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I developed a small module to transfer saved files from the Mailstation into a PC via USB

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  • Jon Kirwan
    I started a project two weeks ago to help me transfer saved email files from Mailstation units into PC s using the USB ports that are usually available. It
    Message 1 of 11 , Jun 3, 2011
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      I started a project two weeks ago to help me transfer saved
      email files from Mailstation units into PC's using the USB
      ports that are usually available. It connects to the printer
      port on the Mailstation unit and uses the standard "print"
      button to start the transfer. (A program does need to be
      running on the PC to capture the file and save it, but it
      uses a virtual COM port over the USB so any serial port
      capturing program can be used [or easily written using VB,
      for example.])

      It's cheap to build so I wouldn't mind making more if anyone
      is interested. Basically, it's a USB-powered module
      (circuit) that has a USB connector and a parallel port
      connector and once the virtual COM port software is installed
      you just snap in the USB cable on one end and the Mailstation
      on the other and the PC acts like a printer to it. Except
      that it can save the ASCII text to a file, of course.

      Schematics, parts, and software would be available to those
      wanting to try their own hand building these. They aren't
      complex to do.

      Jon
    • thartsell
      Looks like a cool project especially since I m an electronics guy but I m having enough trouble keeping 91 year old mother-in-law from pulling the telephone
      Message 2 of 11 , Jun 4, 2011
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        Looks like a cool project especially since I'm an electronics guy but I'm having enough trouble keeping 91 year old mother-in-law from pulling the telephone line out of the wall or putting the batteries in backwards... wouldn't EVEN want to try to teach her something new.
        At some point I'll get these back and will have a chance to play with it.


        --- In mailstation@yahoogroups.com, Jon Kirwan <jonk@...> wrote:
        >
        > I started a project two weeks ago to help me transfer saved
        > email files from Mailstation units into PC's using the USB
        > ports that are usually available. It connects to the printer
        > port on the Mailstation unit and uses the standard "print"
        > button to start the transfer. (A program does need to be
        > running on the PC to capture the file and save it, but it
        > uses a virtual COM port over the USB so any serial port
        > capturing program can be used [or easily written using VB,
        > for example.])
        >
        > It's cheap to build so I wouldn't mind making more if anyone
        > is interested. Basically, it's a USB-powered module
        > (circuit) that has a USB connector and a parallel port
        > connector and once the virtual COM port software is installed
        > you just snap in the USB cable on one end and the Mailstation
        > on the other and the PC acts like a printer to it. Except
        > that it can save the ASCII text to a file, of course.
        >
        > Schematics, parts, and software would be available to those
        > wanting to try their own hand building these. They aren't
        > complex to do.
        >
        > Jon
        >
      • Brad Fayette
        Hi Jon, This sounds like a very cool device that would have applications beyond the mailstation. I would be interested in learning more about it. Thanks!
        Message 3 of 11 , Jun 4, 2011
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          Hi Jon,

          This sounds like a very cool device that would have applications beyond the mailstation. I would be interested in learning more about it.  Thanks!
          Regards,
          
          Brad FayetteThis actually

          On 06/03/2011 03:36 AM, Jon Kirwan wrote:
           

          I started a project two weeks ago to help me transfer saved
          email files from Mailstation units into PC's using the USB
          ports that are usually available. It connects to the printer
          port on the Mailstation unit and uses the standard "print"
          button to start the transfer. (A program does need to be
          running on the PC to capture the file and save it, but it
          uses a virtual COM port over the USB so any serial port
          capturing program can be used [or easily written using VB,
          for example.])

          It's cheap to build so I wouldn't mind making more if anyone
          is interested. Basically, it's a USB-powered module
          (circuit) that has a USB connector and a parallel port
          connector and once the virtual COM port software is installed
          you just snap in the USB cable on one end and the Mailstation
          on the other and the PC acts like a printer to it. Except
          that it can save the ASCII text to a file, of course.

          Schematics, parts, and software would be available to those
          wanting to try their own hand building these. They aren't
          complex to do.

          Jon

        • Jon Kirwan
          ... Hehe. Well, there is that!! It s a simple device, though. I m working on some .NET software for the PC end to make that even easier to use and apply
          Message 4 of 11 , Jun 4, 2011
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            On Sat, 04 Jun 2011 11:59:35 -0000, tom.hartsell wrote:

            > Looks like a cool project especially since I'm an
            > electronics guy but I'm having enough trouble keeping 91
            > year old mother-in-law from pulling the telephone line out
            > of the wall or putting the batteries in backwards...
            > wouldn't EVEN want to try to teach her something new.
            >
            > At some point I'll get these back and will have a chance to
            > play with it.

            Hehe. Well, there is that!! It's a simple device, though.
            I'm working on some .NET software for the PC end to make that
            even easier to use and apply (seemless, I hope.)

            Jon


            >--- In mailstation@yahoogroups.com, Jon Kirwan <jonk@...> wrote:
            >>
            >> I started a project two weeks ago to help me transfer saved
            >> email files from Mailstation units into PC's using the USB
            >> ports that are usually available. It connects to the printer
            >> port on the Mailstation unit and uses the standard "print"
            >> button to start the transfer. (A program does need to be
            >> running on the PC to capture the file and save it, but it
            >> uses a virtual COM port over the USB so any serial port
            >> capturing program can be used [or easily written using VB,
            >> for example.])
            >>
            >> It's cheap to build so I wouldn't mind making more if anyone
            >> is interested. Basically, it's a USB-powered module
            >> (circuit) that has a USB connector and a parallel port
            >> connector and once the virtual COM port software is installed
            >> you just snap in the USB cable on one end and the Mailstation
            >> on the other and the PC acts like a printer to it. Except
            >> that it can save the ASCII text to a file, of course.
            >>
            >> Schematics, parts, and software would be available to those
            >> wanting to try their own hand building these. They aren't
            >> complex to do.
            >>
            >> Jon
            >>
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >------------------------------------
            >
            >Yahoo! Groups Links
            >
            >
            >
          • Jon Kirwan
            ... Well, the parts are the following: 1) TI MSP430 Launchpad tool -- I paid $4.30 and that s with shipping costs to my door, included in the price.
            Message 5 of 11 , Jun 4, 2011
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              On Sat, 04 Jun 2011 08:27:48 -0400, Brad Fayette wrote:

              >This sounds like a very cool device that would have applications beyond
              >the mailstation. I would be interested in learning more about it. Thanks!

              Well, the parts are the following:

              1) TI MSP430 Launchpad tool -- I paid $4.30 and that's
              with shipping costs to my door, included in the price.

              https://estore.ti.com/MSP-EXP430G2-MSP430-LaunchPad-Value-Line-Development-kit-P2031.aspx

              2) DB25 male connector (had one in a drawer.)
              3) fragment of vector board.
              4) one 3.9k resistor
              5) eight 10k resistors
              6) one 47k resistor
              7) one 560pF
              8) wire, solder, soldering iron, pliers, etc.

              The TI MSP430 Launchpad board comes with two cpus. The
              MSP430G2231 and the MSP430G2211. Both are 14 pin devices. It
              also comes with a 32kHz crystal, 2 sets of male and female
              10-pin connectors for my vector board as a daughter card
              above it, and a USB cable.

              I could have ordered a 20-pin MSP430 device and added 6 more
              I/O pins to use -- might have been enough to do everything
              with one micro that way. But I decided that since I still
              needed that vector board to mount the DB25 on... that I might
              was well just use the parts that actually come in the kit. To
              get the needed I/O I had to use both cpus.

              The daughter board cpu has access to the parallel port and
              uses port 1 (P1) to read in the 8 data bits when strobed. It
              also has two more I/O pins plus an NMI input. I use the NMI
              as the /STROBE input and trigger on falling edge. The other
              two I/O pins serve as BUSY and ACK. To communicate with the
              main board's cpu, the BUSY line is copied down via the
              connector to one of pins there. Also, two of the 8 data bus
              pins perform double-duty: as data from the parallel port
              when BUSY is not active and when BUSY is active, the two cpus
              uses two of the 8 lines as CLOCK and DATA to transfer the
              byte over (that's about all the spare pins on the main board,
              as it uses P2's pins for the 32kHz xtal and two more for TxD
              and RxD into the virtual com port into the PC and some for
              LEDs and for switches.

              There are many other interesting details and calculations
              involved, but that should get the basic idea across.

              Software for both cpus is done and working fine and I've been
              shipping files across without difficulty.

              Basically, this takes advantage of the heavy lifting already
              done by an EXTREMELY cheap development board put out by TI,
              adding software, vector board, a connector, and a few cheap
              passives. The whole project, from initial decision to start
              until finished and working software and in spare time only,
              was a little over two weeks. Thought it might be a good idea
              on the 13th of May. Had no exact idea at the time how to do
              it; only a rough feasibility check given I/O pins available
              and a few thoughts about how I might go about it.

              Jon



              >
              >
              >On 06/03/2011 03:36 AM, Jon Kirwan wrote:
              >>
              >> I started a project two weeks ago to help me transfer saved
              >> email files from Mailstation units into PC's using the USB
              >> ports that are usually available. It connects to the printer
              >> port on the Mailstation unit and uses the standard "print"
              >> button to start the transfer. (A program does need to be
              >> running on the PC to capture the file and save it, but it
              >> uses a virtual COM port over the USB so any serial port
              >> capturing program can be used [or easily written using VB,
              >> for example.])
              >>
              >> It's cheap to build so I wouldn't mind making more if anyone
              >> is interested. Basically, it's a USB-powered module
              >> (circuit) that has a USB connector and a parallel port
              >> connector and once the virtual COM port software is installed
              >> you just snap in the USB cable on one end and the Mailstation
              >> on the other and the PC acts like a printer to it. Except
              >> that it can save the ASCII text to a file, of course.
              >>
              >> Schematics, parts, and software would be available to those
              >> wanting to try their own hand building these. They aren't
              >> complex to do.
              >>
              >> Jon
              >>
              >>
            • musicalman77
              Jon, That is SO cool! Twice now I really could ve used that. My sister and I arranged for a card party for mom s 90th and 93rd birthdays and were looking
              Message 6 of 11 , Jun 5, 2011
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                Jon,

                That is SO cool! Twice now I really could've used that. My sister and I arranged for a "card party" for mom's 90th and 93rd birthdays and were looking for an easy way to get her MailStation address book exported so we could e-mail her contacts from a real PC, easily and without her knowledge. The way I overcame it was by printing out her addy list using the printer port on her MailStation (hooked up to an old HP4L laser printer I had with a DB-25), then scanning the hard copy prints using OCR, but as you can imagine, this two-step process was somewhat slow and it still took some editing & proofing hassle. Your toy would've been SOOOOO much faster, easier & 100% accurate.

                Mom passed away February 21, a week short of that 93rd birthday, and I now have her MailStation. Not sure what to do with it. May sell it on eBay someday but for now, keeping it for sentimental reasons.

                Your project looks like fun & fairly inexpensive! Keep us posted.

                ~Jon (that's me also!)

                --- In mailstation@yahoogroups.com, Jon Kirwan <jonk@...> wrote:
                >
                > I started a project two weeks ago to help me transfer saved
                > email files from Mailstation units into PC's using the USB
                > ports that are usually available. It connects to the printer
                > port on the Mailstation unit and uses the standard "print"
                > button to start the transfer. (A program does need to be
                > running on the PC to capture the file and save it, but it
                > uses a virtual COM port over the USB so any serial port
                > capturing program can be used [or easily written using VB,
                > for example.])
                >
                > It's cheap to build so I wouldn't mind making more if anyone
                > is interested. Basically, it's a USB-powered module
                > (circuit) that has a USB connector and a parallel port
                > connector and once the virtual COM port software is installed
                > you just snap in the USB cable on one end and the Mailstation
                > on the other and the PC acts like a printer to it. Except
                > that it can save the ASCII text to a file, of course.
                >
                > Schematics, parts, and software would be available to those
                > wanting to try their own hand building these. They aren't
                > complex to do.
                >
                > Jon
                >
              • Jon Kirwan
                If interested in selling the unit, let me know. I will be making more of these things and may as well find good homes for the combined devices. They aren t
                Message 7 of 11 , Jun 5, 2011
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                  If interested in selling the unit, let me know. I will be
                  making more of these things and may as well find good homes
                  for the combined devices.

                  They aren't just for old people, with this. The Mailstation
                  is very convenient (AA batteries, light weight, low cost) to
                  use anytime one is sitting at the doctor's office waiting, or
                  anywhere it's likely one has time to kill (on rail transport
                  or a bus, etc) and would like to write with the idea that if
                  the device is lost or stolen it's not several hundreds of
                  dollars of loss.

                  The Kindle is great for reading. But it is useless if you
                  want to produce writing content, for example..

                  Anyway, I'm going to start producing a finished product for
                  these and collecting up those units people want to dispose of
                  for whatever reasons. Probably not to sell, so much, as to
                  give away as presents for those I think would get some use
                  out of it.

                  I purchased some from Office Depot when they were dumping
                  them at $5 each. Crazy good price. Too bad that supply is
                  gone!

                  I may, at some point, go further and design a unit that ties
                  in via the phone connector and lets it think it is dialing
                  Earthlink so that I can facilitate a two-way transfer between
                  PC and the unit. Make it look like a file system on USB so
                  that files can be dragged and dropped onto (or off of) it.
                  But that's for another day.

                  I used this project to continue teaching my son more about
                  electronics, embedded software, reading and finding
                  appropriate documentation and using it well, creating
                  associated documentation for a final completion, testing and
                  using oscilloscopes and other tools, soldering, etc. It was
                  a great experience for him (and for me.)

                  Jon


                  On Sun, 05 Jun 2011 16:54:38 -0000, you wrote:

                  >Jon,
                  >
                  >That is SO cool! Twice now I really could've used that. My sister and I arranged for a "card party" for mom's 90th and 93rd birthdays and were looking for an easy way to get her MailStation address book exported so we could e-mail her contacts from a real PC, easily and without her knowledge. The way I overcame it was by printing out her addy list using the printer port on her MailStation (hooked up to an old HP4L laser printer I had with a DB-25), then scanning the hard copy prints using OCR, but as you can imagine, this two-step process was somewhat slow and it still took some editing & proofing hassle. Your toy would've been SOOOOO much faster, easier & 100% accurate.
                  >
                  >Mom passed away February 21, a week short of that 93rd birthday, and I now have her MailStation. Not sure what to do with it. May sell it on eBay someday but for now, keeping it for sentimental reasons.
                  >
                  >Your project looks like fun & fairly inexpensive! Keep us posted.
                  >
                  >~Jon (that's me also!)
                  >
                  >--- In mailstation@yahoogroups.com, Jon Kirwan <jonk@...> wrote:
                  >>
                  >> I started a project two weeks ago to help me transfer saved
                  >> email files from Mailstation units into PC's using the USB
                  >> ports that are usually available. It connects to the printer
                  >> port on the Mailstation unit and uses the standard "print"
                  >> button to start the transfer. (A program does need to be
                  >> running on the PC to capture the file and save it, but it
                  >> uses a virtual COM port over the USB so any serial port
                  >> capturing program can be used [or easily written using VB,
                  >> for example.])
                  >>
                  >> It's cheap to build so I wouldn't mind making more if anyone
                  >> is interested. Basically, it's a USB-powered module
                  >> (circuit) that has a USB connector and a parallel port
                  >> connector and once the virtual COM port software is installed
                  >> you just snap in the USB cable on one end and the Mailstation
                  >> on the other and the PC acts like a printer to it. Except
                  >> that it can save the ASCII text to a file, of course.
                  >>
                  >> Schematics, parts, and software would be available to those
                  >> wanting to try their own hand building these. They aren't
                  >> complex to do.
                  >>
                  >> Jon
                  >>
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >------------------------------------
                  >
                  >Yahoo! Groups Links
                  >
                  >
                  >
                • Kelly Boal
                  Hi Jon, I have two of them that you can have. I thought they were a good idea when I bought them off eBay but then I couldn t get either one online, so if you
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jun 5, 2011
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                    Hi Jon,
                    I have two of them that you can have.  I thought they were a good idea when I bought them off eBay but then I couldn't get either one online, so if you can use them, they're yours.  If you could pay the shipping, though, when I find out how much it is, I'd appreciate that.
                    Kelly



                    From: Jon Kirwan <jonk@...>
                    To: Mailstation list <mailstation@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Sun, June 5, 2011 12:11:04 PM
                    Subject: Re: [mailstation] Re: I developed a small module to transfer saved files from the Mailstation into a PC via USB

                     

                    If interested in selling the unit, let me know. I will be
                    making more of these things and may as well find good homes
                    for the combined devices.

                    They aren't just for old people, with this. The Mailstation
                    is very convenient (AA batteries, light weight, low cost) to
                    use anytime one is sitting at the doctor's office waiting, or
                    anywhere it's likely one has time to kill (on rail transport
                    or a bus, etc) and would like to write with the idea that if
                    the device is lost or stolen it's not several hundreds of
                    dollars of loss.

                    The Kindle is great for reading. But it is useless if you
                    want to produce writing content, for example..

                    Anyway, I'm going to start producing a finished product for
                    these and collecting up those units people want to dispose of
                    for whatever reasons. Probably not to sell, so much, as to
                    give away as presents for those I think would get some use
                    out of it.

                    I purchased some from Office Depot when they were dumping
                    them at $5 each. Crazy good price. Too bad that supply is
                    gone!

                    I may, at some point, go further and design a unit that ties
                    in via the phone connector and lets it think it is dialing
                    Earthlink so that I can facilitate a two-way transfer between
                    PC and the unit. Make it look like a file system on USB so
                    that files can be dragged and dropped onto (or off of) it.
                    But that's for another day.

                    I used this project to continue teaching my son more about
                    electronics, embedded software, reading and finding
                    appropriate documentation and using it well, creating
                    associated documentation for a final completion, testing and
                    using oscilloscopes and other tools, soldering, etc. It was
                    a great experience for him (and for me.)

                    Jon

                    On Sun, 05 Jun 2011 16:54:38 -0000, you wrote:

                    >Jon,
                    >
                    >That is SO cool! Twice now I really could've used that. My sister and I arranged for a "card party" for mom's 90th and 93rd birthdays and were looking for an easy way to get her MailStation address book exported so we could e-mail her contacts from a real PC, easily and without her knowledge. The way I overcame it was by printing out her addy list using the printer port on her MailStation (hooked up to an old HP4L laser printer I had with a DB-25), then scanning the hard copy prints using OCR, but as you can imagine, this two-step process was somewhat slow and it still took some editing & proofing hassle. Your toy would've been SOOOOO much faster, easier & 100% accurate.
                    >
                    >Mom passed away February 21, a week short of that 93rd birthday, and I now have her MailStation. Not sure what to do with it. May sell it on eBay someday but for now, keeping it for sentimental reasons.
                    >
                    >Your project looks like fun & fairly inexpensive! Keep us posted.
                    >
                    >~Jon (that's me also!)
                    >
                    >--- In mailstation@yahoogroups.com, Jon Kirwan <jonk@...> wrote:
                    >>
                    >> I started a project two weeks ago to help me transfer saved
                    >> email files from Mailstation units into PC's using the USB
                    >> ports that are usually available. It connects to the printer
                    >> port on the Mailstation unit and uses the standard "print"
                    >> button to start the transfer. (A program does need to be
                    >> running on the PC to capture the file and save it, but it
                    >> uses a virtual COM port over the USB so any serial port
                    >> capturing program can be used [or easily written using VB,
                    >> for example.])
                    >>
                    >> It's cheap to build so I wouldn't mind making more if anyone
                    >> is interested. Basically, it's a USB-powered module
                    >> (circuit) that has a USB connector and a parallel port
                    >> connector and once the virtual COM port software is installed
                    >> you just snap in the USB cable on one end and the Mailstation
                    >> on the other and the PC acts like a printer to it. Except
                    >> that it can save the ASCII text to a file, of course.
                    >>
                    >> Schematics, parts, and software would be available to those
                    >> wanting to try their own hand building these. They aren't
                    >> complex to do.
                    >>
                    >> Jon
                    >>
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >------------------------------------
                    >
                    >Yahoo! Groups Links
                    >
                    >
                    >

                  • Jon Kirwan
                    ... That s very nice of you. I d love to take advantage of the offer and I d gladly pay shipping costs. Back in 2009, I did that with someone in Scottsdale
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jun 5, 2011
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                      On Sun, 5 Jun 2011 21:23:36 -0700 (PDT), Kelly wrote:

                      >I have two of them that you can have. I thought they were a good idea when I
                      >bought them off eBay but then I couldn't get either one online, so if you can
                      >use them, they're yours. If you could pay the shipping, though, when I find out
                      >how much it is, I'd appreciate that.

                      That's very nice of you. I'd love to take advantage of the
                      offer and I'd gladly pay shipping costs. Back in 2009, I did
                      that with someone in Scottsdale and it cost them $10.05, if I
                      recall correctly. But that's US to US, as I'm in Oregon.

                      I will find them good homes, for sure. I'm working on
                      another idea to allow transfers both directions so that it
                      can be used as a "USB memory stick." But that will "take me
                      a little longer." :)

                      Anyway, I'm located near Portland, Oregon. Let me know what
                      you get in terms of sending them by mail. If it is too much,
                      I might just say to keep them. But hopefully, the post
                      office up there won't take an arm and a leg to get them here.

                      <snip of address info mailed directly to email address>

                      If you are of a mind to call, feel free. If you'd like to
                      talk for a minute, but would rather I pay, just let me have
                      your number and preferred times. Otherwise, let me know the
                      "damage" your postal service tells you about.

                      I would use my bank's "bill pay" to send a bank check (should
                      be very quick to cash -- no delay, as it is drawn from the
                      bank and not from my account) to you, with your address of
                      course.

                      Sincere thanks for the possibility!

                      Jon
                    • Jon Kirwan
                      ... Just in case my sending email to you directly didn t get through (trash bin?), just letting you know that I did send an email separately to you. If you
                      Message 10 of 11 , Jun 7, 2011
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                        On Sun, 5 Jun 2011 21:23:36 -0700 (PDT), Kelly wrote:

                        >Hi Jon,
                        >I have two of them that you can have. I thought they were a good idea when I
                        >bought them off eBay but then I couldn't get either one online, so if you can
                        >use them, they're yours. If you could pay the shipping, though, when I find out
                        >how much it is, I'd appreciate that.
                        >Kelly

                        Just in case my sending email to you directly didn't get
                        through (trash bin?), just letting you know that I did send
                        an email separately to you. If you didn't get it, let me
                        know. I haven't received a response.

                        And thanks,
                        Jon
                      • Kelly Boal
                        Sorry - yes, I got your email; I just haven t made it to the post office yet to find out how much shipping will be.  I ll find out sometime this week and let
                        Message 11 of 11 , Jun 7, 2011
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                          Sorry - yes, I got your email; I just haven't made it to the post office yet to find out how much shipping will be.  I'll find out sometime this week and let you know.
                          Glad you can use them!
                          Kelly


                          From: Jon Kirwan <jonk@...>
                          To: Mailstation list <mailstation@yahoogroups.com>
                          Sent: Tue, June 7, 2011 2:28:59 PM
                          Subject: Re: [mailstation] Re: I developed a small module to transfer saved files from the Mailstation into a PC via USB

                           

                          On Sun, 5 Jun 2011 21:23:36 -0700 (PDT), Kelly wrote:

                          >Hi Jon,
                          >I have two of them that you can have. I thought they were a good idea when I
                          >bought them off eBay but then I couldn't get either one online, so if you can
                          >use them, they're yours. If you could pay the shipping, though, when I find out
                          >how much it is, I'd appreciate that.
                          >Kelly

                          Just in case my sending email to you directly didn't get
                          through (trash bin?), just letting you know that I did send
                          an email separately to you. If you didn't get it, let me
                          know. I haven't received a response.

                          And thanks,
                          Jon

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