*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 22, No. 39 October 3, 2003 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +"Logbook of the World" off like a rocket * +Round 1 of Morse petition comments ends * +Japanese students enjoy last scheduled ARISS QSO with Expedition 7 * +Future funding uncertain for Space Environment Center * +Ham radio Hurricane Isabel support winds down * +Young ham wins DXpedition trip * +W1ZR joins ARRL Headquarters team * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Emergency Communications course registration ARRL hosts workshop for new section managers Corrections +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>ARRL "LOGBOOK OF THE WORLD" IS OFF LIKE A ROCKET Logbook of the World" (LoTW) <http://www.arrl.org/lotw>--the League's new QSL-cardless awards and contact credit system--has proven to be a huge hit with the amateur community. Since opening September 15, LoTW has acquired more than 2200 registered participants. Another 2400 or so applications are pending, and the QSO database of 4900 uploaded logs had topped 8 million contacts at week's end. "Certainly the number of Qs that we've gotten is well above what we expected at this point," said ARRL Membership Services Manager Wayne Mills, N7NG, who has been sharing duties with Assistant to the CEO David Patton, NN1N, as point man for LoTW. ARRL Web and Software Development Department Manager Jon Bloom, KE3Z, has been handling software development and updating for LoTW. LoTW is open to all, and applying for a digital certificate is the first step toward taking advantage of the system. The digital certificate authenticates the user's identity. ARRL will maintain the ballooning repository of log data from casual operators, DXers, contesters and major DXpeditions. LoTW will be able to provide quick QSO credit for awards programs by identifying contact matches within submitted log data. There have been 51,000 such matches to date. Registered participants then will be able to apply LoTW-confirmed QSO credits toward ARRL awards, such as DXCC, WAS and VUCC. Work continues on the last major LoTW component--the Web pages to apply LoTW confirmations toward ARRL-sponsored awards. Mills expects that LoTW also will one day provide contact credits for non-ARRL programs. "Major award sponsors have expressed interest in using LoTW records, and details are pending," he said. The key to the ultimate success of LoTW is for users to upload as much log data as possible. The more contacts in the database, the better the chances of a QSO match. LoTW eventually will be able to search users' DXCC records and find new credits automatically. The program also will provide full viewing of users' DXCC records, automatically alert users to new awards achieved and offer comprehensive support for many other awards. Mills cautioned new users that LoTW permits just one digital certificate request per call sign. He advised that once users apply for a certificate, they should not attempt to alter it or create another request. Any errors, he points out, can be corrected later. For US users, the first certificate has to be for a current call sign that's in the FCC database. After you get the certificate, you can request additional certificates for formerly held call signs. While the digital certificate is free, LoTW will charge on a per-credit basis to apply credits toward awards. "Logbook of the World is an alternative to collecting QSL cards by mail," Mills said. Fees <http://www.arrl.org/lotw/fees> range from 25 cents for a single credit to 15 cents per credit in lots of 500. Users may purchase credits in advance, but LoTW fees do not also cover award fees. "It turns out that this is a much cheaper way to collect credits for DXCC," Mills asserted. "Overall, we are very happy with the progress and user acceptance." This week, EchoLink <http://www.echolink.org/> announced that it would accept ARRL's LoTW's digital certificates to authenticate new users as an alternative to providing a copy of their amateur license. News and announcements will be posted to the Logbook of the World Web site <http://www.arrl.org/lotw/>. ==>HUNDREDS COMMENT ON MORSE PETITIONS Although the bell has sounded ending Round 1 of the comment period on the initial seven Morse code-related petitions for rulemaking, members of the Amateur Radio community continue to post their opinions. Some of the petitions called for altogether eliminating Element 1, the 5 WPM Morse test, from the Amateur Service rules (Part 97). The FCC recorded a total of nearly 2300 comments on the petitions, although the number of commenters is likely much smaller since many individuals commented on more than one petition. While some were content to express a brief comment pro or con, a few put forth recommendations that were nearly petitions in themselves. The tenor of many comments reflected the fact that Morse code remains an emotional issue. "The CW issue, as expected, is a very gut-wrenching issue for many hams," ARRL Great Lakes Director Jim Weaver, K8JE, observed recently. "Sometimes we mortals let issues to which we have emotional ties get out of perspective." The ARRL did not comment on any of the seven initial petitions for rule making and has no plans to comment on any future such petitions. ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, explained that there's no particular urgency to the issue and ample reason for the League to devote its attention to issues having more immediacy such as the Broadband over Power Line (BPL) threat. "There have been numerous proposals submitted to the FCC with regard to amateur licensing qualifications and privileges," Sumner said. "No doubt there will be more. There is no need for the ARRL to react to each and every one." The Petition for Rule Making filed by the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC), designated RM-10787, attracted the most attention, logging more than 600 comments. The NCVEC reported the tally on its proposals was 56 percent in favor of dropping Element 1 and 43 percent opposed, with 1 percent of the comments either undecipherable or taking no position. Other Morse-related petitions were filed by Peter M. Beauregard, KI1I, Pete V. Coppola, KG4QDZ, and family, Tina Coppola, KG4YUM, and Pete A. Coppola, KG4QDY, Kiernan K. Holliday, WA6BJH, Dale Reich, K8AD, Eric Ward, N0HHS, and No-Code International <http://www.nocode.org/>. The FCC has yet to put another five Morse code-related petitions for rulemaking on public notice and invite comments. Sumner predicted it would be "months, if not longer" before the FCC takes any action on any of the petitions. In the meantime, he said, "there is plenty of time for the ARRL to receive considered input from its members and either to formulate a reasoned proposal for change or a rationale for maintaining the status quo." At its January 2001 meeting, the ARRL Board of Directors reaffirmed the League's position to retain the Morse code examination requirement for HF access. World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03) left it up to individual countries to decide whether or not they want a Morse requirement for HF privileges. In the wake of WRC-03, the ARRL Executive Committee has been working on its own comprehensive Amateur Radio licensing proposal, of which the Morse requirement would be a part. Once completed, the proposal will go to the ARRL Board of Directors for consideration and possible action at its January 2004 meeting. "There is simply no urgency to address it any sooner than that," Sumner said. The most recent countries to summarily drop the Morse requirement are Ireland, Singapore and Luxembourg. Switzerland, Belgium, the UK, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Austria, New Zealand and Australia also have moved to drop their Morse requirements or are expected to do so this year. ==>ARISS QSO WITH SCHOOL IN JAPAN IS LAST SCHEDULED FOR EXPEDITION 7 CREW An Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) QSO September 20 with youngsters at Kagawa Junior High School in Ube City, Japan, was the last scheduled ARISS school group contact for the current crew. Now that Expedition 7 Commander Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP, and NASA ISS Science Officer Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, are nearing the end of their duty tour aboard the ISS, school group contacts are on hold until the next crew arrives. Lu was at the controls of NA1SS for the direct 2-meter contact with 8N4ISS in Japan. Responding to the now almost inevitable "food question," Lu told the youngsters there's a "pretty decent selection" of food onboard the ISS, but . . . "That being said, it has been five months up here and I am looking forward to some different kinds of food when I get back down to the ground," he conceded. Lu expressed mixed feelings about his life in space as compared with life on Earth. He told the students that while he missed his friends and family on Earth, "up here it's a very special place." One student wanted to know if the astronauts could use fire in space. "Well, it's not something we typically use up here," Lu responded, but he went on to say that the ISS is equipped with solid-fuel oxygen generators that are burned to produce oxygen. "That is an emergency means of producing oxygen if our normal oxygen-generating systems all fail--as a last resort," he said. Lu said the devices also are used on submarines, but they are not normally used aboard the ISS. Thirteen students at the Japanese school got in more than a dozen questions during the pass, which ran just under ten minutes before the ISS went out of range. Handling Earth-station duties at 8N4ISS was Hisao Emoto, JG4OHX. An audience of approximately 150 and several news media representatives were on hand for the occasion. ARISS <http://www.rac.ca/ariss/> is an international project with support from ARRL, NASA and AMSAT.--Some information provided by Satoshi Yasuda. 7M3TJZ/AD6GZ ==>SPACE ENVIRONMENT CENTER FUNDING IN JEOPARDY With final action pending by the US House and Senate on a Fiscal Year 2004 appropriations bill, the fate of the Space Environment Center (SEC) <http://www.sec.noaa.gov/> in Boulder, Colorado, hangs in the balance. The FY 2004 Senate appropriations bill has eliminated funds for the SEC and for all space weather-related activities in the center's parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The House version of the appropriations bill holds the center's funding at $5.2 million. The White House requested $8.3 million for the SEC. Seattle-based ARRL propagation bulletin editor Tad Cook, K7RA, says the possible loss of SEC's funding has him very concerned. "The NOAA SEC provides all of the data for our weekly propagation bulletin <http://www.arrl.org/w1aw/prop/>," Cook said. "It is SEC staff that prepares the forecasts that I rely on when I tell readers what the geomagnetic and solar indices will be during a given forecast period." Cook encourages ARRL members to contact their senators and representatives in Congress <http://thomas.loc.gov/home/legbranch/legbranch.html>, urging them to restore the SEC's funding. The Space Environment Center provides real-time monitoring and forecasting of solar and geophysical events (see the Space Weather Now Web site <http://www.sec.noaa.gov/SWN/>). Those include solar flares and geomagnetic disturbances that can affect radio wave propagation. The SEC Radio User's Page <http://www.sec.noaa.gov/radio/> includes data and information specific to the current state of the ionosphere. The center also conducts research in solar-terrestrial physics and develops techniques to forecast solar and geophysical disturbances. With the US Air Force, the SEC also operates the Space Weather Operations Center <http://www.sec.noaa.gov/AboutSEC/swo_page.html>, which serves as the national and world warning center for disturbances that can affect people and equipment--such as astronauts and communications satellites--working in the space environment. "It is the government's official source for alerts and warnings of disturbances," Center Director Ernest Hildner explained in a recent posting to SEC clients. A Senate Appropriations Committee Report included a terse explanation on funding cut. "The 'Atmospheric' in NOAA does not extend to the astral," the report said. "Absolutely no funds are provided for solar observation. Such activities are rightly the bailiwick of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Air Force." The Department of Defense, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration are among the SEC's customers, which also include the airlines, electric power grid operators, communications facilities, satellite operators, the National Space Weather Program and commercial providers of value-added space weather services. Hildner said that unless the SEC's appropriation level is increased in a House-Senate conference committee, the most optimistic outlook is that the SEC will shrink to less than half its capability--the House funding level--or go away altogether under the Senate bill. "In this case," he concluded, "the nation's space weather service will have to be reconstituted in some other agency, at greater cost and lesser capability, to meet the nation's needs." ==>AMATEUR RADIO SUPPORT WINDS DOWN AS ISABEL RECOVERY CONTINUES Hurricane Isabel is long gone, but its effects linger in the US Southeast, especially in North Carolina. Amateur Radio activities supporting the storm response, relief and recovery have wound down for the most part, but one disaster relief professional has suggested an additional role for Amateur Radio in these kinds of disasters. In North Carolina, joint Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN)-Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) support for The Salvation Army's relief efforts in the Morehead City area ended September 30. Well over a dozen ham radio volunteers participated. Carteret County Emergency Coordinator Rich Wright, KR4NU, said his ARES/RACES team helped in areas where ham radio provided the only reliable communication. "Absolutely no communications available except ham radio," is how Wright described one especially hard-hit area of Carteret County. Wright and his ARES-RACES team stepped in late last week after Salvation Army mobile kitchens from New York needed communication support. Amateurs also were able to assist at several other sites in the region as well as at the command center in Morehead City. Jay Wilson, W0AIR <firstname.lastname@example.org>--a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director from Colorado--was among the disaster-relief professionals working in North Carolina in Isabel's aftermath. Wilson suggested that Amateur Radio operators could play an important role in post-disaster relief that goes beyond providing communication support to relief agencies. "Right now, if hams did nothing else, just driving back roads and stopping to talk with people would mean more than you can imagine," he said this week. "Just helping to spread the word about where canteens are, and where the FEMA/state application trailers are would help tremendously." Wilson, who toured Tyrrell, Hyde and Dare counties, reported many were still without power, telephone service and drinkable water. He says he saw clusters of homes that had been flattened and people living in their cars. "One older woman told me that she and her son had been living on swamp critters and drinking ditch water for a week," Wilson related. "The lady did not know that Salvation Army had a canteen about five miles from her house and that they would get food delivered to anyone who couldn't come to them." He and his team subsequently asked The Salvation Army volunteers to put the family at the top of their list. In another area, Wilson said, his team kept a FEMA trailer open after realizing that residents just a couple of miles away were unaware that outside aid had been sent. A FEMA HAZMAT officer, Wilson is executive director of Disaster Preparedness-Emergency Response Association (DERA) <http://www.disasters.org/dera/dera.htm>, a nonprofit international service organization and an ARRL-affiliated club. He was among five amateurs--also disaster professionals--working at the FEMA/state disaster field office (DFO) in Raleigh, where he served as emergency services branch chief. The team was expected to remain there until week's end. Wilson said the team made extensive use of EchoLink via the DERA-provided N3DAK portable repeater. The 20-meter SATERN Net (14.265 MHz) provided HF liaison for travel into the primary disaster area. "Strange, isn't it?" Wilson asked rhetorically. "The emergency is over and now the real suffering begins just as the outside world loses interest." Chesapeake Amateur Radio Service President Ruth Bigio, KB4LIF, reports that more than 30 hams responded to an activation in Virginia's Tidewater Area that lasted 12 days. "Hams took HF reports and passed traffic up to the state EOC and worked the Hurricane Watch Net <http://www.hwn.org/> from their homes, while others worked UHF/VHF," she said. "SKYWARN reports from all over Tidewater poured into our EOC and were passed on to Wakefield NWS." Tidewater Area hams also supported communication at more than a dozen shelters, provided damage assessments and assisted in clearing roadways. Bigio says ARES members later helped The Salvation Army and American Red Cross relief efforts.--some information provided via Bob Dockery, WD4CNZ ==>YOUNG HAM WINS DXPEDITION TRIP Fourteen-year-old Daniel Bradke, W2AU, of Niskayuna, New York, will operate as part of the VP5X Contest Group for the CQ World Wide CW contest November 29-30. Bradke was the winner of a competition sponsored by the VP5X Contest Group, headed by David Kopacz, KY1V. "Daniel's essay, operating skills and enthusiasm have moved our contest team to select him to be our first annual VP5X Young Ham Team Member," said an announcement on the VP5X Contest Group Web site <http://www.vp5x.com/>. That means an all expenses-paid trip for the contest DXpedition. An Amateur Extra class licensee since age 11, Bradke can handle CW at 30 WPM. He's a member of the ARRL, the Yankee Clipper Contest Club <http://www.yccc.org/> and FISTS <http://www.fists.org/> and regularly operates during the ARRL Straight Key Night each New Year's Day (UTC). The trip to Turks and Caicos will mark his first DXpedition. His dad, John Bradke, W2GB, says he urged his son apply for the call sign that had once belonged to Paul Wandelt of W2AU balun and antenna fame (Unadilla Radiation Products). The elder Bradke says he met Wandelt a few times in the 1960s and never dreamed he'd have a son who would one day hold the well-known call sign. There's more information on Daniel Bradke under his call sign listing on the QRZ.com Web site <http://www.qrz.com/>. ==>W1ZR JOINS ARRL STAFF Joel Hallas, W1ZR, has joined the ARRL staff as an assistant technical editor. Hallas' primary responsibility is to oversee the process of reviewing new Amateur Radio equipment and to edit the "Product Review" column in QST. Hallas, 61, also serves as managing editor for NCJ <http://www.ncjweb.com/> and as a member of the team that reviews technical articles submitted for QST publication. He arrived at ARRL Headquarters in August. "I've always wanted to be able to work here at Headquarters," Hallas said. "It's really important to keep QST readers informed about the current array of equipment available, to let them know what's out there and provide meaningful information to help them in the selection process." Hallas spent his early years in Garden City, New York, where he was first introduced to Amateur Radio at age 11. It all began after he traded his favorite cap pistol for a friend's crystal set. "I could hear a neighbor, Bob Griffith, W2ZUC, a couple blocks away coming through on 20 meter AM," Hallas recalled. "I went and saw his station, and then built a little one-tube regenerative receiver. He got his Novice ticket in 1954. Hallas is a US Army veteran (he once operated as DL5HC while stationed in Germany in the mid-1960s) and he holds degrees in electrical engineering. He enjoys CW, collecting and operating vintage ham gear, PSK31 and marine mobile while onboard his sailboat. He and his wife Nancy, W1NCY, live in Westport, Connecticut. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Ra the sun god Tad "I'll Follow the Sun" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: This has been a good week for HF propagation. Not only have we moved into fall with its associated good HF propagation around the equinox, but this week also saw rising sunspot and solar flux values coupled with quieter geomagnetic conditions. Average daily sunspot numbers rose from the week previous by 33 points to 125. The average daily solar flux for the week was nearly 15 points higher at 133.6. Excepting the first day of the reporting week, when the planetary A index was 28, these numbers settled down to average only 12--nearly 15 points lower than the previous week. The quietest days were Sunday through Tuesday, September 28-30. Even at high latitudes, conditions were stable, with Alaska's college A index at four on two of the days. We are now within a solar wind, but it is moderate and probably won't cause any upset, at least for the next few days. Predicted planetary A index for Friday through Sunday, October 3-5, is 12, 10 and 10. On Monday it could rise to 15, then higher numbers are predicted, a planetary A index of 20 for October 7-8. Solar flux is expected around 120-125 over the next week. Sunspot numbers for September 25 through October 1 were 122, 127, 137, 139, 108, 116 and 126, with a mean of 125. The 10.7-cm flux was 132.6, 131.1, 129.7, 137, 135.1, 133 and 136.8, with a mean of 133.6. Estimated planetary A indices were 28, 17, 9, 6, 7, 7 and 10, with a mean of 12. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The California QSO Party, the SARL 80-Meter QSO Party, the TARA PSK31 Rumble, the Oceania DX Contest (SSB), the EU Autumn Sprint (SSB), the QCWA QSO Party and the RSGB 21/28 MHz Contest (SSB) are the weekend of October 4-5. JUST AHEAD: The YLRL Anniversary Party (CW) is October 8-10. The North American Sprint (RTTY), 10-10 Day Sprint, Oceania DX Contest (CW), Autumn Sprint (CW), Pennsylvania QSO Party, FISTS Fall Sprint, Iberoamericano Contest are the weekend of October 11-12. The YLRL Anniversary Party (SSB) is October 15-17. See the ARRL Contest Branch page <http://www.arrl.org/contests/> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar <http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/index.html> for more info. * ARRL Emergency Communications course registration: Registration opens Monday, October 6, 12:01 AM EDT (0401 UTC), for the on-line Level I Emergency Communications course (EC-001). Registration remains open through the October 11-12 weekend or until all available seats have been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, October 21. Thanks to our grant sponsors--the Corporation for National and Community Service and the United Technologies Corporation--the $45 registration fee paid upon enrollment will be reimbursed after successful completion of the course. During this registration period, approximately 175 seats are being offered to ARRL members on a first-come, first-served basis. Senior amateurs are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. Those interested in taking an ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) course in the future can sign up to be advised via e-mail in advance of registration opportunities. To take advantage, send an e-mail to email@example.com. On the subject line, indicate the course name or number (eg, EC-00#) and the month you want to start the course. In the message body, provide your name, call sign, and e-mail address. Please do not send inquiries to this mailbox. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page <http://www.arrl.org/cce/> and the C-CE Links found there. For more information, contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, <firstname.lastname@example.org>; 860-594-0340. * ARRL hosts workshop for new section managers: Fifteen new or incoming ARRL Section Managers, one Vice Director and one Vice Director-elect visited ARRL Headquarters September 5-7 for a Section Manager training workshop. The session offered a chance for SMs to become better acquainted with ARRL programs and services, share ideas, explore common problems and seek solutions and learn more about their responsibilities as ARRL Field Organization leaders. "The SMs are truly the backbone of the ARRL Field Organization," said Hudson Division Vice Director-elect Joyce Birmingham, KA2ANF, who sat in on this year's workshop. "I salute them!" ARRL Field Organization/Public Service Team Leader Steve Ewald, WV1X, led discussions on a variety of topics as well as an open forum, and several ARRL staffers shared duties describing their particular programs and activities. Some individuals with prior SM experience also participated in the weekend event. San Joaquin Valley SM Charles McConnell, W6DPD, had served approximately 15 years as a section leader before returning as SM in July 2002. Pacific SM Bob Schneider, AH6J, who took over the reins there in April 2002, was Pacific SM from 1992 until 1996, and Illinois SM Shari Harlan, N9SH, returned to office in July 2002 after having served from 1990 to 1994. None of the three had ever attended a workshop before, however. McConnell, Schneider and Harlan--along with Eastern Massachusetts SM Phil Temples, K9HI, and New England Vice Director Mike Raisbeck--were able to augment the discussions with their perspectives and experiences. For West Texas SM John Dyer, AE5B, getting a chance to make his first contact from W1AW--the "mother ship station," as he called it--was the thrill of a lifetime and a big surprise. He managed to hook up with former West Texas SM Clay Emert, K5TRW, now a West Texas Assistant SM. "Against all odds and totally unplanned, Clay and I each had a 'first,'" Dyer remarked afterward. "Life is good, and ham radio is fun!" * Corrections: In "Court kicks New York ham's "police radio" case" in The ARRL Letter, Vol 22, No 36 (Sep 12, 2003), the call sign of attorney Susan Terry was incorrect. It is KG4SUE. In "W1AW 160-meter transmission to QSY slightly," in The ARRL Letter, Vol 22, No 37 (Sep 19, 2003), we reported that W1AW would shift its 160-meter bulletin frequency from 1818 kHz to 1817.5 kHz starting September 29. This change affects only the CW bulletin and code practice transmissions. W1AW's 160-meter phone bulletins continue to be on 1855 kHz. In "Red Cross Unit Compliments Amateur Radio Assistance During Isabel," in The ARRL Letter, Vol 22, No 38 (Sep 26, 2003), we incorrectly characterized the number of field canteens the Salvation Army was operating in North Carolina during its Hurricane Isabel relief efforts. Salvation Army Team Emergency Network (SATERN) Greater New York City Liaison Jeff Schneller, N2HPO, said The Salvation Army was operating "many canteens" and various Salvation Army sites at the time of our story. =========================================================== The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259; <http://www.arrl.org/>. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President. The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of interest to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb <http://www.arrl.org/> for the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/> offers access to news, informative features and columns. ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> is a weekly "ham radio newscast" compiled from The ARRL Letter. Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League. ==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!): email@example.com ==>Editorial questions or comments: Rick Lindquist, N1RL, firstname.lastname@example.org ==>ARRL News on the Web: <http://www.arrl.org/> ==>ARRL Audio News: <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> or call 860-594-0384 ==>How to Get The ARRL Letter The ARRL Letter is available to ARRL members free of charge directly from ARRL HQ. 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