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CatPix

A working Bally Astrocade - escaped from North America!

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About last year, I fiddled on ePay and won an auction for a Bally Astrocade, with some games, and one joystick.

Only now I got enough time to finally look on it, and check out the misfit of the console.

 

When it arrived, it rattled inside. Never a good sight.

Turn out it was just a penny, minted in 1981 :D

However, one capacitor was snapped, and I discovered in horror the cooling system of the console - a cheap array of metallic madness.

 

So I worked to make the console workable - note that I had pics of the console working before shipping, but Internet is filled with horror stories of those systems dying after shipping across the US... so a trans-oceanic shipping?

 

Well anyway, today was the final day, where I got a new capacitor - the older one had a leg broken at the base, making it impossible to resold - the capacitor might have exploded from heating.

 

DSC03071_zpskrvjqd3g.jpg

 

With newspaper proof that it's THERE, and not anywhere else :D

DSC03072_zpsvojw7tm9.jpg

DSC03074_zpsyzhrypsd.jpg

I know it's a dirty cut job, but I only had one drill, one plier and a hammer to do that so... hush :D

I had to look into the attic to find an old travel TV, and THAT one only accepted NTSC-M RF video.

DSC03079_zpshjbxheov.jpg

 

 

I played with one hand to shot the vid, so yeah I suck :D

 

 

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It works great!

Thank you for the video and pictures.

 

What name is on the bottom serial number sticker?

Mine is a Bally Professional Arcade.

Same cover name as mine, but my cover matches the serial number sticker console name.

My display, and ones I have seen in pictures, say 1977 or 1978 at the start screen at bottom right. I don't see a date on your display.

My heat shield was not soldered shut ever. Just clips. I thought the Bally Home Computer was soldered?

 

The chip that needs the heat sink is under the keypad.

I guess you saw it if you described the heat sink metal they used originally.

That chip needs the protection of a heat sink.

I have the other 2 also as shown in your video under a heat sink.

 

I replaced the largest capacitor on the right closest to the front.

Have replacements for others, but have not changed those yet.

Also I just got the voltage regulators that match what is on the left front near the keypad.

Somone said they are not expensive to replace, but if they go bad, the power can ruin the whole machine.

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I plan to replace the power supply, but 10V and 7.5V? What is that madness? :D

Anyway it wil be much more handy for me to plug it. Plus it's a 60htz wall hog on a 50 Htz grid :/

 

The console is an Astrovision Arcade model, N° ABA-1000-2 and S/N°024143.

The screen says 1978, but this is a cheap display, and it's too faint to appears on picture or on the videos.

The shield was soldered over the joysticks ports, and there are two clips on the sides.

And yest I saw the chip hidden under the keyboard, and it received his heatsink first :D but I decided to put heatsinks on the other large chisp as well, because you're better safe than sorry.

 

I replaced that capacitor you mention because that one was the one that broke :D

Edited by CatPix

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That's awesome and you did an outstanding job getting it running again. The Astrovision is a third party model of the Astrocade. Like Tandyvision for the Intellivision and Sears with Pong units, 2600, and the Intellivision. Hopefully the penny was heads up inside the unit for good luck. :) Well now it's running great again so it is. I have heard horror stories a plenty about the Astrocade. These systems are sweet. But too expensive to find one on epay and just staring at it or pointing a finger at it will have it malfunction. Hope you enjoy it and thanks for sharing! :)

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I plan to work more on it. Mostly, getting the radiators in place - I guess there is thermal adhesives; because at this mometn,, the thermal paste doesn't hold the radiator right, but the console will breath much better without the metallic mess.

Plus, A/V modding it, for the sake of simplicity. Composite/ S-video because it's there, and there is a possibility for RGB, and maybe even YUV - but that's to be seen.

Also, ultimately, getting a more standard power feed. More convenient for me if I can just plug a standard DC9 or 12V to the system rather than fiddling with the transformer and original supply.

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About last year, I fiddled on ePay and won an auction for a Bally Astrocade, with some games, and one joystick.

Only now I got enough time to finally look on it, and check out the misfit of the console.

 

Congrats on the console, glad to see you got it up and running. Technically you have a Bally Professional Arcade, not an Astrocade or Bally Astrocade (which doesn't exist, more on that later). Nice job with the heat sinks, but honestly I think you would have been better removing the RF shield entirely and not just cutting holes in it. There still enough heat trapped in there to do some damage, and the RAM chips are susceptible trapped as they are.

 

Being an avid collector, I'll try not to take the "misfit" reference personally. ;)

 

HLC_BPA_AST_small.JPG

 

That's awesome and you did an outstanding job getting it running again. The Astrovision is a third party model of the Astrocade. Like Tandyvision for the Intellivision and Sears with Pong units, 2600, and the Intellivision.

 

Ah, no, that's just completely wrong, but its OK, a lot of people get confused with this system and its history.

 

While I won't go into all the details (and have forgotten more than I remember) suffice it to say that the consoles produced by Bally were the Home Library Computer, Professional Arcade and Computer System. Astrovision came in at one point, bought the rights and remaining stock and re-named and re-branded it the Astrocade, the Professional Arcade (it was supposed to be the Astro Arcade, but you'll have to read up on that fiasco elsewhere).

 

Astrovision also sold off the remaining stock so you'll see any combination of boxes and consoles with the Professional Arcade and Computer System cartridge bay covers, and a mixture of bottom labels with serial numbers.

 

But the actual Astrocades out there are distinct in having both matching cartridge bay covers and bottom labels. I have also not seen a Home Library Computer model without the corresponding bottom label.

 

Here is a great site for more information by an avid collector, historian and all around good guy (hope that was a good enough plug for you Lance):

 

http://www.glankonian.com/~lance/Ballyfaq.html

 

Same plug for another great site and another great Bally/Astrocade guru (who also runs the Yahoo Bally Group, google it):

 

http://www.ballyalley.com/

 

Sad to say this system was so ahead of its time and yet so misunderstood its a shame more people don't get the chance to experience it. Maybe some day we'll get the chance to show the world just what this system can do, ah but to dream...

 

http://msdconsulting.wix.com/128kgames

Edited by TMOSteel
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Congrats on the console, glad to see you got it up and running. Technically you have a Bally Professional Arcade, not an Astrocade or Bally Astrocade (which doesn't exist, more on that later).

...

Why would his technically be called "a Bally Professional Arcade" when he reported the serial number sticker has Astrovision Arcade (with a Bally Professional Arcade cover)?

 

I said that mine has the same cover, and my serial number sticker says Bally Professional Arcade and I asked what was on his (because, as you said, at the end they were released all mixed up).

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Congrats on the console, glad to see you got it up and running. Technically you have a Bally Professional Arcade, not an Astrocade or Bally Astrocade (which doesn't exist, more on that later). Nice job with the heat sinks, but honestly I think you would have been better removing the RF shield entirely and not just cutting holes in it. There still enough heat trapped in there to do some damage, and the RAM chips are susceptible trapped as they are.

Thanks!

 

I know it's not the right name, but that's like people saying PSX for Playstation/PSOne, or things like that - Astrocade is shorter and people know what it is all the same.

 

For the shiled, I mentionned removing it, but at the moment, it serve as holding the heatsinks, as I used thermal paste; the heat sinks doesn't stick, they slide and fall from the chips, so this is a temporary solution to work on the system until I get thermal sticking stuff, or any other way to held the heatsink in place.

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Congrats on the console, glad to see you got it up and running. Technically you have a Bally Professional Arcade, not an Astrocade or Bally Astrocade (which doesn't exist, more on that later). Nice job with the heat sinks, but honestly I think you would have been better removing the RF shield entirely and not just cutting holes in it. There still enough heat trapped in there to do some damage, and the RAM chips are susceptible trapped as they are.

 

Being an avid collector, I'll try not to take the "misfit" reference personally. ;)

 

HLC_BPA_AST_small.JPG

 

 

 

Ah, no, that's just completely wrong, but its OK, a lot of people get confused with this system and its history.

 

While I won't go into all the details (and have forgotten more than I remember) suffice it to say that the consoles produced by Bally were the Home Library Computer, Professional Arcade and Computer System. Astrovision came in at one point, bought the rights and remaining stock and re-named and re-branded it the Astrocade, the Professional Arcade (it was supposed to be the Astro Arcade, but you'll have to read up on that fiasco elsewhere).

 

Astrovision also sold off the remaining stock so you'll see any combination of boxes and consoles with the Professional Arcade and Computer System cartridge bay covers, and a mixture of bottom labels with serial numbers.

 

But the actual Astrocades out there are distinct in having both matching cartridge bay covers and bottom labels. I have also not seen a Home Library Computer model without the corresponding bottom label.

 

Here is a great site for more information by an avid collector, historian and all around good guy (hope that was a good enough plug for you Lance):

 

http://www.glankonian.com/~lance/Ballyfaq.html

 

Same plug for another great site and another great Bally/Astrocade guru (who also runs the Yahoo Bally Group, google it):

 

http://www.ballyalley.com/

 

Sad to say this system was so ahead of its time and yet so misunderstood its a shame more people don't get the chance to experience it. Maybe some day we'll get the chance to show the world just what this system can do, ah but to dream...

 

http://msdconsulting.wix.com/128kgames

Thanks for schooling me on the Astrocade. I know it was released under different names during it's six year run. And I thought from doing research about it that the Astrovision was a third party release. :dunce: The system was very powerful for it's time. I also recall correctly hearing that you could do BASIC on it. And another game system that was under appreciated despite all the capabilities It brought to the table. I would consider it to be the Neo Geo of the late 70's to early 80's, especially it's $300 pricetag during it's time! Well over $1,000 today. Very sweet Cade collection as well. :thumbsup:

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Why would his technically be called "a Bally Professional Arcade" when he reported the serial number sticker has Astrovision Arcade (with a Bally Professional Arcade cover)?

 

I said that mine has the same cover, and my serial number sticker says Bally Professional Arcade and I asked what was on his (because, as you said, at the end they were released all mixed up).

 

You answered your own question actually, so if you want to really get technical you more than likely have a Bally Professional Arcade from Bally, while CatPix has a Bally Professional Arcade from Astrovision.

 

Or not. These consoles are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.

 

And please nobody start calling these Astrovision Arcades, I have a hard enough time keeping the names strait myself.

 

Thanks!

 

I know it's not the right name, but that's like people saying PSX for Playstation/PSOne, or things like that - Astrocade is shorter and people know what it is all the same.

 

For the shiled, I mentionned removing it, but at the moment, it serve as holding the heatsinks, as I used thermal paste; the heat sinks doesn't stick, they slide and fall from the chips, so this is a temporary solution to work on the system until I get thermal sticking stuff, or any other way to held the heatsink in place.

 

And I'll keep correcting people all the same, its just my pet peeve, nothing personal ;)

 

Have you tried thermal epoxy? I believe that's whats used to glue the heatsinks to the chips, which I understand is better than the adhesive thermal pads.

 

Best of luck with the system, and pick up a multicart when you get the chance. Not sure if he still has or makes them but look up Ken Lill on the Bally Yahoo group (last plug I promise!). His last cart even included the awesome homebrews from Michael Garber: War and Crazy Climber (I lied, that was my last plug).

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If I'm right, there was a first BASIC cart by bally, that worked with an accessory you had to plug at the back of the system.

A second version was sold by Astrocade, bundled with the console (unless I'm wrong) that had a build-in jack for reading/recording.

 

And you can call it a Neo Geo - Minus the RAM, it use the same hardware than the Bally arcade of the era.

Apparently tho even with the RAM, the highre resolution isn't accessible, as it's said that the pins feeding the higher resolution mod aren't connected?

 

Edit :

 

No problem for correcting. I try to call it a right name.. tho.. what is the correct name? Bally Professional Arcade? Bally Home Computer, his first release name? Astrovision Home Computer (I read it was reelased as Home Computer?)

 

I ordered thermal epoxy. I didn't had it, and didn't even know about it - I never had to glue heatsinks before, I just had thermal paste for CPU and the likes.

 

I did grabbed one of the last Lil Ken's multicart... it's somewhere in the pile of "stuff I ordered because I had to but had no time to care about because I moved 400km away from home". I'll find it tomorrow. Hopefully.

Edited by CatPix

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...Astrovision is a third party model of the Astrocade. Like Tandyvision for the Intellivision and Sears with Pong units, 2600, and the Intellivision...

 

Not exactly. In late 1979, Bally put the Consumer Products Division up for sale. A group of investors organized by a salesman by the name of Ray George formed a company called Astrovision and bought "the whole operation" in August 1980, according to Bob Fabris, the publisher of the Arcadian newsletter.

 

I bought mine from an engineer who worked there at the time. My impression from talking with him: it was the same company that just changed names.

 

In fact, included along with some other interesting things in my purchase is a new "astrocade The Professional Arcade" faceplate intended to be glued on top of the "Bally Computer System" faceplate (complete with "Scotch No. 467" peel-off self stick backing).

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I would consider it to be the Neo Geo of the late 70's to early 80's, especially it's $300 pricetag during it's time! Well over $1,000 today.

 

I've made that very same reference, great minds must think alike :-D

 

From the start it was marketed as a game system that could become a home computer (hence Home Library Computer). An add on keyboard to enhance the existing hardware was planned from day one, changed over the years and unfortunately never saw the light of day expect for some prototypes that were demoed:

 

Bally_Arcade_with_Keyboard.jpg

 

Bally_Keyboard_(Color).jpg

 

Yes, it ran BASIC which was also included for free when Astrovision took over. But programming on it was a pain as you had to use the console keypad and type two keys for one character.

 

Thanks for the kudos on the collection, wish I had more room to showcase them all.

Edited by TMOSteel

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If I'm right, there was a first BASIC cart by bally, that worked with an accessory you had to plug at the back of the system.

A second version was sold by Astrocade, bundled with the console (unless I'm wrong) that had a build-in jack for reading/recording.

 

And you can call it a Neo Geo - Minus the RAM, it use the same hardware than the Bally arcade of the era.

Apparently tho even with the RAM, the highre resolution isn't accessible, as it's said that the pins feeding the higher resolution mod aren't connected?

 

Edit :

 

No problem for correcting. I try to call it a right name.. tho.. what is the correct name? Bally Professional Arcade? Bally Home Computer, his first release name? Astrovision Home Computer (I read it was reelased as Home Computer?)

 

I ordered thermal epoxy. I didn't had it, and didn't even know about it - I never had to glue heatsinks before, I just had thermal paste for CPU and the likes.

 

I did grabbed one of the last Lil Ken's multicart... it's somewhere in the pile of "stuff I ordered because I had to but had no time to care about because I moved 400km away from home". I'll find it tomorrow. Hopefully.

 

Correct, original Bally BASIC used an external interface to save and load programs to cassette tapes, the latter Bally and Astrocade BASIC had a faster interface build right into the cartridge.

 

I usually call them by the cartridge bay cover, provided its correct for the system, but you never know so I wouldn't worry about it. I'm just getting crabby in my old age, that's all.

 

Ken was offering upgrades for a while on the multicart to the latest version, not sure if he still does that so you might want to check what version you have. I never bothered since I have the first one he released and want to keep it original for collecting purposes (and I have all the other games that it has on it anyway).

Edited by TMOSteel

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I grabbed his cart recently, so unless he upgraded it after he sold them all out, mine is the latest version. And I wouldn't take the risk to ship it back and forth given the price tag and the ease to lose a small packet.

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In fact, included along with some other interesting things in my purchase is a new "astrocade The Professional Arcade" faceplate intended to be glued on top of the "Bally Computer System" faceplate (complete with "Scotch No. 467" peel-off self stick backing).

 

Nice, although I'm not sure it was intended to be glued over the existing faceplate, I think what you have is an unused Astrocade faceplate. I have a dozen or so unused Bally Computer System cartridge bay labels like the Astrocade you described that came from a former Bally employee's collection I acquired in 2004.

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Here's my blog on the Astrocade from a couple of years ago. The info is a little out of date but still mostly relevant. For a while there, I was buying these left and right, collecting variations.

 

Solar Conqueror is my favorite game, followed closely by The Incredible Wizard.

 

http://retroauction.com/buying-and-selling-an-astrocade/

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Technically you would call it what it is labeled on the serial number sticker if you could match the motherboard used to that model.

I only mean to clarify as well.

The first link you posted has a link to 6 labels, with text saying the middle one could be 3 ways, so there are at least 8 different names and at least 3 model numbers. You wouldn't call a "VCS model 2600-A Vader" a "VCS model 2600 Sunnyvale Heavy Sixer".

By the way, there is an Astrovision, Inc. "Astrovision Arcade".

post-29575-0-37019600-1442111144_thumb.jpg

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I grabbed his cart recently, so unless he upgraded it after he sold them all out, mine is the latest version. And I wouldn't take the risk to ship it back and forth given the price tag and the ease to lose a small packet.

 

If its got War and Crazy Climber more than likely it is.

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Here's my blog on the Astrocade from a couple of years ago. The info is a little out of date but still mostly relevant. For a while there, I was buying these left and right, collecting variations.

 

Solar Conqueror is my favorite game, followed closely by The Incredible Wizard.

 

http://retroauction.com/buying-and-selling-an-astrocade/

I read it back at the time when I decided to buy one.. and it made me think twice before bidding.

 

 

Technically you would call it what it is labeled on the serial number sticker if you could match the motherboard used to that model.

I only mean to clarify as well.

The first link you posted has a link to 6 labels, with text saying the middle one could be 3 ways, so there are at least 8 different names and at least 3 model numbers. You wouldn't call a "VCS model 2600-A Vader" a "VCS model 2600 Sunnyvale Heavy Sixer".

By the way, there is an Astrovision, Inc. "Astrovision Arcade".

attachicon.gifimage.jpg

That's the sticker I have.

But to take your example back, it's mroe about the console itself. That is, unless it's important, if you are asked what console you have, you just say "a VCS" or "a 2600". Even if it's a Sears Video Arcade, the point is that they guy in front of you more care about the gaming system than the very model of console you have, so for that use, Astrocade is a working name for the general case. Or for searching for infos.

If you type Astrocade in your serching engine, you're pointed to what you want.

Try the same with Home Computer or Professional Arcade. Doesn't work that well.

 

Now I agree, my model is technically an Astrovision Arcade, but the cover disagree :D and go explain that to someone who pass by and never heard of.

Edited by CatPix

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Technically you would call it what it is labeled on the serial number sticker if you could match the motherboard used to that model.

I only mean to clarify as well.

The first link you posted has a link to 6 labels, with text saying the middle one could be 3 ways, so there are at least 8 different names and at least 3 model numbers. You wouldn't call a "VCS model 2600-A Vader" a "VCS model 2600 Sunnyvale Heavy Sixer".

By the way, there is an Astrovision, Inc. "Astrovision Arcade".

attachicon.gifimage.jpg

 

You're going to hurt your brain if you keep this up, trust me ;)

 

Seriously though, if you read the description next to those labels more than likely they were made during the transition from Bally to Astrovision, and in fact they don't match up necessarily at all, as you could have a Professional Arcade or Computer System with any one of the silver or gold Bally Arcade, Bally Arcade/Astrovision or Astrovision Arcade.

 

They did have the Home Library Computer with matching label, Professional Arcade with matching label and an Astrocade with matching label.

 

And there were never any console labels called just "Arcade", so again I refer to them by the name on the cartridge bay cover which is how they were marketed and sold. I have some wholesale sales price sheets which again never referred to them by whats on the bottom.

 

When I got my Atari back in the day it was called the Video Computer System, or Atari VCS for short. I don't remember people referring to it as the "2600" until the Atari 5200 came out.

Edited by TMOSteel

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You're going to hurt your brain if you keep this up, trust me ;)

 

We can agree we are all passionate about this great console!

We just disagree on how to name what console you have. You seem to lean toward simplifying, whereas I lean towards specifics.

It doesn't hurt to be specific in naming your console.

It can be important to collectors / enthusiasts.

 

For instance, I have a Fairchild Video Entertainment System. "A Fairchild Channel F?" Well they were rebranded as Channel F, but my console is a Fairchild VES.

Astrocade is more complicated because it changed model numbers, names, and company manufacturers.

 

I don't like saying I have an Astrocade because I own a 1977 Bally Professional Arcade. The 1977 from the ROM screen, the BPA from the serial number sticker.

 

CatPix understands what he owns and what to tell collectors and what to tell non-collectors, but when you tell him he has a Bally Professional Arcade when he has an Astrovision Inc. model ABA-1000-2 Astrovision Arcade with a Bally Professional Arcade cover that makes me want to correct you.

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Here's my blog on the Astrocade from a couple of years ago. The info is a little out of date but still mostly relevant. For a while there, I was buying these left and right, collecting variations.

 

Solar Conqueror is my favorite game, followed closely by The Incredible Wizard.

 

http://retroauction.com/buying-and-selling-an-astrocade/

 

I had read this at the time, which made me cautious when bidding on an Astrocade.

And I re-read it, and now I know what the white overlay is for ^^ Because I have both BASIC and Scribbling overlays, tho it doesn't seems to fit. Maybe some keys are used for "other players" as well?

 

I also just ran your 1 hour Checkmate test (had to do it twice as the game run over 99 games in 35mins) and it went good. However yesterday, It would go glitchy after 15 minutes. I feel like that despite running the test without the upper metal cover and the plastic cover removed, the cooling power of the actual heatsinks might be not enough, at least for the main chip. Do you know of a small fan that can run on the power avalaible into the Astrocade and small enough to fit under the keyboard?

Edited by CatPix

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I asked Kenn Lill about running a fan off one of the connectors on the mainboard (maybe the lightpen one). He said he didn't recommend it, which was good enough for me. The Astrocade's power issues are so unusual that any addition could screw things up.

 

For a while, I would just run it without the top cover and RF shield, with a small fan pointed at the mainboard. Then I was able to fit a small computer case fan between the mainboard and keypad assembly. It had a two pin connector that I just connected to a small PCB (with external power) that I took out of a laptop cooler. Worked. I know that many people have no problems running the Astrocade as is, but I'd much rather take these precautions and have a little peace of mind.

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I'll do that then. I started to look and found 30mm*30mm fans, that does fit under the keypad. The power requirement is only 0.08amps @12V.

 

I think since it's so close, to know what the RF box take, calculate what an A/V mod would take and see if the difference allow to run the fan out of the remaining power. In-between that I indeed remove the cover of the console but it isn't very pretty and practical.

Edited by CatPix

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