mirrorless cameras, this kind of mount makes sense.

 

I see it as a small grab and go mount, easy to set up, that you can throw in your backpack during a hike or when traveling to remote locations. And of course, it's primary purpose doesn't seem to be DSO (even though the product pictures show some), but rather nightscapes, Milky Way shots.

 

I disagree regarding polar alignment. Again, this mount's purpose is not to make 3 minutes exposures of faint DSO, and therefore, a rough polar alignment is more than enough. I made some nice pictures of Orion and Andromeda with just a tripod and a 135mm lens. And you can make wonderful shots of the Milky Way with just a tripod. So a little mount like this, even roughly aligned, can only give better results.

 

The fact that it has no battery can be an advantage, IMO. That's one less thing to charge, and no battery means a lighter mount. Also, indirectly, being all mechanical, I believe there is no PE and that the tracking is more accurate than a motor.

 

The biggest flaw is probably the fact that it works in the northern hemisphere only. Perhaps a V2 of the mount will address this issue? It doesn't seem impossible to make a mount that can work both ways.



#7 Traveler

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 04:23 AM

I think this mount would be a very nice birthday or christmas present for kids as well...I should have been very happy when i would have got such a nice mount as a young boy grin.gif



#8 skysurfer

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 10:54 AM

I'm afraid you are comparing two very different things, designed for different needs. Just like the Star Adventurer is meant to be a cheaper and lighter alternative to a classic GEM, this Minitrack mount is meant to be a cheaper and lighter alternative to the camera mounts like the Star Adventurer or SkyGuider. Especially today, as bulky DSLR are in decline and are slowly being replaced by smaller and lighter mirrorless cameras, this kind of mount makes sense.
 
I see it as a small grab and go mount, easy to set up, that you can throw in your backpack during a hike or when traveling to remote locations. And of course, it's primary purpose doesn't seem to be DSO (even though the product pictures show some), but rather nightscapes, Milky Way shots.

In decline ? Well not (yet), there on only one brand (sony) which has full frame mirrorless which is the A7. Canon and Nikon will follow, and in APS-C there are a lot more mirrorless, but the lenses are still bulky and heavy if you want to capture enough light.
 

I disagree regarding polar alignment. Again, this mount's purpose is not to make 3 minutes exposures of faint DSO, and therefore, a rough polar alignment is more than enough. I made some nice pictures of Orion and Andromeda with just a tripod and a 135mm lens. And you can make wonderful shots of the Milky Way with just a tripod. So a little mount like this, even roughly aligned, can only give better results.

Three minutes is not that long and when 40' off the poly you WILL get tracking errors with a 135mm lens, particularly when mounted on an APS-C, this will even happen at 1 minute.
And for 30 seconds nightscape exposures you usually don't need any tracking at all, just take more frames with a steady camera and stack them.
Only if you want to make faint DSO images with a 500+ mm FL telescope, then this mount (and the Star Adventurer) is unsuitable.
And a spring driven motor also has a periodic error, it is just a much faster spinning motor with a transmission to one revolution in 24 hours, nothing different from an electric tracker. The energy source has nothing to do with the periodic error.

Anyway, when there is a 'Version 2' of this mount with southern hemisphere support and an optical polar scope, then I am really interested.

Edited by skysurfer, 20 July 2018 - 10:56 AM.


#9 dciobota

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 01:01 PM

Totally agree about polar alignment accuracy and anything over a few seconds exposure with a tracking mount.  As Skysurfer mentioned, trailing can happen even at one minute, especially with a 135mm lens.  I know because it happened to me, and my polar alignment was actually quite close.

 

As far as portability.  Weight wise, yes, the minitrack weighs in at about 1lb, while something like the skyguider pro, which I own, is 2.2lb.  However, the skyguider is much more compact, basically the size of your fist (ok, a rather large fist).  The minitrack is rather long and bulky, less likely to find an easy way to pack into a backpack.  I'm not trying to put down the minitracker mind you, just being realistic about some of the claims made here.  From a practical standpoint, cost aside, I would rather travel with the skyguider rather than the minitrack.  It's a mount that can actually grow with your needs (even of autoguiding), up to a point, whereas the minitrack has more strict limitations.

 

But as I said, as an introductory tracking mount, it is a very intriguing choice.  If it's more capable and has better tracking than the min-eq mount (which is not hard to do, the min-eq is not that great), then I would even say it's an excellent choice for someone on a budget that wants to get into AP.  Beyond that, there are better choices imo.



#10 mwr

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Posted 14 August 2018 - 06:17 AM

I have received my OMEGON Mini Track LX2 yesterday and I could test it last night. My setup can be seen here:

 

OMEGON Mini Track LX2
 
It is really easy to use and some results can be seen here:
 
NGC 7000
 
 
h / chi double cluster
 

 

Polar alignment is acurate enough to get good results with a focal lenght up to 135 mm.

 

Preliminary result: very suitable for widefiled imaging and highly recommended


Edited by mwr, 14 August 2018 - 06:19 AM.

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#11 Alen K

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Posted 23 August 2018 - 10:17 PM

"optimal for overview shots of the starry sky and using telephoto lenses up to about 300mm"

Oh, I'd love to see that. I'd lay money the PE isn't nearly good enough. Mind you, they didn't say how long an exposure. The shorter the exposure the less PE will affect things. They don't spec PE. If it was particularly good, they would.

#12 Traveler

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Posted 24 August 2018 - 08:49 AM

I have received my OMEGON Mini Track LX2 yesterday and I could test it last night. My setup can be seen here:

 

 
 
It is really easy to use and some results can be seen here:
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Polar alignment is acurate enough to get good results with a focal lenght up to 135 mm.

 

Preliminary result: very suitable for widefiled imaging and highly recommended

Nice, nice, nice. Thanks mwr!



#13 project nightflight

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Posted 01 October 2018 - 02:39 PM

We recently bought and tested a Mini Track LX2. Since there have been some questions about this gadget I thought I’d share the results our tests showed so far.

 

The Mini Track LX2 was developed by Italian astrophotographer Christian Fattinnanzi and is distributed by Omegon. The little device gets shipped in a nice cardboard box:

 

Mini Track LX2 unboxing

 

As the picture shows, the Mini Track LX2 is currently available in a bundle with a ball head. The ball head is Arca Swiss compatible and a dovetail plate is included. More information on the contents of the shipping can be found in the user manual that is available in several languages on the Omegon website. Here is the link.

 

On the evening of September 29 we did a thorough test of the tracking precision from our dark sky site in Austria. The tracker was mounted on a photo tripod with a geared head. For testing we used a Baader modified EOS1100Da. For the tests we chose Altair, which was near the meridian during our tests. Altair is also close to the celestial equator, which makes sure that the tracking errors of the device show to their full extent. Several exposures with a 50mm lens made it clear that the exposure time should not exceed 2 minutes at this focal length. This nicely confirms the rule of thumb the manufacturer gives for the valid exposure times. It says that the maximum exposure time in minutes is 100 divided by the focal length. Here is one of the 2min sample images shot with the 50mm lens:

 

Mini Track LX2 50mm 2min

 

To quantify the tracking precision in greater detail we monitored it over a time span of 30 minutes with a 135mm lens. Here is the result:

 

Mini Track LX2 tracking error
 
The graph once again confirms the given rule of thumb (T[min]=100/fl[mm]) and makes it obvious that with a 50mm lens most 2 minute exposures will turn out fine. With a 25mm lens 4 minute exposures will be possible and with focal lengths of 16mm or less exposure times could even exceed that. For these short exposure times polar alignment does not have to be very accurate. It will suffice if the instrument’s pole is within a circle of about one degree of the celestial pole. This low accuracy can easily be achieved with the included sighting device. It just has to be pointed directly at Polaris. We probably won’t use the Mini Track for focal lengths exceeding 50mm. Although the payload limit of 2kg would allow to use the tracker with a 100mm or even a 200mm lens the maximum exposure times drop fast.
 
Bottom line: In our opinion the Mini Track LX2 is a fantastic low-cost camera tracker for wide angle lenses. We could confirm the manufacturer’s rule of thumb (maximum exposure time = 100 / focal length). Setup is easy and the device works reliably.
 
Clear skies
Erwin
 
BTW, we are in no way affiliated with Omegon or Christian Fattinnanzi. project nightflight is an Austrian astrophotography group that promotes the conservation of the starry sky as environmental resource. See our work here.

Edited by project nightflight, 01 October 2018 - 02:45 PM.

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#14 TonyTitch

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Posted 03 October 2018 - 03:35 PM

My main issue with this has been the polar alignment "scope" .  It's simply a small plastic tube that clips into the side of the guider.   It was easier than I expected to see Polaris through it once the sky is dark enough, but its best to do the alignment before fitting the camera, and then to remove it once the camera is on.  This avoids the danger of hitting it if you are repositioning the camera, knocking it off and on to the ground and then having to search for it in the dark.   As a quickly set up, easily portable tracker it isn't bad at all 



#15 Traveler

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Posted 12 October 2018 - 05:55 AM

 

We recently bought and tested a Mini Track LX2. Since there have been some questions about this gadget I thought I’d share the results our tests showed so far.

 

The Mini Track LX2 was developed by Italian astrophotographer Christian Fattinnanzi and is distributed by Omegon. The little device gets shipped in a nice cardboard box:

 

 

 

As the picture shows, the Mini Track LX2 is currently available in a bundle with a ball head. The ball head is Arca Swiss compatible and a dovetail plate is included. More information on the contents of the shipping can be found in the user manual that is available in several languages on the Omegon website. Here is the link.

 

On the evening of September 29 we did a thorough test of the tracking precision from our dark sky site in Austria. The tracker was mounted on a photo tripod with a geared head. For testing we used a Baader modified EOS1100Da. For the tests we chose Altair, which was near the meridian during our tests. Altair is also close to the celestial equator, which makes sure that the tracking errors of the device show to their full extent. Several exposures with a 50mm lens made it clear that the exposure time should not exceed 2 minutes at this focal length. This nicely confirms the rule of thumb the manufacturer gives for the valid exposure times. It says that the maximum exposure time in minutes is 100 divided by the focal length. Here is one of the 2min sample images shot with the 50mm lens:

 

 

 

To quantify the tracking precision in greater detail we monitored it over a time span of 30 minutes with a 135mm lens. Here is the result:

 

 
 
The graph once again confirms the given rule of thumb (T[min]=100/fl[mm]) and makes it obvious that with a 50mm lens most 2 minute exposures will turn out fine. With a 25mm lens 4 minute exposures will be possible and with focal lengths of 16mm or less exposure times could even exceed that. For these short exposure times polar alignment does not have to be very accurate. It will suffice if the instrument’s pole is within a circle of about one degree of the celestial pole. This low accuracy can easily be achieved with the included sighting device. It just has to be pointed directly at Polaris. We probably won’t use the Mini Track for focal lengths exceeding 50mm. Although the payload limit of 2kg would allow to use the tracker with a 100mm or even a 200mm lens the maximum exposure times drop fast.
 
Bottom line: In our opinion the Mini Track LX2 is a fantastic low-cost camera tracker for wide angle lenses. We could confirm the manufacturer’s rule of thumb (maximum exposure time = 100 / focal length). Setup is easy and the device works reliably.
 
Clear skies
Erwin
 
BTW, we are in no way affiliated with Omegon or Christian Fattinnanzi. project nightflight is an Austrian astrophotography group that promotes the conservation of the starry sky as environmental resource. See our work here.

 

Sorry Erwin, i saw this review from you just now. Thanks! 

 

I happen to know that Saint Nicholas will bring this to my house...



#16 project nightflight

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Posted 15 October 2018 - 01:21 PM

Since our first results with the Mini Track LX2 were quite promising, we decided to go a little deeper with a follow-up test. This time we looked into the tracker's innovative spring mechanism for weight compensation.

 

The manual says that the spring should be set to different positions according to where the payload's center of gravity is located. This would compensate for the payload weight and prevent the clock drive from running slow or fast. When the camera weight is above the tracker, the spring can be disengaged. When the camera weight is west of the tracker, it will speed up the clock drive and the spring should be set to the retaining position "R". When the camera weight is east of the tracker, it will slow down the clock drive and the spring  should be set to one of the compensating positions "1" through "5". The manual also says that the position "5" with the highest tension should be able to handle a payload of 2kg.

 

Since we do not want to strain the small device with the maximum payload of 2kg we only use the Mini Track with very lightweight equipment. For the test we used a 50mm lens on a DSLR body, weighing in at a total 0.8kg. Again, we shot Altair, this time with different camera positions. We made exposures with the camera's center of gravity above the tracker, east of the tracker and west of the tracker and tried different settings of the spring. The results showed that at the extreme positions in the west and east, the spring settings "R" and "2" work effectively to stabilize the clock drive's tracking rate. With heavier camera bodies the settings might differ, but without any doubt we could verify that the spring system for weight compensation is actually working. See the illustration below:

 

Mini Track LX2 spring system test
 
There is one other thing that might be considered: The Mini Track LX2 comes without a bag. We did not want to stuff it into our camera backpack without a further layer of protection. For this reason we customized a padded wrapper bag that folds around the device and is closed with Velcro pads:
 
Mini Track LX2 custom wrapper bag
 

In our opinion it would be a good idea for the manufacturer to design a padded pouch or bag for the Mini Track LX2. The metal plate on the bottom of the tracker that holds the spring has quite sharp edges and has the potential of severely damaging other photographic equipment that gets in contact with it during storage and transportation.

 

Clear skies
Erwin

project nightflight

 


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#17 Starrynightsky

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Posted 15 October 2018 - 03:44 PM

I've just received this Mount for a trip to India. Would a laser pointer be of help to polar align instead of the tube that's provided? Just thinking outside the box and never used a laser pointer b4. Thought's.

#18 mwr

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Posted 16 October 2018 - 05:40 AM

In the meantime I could also test the MiniTrack LX2 with a focal lenght of 200 mm (Canon FD with Fujifilm X-A1). Below you can see the results using exposure times of 20 sec.

 

M31
 
h/chi Double Cluster
 
Carolines Haystack

 

In order to improve the polar alignment I have employed a routine that is described here ("Kochab method"; although the description is in german one can get the point by simply having a look to the informative pictures):

 

https://sternenhimme...mini-track-lx2/


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#19 project nightflight

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Posted 16 October 2018 - 02:16 PM

In addition to the tests of the spring mechanism with Altair (see posting above) we did a test run of the tracker with the camera pointing to the zenith. The payload weight was in an extreme position to the west of the tracker, the spring was set to the position “R”. Again, the result turned out fine:

 

Mini Track LX2 spring system zenith testrun

 

The test image is a single 2 minute shot of the constellation Cas with a Baader modified EOS1100Da body set to ISO3200 and a 50mm lens working @f/4. We used a Neodymium lens filter to increase the contrast. Neither darks nor flats were applied.

 

Clear skies
Erwin
project nightflight


Edited by project nightflight, 16 October 2018 - 02:22 PM.

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#20 SpaceNetworks

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Posted 28 October 2018 - 12:40 PM

I recently started landscape astrophotography using a MiniTrack LX2.  I wanted to limit my investments to see if this was something that appealed to me.  I’m enjoying the challenge and the results have been decent enough to keep at it.  In addition to the MiniTrack LX2, I’ve been using a Sony DSLR and the kit lens.  I just got a Tokina 11-16mm lens and will be using it soon.  My first images using this tracker can be seen here:

 

http://www.5cmedia.c...hotography.html

 

IMG_0807a.jpg


Edited by SpaceNetworks, 28 October 2018 - 07:19 PM.

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#21 Starrynightsky

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Posted 31 October 2018 - 05:57 AM

I've only had time to use the omegon mini track once and I used it in it's extreme position using a Canon 1000d modded camera and a 300mm lens. The result was very pleasing using iso 1600 and 30 seconds exposure time for each frame. There was quite a lot of moonlight from a gibbous moon.

Attached image of the mount on my tripod plus seemed to attract quite a lot of interest with the locals. 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 44770194_726615987700071_8785041079217946624_o.jpg
  • IMG_20181021_031418-1190x1587.jpg
  • IMG_20181101_093043.jpg

Edited by Starrynightsky, 01 November 2018 - 04:33 AM.

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#22 project nightflight

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 12:54 PM

During a recent stay on La Palma Island we did a test how well the Mini Track LX2 performs with tele lenses. Our approach was to keep the individual exposures short, shoot at a high ISO setting and compensate for that with a large number of individual frames. The actual exposures were made during Halloween night, on October 31, 2018 at an altitude of 800m above sea level. The shots turned out quite nice. We had to sort out some of the subs due to clouds that passed during the exposure series, but not a single frame was ruined by trailing. Here is the processed result:

 

Mini Track LX2 135mm tele tracking test

 

This test image of the California Nebula was acquired on October 31, 2018, from La Palma Island with an EOS 1100Da body and a Zeiss Sonnar 135mm lens working @f/4. The ISO setting was 6400 and a Hutech LPS-P2 light pollution lens filter was used. The image is a photoshopped stack of 109 subframes 20 seconds each. Flats, flatdarks and darks were applied.


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#23 Traveler

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 01:52 AM

Excellent!

Hope you enjoyed La Palma as well.



#24 project nightflight

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 02:30 AM

Excellent!

Hope you enjoyed La Palma as well.

Oh yes, indeed, thank you!

Might be a little off-topic, but here is a PDF about the island for download we published some time ago: Stargazing on La Palma Island



#25 project nightflight

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 09:21 AM

We could finally complete our tests of the Mini Track LX2 and compiled a thorough review of the tracker.
The 9-page PDF document is available for download here:

 

http://project-night..._lx2_review.pdf


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