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Author Topic: Defender MAME cabinet  (Read 2017 times)

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loupg

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Defender MAME cabinet
« on: December 18, 2017, 04:31:10 pm »
I figure I've invested enough into this project to assume I'll follow it through to completion now, so here goes!

This project has been a long time coming, so I'll start with a tiny bit of history on how I got to where I am today.
I've been off and on wanting to build a MAME cabinet essentially since the MAME project started, but I never felt like I had the time, or money to do it.  In late 2013, early 2014 I actually went so far as to buy a joystick, some buttons and a mini-PAC.

Here's the best picture I can find of my first attempt at a control panel

Sorry for the horrible picture, but I never thought I would have a need to reference the first control panel prototype I'd put together.
If I remember correctly, I think I used the box the joystick and buttons came in to house the control panel.  You can't tell in the picture, but the button layout is a 6 button layout based on one of the layouts from slagcoin.  I think it's this one, cut down to 6 buttons:


The buttons were CLASSX buttons from groovygamegear.com, using the true-leaf switches, and the joystick was a Zippyy.

Then life happened and the project ended up on hold for about 4 years (btw, my son just turned 4, coincidence?)

I actually really liked the 6-button layout, and the joystick was fine, but a bit clicky (I went with really soft switches so I couldn't really feel the click, but I could always hear it, which bugged me.)  Originally, I had gone a bit nuts and wanted to try to find a way to support as many of the games emulated by MAME as possible and was planning some insane 4-player, 7-button per player with 1 or 2 dedicated 4-way joysticks, and a spinner and a trackball and was trying to figure out how to get driving games to work and... it would have been just horrible.

I also learned that while my little mocked up control panel worked fine for me, for the layout and how it functioned, a lot of other people that would try it were confused by the controls, and even more so, confused by the tens of thousands of games available to choose from (see, those 4 years weren't just me sitting on my hands, they were just an extended playtesting session, right...)

A couple of months ago I got the bug to start going after building the MAME cabinet again, and took a look at what had changed with MAME in the last 4 years, and found that MAME and MESS had merged, pushing the number of available emulated machines north of 34k machines, including pinball, slot machines and a bunch of old handheld games, which just made the whole thing seem even more ridiculous to try to make a fun experience out of playing all of those games.

I took a look at why I wanted to build the MAME machine, and what I really wanted out of it, and realized that the games I really wanted to play were games built during the golden era of arcade games, roughly 1978 through 1986.  I also mostly wanted to play 2-way and 4-way joystick games, and just didn't want a terribly messy control panel, so I decided to nix spinner and trackball games as well.  Also, forget anything that isn't an arcade game, so I trimmed out all of the pinball, casino, etc. games, which left me with a much more trim 380-ish games, which I've slowly been cutting back even further (I think I'm down to around 320, and am playing through as many as I can to get rid of anything I don't want to keep.)

After looking at various period-accurate arcade cabinets, I decided that I really like the shape of the defender cabinet.  I'm using the template from here: https://www.classicarcadecabinets.com/defender.html
At first I was a frustrated by the fact that the page has the huge warning about the plans potentially being inaccurate, and other websites were actually pretty light on details on the shape and build of the original defender cabinet, but 1500points helped talk me down.  I also ended up comparing the dimensions on the sketchup file from here: http://www.arcaderestoration.com/Articles/1/Restoration+Data/36/Defender+Dimensions.aspx to the dimensions on the classicarcadecabinets cad files, and they're both pretty close, despite having been made by two different people, so I figure I'll be close enough.

I don't have as ready-access as I used to have to plotter printers, but I wanted to still print out the template from classicarcadecabinets for the defender cabinet, so I ended up using acrobat to do a multi-page print of the template, then spent an hour taping it together.  The lines are pretty fine, but you can kind of make them out:

Acrobat has settings for adding alignment marks, and it actually worked out pretty well.  I did screw up somewhere in the last 2-3 rows of panels and accidentally ended up narrowing the whole thing about 1/4-inch, but I'll fix that when I'm actually cutting out the wood, I just wanted the template printed out to help guide me in the right direction.

That left me with the control panel.  I knew I wanted to simplify my original plan, but wasn't quite sure how yet, because I didn't really want to go with the 6-buttons per player setup that I originally had, because it confused people trying to play my original setup.  I'd discovered a barcade had opened up in my area and decided to take a trip there for a bit of inspiration, and boy, inspiration I got.  When I was there, I realized that the actual defender CP layout essentially covered almost all of the 4-way joystick, single player (or at least not two player simultaneous) games that I was trying to jam into my arcade cabinet.  Who would have thought that a defender control panel would be a good control panel for a defender style cabinet!

OK, it won't be exactly the defender control panel, I'm actually going for one of the multi-williams style layouts based on the defender control panel, specifically this one: https://www.thisoldgame.com/multicade-art/mult-williams-defender-version

I made another control panel prototype based on one of the multi-williams layouts from escapepodonline.com:

You'll notice I only have a single joystick currently in the prototype, there will be a second joystick in the final control panel, I only have one to put in the prototype for now.  I also wanted to move the hyperspace button back to the bottom middle of the control panel, which is why I ultimately decided on the one from thisoldgame instead.  I actually feel a bit bad not buying the CP overlay from escapepodonline.com, because they've been really awesome to work with through email.  I'm still buying a marquee from them though, so that's something.

I've decided to buy all the artwork now, before cutting out a single piece of wood, essentially to use as a sanity check, so I can make sure that I'm cutting the wood to the right sizes.  I'm getting stencils from thisoldgame, and also decided to buy the monitor bezel from them as well.  I've also ordered a marquee from escapepodonline (I'm oddly a bit nervous on how it's going to print out, so I'll also be keeping my eye out for an original marquee in good condition on ebay.)  I've also got an appropriately sized coin door coming, not the original pinball style door, I'll leave those to people restoring actual defender games (and people with deeper pockets.)

I've also ordered a Dominux8 with 4-way restricter from GGG, along with some differently colored buttons to match the defender layout.  I'm really excited about the new joystick, the zippyy has been nice, but doesn't feel like an old school, early 80s joystick to me.  Assuming I like the Dominux, I'll be ordering a second one, but I wanted to get just a single one to start to make sure I actually like it.

I'm vaguely keeping my eyes open for a 19-inch CRT as well, but I'm not holding my breath.  I'll likely settle for an LSD screen an a scan line generator.

For anyone that cares about such things, I'm running AttractMode for my frontend in ubuntu server.  I forget why, now, but I compiled attractmode and mame myself because I wasn't happy with the versions from the apt repositories (guessing I just wanted to get rid of the nag screens in MAME, but I can't remember for sure why I compiled attractmode myself.)  I had a really nice write-up on getting the whole thing running smoothly in ubuntu server, but I think I accidentally deleted it somewhere down the line, or just misfiled it somewhere on my computer.  If I find my write-up again I'll publish it here, it covered a lot of little tricky things you needed to do to get it working correctly, and I overall like the way it runs better than what I had been able to do in Windows.
The computer I setup back in 2014 was a 1st gen intel mac mini, but I'm now using some small form factor dell or something that I picked up cheap.

I saw some delivery notifications a bit earlier today, so I'm guessing some of my goodies have shown up, so I'll post on what came in the mail later.

I'm also considering keeping a running total on money spent, but that also scares me a bit too.  If anyone is interested in seeing the running total, let me know, it might help influence my decision.

Oh!  Because it's pretty important, I have full buy-in from the spouse on this project as well!  I don't think I have her any hard numbers, but I've at least indicated this will be a spendy project, and she's fine with that.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 04:33:08 pm by loupg »

Locke141

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2017, 08:01:45 pm »
I like attacked mode.

Badmouth has a good list called all thriller no filler. It may help you to cut down.

Good luck.


PS LSD=>LCD
« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 08:04:08 pm by Locke141 »

loupg

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2017, 09:18:24 pm »
PS LSD=>LCD

I thought I was supposed to drop acid to make up for the lack of crt!

Donkey_Kong

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2017, 10:04:34 pm »
I'm about to make a stand alone multi williams control panel box (so we can play while building a cabinet). Just ordered a pair of the Dominix sticks


Been plying with vectors for the box:
Carved Signs, Custom Gameroom Signs, and Arcade Game Decor and now CNC MACHINES by Melissa Jones

loupg

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2017, 08:56:54 am »
I'm about to make a stand alone multi williams control panel box (so we can play while building a cabinet). Just ordered a pair of the Dominix sticks


Been plying with vectors for the box:

Nice!  I'd played around a lot with the idea of using multi williams artwork for the cabinet instead of just defender artwork, but I just wasn't a huge fan of the way the readily available artwork filled the available space, or in some cases I thought the artwork was way too busy.  A bunch of the multi williams artwork also references games that I won't have in my cabinet, because I'm focusing specifically on 4-way joysticks, so I thought it would be a bit odd to have artwork for a game you couldn't actually play.  I would have loved to have designed something myself, unfortunately, I don't have the skills with photoshop/illustrator to make anything that looks good, but it looks like you've got a nice start with that control panel art.

I got my Dominux stick in the mail last night, and so far I'm really liking it.  At first I thought the stick was a bit stiff, but it was just because the grommet was really cold (it was ~30ļf outside,) once it warmed up a bit the feel of the stick is really nice.  Interestingly, it looks like the spacers used for the leaf switches are 3D printed.  I really, really like the feel of this stick so far, but haven't tried putting it into my prototype control panel.  The screw pattern, and size of the joystick in general is different than the zippyy, so I'll have to do some surgery on the CP to make it fit.

loupg

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2017, 09:11:12 am »
Mail call!

A few of the things I ordered showed up yesterday.

First is a package from GGG:

In the box are:
a Dominux8 with 4-way restricter (oh man, does it ever feel nice.)
4 white CLASSX buttons and 1 green CLASSX button.  I already have 6 red CLASSX buttons from my initial prototype, but I wanted buttons to fit the defender/stargate color scheme.
A pushbutton nut wrench, so I don't have to keep contorting my arm at goofy angles to get those pushbuttons screwed in
A control panel clamp set, some PCB standoffs and 40' of black leather textured t-molding (overkill, I know.)  I might end up using different t-molding, because I've seen a few defender cabinets with either yellow or red t-molding, and I really like the look, but I think the black leather textured t-molding was what was originally used.

A couple of 0.984 coin mechs:

I didn't realize I could modify quarter coin mechs to work with 0.984 tokens until after I'd already ordered these, but they really weren't that expensive, so I'm fine with using the correct mechs instead of modifying the mechs that will come with the coin door.

A ton of 0.984 tokens bought from Breaker:

I feel a bit bad for my mailman for this one, this box was HEAVY

1500points

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2017, 09:14:48 pm »
Fun write up. You are all in.  Fun stuff. Good work so far!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

loupg

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2017, 08:57:05 am »
Fun write up. You are all in.  Fun stuff. Good work so far!

Thanks!

Quick update, I got my coin door in the mail.  Being excitable, I installed the .984 coin mechs and tested it out, they work great!


I've been debating how I want to cut out the sides of the cabinet, and was originally thinking I would cut out one side, get it shaped as perfectly as possible and then use it as a template for the second side, but now I'm really leaning toward making a template out of 1/4" plywood, and using that as my template for both sides.  The 1/4" will hopefully be a bit easier to work with (although, less rigid) and will be cheaper, so I won't feel as bad about scrapping a piece if I make a major mistake.

1500points

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2017, 09:34:59 am »
I've been debating how I want to cut out the sides of the cabinet, and was originally thinking I would cut out one side, get it shaped as perfectly as possible and then use it as a template for the second side, but now I'm really leaning toward making a template out of 1/4" plywood, and using that as my template for both sides.  The 1/4" will hopefully be a bit easier to work with (although, less rigid) and will be cheaper, so I won't feel as bad about scrapping a piece if I make a major mistake.

I have tried a variety of ways of doing that and here are my observations-
1--used tracings
2--I have also done it with pencil and measurement layout on each sheet individually
3--and as you described above by getting one side perfect then tracing onto the other.

Option one introduces variation through the plyable and floppy nature of the tracing medium.  But this is a great start if you don't have access to a side profile and someone offers a tracing in the mail, or need to make a quick profile while visiting someone or an arcade with the cabinet you seek.

Option 2 is always going to introduce a bit of variation, including the fact that your two sheets of wood are likely not exactly perfectly square to each other.  You'll get them close then you'll find the need to clamp the two pieces together and fix it with electric sanders/dremel work depending on the shapes involved.

Option 3 is going to be the most precise as you get one just the way you want it and you know it is a perfect template.  Then you get your pencil really sharp, clamp the two sheets together as squarely as possible, and trace the outline onto the other sheet, which also gets rid of the slight variations in the sides of the raw materials. If you cut the second one with precision, the cleanup is going to be very minor likely with just a few minutes of palm sander and a rough grit, then clamp them together and double check.   You'll be done before you know it with this method.

The toughest part of building Defender is the back angle at the top, you'll have to decide what underframing is going to be best to join that weird angled piece. then decide what angle you want to cut on each of the 3 pieces of wood involved.

Here is one more trick, to build a "square" and not-skewed cabinet involves choosing a starting point of equality between the two sides.
I like to use the bottom as the common denominator then all measurements build up from there as you add internal bracing.
The back is the second reference point.
If you build panels and subframing based off of a common denominator you'll end up with something square.
I skewed the first few cabs I ever built until I got a flow down for back and forth comparison measurements....
« Last Edit: December 21, 2017, 09:39:13 am by 1500points »

yotsuya

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2017, 09:45:51 am »
Good for you for not only taking your time, but really giving thought and your consideration to what it is exactly you want out of this cabinet. I wish more people took the time to do the same.
***Build what you dig, bro. Build what you dig.***

8BitMonk

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2017, 11:28:40 am »
Swap your mechs with these for $8 and you can use any coin you want.  :)

http://www.arcaderestoration.com/products/1/ACV2/Any+Coin+TM+V2.aspx


Games: Asteroids Deluxe | Atomiswave | Centipede | Championship Sprint | Defender | Donkey Kong | Dig Dug | Frogger | Ikari Warriors | Missile Command | Pac-Man | Pole Position | Robotron | Spy Hunter | Tempest | Super Mario Strikers

loupg

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2017, 12:09:30 pm »
Swap your mechs with these for $8 and you can use any coin you want.  :)

http://www.arcaderestoration.com/products/1/ACV2/Any+Coin+TM+V2.aspx



I did see those, but my preference is for the machine to specifically take .984 tokens.  I got 1000+ .984 tokens from Breaker off his "for sale" thread.

I'm even so silly that I'm vaguely considering building a fake change machine that dispenses tokens with a button press.

loupg

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2017, 12:26:28 pm »
Good for you for not only taking your time, but really giving thought and your consideration to what it is exactly you want out of this cabinet. I wish more people took the time to do the same.

Thanks!  Slowing down is actually a bit out of the norm for me, I typically jump in with both feet once I decide to do something, and worry about how I'm going to actually do it as I go.  A big part of what is keeping me currently slow on this is when I decided it was in the best interest of the project to get most of the size-specific pieces together first to make sure I was going to be able to get everything to fit properly.  Forcing myself to wait has actually given me time to consider how I'm actually going to make certain parts work, rather than just figuring it out on the fly.

I'd originally been putting most of my thought into how I was going to get the sides cut properly, but after mentally working most of that out, my mind moved to the pieces I originally dismissed as being easy, like the front, back and top pieces, and realized that those pieces are a little more complex than they seem at first glance, so I've been planning out how I'm going to get those pieces properly cut as well.

The number of woodworking tools I have on hand are actually a bit slim, I have a jigsaw, circular saw, miter saw and a router, but no table saw, drill press, or really any larger tools.  I have access to a lot of those types of tools, but I'm actually avoiding approaching the person that actually owns them as he has a tendency to take over projects, I prefer this one to be mine.  That being said, there's a rental company just down the road from me that has pretty reasonable prices for renting large power tools, and there are a couple of "by the hour" woodworking shops in the area where I can go in and use their tools, so I have options.

barrymossel

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2017, 01:40:09 pm »
I have access to a lot of those types of tools, but I'm actually avoiding approaching the person that actually owns them as he has a tendency to take over projects, I prefer this one to be mine.
Haha, recognizable! My brother-in-law is really good with wood-working and offered to make the cabinet together with me in a few hours in his workshop. But he also tends to take over the project and want to do stuff faster than I, not overthinking everything.
Nah, I rather try it myself and start a few times over and over again ;)

loupg

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2017, 11:54:43 pm »
Still waiting on artwork to arrive. 

The tracking at USPS stated my marquee should be here by 8:00pm today (it's long after 8:00pm) but also state my marquee is at a USPS facility 800 miles away.  I guess I'll see if they update that tracking tomorrow.

haven't gotten shipping confirmation from thisoldgame yet, but their site does say 3-ish weeks to ship, so it should be shipping soon.

I haven't been sitting on my hands though, instead I'm working on a secret project that will add needless authenticity to my cabinet!  Here's a sneak peek:

Still waiting on a couple of pieces for said secret project, but I've got the majority of it at this point.  I'd have it all, but apparently when microcenter says they have multiple of something in stock, they mean they might have them, and if they do have them, they don't know where they put them.

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2017, 10:43:58 am »



haven't gotten shipping confirmation from thisoldgame yet, but their site does say 3-ish weeks to ship, so it should be shipping soon.


If I were you, I'd get comfortable. 3 weeks was a low estimate. Mine just got shipped yesterday.

Sent from my car phone


loupg

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2017, 04:03:44 pm »
Guess Iíd better put on my sweatpants

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2017, 07:08:40 pm »
oooooooohhhhhh, what is it? what is it?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I have looked at the TOG site a number of times, but I see so much frustration and lack of service from people who attempt to buy that I've never gone through with a purchase myself.

Still waiting on artwork to arrive. 

The tracking at USPS stated my marquee should be here by 8:00pm today (it's long after 8:00pm) but also state my marquee is at a USPS facility 800 miles away.  I guess I'll see if they update that tracking tomorrow.

haven't gotten shipping confirmation from thisoldgame yet, but their site does say 3-ish weeks to ship, so it should be shipping soon.

I haven't been sitting on my hands though, instead I'm working on a secret project that will add needless authenticity to my cabinet!  Here's a sneak peek:

Still waiting on a couple of pieces for said secret project, but I've got the majority of it at this point.  I'd have it all, but apparently when microcenter says they have multiple of something in stock, they mean they might have them, and if they do have them, they don't know where they put them.

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2017, 11:45:02 pm »
oooooooohhhhhh, what is it? what is it?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I have looked at the TOG site a number of times, but I see so much frustration and lack of service from people who attempt to buy that I've never gone through with a purchase myself.

Still waiting on artwork to arrive. 

The tracking at USPS stated my marquee should be here by 8:00pm today (it's long after 8:00pm) but also state my marquee is at a USPS facility 800 miles away.  I guess I'll see if they update that tracking tomorrow.

haven't gotten shipping confirmation from thisoldgame yet, but their site does say 3-ish weeks to ship, so it should be shipping soon.

I haven't been sitting on my hands though, instead I'm working on a secret project that will add needless authenticity to my cabinet!  Here's a sneak peek:

Still waiting on a couple of pieces for said secret project, but I've got the majority of it at this point.  I'd have it all, but apparently when microcenter says they have multiple of something in stock, they mean they might have them, and if they do have them, they don't know where they put them.

Well, in their defense, they responded quickly when I emailed, and we're upfront about the delays. I wasn't in a huge hurry, I'd rather have it done well. The reputation they have is impeccable for quality. (At least in the reading I had done here.)

loupg

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2018, 01:59:10 am »
I would prefer if their site said 2 months for fulfillment if itís going to take 2 months.  The last I looked it said 3 weeks, which seems less up-front if the real timeframe is over double that.

Iím thinking Iíll give them until the end of the week, which gives a few extra days to account for the holidays, and reach out to them if there hasnít been an update on my order, just to get an idea of the timeline.

As for my secret project, I think Iím probably about 50% done with it, itís. actually been going reasonably smoothly given how long itís been since I did anything like this.  I think Iíve got about 75% of the circuit prototyped, and enough of the programming done to know itís working so far.  Iím still waiting on one part, but it should really be the easiest to integrate.  I do have one piece Iím still wrapping my head around exactly how Iím going to implement it, but assuming I understand the documentation, it should be doable, it will just take a bit of experimentation.  So far my biggest hiccups have been assuming I did something wrong in building parts of it out rather than assuming it was an issue with a dead part.

loupg

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Re: Defender MAME cabinet
« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2018, 10:57:16 am »
Figure I'd throw a quick update up.

My marquee came in, and the printing quality is really nice, but I'm not 100% happy with the piece of plexi they laminated it to, but it wasn't bad enough for me to make a fuss about it.

I also found a 19-inch CRT computer monitor, which is an improvement over the LCD monitor I was using,

thisoldgame sent the stencils after about a month, but still haven't sent the rest of the order.  I contacted them on Tuesday as it's been 2 months, and they haven't responded yet, so I'm not super thrilled with them at the moment.

I've been working on building up my woodworking skills a bit as well.  Once it starts to warm up outside a bit I'll start actually building the physical cabinet, but I'm in Minnesota, and my garage isn't heated, so it's a bit cold out to be spending a lot of time in my garage trying to build the cabinet.

  
 

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