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Thread: NOOB ALERT: Just some curiosities.

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    Cool NOOB ALERT: Just some curiosities.

    Hey, everyone.

    I'm an engineering student from England who's primarily a musician. I've stumbled upon this forum as there's a few amps I'd love to clone and make of my own. I build my own guitars and basses these days based on what I need for a gig. Just out of curiosity, how simple would it be to be able to clone something straight from a schematic? How did you all get into this? Anyone else have an engineering background at all?

    Here's an amp I'd love to clone for guitar:
    http://www.freeinfosociety.com/elect...nucklehead.pdf

    Thanks for reading, y'all.

    - Josh

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Welcome on board Josh. Yes there are a some engineers here, plus others deeply experienced in repair & building. As for cloning a Knucklehead, please don't go diving in the deep end. Get some experience building simple amps first, see if you want to continue. It would be awful to gather a big expensive pile of parts then discover you're not as enthusiastic when the mammoth task begins. It is good that you have some experience building instruments, but it's quite another thing to build amps especially very complex ones like the KH.

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    Enjoy. Every. Sandwich.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChunkyMunky View Post
    Hey, everyone.

    I'm an engineering student from England who's primarily a musician. I've stumbled upon this forum as there's a few amps I'd love to clone and make of my own. I build my own guitars and basses these days based on what I need for a gig. Just out of curiosity, how simple would it be to be able to clone something straight from a schematic? How did you all get into this? Anyone else have an engineering background at all?

    Here's an amp I'd love to clone for guitar:
    http://www.freeinfosociety.com/elect...nucklehead.pdf

    Thanks for reading, y'all.

    - Josh
    Most folks start with something simple, that schematic is too complicated for a first build. For a first build, I'd suggest a simple complete amp kit; you'll get a layout with it that's easy to follow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    Welcome on board Josh. Yes there are a some engineers here, plus others deeply experienced in repair & building. As for cloning a Knucklehead, please don't go diving in the deep end. Get some experience building simple amps first, see if you want to continue. It would be awful to gather a big expensive pile of parts then discover you're not as enthusiastic when the mammoth task begins. It is good that you have some experience building instruments, but it's quite another thing to build amps especially very complex ones like the KH.
    Thanks.

    Thankfully, I'm not nutty or bold enough to dive into a Knucklehead right away, that'd be madness from the offset. It's something I'd like to do down the line.


    Quote Originally Posted by m1989jmp View Post
    Most folks start with something simple, that schematic is too complicated for a first build. For a first build, I'd suggest a simple complete amp kit; you'll get a layout with it that's easy to follow.
    Any particular recommendations of what ones to have a crack with?

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    Master Destroyer nosaj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by m1989jmp View Post
    Most folks start with something simple, that schematic is too complicated for a first build. For a first build, I'd suggest a simple complete amp kit; you'll get a layout with it that's easy to follow.
    I started with a champ and built it from junk parts. Starting with a schematic instead of a layout doing it true point to point, helped immensely with understanding the schematic and how things layout. Now when putting something together I don't need a layout(training wheels) plus lots and lots of help from the guys here.

    nosaj

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    Binkie McFartnuggets‏:If we really wanted to know the meaning of life we would have fed Stephen Hawking shrooms a long time ago.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Welcome Josh.

    +1 to what's been said about not going so advanced for a first build. The thing about the KH is that it's SO complex that even experienced home brewers don't go there. Frankly, it's the sort of amp that pretty much REQUIRES automated manufacturing. That said, I don't think a "simple" build is what you want either because it wouldn't give you the features you obviously want. That is, if you desire the uber gain tone then a vintage Fender isn't what you want. But there may be other high gain options with fewer features that would be more conducive to hand building. And as mentioned, making guitars is great experience, but building an amp requires many other skills and tools (expensive) and will have something like 100+ parts. Then there's the problem of cloning from a schematic. For something like a high gain build that can't work. The reason is that when the gain is high the likelihood of circuit instability due to component proximity is greater. A design with a known (or knowable) layout is necessary for success IMHO.

    Maybe consider the features you can live without. Do you actually need two channels with separate EQ and foot switchable gain options on the gain channel? Do you need an effects loop? If you could, say, live with a single channel amp with a foot switchable high gain option and no effects loop then things get a lot simpler.

    Also, there is often troubleshooting on a first build. The more complex the design the harder it will be to troubleshoot. Especially for someone with limited electronics experience. There's only so much help to be had from people that are remote from the actual project and we've seen more than one newbie build what ended up being a very expensive door stop.

    Also, there is the consideration of practicality. Do you want to do this to save money, or do you want to learn about amplifiers and electronics? I think your intro clarifies your position. Since a used Knucklehead would set you back about a thousand dollars and prototyping one would cost only a little less (consider that you will be buying some new tools too) and take many, many hours to build and refine the money angle doesn't make sense.

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    I started with a champ and built it from junk parts. Starting with a schematic instead of a layout doing it true point to point, helped immensely with understanding the schematic and how things layout. Now when putting something together I don't need a layout(training wheels) plus lots and lots of help from the guys here.

    nosaj
    A champ built from junk parts? Impressive to say the least! How does it sound?


    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    Welcome Josh.

    +1 to what's been said about not going so advanced for a first build. The thing about the KH is that it's SO complex that even experienced home brewers don't go there. Frankly, it's the sort of amp that pretty much REQUIRES automated manufacturing. That said, I don't think a "simple" build is what you want either because it wouldn't give you the features you obviously want. That is, if you desire the uber gain tone then a vintage Fender isn't what you want. But there may be other high gain options with fewer features that would be more conducive to hand building. And as mentioned, making guitars is great experience, but building an amp requires many other skills and tools (expensive) and will have something like 100+ parts. Then there's the problem of cloning from a schematic. For something like a high gain build that can't work. The reason is that when the gain is high the likelihood of circuit instability due to component proximity is greater. A design with a known (or knowable) layout is necessary for success IMHO.

    Maybe consider the features you can live without. Do you actually need two channels with separate EQ and foot switchable gain options on the gain channel? Do you need an effects loop? If you could, say, live with a single channel amp with a foot switchable high gain option and no effects loop then things get a lot simpler.

    Also, there is often troubleshooting on a first build. The more complex the design the harder it will be to troubleshoot. Especially for someone with limited electronics experience. There's only so much help to be had from people that are remote from the actual project and we've seen more than one newbie build what ended up being a very expensive door stop.

    Also, there is the consideration of practicality. Do you want to do this to save money, or do you want to learn about amplifiers and electronics? I think your intro clarifies your position. Since a used Knucklehead would set you back about a thousand dollars and prototyping one would cost only a little less (consider that you will be buying some new tools too) and take many, many hours to build and refine the money angle doesn't make sense.
    Cheers, Mr.H!

    What drew me originally to the KH in the first place was how the integration of the 'Fender-esque' cleans and more 'Marshall-y' high gain tones were available from the same amp. This is all excellent advice for me to heed and absorb. The money angle is also a much smarter move and I'm merely a beginning geek who wants to learn more.

    After reading this and the other brilliant responses in this thread, I'm eyeing up something like a Mojotone or Weber kit. Any particular recommendations? I'd rather make something knowing I can use it on a gig rather than it being a fancy, once-educational door stop if it doesn't sound particularly great.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChunkyMunky View Post
    Thanks.

    Thankfully, I'm not nutty or bold enough to dive into a Knucklehead right away, that'd be madness from the offset. It's something I'd like to do down the line.


    Any particular recommendations of what ones to have a crack with?
    For starters, what kind of tone are you after? Obvious choices are things like Fender 5F6A/5E3, Marshall JTM45/1987 etc. and would make great first builds. But again, it all depends on the situations you'd use them in. There are much less complicated designs if you need a bedroom amp though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nosaj View Post
    I started with a champ and built it from junk parts. Starting with a schematic instead of a layout doing it true point to point, helped immensely with understanding the schematic and how things layout. Now when putting something together I don't need a layout(training wheels) plus lots and lots of help from the guys here.

    nosaj
    I suppose there are people competent enough to build something just by looking at a layout, but don't have time/will/need to learn how to read schematics.

    That being said, I completely agree with your statement; learning how to read schematics is far better in the long run.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    I actually think working from a layout is better than working from a schematic in the absence of some in depth circuit knowledge. If one is going to go rote then go rote. There is a lot more to a guitar amp than a schematic. Just as important (maybe more so) is the quality of the components and their proximity to one another. One doesn't really need to learn to read a schematic. They're drawn all different ways. All you need to do is follow the circuit paths as they are drawn out. This is actually hard to do on some schematics, but not a skill beyond tracing lines.

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    I agree, especially when the components you're using operate in the MHz. The layout and shielding become critical both for sound quality and stability. In some circuits, a 1cm difference in a component connection can result in an unusable amp. Ask any gainclone builder

    Why don't you try messing with some Class D designs. Buy a few chinese amp modules, they're easy to power, cheap and loud.

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    Last edited by gmaslin; 08-20-2018 at 04:28 PM.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmaslin View Post
    Why don't you try messing with some Class D designs. Buy a few chinese amp modules, they're easy to power, cheap and loud.
    Maybe because he wants a tube amp.?. Lot's of room for what could be in the realm of electronic music. It's all over the map anymore with digital modelers and SMPS technologies. But there's still nothing that actually, really and for truth sounds (and feels) like a tube amp. New members with chops are always appreciated and I hope you'll stick around. To be honest though this was, and remains a sort of tube amp biased venue (no pun intended). And I interpret the OP as inquiring about this aspect of the forum. Otherwise they'd just buy a Line 6 and be done with it.

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChunkyMunky View Post
    Hey, everyone.

    I'm an engineering student from England who's primarily a musician. I've stumbled upon this forum as there's a few amps I'd love to clone and make of my own. I build my own guitars and basses these days based on what I need for a gig. Just out of curiosity, how simple would it be to be able to clone something straight from a schematic? How did you all get into this? Anyone else have an engineering background at all?

    Here's an amp I'd love to clone for guitar:
    http://www.freeinfosociety.com/elect...nucklehead.pdf

    Thanks for reading, y'all.

    - Josh
    I originally got into building and repairing tube amps because I had been taking my amp to local stores to get the tubes changed and the bias adjusted, and I found out a local shop had been taking my money for a year to replace the tubes and bias my AC30, and I found out it is cathode biased and doesn't need to be set in most cases when the tubes are changed, so I was wasting money. I wanted to be able to repair my own amps initially, but my interest in learning more kept growing, and eventually I wanted to mod amps and build my own. Then I decided to go to engineering school so I could work in electronics. Took me awhile but I got the BSEE I was after, though I'm still looking to get a gig as an engineer at a company and not as a contract engineer.

    I've built my own guitars and basses and amps over the years. I can build an amp from just the schematic and if so then I'll make my own layout if a real world example isn't available. Fenders are easy compared to most other amps to clone since they had a schematic and a layout from Fender. That said, once you learn the rules of how to make them and how to route wires and what not, then just a schematic is enough, but it takes awhile and takes experience to determine how that should be done. Start simple like the others recommend. I went the other way and started with a difficult project that I learned a lot from, but it is still not done, and the simpler amps I have done are finished. A little champ circuit would be a good one to start with. Also read up as much as you can. Merlin's website and books are great and he's in your neck of the woods too which is helpful. http://www.valvewizard.co.uk/

    Greg

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Tube circuits are basically simple and tend to be intuitive. Unless you just want to buy ready to go Class D power amp and SMPS modules and hook them together, the circuitry in each of those technologies is way more complex and critical, and certainly not for the novice.

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    Supporting Member eschertron's Avatar
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    Part of the satisfaction of starting 'small' with a fairly easy to build-and-maintain amp like a champ (and there are dozens, if not hundreds, of amps out there that are 'like a champ') is to reach the project's completion and get the opportunity to see and solve common issues with such an amp.

    Another part of the satisfaction is to move from the simpler designs on to incrementally more complex ones and experience the evolution of guitar amp designs personally. Jumping into building a complex beast with no prior knowledge of the issues that affect amp design is not useful as a learning experience. Building (literally) along the path that guitar amp pioneers took can be a joy to see how circuit elements were added/moved/modified through the years. And it affords the hobbyist/designer to get a grasp of WHY some circuit element is placed and engineered 'just so'.

    Merlin Blencowe offers some insight on the evolution of amp topology in one chapter of his 'designing preamps' book. Some of this info may be available on his Valvewizard website. (a quick look and it does not appear so, but plenty of other engineering-relevant info)

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    IMO tweed Deluxe is another good option for a first build. Lots of options there for simple mods too, for instance one input channel, and have treble & bass controls instead of just a tone control.

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    Enjoy. Every. Sandwich.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    I vote Marshall 1959. Big and loud. Simple circuit and with known layout. Modifies well for metal with a channel stack and master volume. Not the modern super gain tone, but something like a million pedals are known to work very well for that sound with such a rig.

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    I vote class D modules. If you have an old laptop power brick or two, you can buy class D (40x40mm) 150Wx2 mini amp modules for <$4 and experiment with all kinds of channel mixing effects. Your total build will be <$100 and you'll learn a lot. This is the way to go if bang for buck and hard gain is your goal. They like low impedance so parallel your drivers.

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    Don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    Are you suggesting he clone a class D module from a schematic?
    Or just spitballing without actually having read the original post?

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    Just because they don't have tubes doesn't mean they don't have feelings! - glebert

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    No, I'm suggesting he use the ready amp modules to bake his own sound. The OP mentioned a knucklehead, which has hard, high gain and class D is very suitable for that with not much outlay. What makes that "spitballing"?

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmaslin View Post
    No, I'm suggesting he use the ready amp modules to bake his own sound. The OP mentioned a knucklehead, which has hard, high gain and class D is very suitable for that with not much outlay. What makes that "spitballing"?
    The OP lurked for a time and then chose THIS place, a tube amp forum to post. He mentioned that there were a few TUBE amps he would like to have and that building them appeals to him. You suggested class D modules as power and "amp modules" that cost four bucks, which I have to assume are digital modelers. The stretch between what the OP has CHOSEN to ask for and what you have suggested is quite apparently obtuse. Regardless of what YOU believe to be the path to enlightenment there are many other paths. The square peg you're trying to ram into this round hole actually amounts to a rude distraction. Before we get into any discussion about whether you're right or wrong, which I expect is the angle you will take, let me just say that this is not unlike walking into a bible study as an atheist, telling everyone in the room that they are wrong and proceeding to explain your interpretation of enlightenment. Or maybe going to an "organic farmers" meeting and trying to pitch Monsanto. My point is that wrong or right doesn't matter. There are many correct paths to tone and the OP didn't come HERE and ask THAT question with the idea of class D power and digital modules. Since you seem intelligent I'm confused about why you wouldn't pick up on this and instead proceed to make it an argument.

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    Supporting Member nevetslab's Avatar
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    There have been some amazing builds shown on this forum that would be a great guide line on your first build. Choosing a simple existing amp that could be obtained for not much money, then gutting it and starting over with having obtained the basic ingredients would save a lot of work, leaving that later challenge of doing it all from scratch as a goal. There's so much out there to choose from in used gear, you could take almost any approach. One of the posts I came across that I just love is this one: The making of an eyelet board by member galaxiex on 06/05/2018

    http://music-electronics-forum.com/s...ad.php?t=46743

    His goal was to rebuild his Fender Blues Junior combo amp into a hand-built amp, gutting the insides of the amplifier, and building an eyelet board to contain all the components. His presentation in going thru all the steps in construction is just fabulous! And, you'll see great input from so many of the superbly talented contributors in the thread, many of whom have likewise added to this thread you began. Definitely worth reading thru, if you haven't already come upon it. Very inspiring, and it gave me further ideas on my second pass in rebuilding my Traynor YBA-1A Mk II bass amp, wanting to take it a good deal further, and will be needing a new circuit board to achieve those ideas.

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    Last edited by nevetslab; 08-22-2018 at 06:21 PM.
    Logic is an organized way of going wrong with confidence

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    I don't know where Chuck got the impression this is the "Tube Section" but I'll say that:
    There's lots of different ways to a sound and I offered the way I would do it. I never called your way "wrong". The modules I'm talking about are built around the TP3xxx family of chips and only require signals and power.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Well it's not a tube sub forum. And the forum as a whole encompasses all manor of amplifiers. All I was saying is that this forum still leans toward tubes. Especially so in the amp building aspect AND the amp the OP inquired about is a tube amp. A modern version of the classic, big strappin' 100W head. The implications should be self evident. That said...

    It's my own failing that I oppose most forms of digital technology posing as tube amps. The truth is that some of it is very good in many ways, though not in every way. So my concession would be that I don't see any reason the rig you proposed wouldn't be useful. But it probably wouldn't please someone who wanted an actual tube amp. There are still tonal aspects of tube amps that the current digital models and SMPS power amps don't effectively replicate. Admittedly, the closer they get, the grumpier I am about it

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    Well, if you wanna know how to build a tube amp that has a nice 60/120hz hum, and kills reverb driver tubes, just give me a shout, got ya covered.

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    The only good solid state amp is a dead solid state amp. Unless it sounds really good, then its OK.

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