The S2: Impressive!

Looks like Parallax has now designed the bot for a Propeller addict like myself!

www.parallax.com/ProductInfo/Robotics/TheScribbler2/tabid/826/Default.aspx

@Ken, Why isn't this Parallax frontpage news? I didn't know about this until you mentioned it last night!

Details on the "hacker-port?"

/me adds the S2 to his wishlist..

OBC

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Comments

  • 32 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    The S2 page looks very nice!

    A couple of comments:

    1. First bullet: "which now enables the variety of robot tasks" should be
    "which now enables a variety of robot tasks"

    2. Second sentence after the bullets: "has enabled us to provide a highly
    capable that brings forward so many new capabilities." should be
    "has enabled us to provide a highly capable platform that brings forward
    many new capabilities."

    3. Following paragraph: "loose" should be "lose".

    Having said all that -- the new Propeller-based S2 looks very capable,
    even compared to the Mindstorms platforms.

    Post Edited (allanlane5) : 4/16/2010 3:05:02 PM GMT
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Hacker port: 6 digital I/O's (w/ voltage translators) and 2 analog inputs, arranged in a 3x8 header array (i.e. 8 servo-style headers: Vss, +5V, Signal).

    This set of headers is accessible by opening the enclosure. As before, the user has to make his own provisions for bringing cables to the outside.

    -Phil
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” –Muhammad Ali
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    @OBC - for us robot folks this news has been out for while. Before the last of the original Scibblers sold - Parallax made an end of life announcement. The old ones sold much more quickly than expected (lots of people use them in different programs). The good news is that the S2 will be fantastic. I believe that it has all the new features Scribbler users were hoping for.

    I can't wait to get my hands on one. One of the greatest things (if it is like the old Scribbler - which I am sure it will be) will be the GUI programming interface. Phil Pilgrim wrote the code on the old one and is doing it for the new. Essentially, you programmed to original Scribbler with the GUI - using simple but very powerful control icons. You could then toggle into the Basic Stamp Editor and see the code in Basic. The GUI S2 will let this happen with the Prop Tool! It should be fantastic.

    There are many other great new features. One will be the encoders - it should allow very accurate contol of the Scribbler. Another will be the adjustable line following sensors. In short, there will be a lot new to play with and learn about. And, of course, it is Prop powered!

    You are right to be excited! I think it could be a great intro to the Prop for even the least skilled user.

    @Phil - thanks for the insight! I am more excited the more I hear.

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    Whit+


    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney

    Post Edited (Whit) : 4/16/2010 4:31:55 PM GMT
    Whit+

    "In almost every robotic project I attempt, I am way over my head going into it..." - Carol Lynn Hazlett
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    The original Scribbler GUI was how I learned PBASIC. I would enter programs into the GUI and then read the PBASIC output. Once I got the hang of PBASIC I stopped using the GUI, but once in a while I'll use it to generate code which I cut and paste. At one point I looked through the GUI code to see how easy it would be to do a Linux port, but since it was written for Active State PERL decided it would be too much work.

    Does the new GUI generate Spin or go straight to assembler?
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Martin_H said...

    Does the new GUI generate Spin or go straight to assembler?
    Martin_H,

    That is a great question. I do not know the answer. Perhaps Phil or some of the folks at Parallax can give us a hint. I am like you - I agree that the GUI is a great way to learn. I look forward to seeing how the GUI, the Prop and all the S2's new features work together. It will certainly be fantastic.

    I am also excited about introducing students to the Prop and the S2 is a simple and accessible way.

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    Whit+


    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
    Whit+

    "In almost every robotic project I attempt, I am way over my head going into it..." - Carol Lynn Hazlett
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    And Parallax (ebay ID pbasic1) has a Scibbler up for auction. Wonder how much that will go for, being its discontinued.

    Jim
    I have three propellers
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    The GUI will generate Spin code. That code will consist largely of method calls to the S2.spin object that I'm currently writing. Much of the real work in the S2 object is done in assembly cogs, but the casual user will be shielded from that, just as we are from having to understand TV.spin. smile.gif

    -Phil
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” –Muhammad Ali
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    God bless you, PhiPi!



    a casual user

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    ·"If you build it, they will come."
    Now where are my Robotics forums? :)
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    @Phil - sounds great!

    @erco - and Amen!

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    Whit+


    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
    Whit+

    "In almost every robotic project I attempt, I am way over my head going into it..." - Carol Lynn Hazlett
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    For S2 users that will be good because they can call the S2 object in their own Spin programs for S2.· But since the object is in assembly they will be much faster.

    I probably used the old GUI in a manner that it wasn't intended.· Before I learned PBASIC I would use GUI·generated code to get an understanding of how to set pins high, low, test inputs, loop,·and so forth.··Which I then used for applications besides Scribbler.

    Do you think that even with the encapsulation the new GUI can be a way to learn Spin?· Learning syntax isn't the hard part, but learning the ins and outs of getting stuff done is.

    At some point I·plan to buy the prop proto board and learn to use it.· I know there are books, but I tend to learn new languages best by reading programs.
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 8,077Vote Up0Vote Down
    @Phil

    Does the Propeller design of the S2 mean that the GUI and related code might be made
    available openly for us for use with other robotics projects?

    The documentation refers to "stronger" which makes me ask, is this the robot I might want
    to base my mini "hero" type robot on? (I'm picturing some vertical mounts with PCB boards)
    An addition of a few ounces. Any testing done on just how much this new bot will carry?

    Details on the hacker port are appreciated. Thank!

    OBC

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  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    OBC,

    The GUI has always been open. I know of at least one project team who has taken my Perl source code (downloaded from Parallax's website) and adapted it for something else.

    Mechanically, the S2 uses the same housing (with a few minor modifications) as the original Scribbler. The motors and gearboxes are different, but they still have to fit within the existing housing bulkheads. Although motor load and lifetime testing has been done, I doubt tha any vertical payload testing has been performed or contemplated. (I haven't even had my S2 on the floor yet to roll around. It's been confined to a static test stand and powered by a wall wart for the entire month that I've had it.) The vertical load is going to be limited by the wheel linkages that come after the motor, since they take all the stress, and those have not changed.

    All,

    Here's a little insight into how the S2 development is taking place. The electronic and mechanical hardware are being designed (and modified from the original) by Ben Wirz of Element Products in Colorado. Element also designed the original Scribbler. Ben has done the component selection, circuit design, and board layouts, and will coordinate the manufacturing and testing in China. He and I have consulted from the beginning on things like Propeller pin allocation. (You'd think that with 32 I/O ports, compared to 16 for the BS2, this would've been easy. It's amazing how fast they got used up!) I've been tasked with writing the low-level driver firmware (S2.spin object), along with modifying the GUI to make it look-alike/work-alike compatible with the S1's. Ben is doing the programming for its out-of-the-box, set-it-on-the-floor-and-go functionality. How much additional functionality the GUI encompasses, compared to the original (i.e. how much mission-creep takes place), will depend on how much time is available before roll-out (and on the dev budget, of course, since Parallax is footing the bill). One of my bigger jobs will be editing the graphics for the GUI so that every depiction of the bot is changed from S1 blue to S2 red. There are a scary number of images that have to be modified in this fashion. Some were actually done in Rhino CAD and rendered in 3D before being converted to image files. These may have to be re-rendered from scratch.

    Ben and I are in constant phone and email communication, which has resulted in several hardware and software mods (i.e. change a resistor value here, add a cap there, double sample the idler wheel encoder to cancel any ambient light influence -- that type of thing). Yesterday, for example, our concern was a faint background hiss and hum from the speaker when there was no audio playing, and audible pops when it was turned off. (It turns out that it can be solved in software by ramping the audio pin's DUTY cycle to zero, then tri-stating it.)

    Both of our efforts are being managed and coordinated by Ken Gracey of Parallax, with support from Parallax's amazing staff. (Jen Jacobs of Parallax's art department came up with that great S2 logo, BTW.) As the project advances, other Parallax staff will be brought to bear to make the roll-out a successful one. Ken, Ben, and the Parallax crew are a joy to work with. We have a great team, and I can't say enough good things about their supportiveness.

    -Phil
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” –Muhammad Ali
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Here's a sneak peek into the S2's innards (including some circuit board mods):

    attachment.php?attachmentid=69538

    The hacker port is in the lower-right corner of the main PCB (the one on the left). You may also notice the motor encoders. Each motor shaft is extended from the rear and has a four-blade encoder "disk" pressed onto it, which is read by an integrated optical break-beam detector. Each encoder pulse represents about 0.02" (0.5mm) of wheel travel.

    The rear board includes the power switch, LEDs, "reset" button, microphone, and RS232 interface. The three user LEDs are programmable for any blend of red and green (e.g. yellow, orange, chartreuse). All the LEDs are programmable for intensity and automatic blinking, including the blue "power" LED. The "reset" button isn't really a hardware reset button but, rather, just an input. The reset function can be specified (or not) at startup and can count button presses, which are stored in auxillary EEPROM for reading on restart. Not shown in the photo are the light sensors and speaker (in the top shell), the line sensors (under the main board), or the idler wheel stall detector encoder (under the rear board).

    Here's the program that was used to program the LEDs for the photo:

    [b]CON[/b]
    
      [b]_clkmode[/b]      = [b]xtal1[/b] + [b]pll16x[/b]
      [b]_xinfreq[/b]      = 5_000_000
    
    [b]OBJ[/b]
    
      s2 : "s2_v1a"
    
    [b]PUB[/b] start | i, j, t0
    
      s2.start(0, 0)
      s2.button_mode([b]true[/b], [b]true[/b])
      s2.set_led(s2#LEFT, s2#RED)
      s2.set_led(s2#CENTER, s2#YELLOW)
      s2.set_led(s2#RIGHT, s2#GREEN)
      s2.set_led(s2#POWER, $40)
    
    
    


    -Phil
    855 x 642 - 136K
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” –Muhammad Ali
  • Oldbitcollector (Jeff)Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
    rubs his hands together... Nice! I can see that mine will [b]never[/b] have it's cover attached! L...
    edited April 2010 Posts: 8,077Vote Up0Vote Down
    /me rubs his hands together...

    Nice! I can see that mine will never have it's cover attached!
    Looks like there are some nice mount points for vertical standoff for a few additional PCB boards.

    OBC

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  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    That hacker port is almost exactly like the switchboard mod I made to my Scribbler! All you would need to do is route those pin to a hole in the bottom like I cut in my Scribbler and you're off to the races. The shaft encoders on the wheel motors are quite neat and much higher resolution than my wheel encoders. Those are some pretty large transistors on the mother board too, I assume they're for switching power to the motors. Those still look like Solarbotics gear motors, but I assume they're the higher current versions?
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Those "transistors" you're referring to (the metal can thingies, right?) are surface-mounted electrolytic caps. The motors are driven with a monilithic dual H-bridge IC. That's next weeks project, BTW: PWMing the motor drivers and coordinating with the encoders and stall sensor. (I always save the hardest for last, it seems.)

    -Phil
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” –Muhammad Ali
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Oops, yes I was referring to the metal can thingies. They looks a little like power transistors I've seen in metal cans. But now that you mention it the black strip on the side should have tipped me off they were caps.
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Caught this photo in an e-mail exchange between S2 developers. It shows the benefit of encoders and far-improved motor control for drawing!

    Drawing with precision, or even crude characters wasn't very practical with the original Scribblers.

    attachment.php?attachmentid=69855

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    Ken Gracey
    Parallax Inc.

    Follow me at http://twitter.com/ParallaxKen for some insider news.
    478 x 312 - 20K
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Ken Gracey | Parallax Inc.| Direct
    : [URL="tel:(916) 624-8333"](916) 625-3010[/URL] | www.parallax.com

    Follow me on Twitter



  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    I must of been a sleep at the wheel! How did I miss all this new info. Thanks for sharing Phil and Ken! All very impressive - from the inards to the great Scribbling.

    The guts look just like the original Scribbler - except for the hundred or so places that they aren't! smilewinkgrin.gif
    I love the original blue bearing at the wheel ports!

    Can't wait to play with one of these. My son will not let ours sit on the bench for a month - I promise you!

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    Whit+


    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney

    Post Edited (Whit) : 4/28/2010 6:55:57 PM GMT
    Whit+

    "In almost every robotic project I attempt, I am way over my head going into it..." - Carol Lynn Hazlett
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    I guess I've asked this before, but is there any way we can get on an S2 wait list?

    I'm happy to pre-pay for my S2 if it means I can get one fresh off the boat.

    Thanks

    You just have to do it - grab the bull by the horns and make something out of your life.
  • edited April 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Hey Scope!

    When they arrive at Parallax it's going to be a whole 40-foot container of 5,000 S2s, packed neatly in boxes of six units from top to bottom.

    There's a real challenge with getting early releases of such a high-volume product. When the investment and manufacturing quantity are both big there's only prototypes before production (like you see above). Once the manufacturing line is setup to build. . . they build. The first 5-10 come to Parallax by air from which we give a final "okay" and the rest show up about six weeks later. Shows you how important it is to get the design 100% correct in all ways. No chances for messing around or making mistakes.

    But when they arrive at Parallax there will be no shortage of S2s.

    ▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
    Ken Gracey
    Parallax Inc.

    Follow me at http://twitter.com/ParallaxKen for some insider news.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Ken Gracey | Parallax Inc.| Direct
    : [URL="tel:(916) 624-8333"](916) 625-3010[/URL] | www.parallax.com

    Follow me on Twitter



  • edited June 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    I'm glad to hear that Parallax is ordering such a large quantity. I think the S2 is going to be a HUGE hit.

    I've been working on a special version of PropBasic for the S2.

    It will support full expression evaluation (with operator precedence) for all command parameters, will generate only LMM code, but will support PASM only tasks for high speed drivers.

    I need to look at phil's objects to see how much I can implement.

    Can't wait to get some hardware in my grubby little hands...

    Bean

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    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Use BASIC on the Propeller with the speed of assembly language.
    PropBASIC thread http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=867134

    March 2010 Nuts and Volts article·http://www.parallax.com/Portals/0/Downloads/docs/cols/nv/prop/col/nvp5.pdf
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    There are two rules in life:
    · 1) Never divulge all information
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. [noparse][[/noparse]RUSH - Freewill]
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  • edited June 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Bean,

    Email me, and I'll send you the latest version of the S2 object.

    -Phil
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” –Muhammad Ali
  • edited June 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Phil,
    e-mail sent to "propeller at phipi dot com".

    Thanks for the offer.

    Bean

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    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Use BASIC on the Propeller with the speed of assembly language.
    PropBASIC thread http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=867134

    March 2010 Nuts and Volts article·http://www.parallax.com/Portals/0/Downloads/docs/cols/nv/prop/col/nvp5.pdf
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    There are two rules in life:
    · 1) Never divulge all information
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. [noparse][[/noparse]RUSH - Freewill]
    logo.png?503
    Esterline Research & Design
    thitt@esterlineresearch.com

    We offer consulting on the following areas of expertise:
    Frequency Control - Micro-Controller/Processor Projects
    Test and Automation - General Programming and Coding
    Circuit Design - Board Layouts
  • edited June 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Great news Bean and Phil!

    ▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
    Whit+


    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
    Whit+

    "In almost every robotic project I attempt, I am way over my head going into it..." - Carol Lynn Hazlett
  • edited July 2010 Posts: 8,077Vote Up0Vote Down
    Just bumping the thread to see if Parallax or Phil can give us an update on how this anticipated project is going?

    It's been a little quite on the S2 front... [noparse]:)[/noparse] Got a peek at the case on Ken's desk after UPEW, but was so pressured
    for time (to get the to the flight I misssed. [noparse]:)[/noparse] ) I didn't have a chance to ask for a better look.

    OBC

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  • edited July 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    My work on modifying the GUI and Observation Deck for the S2 is virtually complete. There's still some work to do converting images in the help file. Basically, any program written for the original Scribbler GUI will run from the S2 GUI and vice-versa.

    The hardest part was converting the graphics from showing blue Scribblers to showing red ones. There were a ton of images that had to be converted! Some of it I could do in Corel Photopaint, but the more difficult conversions required a Perl script to root out particular shades of blue and convert them to red -- then back to Corel for touch-up. Fortunately, I did not have to go all the way back to the original 3D models of the various widgets in RhinoCAD, re-render them, then rescale, convert to GIFs, and touch up the resulting images pixel-by-pixel. That would have taken a lot longer! On balance, I was pretty pleased with Corel's ability to select colors and alter their hues, while retaining the correct shading.

    Code generation for the new S2 Propeller object turned out to be pretty easy. Basically, the groundwork for this step had already been laid while writing the object itself, which was by far the most time-consuming aspect of the project for me. So there was an almost one-to-one relationship between BASIC Stamp GOSUBs and Spin method calls. But there are many features in the S2 object itself for people to discover that aren't used by GUI-generated code for compatibility reasons.

    I do need a better Windows installer for the whole package, though. My creaky old InstallShield Express program is ready for the rocking chair and won't even work with some newer versions of Windows. If anyone has positive experience to share regarding freeware Windows installers, I'd be most grateful for the tips.

    Thanks,
    -Phil

    Post Edited (Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)) : 7/16/2010 9:08:12 PM GMT
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” –Muhammad Ali
  • edited July 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) said...

    I do need a better Windows installer for the whole package, though. My creaky old InstallShield Express program is ready for the rocking chair and won't even work with some newer versions of Windows. If anyone has positive experience to share regarding freeware Windows installers, I'd be most grateful for the tips.

    Thanks,
    -Phil
    Consider WIX http://wix.codeplex.com/

    I haven't used it extensively yet, but follow the blogs about it.

    Jay
  • edited July 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    When do these li'l fellas ship?

    ▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
    ·"If you build it, they will come."
    Now where are my Robotics forums? :)
  • edited July 2010 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Hey erco, we are waiting for our factory first article. Internal prototypes have been produced already.

    The original delivery schedule was August 2010 but I think it will be more like October/November 2010.

    There's a lot of pressure on Parallax to get this product manufactured quickly. I'll likely be making trips with the engineer to the factory in a month or so.

    ▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
    Ken Gracey
    Parallax Inc.

    Follow me at http://twitter.com/ParallaxKen for some insider news.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Ken Gracey | Parallax Inc.| Direct
    : [URL="tel:(916) 624-8333"](916) 625-3010[/URL] | www.parallax.com

    Follow me on Twitter



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