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Thread: My gear repairs, refurbs, and mods

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    My gear repairs, refurbs, and mods

    Been working on some of my gear. Most of the stuff in my collection is from the late 80's through mid 90's and some of it has started to show some issues and I bought a couple pieces that already had issues.

    Started with my Roland S-50 sampler. Bought it in '91 and it was my main board for a long time. I like the action and it's got velocity and aftertouch. It was Roland's flagship sampler until the W-30 workstation came out.

    These boards have a relay in them on the output circuit board. The relay contacts get dirty after periods of sitting unused...and this board sat in a case on a shelf for a couple years. Dirty relays result in crackly sound, or no sound. The relays seem to be made of unobtainium, if you do find one it's probably cheaper to buy an output board off a sampler someone is parting out.



    And here's the relay removed from the circuit board



    I didn't try to clean it yet, instead I hard wired the contact points, taking the relay out of the equation.



    So far, so good. Except some of the switches were getting to where they didn't work. I've found teeny switches on synth parts sites for $5 each, or 100 on eBay straight from China for $5. Hmmm. I needed 26 switches, so the 100 pack it is.



    All those little square fuckers had to be de-soldered. Four contacts each. Then the pads cleaned up, and re-soldered. Can't go too hot with the iron either or you'll pull the pads off the circuit board, so it was a three or four beer job.



    I was going to replace a couple of the red LED's with blue but I'm starting to think the blue LED is getting to be overdone.
    Last edited by twonabomber; 01-25-2016 at 07:07 AM.
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    The S-50 runs on 3.5" floppy discs. The OS is loaded with the sample info, simply powering up the board gives a "insert disc" message. Can't even be used as a controller without the OS loaded. Having a pile of floppies around is getting to be a pain in the ass, so I took the original drive out and installed an HxC floppy emulator.

    Original drive. Same form factor as a regular floppy but it's wired differently. Shugart or something. The HxC automatically senses the correct type, I made no changes to the jumpers.



    The HxC



    Didn't get a pic of the drive enclosure open, but here it is installed



    The floppy emulator runs on an SD card. So my whole library of samples can be converted on the PC, transferred to the SD card, and read on the sampler. Sample files can also be backed up on the PC or a CD or whatever. The two outer buttons scroll up and down through the list of disc images, and the center loads. The load time is not any faster, it still takes about a minute to load a full disc. The big advantage is not needing the old fragile floppies.

    More on the HxC http://hxc2001.free.fr/floppy_drive_emulator/ . Ships from Poland, mine took about two weeks to get here at the beginning of December.
    Last edited by twonabomber; 01-25-2016 at 05:43 AM.

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    The S-50 has video output, either old school RGB or a black and white signal. I used to use an old B&W security monitor with it but trashed that a long time ago.



    I would have modded the board to have modern VGA or color output but the Texas Instruments VDP only allowed for RGB or B&W. So conversion has to happen outside. Enter a converter box sourced on Amazon and a Roland to SCART cable found on eBay. The sampler has a 13 pin cable and it's a bitch to make one. They originally were compatible with Atari or Amiga CGA monitors, and I have an Atari monitor but didn't want to use it on this setup.





    And boom! Color output on a modern monitor. HDMI out of the box to an HDMI to DVI cable into my old Samsung 24" monitor, mounted to an Ultimate Support Deltex stand with a $10 LCD wall mount. The monitor also has a VGA input so I can run a cable to my computer and use it for that, and switch between the two from the front panel of the monitor. Now I have to remember how to use the sampler...





    So what's next? The Roland JX-8P that sits under the sampler has a dead keybed and the pitch bend lever is broken. I found a used bender on eBay and instructions how to repair the keybed. Should just need some cleaning and that one key needs re-seated. The JX was kind of beat up and there are plenty nicer ones out there but I got a good deal on it and I'll keep it. The JX-8P was one of the last truly analog synths Roland made and it has a great sound.
    Last edited by twonabomber; 01-25-2016 at 06:36 AM.

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    Around the time the HxC came in I picked up this Casio CZ-1 at a local shop for $300.



    I had been watching a few on eBay and I would have paid more than $300 after shipping. This one's not beat up and I could try it out instead of gambling on an eBay one working, or worse, UPS destroying it. I still have a Casio CZ-230s that I bought when I was in high school, the CZ-1 was the flagship and has the same sounds the smaller board does but it adds more voices, full size keys, velocity and aftertouch, and also stereo chorus. Guy at the shop says he doesn't know much about keys but that it had to be turned on a certain way. Got it powered up and it's slow to make sound and then it drifts in and out for the first few minutes. They wanted more than $300 but I said if I had to open it up and clean it I'd need a better price on it, and I knew it had been in the shop since September when I was in there to buy strings so I was hoping they were ready to deal. They agreed on $300 and I did pretty good because it came with a case AND a memory cartridge. Can maybe flip the cart for $100.

    So I get it home and hooked up to my system and do a quick Google on the power up issue. The CZ has a battery in it and if the battery is dead the board needs initialized every time it's powered up. Problem found, dead battery. I found battery holders on Amazon for a couple bucks and the proper battery elsewhere 3 for $5. I'll fix my CZ and put a couple battery and holder combos on eBay or something.

    I may tear into the CZ first, I think it'll be a quicker repair over the JX. The JX works fine over MIDI though so even if I don't fix the keybed I can still fire it off with a controller or sequence.
    Last edited by twonabomber; 01-25-2016 at 07:05 AM.

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    Can I be first to say I s******ed at you finding a used bender
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    I was on a new bender when I typed that

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    Was down by my old house today. Hit Amish country for lunch, then went over to one of the better pawn shops in the county. Found a Korg Wavestation SR rack for $70. Powered up and says low battery...



    Another quick Google shows it's a CR2032 battery, and I just happen to have one in my parts bin. Eleven screws, pop the lid and ten minutes later it's in the rack. Took another few minutes to load the factory sounds back into RAM via MIDI and we're back in business.



    I will probably flip this one though, I have the VST version of the Wavestation and the sounds are all the same.

    They also had a Kawai K1 rack module but the screen was dead. I haven't found any instructions how to replace one, or even the display, so I passed.
    Last edited by twonabomber; 01-28-2016 at 01:14 AM.

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    Playing with some new toys...

    Last edited by twonabomber; 03-30-2016 at 07:50 PM.

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    Hole filler


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    I'll wait for the title of Turdonabummer's book: 'Born In Poverty: The Story of the Second-Rate/White Trash Gear of a Failed Musician Living in Cleveland'
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    I prefer "never was." I've played out exactly once. It's a well funded hobby.

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    Oh yes, I did.



    Found on eBay, in Dayton, at a great price. Super clean. And it's got the Skyscraper patch!



    Now I'm done. My collection is complete.

    For today.

    Maybe.

  13. Thanked twonabomber for this KICKASS post:

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    Quote Originally Posted by twonabomber View Post

    Found on eBay, in Dayton, at a great price. Super clean. And it's got the Skyscraper patch!
    Good synth in the olden times.

    Got to use one owned by the studio on a demo and was kind of shocked that Tuggle had just used a preset for the start of Skyscraper.

    In those days a D50 wasn't long out and was an unthinkable price of $2500 so I of course immediately used it for the intro to a song too doubling down on tacky.

    To be fair I was very very young...
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    This one was under $500, including shipping. I see them for $600 and up all the time and didn't want to pay that much. Bottom has some light scratches but all mine are nicked up from stands or whatever. Panel is pretty clean. They had tape on some of the keys and I figured I'd be wiping them down with Goo Gone but the tape peeled right off.

    Found it on eBay Friday night while at work, but I've forgotten my eBay password and figured it would still be available when I got home at 6 am. Then I forgot to buy it...slept on it Saturday, and looked it up again at 2 am or so. Hit BIN when I got home a couple hours later.

    Supposedly Prince had one at Paisley. While scrolling through the patches I'd find one that sounded familiar and try something, found a horn patch that was pretty close to Sexy MF.

    I had a D5 sitting in the same spot on the rack. I told my friend it'll probably end up at his house. I bought his daughter an Ibanez and a teeny Marshall for Christmas, she can learn keys now too.
    Last edited by twonabomber; 05-25-2016 at 09:59 PM.

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    Apparently the Korg M1 killed it in the late 80s. I bought one a few years back again for silly money $175, and from memory I'm pretty sure the D50 presets are better apart from the piano which the Korg does well for the time.

    I guess it depends what you are doing but rock was always about strings, horns and lush stuff. So eg. a DX7 was no use to me at all back then.

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    If I pick up another board it'll probably be an M1. Or maybe just the rack version. But the Wavestation rack is pretty close to M1.

    I'd be interested in a Roland JX-10 at the right price. I don't think I want any Roland newer than the D50. I was looking at the new JD-Xa though, but for what those run I could buy another three vintage pieces.

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    Be wary about the battery on the M1.

    I bought this thing I dunno around 7 years ago and played it quite regularly for about a year and gigged it once. Within a day of buying it off the guy the battery light came on. I went on Google thinking no problem and it turns out you have to take the whole thing to bits to replace it.
    Fucking crazy design - one of those 2 hour jobs where you know you are going to have a pile of bits left over at the end.

    Once the battery goes apparently you lose all the presets and your own sounds. This is a worry because I've never worked out how to copy new sounds back on.

    To be fair it's pushing 30 years old now and last time I looked this little watch battery is still clinging on...it's like fucking Voyager or something.

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    I have Sound Diver. Came with an Alesis QSR rack, I really only bought it to get the software but the BIN on that one was under $130 so I kept it, too. I'm sure the factory M1 patches are out there. Any MIDI librarian will load them. May have to get a USB to MIDI cable but they're not that expensive. Save your banks, back them up to a CD or something, and you'll have them when the battery dies.

    I haven't gotten in to the Casio to change it's battery. Pretty much the same as the M1, it's under the keybed.

  20. #19
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    The battery thing would be a good reason to get the M1 rack. Pop the lid and done in ten minutes. I'd need a bigger rack, but that would probably be cheaper than the full board.

    I forgot, I am considering putting my vintage Roland SH-101 back in it's original box and picking up a System 1. Can load an SH-101 emulation into the board and it has "plug outs" that run on the PC.

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    Still in acquisition mode. Something arriving this week...

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    I forgot to update with the new arrival. I've been outside a lot, wrenching on Jeeps and going to car shows. Picked up a kayak in June and have been on the water a few times a week. And I bought a new bike, mostly for the winter. A fat tire bike, or just fatbike:



    Mongoose Dolomite, motherfucker!

    I'll ride it the couple blocks to the liquor store and around town. Going to get a rack for the back and add a tube to hold a decent sized bottle. Didn't like the pedals, seat, or shifter so those got replaced. Rides great in the sand, too.

    So anyways...this showed up a few days before the bike. Roland JD-XA



    Knobs and sliders, oh my.

    What Roland calls a "hybrid" synth. Four analog parts, and a digital part. The analog can be stacked for four voice polyphony. The digital part is Roland's SuperNatural engine. Been noodling around with it here and there and it's got a great sound. Haven't done much programming yet but there are a bunch of sound sets on the Roland site that I downloaded. Pull up a preset and it's got the sound itself, and then you can add arpeggiator settings and a sequence. Effects, too. I'll probably start out getting a drum loop going on the PC and playing a bass line over it. Some music for my kayaking videos.

    Found on eBay for a couple hundred less than what it's usually priced at. Seller says it was used but there isn't a scratch on it and all the stuff in the box looked like it had never been opened.

    Picked up a parts donor for another project and passed on an M1 rack. I have enough to keep me busy for a while...

    Friday is "909" day. Roland will be announcing 30 new products, a lot of pics have already been leaked. Next purchase? Must work more overtime.
    Last edited by twonabomber; 09-08-2016 at 12:28 AM.

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    I should change my tagline to "can't be trusted with money."

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    Awesome!

    Proper fat as fuck.


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    I have some practicing to do I am stuck on setting an arpeggio and twisting knobs.

    You can stack the four analog parts and (I think) slightly detune them for a nice fat sound. Four mono analogs acting as one, then the digital part is 64 more voices, but that goes down depending on if those are layered.
    Last edited by twonabomber; 12-26-2016 at 12:37 PM.

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  27. #26
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    LOL

    I mostly tweak presets. Sometimes all they need is a change on the ADSR and they're good.

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    Six unused channels. Well not really, the JD-XA is in the computer room and not with the other gear. So four unused channels...for now...

    I had to buy cables today. There's probably a half mile of 1/4" plug end cables in the house.
    Last edited by twonabomber; 01-02-2017 at 07:57 AM.

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    Being single has its advantages


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    So last Sunday we headed down to Columbus for the Ohio Guitar Show. Held in the winter and summer, supposed to be a decent show. Well, it wasn't. A lot of cheap junk, and a lot of expensive stuff. Nothing in that three to five hundred spot that I like.

    Ever seen the Epiphone LP's and SG's that GC blows out for $100 every few months? Guy had three of 'em, all priced at $250. Wait a couple months and GC will have 'em on sale again for a hundy. And a bunch of "anniversary" Gibsons from 1976, an Explorer priced (fittingly) at $1976 and a few on other tables for a little more. And way, way too many PRS guitars and shit Squire Bullets.

    There are two Music Go Round (used chain) stores in Columbus, we hit both. I ended up with a used Roland Octapad II for $100 and a Yamaha hi-hat trigger pedal for $20.

    Hit the GC down there as well, they were busy for 5 pm on a Sunday night. They had two Indonesian Wolfgangs (Specials?), one white with black hardware that I liked, and the purple burst. One of them had the unfinished fret ends, where you could feel them as you slide down the neck...kind of odd, presumably they come out of the same factory, you'd think the QC would be better. I was going to snag one off Amazon but if I don't know what the quality is like I may just find one local.

    I did play an Ibanez Talman bass that I really liked. Punchy. Nicely priced at $300 or so. If I get another bass I'll have to get a small bass amp instead of running it direct.
    Last edited by twonabomber; 01-21-2017 at 12:06 PM.

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    Cables showed up the other day



    I use Talent cables from Parts Express. Decent quality, and inexpensive. I don't move stuff around much so wear and tear should be minimal. MIDI cables are all Hosa.

    As for the "cant be trusted with money" quip, I picked up a Roland System 8. Showed up on Dec. 23rd. Sweetwater had a four years same as cash promotion going on...made it an easy buy.



    It's got the System 8 "engine," and then room for three plug-outs. Came with the Jupiter 8 and Juno 106 plug-outs. Think VST versions in a hardware box. So virtual analog in hardware.

    Sounds so good! When in performance mode, you can split the keyboard, say with a Juno 106 bass on the bottom, and a Jupiter 8 pad further up the board. Then if you want to have one sound on the whole board, select upper or lower and it shuts the other one off. The arpeggiator is good, similar to the JD-XA. Has a sequencer that sends MIDI out as well as running the internal sounds but I don't know if I'll use that. There are a bunch of Jupiter 8 sounds from the 80's, a sync that is really close to the sound on the Cars' Let's Go and some good string patches. Would be easy to put the sync on one side of the board and the strings on the other, and use that for a live cover of Let's Go. Strings work good for Moving In Stereo as well. The Juno 106 was popular as a bass synth so those will find their way to the bottom end of most performances.

    A couple nitpicks about the System 8 and JD-XA: power cords and switches are on opposite sides, as are the outputs. JD-XA uses a USB stick for extra memory, System 8 uses an SD card. JD-XA goes all the way from bank A to P, with 8 patches/performances in each bank. System 8 only goes from bank A to H, with the same 8 patches/performances, but there are 8 banks per plug out. AND System 8 doesn't have any blank memory locations, you've got to delete something to create a custom sound or performance. I know the System 1 started out with limited memory and it was expanded in an update, maybe System 8 will see the same improvement. Both boards have vocoders, but System 8 will accept a line or mic in, JD-XA only mic.

    So the current state of the rig:



    Can barely see the TV now. And I should have put more electrical outlets in there when I refinished the room.

    Trying to find another Ultimate Support Deltex stand to leave in the computer room, I sometimes bring a board in there to load sounds or work on a sequence.

    Found the funky table at a resale shop in town and the marble tray at Target. Tabletop needs refinished and I didn't want my drinks sweating on it and making it worse. Nice place for picks, markers, and a notebook too.

    Going to clear out some old stuff and duplicates, I gave the Roland D-5 to my friend's kids and listing a couple samplers on eBay. Maybe a Yamaha FB-01 too, the TX in the rack is easier to program vs the FB.
    Last edited by twonabomber; 01-23-2017 at 03:24 PM.

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    I was about to say I didn't realize you were so tall but is it just that you control those high up ones remotely?

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    Keyboards ruined Van Halen.

    No wonder Twona is such a Van Hagar fan!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seshmeister View Post
    I was about to say I didn't realize you were so tall but is it just that you control those high up ones remotely?
    I'm not that tall. I was sitting watching the Cavs lose when I took the pic and not standing so maybe that throws it off.

    The bottom edge of the keys on the D50 (on the right stack) are about 5 feet off the floor, the patch change buttons are just over my head but within easy reach. The Alesis Vortex keytar on the left is mostly up there for storage, the Arturia Minibrute and Roland SH101 sit a little lower than the D50. Tops of the Ultimate stands are about four feet off the floor. I could get the mixer a little lower but I like it where it is. I left the Minibrute on the outside where I can play with the sliders and grab a bass line quick. The SH101 I've had since 1983 but I don't play it much any more. It may end up back in the box and stored away. Maybe I'll wait until they are going for $2k before I decide to sell it. I do play the JX-8P remotely since I haven't fixed the keybed yet, but it's deeper than the D50 and S50 so it looks better at the bottom of the stack.

    Everything is MIDI'ed through a MOTU USB interface, I think it has five ins and outs. One goes to the rack, and another to the Roland stack. I had another pair of in/out set up for the DX7 and CZ1 but now that I added the other stand and split those up I'll have to rewire the MIDIs.

    I thought about getting more strut and brackets and placing more gear to the right of the Rolands but I didn't want to go any further on that wall, and I think the arms are discontinued. They are extra tier kits for Standtastic stands but they work just fine with the industrial strut bolted to the wall. If I decide to watch movies in there I can just move the stand with the DX7 and System 8 out of the way. That TV is mostly used as a big PC monitor, but it's a smart TV so I can get to Amazon Prime Videos without an extra box.

    Honestly I spend more time moving shit around and looking at the collection than actually playing. It's nice having everything set up and ready to go...Grimes will bring his guitars over and it takes him 45 minutes to get set up. I just have to plug the power strips in and power everything up. The TV is the only thing that's plugged in 24/7. I drag one of my bikes and a training stand in there and watch TV while I pedal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Von Halen View Post
    Keyboards ruined Van Halen.

    No wonder Twona is such a Van Hagar fan!
    This is geared more toward New Wave, funk, and R&B, but I can probably whip you up some Dreams if you want.
    Last edited by twonabomber; 01-24-2017 at 04:08 AM.

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    I have joined the cult of Akai MPC. Picked up an MPC Touch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twonabomber View Post
    Honestly I spend more time moving shit around and looking at the collection than actually playing.
    Had some friends over for beers n' burgers and someone said "I'd love to hear something" and I said so would I! The weather broke and I've been working on the house, the Jeeps, and kayaking. Haven't powered up the stack in weeks.

    April is International Guitar Month (and my birthday) so I celebrated by picking up a Fernades Ravelle



    I finally found another Ultimate Support Deltex stand. It was a couple hours away, but cheaper to ship instead of driving to pick it up. Now I have three Deltex stands.

    Beyond that, I've been good. Except I've been looking at cars...
    Last edited by twonabomber; 06-19-2017 at 03:53 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Von Halen View Post
    Keyboards ruined Van Halen.

    No wonder Twona is such a Van Hagar fan!
    Spot on! Jump sucked and The keyboard tunes got worse when Sammy joined.
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    Photobucket got me. Fuckers. Thousands of build threads on car forums have been trashed too.

    Add Bluetooth to your favorite gear. Picked up this little Bluetooth transmitter/receiver off Amazon



    Plugged it into the big Mackie and paired a set of Talent in-ears and now I can wander back and forth from the keys to drums, and even to the fridge in the next room. Runs for 10 hours on a charge, and will work while charging.

    https://www.amazon.com/TaoTronics-Bl...r+%2F+Receiver

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    Quote Originally Posted by twonabomber View Post
    Photobucket got me.
    They also got the Van Halen flame...

  40. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seshmeister View Post
    They also got the Van Halen flame...

    And all the ticket stubs in the Calendar....

    Fuckers....
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  41. #40
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    I have one album on Photobucket that's all ticket stubs. Been trying to use the "download album" link and it doesn't work. I've heard the same from other PB users. Gonna be a pain in the ass to open each one and DL it. At least I know the scans were on one of the last two PC's I built. Might be able to avoid having to DL everything.

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