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Re: [GRARA] Critique Please for FD 2013

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  • Steven Kaney
    With the exception of last years effort, I have been repeatedly disappointed and discouraged by W8DC field day operations.  I had hoped that last year
    Message 1 of 10 , Jun 24, 2013
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      With the exception of last years effort, I have been repeatedly disappointed and discouraged by W8DC field day operations.  I had hoped that last year represented a turning point but it seems that was a fluke. Things that were particularly disappointing to me are:

      Lack of decent antennas.  Single band wire antennas up only about 7' dont make it because of NVIR nature of antenna that low.  Additionally they cant be steered into active areas (the ZL was oriented for E-W and couldnt get into the hot areas in the SE Saturday night.  I brought a military mast and a ZL that I thought would be used on the GOTA and it was a bit inadequate for a main SSB station.  It was only up 18' which was more than twice as high as the other wires but still not high enough.  (I could have gotten it up higher if we could have staked guys but instead had to use those sections for the tripod).   I'm surprised that the club has made no effort to invest in a couple or three effective portable antennas for field day/contest events/emergency ops.  Other clubs I have been involved with have had as many as 3 or 5 beams on short towers on trailers, others had hex beams which were surprisingly effective, wire deltas, etc owned by the club.  There are so many possibilites that are way better than a wire up 6' or 7'.  None of the antennas except maybe the MA5B and/or VHF were strong enough to run a freq and you just cant score if you're constrained to hunt and peck.  At the very least they need to be up a lot higher (fiberglass poles would make a big improvement over what we had).
       
      No antenna tuner, DSP, or filters.  One station had to use a wire 7' off the ground because it was tuned for 40 and the radio did not have a tuner - the owner bought one years ago but never got around to installing it.  The Kenwood 440 was a nice radio back in the 80's but without a DSP or crystal filters was inadequate for fighting heavy noise on 40m and 80m.

      After spending Wednesday night setting up computers and programs for use by field day, several station managers wouldn't use the ones that had been set up and instead used their own which weren't set up correctly.  The version of N1MM on the Kenwood 440 would not recognize the new Canadian sections that have been in use for about a year.  That implies the program wasn't up to date.  Additionally, there were 100's of 2012 QSO's left in the log which resulted in the computer reporting dupes that were not dupes.

      By the time I got a chance to really operate at midnight I was totally demoralized and I could sense that in others as well.  I was surprised that when I came back at 9:30 on Sunday, the CW station was dismantled, and by about 10:15 the SSB station with the Orion was being taken down.  Everyone was packed up by 2PM when we should have just stopped operating. I understand the CW had its own problems which were probably exasperated by a domineering and dismissive station manager who seemed have no use for most of the members who attended (after two quick run-ins with him during setup I had no desire to get anywhere near the CW station for the rest of the event). With RF in the shack, I suspect that by the time he would have been willing to listen to other input no one would volunteer any suggestions.

      There also seems to be a lack of knowledgable operators.  I couldn't believe all the CB jargon I was hearing from our side of the QSO not to mention useless time wasting responses (in most cases the guy on the other end already knows his call, unless there are multiple stations in the passband and you're not sure which you're talking to, and when he calls your call sign does not need to hear your call again when he already got it right, etc). 

      I have worked with several high scoring field day groups and know that if you aren't making about 1000 Q's per HF station and at least 400 on VHF and GOTA you're just not competitive.  I would very much like to at least make a respectable showing if not top our category.

      de N7MUT/8
       


      From: Hank Greeb <n8xx@...>
      To: GRARA Group <GRARA@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Monday, June 24, 2013 5:36 PM
      Subject: [GRARA] Critique Please for FD 2013

       
      This is a general plea for critique, either positive or negative feedback, for the Field Day 2013 @ Calvin College last Saturday/Sunday.

      Particularly, I solicit comments from the leaders of the SSB, VHF, and GOTA stations, from Stephen Provost, computer guru, and any of the operators of these stations.  I've already beaten the drum for the known operators of the CW station.

      It appears we had a good turnout of members and visitors - so, even though we didn't set any new records for contacts, the event can be considered a success.

      Please send them privately to me, or, if you wish, share them on this reflector so we all can see.

      72/73 de n8xx Hg
      QRP
      >99.44% of the time



    • Hank Greeb
      Steven: You r comments are welcome.  Not completely unbiased, but... Some of them are s pot on.   As for antennas and supports :  D id you notice some
      Message 2 of 10 , Jun 25, 2013
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        Steven:

        Your comments are welcome.  Not completely unbiased, but...

        Some of them are "spot on.As for antennas and supportsDid you notice some "naturally occurring antenna supports" only a couple hundred feet (if not thatfar) from the site which was chosen for the two SSB rigs?  Bob Moe had a air-cannon "spud gun" which could have helped put up a rope to support a long wire or even a dipole @ 40 to 50' high - maybe more, I didn't triangulate to calculatethe height of the trees.  I had at least 200' or more of 3/8" nylon rope which couldhave been used if anyone had asked.

        The initial choice was to use dugouts for operating sites, which were much closer to the trees and could have supported slopers or dipoles.   The choice of positions was made by the leaders of the teams.  We had three unused generators any one of whichcould have been put to service at a dugout location.   I had 4 or 5 tarps which could have provided shadeif a dugout with opening toward the south was chosen.

        Personally,I made 14 or so
        SSB contacts on 40 meters with the Kenwood 440 between about 1630Zand when we decidedto shut down shortly after 1700Z.  It did fair to middlin' better rate than I mustered on 80/40/20 CW because of RFI inside the metal box shack caused by yet to be determined causes, but not because of lack of "state of the art transceiver"(an Elecraft K3).

        Note,the last contact by the CW crew was logged at 14:48Z, or about 11 a.m. EDT.  I was returning to the site after a catnap at home, so I wasn't involved with the decision to shut down.  But, the RF in the shack, from yet to be determinedsources, was undoubtedly a "downer" to all us CW ops, and probably contributed to the decision to shut down.


        I'll take responsibility, but no blame, for the lack of attention to the "Station Zero" which was the master station, and which had an incorrect version of N1MM.  This could have been corrected on site.  Had I been sharp enough, I'd have shut down the station, exported the ADIF file, edited out all of the 2012 contacts, installed the latest version which I had on my (unused but standby) computer, imported the 2013 data from the edited ADIF dile, andwe'd have been "in like flynn".   Whenthe fact that one of the computers was running last year's version with lack year'scontacts, was mentioned to me, I must have been tired, and my meager mental capacity was at an even lower ebbAs it is now, after the fact, I had to manually take out lastyear's contacts from the ADIF file, which is a trivial exercise after the contest, but which probably caused some calls to come up as "dupes" when doing S&P.

        To me, Field Day is always a learning experience.  We make misteaks.  We teach a few ops some of the fine points of operating.  That we don't do more to encourage ops to try the GOTA station is perhaps somethingto work on for next year.  Yet, I heard from two or three "brand new ops" that they were delighted to make contacts on 6 meters - and were amazed that signals would "Popup for a few minutes and then be gone."  So, the VHF station served in some cases as the GOTA station, allowing some ops to make their very first contacts in a contest!

        As for being at the top of 3A, I've never been associated with a "general interest" club, such as GRARA which has placed higherthan the top 20% of a class of choice.  It takes a dedicated group of contest operators for such a ranking.  I don't know any "truly dedicated contest ops" withinthe club.  I haven't seen a Michigan club "win" a category - but I'll admit I haven't searched past results with anything approachingdiligence. My pappy used to say, starting when I was a mere pup, hardly knee high to a grasshopper, that "One shoulddo the best he can with what he got."
         

        72/73de n8xx Hg
        QRP >99.44% of the time
        Except during W8DC FD 2013

        On 6/25/2013 1:12 AM, Steven Kaney wrote:
        With the exception of last years effort, I have been repeatedly disappointed and discouraged by W8DC field day operations.  I had hoped that last year represented a turning point but it seems that was a fluke. Things that were particularly disappointing to me are:

        Lack of decent antennas.  Single band wire antennas up only about 7' dont make it because of NVIR nature of antenna that low.  Additionally they cant be steered into active areas (the ZL was oriented for E-W and couldnt get into the hot areas in the SE Saturday night.  I brought a military mast and a ZL that I thought would be used on the GOTA and it was a bit inadequate for a main SSB station.  It was only up 18' which was more than twice as high as the other wires but still not high enough.  (I could have gotten it up higher if we could have staked guys but instead had to use those sections for the tripod).   I'm surprised that the club has made no effort to invest in a couple or three effective portable antennas for field day/contest events/emergency ops.  Other clubs I have been involved with have had as many as 3 or 5 beams on short towers on trailers, others had hex beams which were surprisingly effective, wire deltas, etc owned by the club.  There are so many possibilites that are way better than a wire up 6' or 7'.  None of the antennas except maybe the MA5B and/or VHF were strong enough to run a freq and you just cant score if you're constrained to hunt and peck.  At the very least they need to be up a lot higher (fiberglass poles would make a big improvement over what we had).
         
        No antenna tuner, DSP, or filters.  One station had to use a wire 7' off the ground because it was tuned for 40 and the radio did not have a tuner - the owner bought one years ago but never got around to installing it.  The Kenwood 440 was a nice radio back in the 80's but without a DSP or crystal filters was inadequate for fighting heavy noise on 40m and 80m.

        After spending Wednesday night setting up computers and programs for use by field day, several station managers wouldn't use the ones that had been set up and instead used their own which weren't set up correctly.  The version of N1MM on the Kenwood 440 would not recognize the new Canadian sections that have been in use for about a year.  That implies the program wasn't up to date.  Additionally, there were 100's of 2012 QSO's left in the log which resulted in the computer reporting dupes that were not dupes.

        By the time I got a chance to really operate at midnight I was totally demoralized and I could sense that in others as well.  I was surprised that when I came back at 9:30 on Sunday, the CW station was dismantled, and by about 10:15 the SSB station with the Orion was being taken down.  Everyone was packed up by 2PM when we should have just stopped operating. I understand the CW had its own problems which were probably exasperated by a domineering and dismissive station manager who seemed have no use for most of the members who attended (after two quick run-ins with him during setup I had no desire to get anywhere near the CW station for the rest of the event). With RF in the shack, I suspect that by the time he would have been willing to listen to other input no one would volunteer any suggestions.

        There also seems to be a lack of knowledgable operators.  I couldn't believe all the CB jargon I was hearing from our side of the QSO not to mention useless time wasting responses (in most cases the guy on the other end already knows his call, unless there are multiple stations in the passband and you're not sure which you're talking to, and when he calls your call sign does not need to hear your call again when he already got it right, etc). 

        I have worked with several high scoring field day groups and know that if you aren't making about 1000 Q's per HF station and at least 400 on VHF and GOTA you're just not competitive.  I would very much like to at least make a respectable showing if not top our category.

        de N7MUT/8


        From: Hank Greeb <n8xx@...>
        To: GRARA Group <GRARA@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Monday, June 24, 2013 5:36 PM
        Subject: [GRARA] Critique Please for FD 2013

         
        This is a general plea for critique, either positive or negative feedback, for the Field Day 2013 @ Calvin College last Saturday/Sunday.

        Particularly,I solicit comments from the leaders of the SSB, VHF, and GOTA stations, from Stephen Provost, computer guru, and any of the operators of these stations.  I've already beaten the drum for the known operators of the CW station.

        It appears we had a good turnout of members and visitors - so, even though we didn't set any new records for contacts, the event can be considered a success.

        Pleasesend them privately to me, or, if you wish, share them on this reflector so we all can see.

        72/73de n8xx Hg
        QRP >99.44% of the time



      • Steven Kaney
        I dont know why the antennas were strung up so low, it happened before I got there a little after 10 but the last I knew the spud gun had something stuck in
        Message 3 of 10 , Jun 25, 2013
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          I dont know why the antennas were strung up so low, it happened before I got there a little after 10 but the last I knew the spud gun had something stuck in its craw and I never saw it again.  I brought 100' of nylon cord and used it for the ends of the ZL.
           
          I would think there was a grounding problem inside the trailer.  I doubt it had anything to do with the antenna itself.  It lends a whole new meaning to 'RF shack'.  I don't know how they made a contact at 14:48Z when it was pretty well dismantled when I got there about 14:15Z.

          I dont know that you need to take responsibility for the computers when we had several that had been set up on Wednesday that were available but not used, unless you were the one that introduced the 2 computers (that I know of) that had not been part of the wednesday setup.

          I agree that field day is a learning experience but learning implies that mistakes are corrected and not repeated year after year.  I dont know why we couldn't do at least as well as we did last year.  Somebody needs to actually learn something from the learning experience.  VHF is always subject to the fickle VHF gods but we should be able to do way better on HF.  We're not doing the best with what we have.  It seems to me that its more of an attitude thing.  I saw NF4GA do a bang up job with a club no bigger than ours.  You don't have to be a professional contester, just read the ^@&* ARRL Operators Book and don't go in with a half @$$'d attitude.

          de N7MUT/8



          From: Hank Greeb <n8xx@...>
          To: GRARA@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 1:13 PM
          Subject: Re: [GRARA] Critique Please for FD 2013

           
          Steven:

          Your comments are welcome.  Not completely unbiased, but...

          Some of them are "spot on.As for antennas and supportsDid you notice some "naturally occurring antenna supports" only a couple hundred feet (if not thatfar) from the site which was chosen for the two SSB rigs?  Bob Moe had a air-cannon "spud gun" which could have helped put up a rope to support a long wire or even a dipole @ 40 to 50' high - maybe more, I didn't triangulate to calculatethe height of the trees.  I had at least 200' or more of 3/8" nylon rope which couldhave been used if anyone had asked.

          The initial choice was to use dugouts for operating sites, which were much closer to the trees and could have supported slopers or dipoles.   The choice of positions was made by the leaders of the teams.  We had three unused generators any one of whichcould have been put to service at a dugout location.   I had 4 or 5 tarps which could have provided shadeif a dugout with opening toward the south was chosen.

          Personally,I made 14 or so
          SSB contacts on 40 meters with the Kenwood 440 between about 1630Zand when we decidedto shut down shortly after 1700Z.  It did fair to middlin' better rate than I mustered on 80/40/20 CW because of RFI inside the metal box shack caused by yet to be determined causes, but not because of lack of "state of the art transceiver"(an Elecraft K3).

          Note,the last contact by the CW crew was logged at 14:48Z, or about 11 a.m. EDT.  I was returning to the site after a catnap at home, so I wasn't involved with the decision to shut down.  But, the RF in the shack, from yet to be determinedsources, was undoubtedly a "downer" to all us CW ops, and probably contributed to the decision to shut down.


          I'll take responsibility, but no blame, for the lack of attention to the "Station Zero" which was the master station, and which had an incorrect version of N1MM.  This could have been corrected on site.  Had I been sharp enough, I'd have shut down the station, exported the ADIF file, edited out all of the 2012 contacts, installed the latest version which I had on my (unused but standby) computer, imported the 2013 data from the edited ADIF dile, andwe'd have been "in like flynn".   Whenthe fact that one of the computers was running last year's version with lack year'scontacts, was mentioned to me, I must have been tired, and my meager mental capacity was at an even lower ebbAs it is now, after the fact, I had to manually take out lastyear's contacts from the ADIF file, which is a trivial exercise after the contest, but which probably caused some calls to come up as "dupes" when doing S&P.

          To me, Field Day is always a learning experience.  We make misteaks.  We teach a few ops some of the fine points of operating.  That we don't do more to encourage ops to try the GOTA station is perhaps somethingto work on for next year.  Yet, I heard from two or three "brand new ops" that they were delighted to make contacts on 6 meters - and were amazed that signals would "Popup for a few minutes and then be gone."  So, the VHF station served in some cases as the GOTA station, allowing some ops to make their very first contacts in a contest!

          As for being at the top of 3A, I've never been associated with a "general interest" club, such as GRARA which has placed higherthan the top 20% of a class of choice.  It takes a dedicated group of contest operators for such a ranking.  I don't know any "truly dedicated contest ops" withinthe club.  I haven't seen a Michigan club "win" a category - but I'll admit I haven't searched past results with anything approachingdiligence. My pappy used to say, starting when I was a mere pup, hardly knee high to a grasshopper, that "One shoulddo the best he can with what he got."
           
          72/73de n8xx Hg
          QRP >99.44% of the time
          Except during W8DC FD 2013

          On 6/25/2013 1:12 AM, Steven Kaney wrote:
          With the exception of last years effort, I have been repeatedly disappointed and discouraged by W8DC field day operations.  I had hoped that last year represented a turning point but it seems that was a fluke. Things that were particularly disappointing to me are:

          Lack of decent antennas.  Single band wire antennas up only about 7' dont make it because of NVIR nature of antenna that low.  Additionally they cant be steered into active areas (the ZL was oriented for E-W and couldnt get into the hot areas in the SE Saturday night.  I brought a military mast and a ZL that I thought would be used on the GOTA and it was a bit inadequate for a main SSB station.  It was only up 18' which was more than twice as high as the other wires but still not high enough.  (I could have gotten it up higher if we could have staked guys but instead had to use those sections for the tripod).   I'm surprised that the club has made no effort to invest in a couple or three effective portable antennas for field day/contest events/emergency ops.  Other clubs I have been involved with have had as many as 3 or 5 beams on short towers on trailers, others had hex beams which were surprisingly effective, wire deltas, etc owned by the club.  There are so many possibilites that are way better than a wire up 6' or 7'.  None of the antennas except maybe the MA5B and/or VHF were strong enough to run a freq and you just cant score if you're constrained to hunt and peck.  At the very least they need to be up a lot higher (fiberglass poles would make a big improvement over what we had).
           
          No antenna tuner, DSP, or filters.  One station had to use a wire 7' off the ground because it was tuned for 40 and the radio did not have a tuner - the owner bought one years ago but never got around to installing it.  The Kenwood 440 was a nice radio back in the 80's but without a DSP or crystal filters was inadequate for fighting heavy noise on 40m and 80m.

          After spending Wednesday night setting up computers and programs for use by field day, several station managers wouldn't use the ones that had been set up and instead used their own which weren't set up correctly.  The version of N1MM on the Kenwood 440 would not recognize the new Canadian sections that have been in use for about a year.  That implies the program wasn't up to date.  Additionally, there were 100's of 2012 QSO's left in the log which resulted in the computer reporting dupes that were not dupes.

          By the time I got a chance to really operate at midnight I was totally demoralized and I could sense that in others as well.  I was surprised that when I came back at 9:30 on Sunday, the CW station was dismantled, and by about 10:15 the SSB station with the Orion was being taken down.  Everyone was packed up by 2PM when we should have just stopped operating. I understand the CW had its own problems which were probably exasperated by a domineering and dismissive station manager who seemed have no use for most of the members who attended (after two quick run-ins with him during setup I had no desire to get anywhere near the CW station for the rest of the event). With RF in the shack, I suspect that by the time he would have been willing to listen to other input no one would volunteer any suggestions.

          There also seems to be a lack of knowledgable operators.  I couldn't believe all the CB jargon I was hearing from our side of the QSO not to mention useless time wasting responses (in most cases the guy on the other end already knows his call, unless there are multiple stations in the passband and you're not sure which you're talking to, and when he calls your call sign does not need to hear your call again when he already got it right, etc). 

          I have worked with several high scoring field day groups and know that if you aren't making about 1000 Q's per HF station and at least 400 on VHF and GOTA you're just not competitive.  I would very much like to at least make a respectable showing if not top our category.

          de N7MUT/8


          From: Hank Greeb <n8xx@...>
          To: GRARA Group <GRARA@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Monday, June 24, 2013 5:36 PM
          Subject: [GRARA] Critique Please for FD 2013

           
          This is a general plea for critique, either positive or negative feedback, for the Field Day 2013 @ Calvin College last Saturday/Sunday.

          Particularly,I solicit comments from the leaders of the SSB, VHF, and GOTA stations, from Stephen Provost, computer guru, and any of the operators of these stations.  I've already beaten the drum for the known operators of the CW station.

          It appears we had a good turnout of members and visitors - so, even though we didn't set any new records for contacts, the event can be considered a success.

          Pleasesend them privately to me, or, if you wish, share them on this reflector so we all can see.

          72/73de n8xx Hg
          QRP >99.44% of the time





        • David
          ... Hank - Thanks for all the work put in to set up a field day event. I ran the VHF station, and we had good results and good fun. Conditions were not
          Message 4 of 10 , Jun 25, 2013
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            --- In GRARA@yahoogroups.com, Hank Greeb <n8xx@...> wrote:
            >
            > This is a general plea for critique, either positive or negative
            > feedback, for the Field Day 2013 @ Calvin College last Saturday/Sunday.

            Hank - Thanks for all the work put in to set up a field day event. I ran the VHF station, and we had good results and good fun. Conditions were not great, but a small 6m opening on Sunday felt great!

            Positives for me were:
            1)a good location with nice bathrooms and surroudings. We had 8-10 bystanders stop by the VHF trailer to talk.
            2) A good dinner from IEEE - thanks Ron and the IEEE.
            3) Friendly people in our club that helped me in every way setting up, operating, and just hanging out talking.
            4) Good reliable generator power.

            Could be better:
            1) N1MM does not really work at all for VHF where you need to switch bands a couple times for each station worked.
            2) I'd always like to be in a location with more height.
            3) It was too hot. Oh well...

            Thanks everyone - looking forward to next year. KF8QL
          • Steven Kaney
            Spending $8.95 for a USB to CIV/CAT/... cable makes a world of difference with N1MM.  KD8HNF turned me on to a place to buy both CIV and CAT cables for cheap
            Message 5 of 10 , Jun 25, 2013
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              Spending $8.95 for a USB to CIV/CAT/... cable makes a world of difference with N1MM.  KD8HNF turned me on to a place to buy both CIV and CAT cables for cheap but now rig runner cables have dropped in price to compete.  Then the program knows what the radio is doing and visa versa.  Change one and the other follows.  You can even work 'assisted' through the net - click on a spot and its tuned on the radio, band, mode, freq and all and all the spots show on one of the aux windows.  Even without 'assisted' it marks all the freqs where you found a station and colors it differently depending on whether you logged it or not so you can come back and work them later.  Thats way better than MPW/MPR.  Pretty #@^% cool.  If we got really sophisticated we could have a SWL station on our net making spots that a hunt and peck station can quickly grab.  (I tried to work the VHF but couldn't figure out your paper logs and didn't know what had been worked and what hadn't so I didn't contribute much).

              There are cables for pretty much all the modern radios including your IC-706, your Yeasu 817 and even the Ten Tecs and Elecrafts.  Dont know if the older Kenwood 440, etc, can be interfaced or not.  I think there is even a work around for using transverters using the multi-radio feature but I haven't had a need to figure that out.   

              I agree the location was better than the other calvin site or the site by GVSU in that we werent blasting our signal into the side of a building, but we had better antennas last year.

              de N7MUT/8

              From: David <kf8ql@...>
              To: GRARA@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 8:52 PM
              Subject: [GRARA] Re: Critique Please for FD 2013

               

              --- In GRARA@yahoogroups.com, Hank Greeb <n8xx@...> wrote:
              >
              > This is a general plea for critique, either positive or negative
              > feedback, for the Field Day 2013 @ Calvin College last Saturday/Sunday.

              Hank - Thanks for all the work put in to set up a field day event. I ran the VHF station, and we had good results and good fun. Conditions were not great, but a small 6m opening on Sunday felt great!

              Positives for me were:
              1)a good location with nice bathrooms and surroudings. We had 8-10 bystanders stop by the VHF trailer to talk.
              2) A good dinner from IEEE - thanks Ron and the IEEE.
              3) Friendly people in our club that helped me in every way setting up, operating, and just hanging out talking.
              4) Good reliable generator power.

              Could be better:
              1) N1MM does not really work at all for VHF where you need to switch bands a couple times for each station worked.
              2) I'd always like to be in a location with more height.
              3) It was too hot. Oh well...

              Thanks everyone - looking forward to next year. KF8QL



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