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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
April 1, 2020
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

There are a number of contests or practices that occur on weekdays on a periodic basis. In some time zones, participation in these can be hampered by working, working late, family commitments, or other variables related to life. If you're looking for something different to do and your schedule's changed, why not try one of these events? On Tuesday evenings, you have a choice of a seasonal QRP Fox Hunt or the weekly Phone Fray. The QRP Fox Hunt is a much different format than most contests, make sure you check the rules. CW Ops Tests (CWT) have three sessions on many Wednesdays in the US time zones, and seem to be gaining in popularity. Thursday evenings, it's all about the NCCC RTTY Sprint, followed by the NCCC (CW) Sprint. Oh, there's also a seasonal QRP Fox Hunt on many Thursday evenings.

Band activity may be picking up with so many people staying at home. In the upcoming weekend, you can look forward to four QSO parties, including the Louisiana QSO Party in a new date slot. Some QSO parties are posting notices confirming that their events are still happening, along with any modifications necessary because of government orders or CDC recommendations. Expect mobile or rover operations to be diminished or curtailed. The Florida Parks on the Air event has been cancelled due to the fact that Florida parks are closed. Your DX opportunities are the SP DX Contest, or for RTTY, the EA RTTY Contest.

The weekend of April 11, there are three more QSO parties, and three more DX Contests. Propagation can influence west coast DX contest seekers to favor the JIDX Contest, while the east coast prefers the OK/OM DX Contest or Yuri Gagarin International DX Contest. The Yuri Gagarin contest appears to be quite the challenge - from examining the contest results and public UBN reports, for a contact to count toward a score, the other station must also turn in a log, and all information must match exactly in both logs.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

1 Apr - 15 Apr 2020

April 2

April 3

April 4

April 5

April 6

April 7

April 8

April 9

April 10

April 11

April 12

April 13

April 14

April 15


As a follow-up to last issue's information on ethics, Ward, N0AX suggests the a couple of resources for contesting ethics: "ARRL's HF Operating Guidelines ( deal with a lot of questions about how to operate, should you do or not do certain things, etc. And the CTU Ethics presentations are online at"

As reported last issue, in response to the coronavirus emergency, Hamvention 2020 has been canceled, along with all other related events. That weekend the World Wide Radio Operator Foundation (WWROF) is sponsoring the Hamvention QSO Party, a "12 hour fun event" 1200 to 2400 UTC Saturday, May 16, 2020. Everyone works everyone, 160 meters through 10 meters. The exchange is the first year you attended Hamvention, and if you've never attended use "2020." W8BI, the call sign for the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, hosts of Hamvention, is a bonus multiplier on each band. No logs will be collected, post your scores on

Less than 24 hours after the announcement of the Hamvention QSO Party, Nick, NA3M of the N1MM Logger+ Development Team had developed an N1MM Logger+ UDC (User Defined Contest) for the event. The UDC complies with the rules, exchange, and scoring for the one-day contest. Readers can visit the N1MM Logger+ website for details.

After the Hamvention cancellation announcement, Tim, K3LR, announced the cancellation of Contest University, Top Band Dinner, and Contest Dinner. Go to the respective websites for details on how to get refunds if you had been signed up.

Look for Contest University 2020 to go all-online via Zoom on May 14. The schedule will be posted soon on the Contest University website. (Tim, K3LR)

K3LR also points out that "Even though Ohio is shut down - DX Engineering (essential business) is taking orders and shipping 7 days a week."

Don't forget that pandemic rules about physical distancing apply, even when working on radio projects. If you need help to get that antenna in the air, troubleshoot a rig, or any other reason where others are needed to be physically present, it's best to wait for now. Even for outdoor projects.

Radio clubs are moving club meetings online using services such as Zoom. For example, the Portage County Amateur Radio Service's April Radiogram announced "On Monday April 13, 2020 we WILL HAVE a PCARS meeting! And you won't have to leave your house to attend. This will be our first 'Virtual Meeting' and will be held on the ZOOM platform. Very easy to use and participate. As we get a little closer I will send you all the information you'll need to get logged in. BOTH Jim Storms, AB8YK, and Michael Kalter, W8CI, will attend online as our featured speakers to talk about the David Kalter Memorial Youth DX Adventure program. You won't want to miss it."

Just like it takes a little practice to learn how to use a computer logging program, expect the same with using any type of video conferencing technology. A "pre-meeting meeting" for video conference novices is a good way to get ahead of any problems

Chris, NX4N, submits: "The 2020 Florida QSO Party is being held 1600Z April 25 to 2159Z April 26. Be sure to mark your calendar and join in the fun during the next Florida QSO Party (FQP). We will have a total of seven special 1x1 call sign stations whose suffixes spell LOVEBUG. Contact all seven of these 1x1 stations to earn this award. These stations will be on both modes full-time and should be very accessible. QSL these 1x1 calls active in FQP via KU9C direct or via bureau. Please visit our website for rules, results, records and more information. We're having a party, and you're invited! See you then! 73/OJ! -- The Florida Contest Group, FQP Sponsor" I asked Chris, "Why LOVEBUG?" and he said, "Florida is overrun with Lovebugs right around FQP time." You can see a few pictures of Lovebugs on the Wikipedia site.

The RSGB announced that for HF and VHF contests, they'll "no longer allow any entries from stations operating from portable or alternative addresses or from multi-operator stations" due to the UK Government's restrictions on movement due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the US, some multi-multi efforts are now all-remote, so the operators at some multi-multi can be sheltering in place while still participating as a team.

You say Nancy, I say November: Phonetics have been a popular topic of in internet discussion groups of late. The problem from a technical perspective is that people using different words to indicate particular letters are in effect using different signal constellation diagrams. From the human perspective, there are multiple considerations around what might be the best alphabet to use. This article found by K1DG and relayed via N0AX, explains some of the human issues. (K1DG via N0AX)

The Central States VHF Society announces the dates and times for the 2020 run of the VH-and-up Spring Sprints:

  • 144 MHz: Monday, April 6, 2020 from 7 - 11 PM local, Exchange: 4 character grid square
  • 222 MHz: Tuesday, April 14, 2020 from 7 - 11 PM local, Exchange: 4 character grid square
  • 432 MHz: Wednesday, April 22, 2020 from 7 - 11 PM local, Exchange: 4 character grid square
  • Microwave, 902 MHz and up: Saturday, May 2, 2020 from 8 AM - 2 PM local, Exchange: 6 character grid square
  • 50 MHz: Saturday, May 9, 20 from 2300Z until 0300Z Sunday, May 10, 2020, Exchange: 4 character grid square

For more information, see the Spring Sprints website. According to the contest sponsors, "All simplex modes of operation are allowed. (SSB, CW, FM, AM, Digital etc.) EME via your preferred analog or digital mode is also allowed."

Scott, N3FJP has updated his software for the Maryland/DC QSO Party to handle recent rule changes. The latest software can be found on his website.

The next North American SSB Sprint will be April 5, 2020, 0000 - 0359 UTC, which is Saturday evening in North America. The contest sponsors have a Planned Activity page, so you can see if your friends are participating. Groups of operators can register as a team for an additional level of competitive fun. Any log achieving a certain number of contacts will be in the running for a door prize. Two T-shirts can be earned for working multipliers: An SSB Sprint Worked All States T-Shirt for those that manage to work all 50 states in the 4 hours, and an SSB Sprint Worked Canada T-Shirt for those that manage to work all 13 Canadian multipliers in the 4 hours. (Bob, KW8N)

In discussions about how younger people can get involved in radio contesting, "making it more appealing to the younger generation" comes up as a goal. E-sports is an oft-cited competitor for the attention of the younger set, and is usually seen as a competitor to our hobby. Auto racing took advantage of e-sports when facing a potential canceled racing season due to the pandemic. They went online with real drivers in "sim races" - virtual racing -- and were immediately able to capture sizable viewing audiences. They pit real-world racers against one another and added some well-known virtual-only racers, demonstrating that many of the skills in sim and real racing are comparable. It worked so well that a series of races are planned over the next few weeks.


Self-Amalgamating Tape

The generic term for silicone-rubber tapes that don't feel sticky to the touch, but are self-sticky. It's typically used by stretching and wrapping around cables, with overlap to form a continuous layer. The areas of overlap can fuse to form a seamless and waterproof layer.


Well-known contester Hector, XE2K, installed a large 40 Meter monobander at VE7SZ in September 2017, during some very nice British Columbia weather. [Hector Garcia, XE2K, photo]


Mark, K6UFO, writes: "Preliminary results for the February 2020 North American QSO Party on RTTY are now available at the National Contest Journal website." Mark is also soliciting photos and stories for the final contest results article. The next NAQP RTTY contest will be July 18, 2020.

The November 2019 NA SSB Sprint results have been published on the website. Nearly 300 stations made at least three contacts with stations submitting logs. KW8N took the High Power top spot, while K0UK surmounted the competition for the number one spot in Low Power.

Team WW2DX is claiming a new M/M HP Record in the just-completed CQ WW WPX contest. With a team of ten operators including four youths, they logged 7634 contacts in the contest. What's more, they practiced "safe multi-multi contesting" with a totally remote operation. Check out the post-contest writeup by Lee, WW2DX, on 3830scores.


Review Contest Recordings

Obviously, your overall contest score is one measurement of how well you did in the contest. But improvement in your overall score can only happen if you know the components that went into the score, and how you perform versus your peers. By listening to recordings of your operating in a contest you can look for hints on how to improve for the future. In phone contests, using extra words like "You are my number" or "please copy" or unnecessarily repeating the other station's exchange is a cumulative rate killer. Also, use your Log Checking Reports (LCRs) to review the audio of busted QSOs - try to understand why the bust occurred, look for patterns (e.g. heard "Alpha" as "Delta" four times) to be wary of the next time. It can be cringe-inducing to listen to flubs, but that's part of the learning process.


Scientists have created a quantum sensor that they claim can detect signals across a swath of spectrum from "0 to 100 GHz." The sensor is comprised of "excited, super-sensitive" atoms - Rydberg atoms. The latest research concentrates on a quantitative analysis of the sensitivity over a wide range of frequencies, and a comparison of this detector versus a passive dipole and electro-optic crystals.

Ray, W7GLF, pointed out some modifications to SignalLink interfaces to "clean up noise on the power from the USB connection to the computer" in a post to the Pacific Northwest VHF Society reflector. Ray expects that "it helps decode the weak ones..." (Ward, N0AX)

Vintage light bulbs were the ultimate cause of interference to aircraft communications in the Glasgow, Scotland airport area, but finding it made an interesting story on Four bulbs were all it took to be a real problem.


A Time of Disruption for Multi-Multi Contesting

Whether by rule, law, decree, or "strong suggestion," gathering as a group has been essentially banned as part of the measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic. This means the halt of traditional multi-operator efforts, where radio operators travel to gather at a single location for a weekend of contesting. For the foreseeable future, traditional multi-multi stations may have to change to a focus on single-operator efforts.

Disruption forces adaptation, and with that comes opportunity to change methods and practices. Last weekend's CQ WW WPX Phone contest might be exemplary. As of this writing, NR6O and WW2DX are the only stations reporting multi-multi efforts on 3830scores, and they did so by operating remotely. What's more, WW2DX may have captured a new record in the CQ WW WPX event with over 7,600 contacts and over 32 million points claimed.

WW2DX's all-remote effort is especially noteworthy. Reading their "soapbox" comments on 3830, we see that the team solved a number of hardware issues and, in the days before the contest, built a full-featured web-based contest logging program that worked well enough to support their operations for the entire weekend. None of their operators needed to travel to the location of the transmitters, yet they were able to work as a cohesive team.

Until restrictions on gatherings are relaxed, this is a winning model for multi-multi efforts. Perhaps this is also the model of future big-gun multi-multi stations.

One of the most important station requirements is a good, quiet location. Other components include big towers, many antennas, great radios, and impeccable engineering to get it to all play together. For the traditional major contests in the US, a Maine location near saltwater is a big advantage, but many of those areas are so remote as to be impractical for weekend on-site gatherings.

Those radio-friendly locations with limited access are made accessible via remote, last weekend a further confirmation that the contest operators don't need to be on-site to win and set new records. There isn't a need for an on-site building for humans, which means resources normally devoted to human habitation can instead go toward building the station. Without humans to feed, it's not so important that the nearest town isn't that near.

The cost and time commitment for operators to participate in a multi-multi contest weekend is reduced because travel to the station location is no longer necessary. The pool of potential operators is larger for that same reason. WW2DX had three teenagers remotely participating from North Carolina and Virginia, and they were virtually working alongside seasoned operators. Collectively, we're always looking for a way to get more young people into contesting -- this leveled-up playing field for multi-multi favors younger contesters, because they're already used to doing everything via the internet.

That's all for this time. Remember to send contesting related stories, book reviews, tips, techniques, press releases, errata, schematics, club information, pictures, stories, blog links, and predictions to

73, Brian N9ADG


1 Apr - 15 Apr 2020

An expanded, downloadable version of QST's Contest Corral is available as a PDF. Check the sponsors' website for information on operating time restrictions and other instructions.


CWops Mini-CWT Test, Apr 1, 1300z to Apr 1, 1400z and, Apr 1, 1900z to Apr 1, 2000z and, Apr 2, 0300z to Apr 2, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: April 4.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Apr 2, 1800z to Apr 2, 1900z (cw) and, Apr 2, 1900z to Apr 2, 2000z (ssb) and, Apr 2, 2000z to Apr 2, 2100z (fm) and, Apr 2, 2100z to Apr 2, 2200z (dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: April 16.

SARL 80m QSO Party, Apr 2, 1700z to Apr 2, 2000z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No. + Grid Locator or QTH; Logs due: April 9.

SKCC Sprint Europe, Apr 2, 1900z to Apr 2, 2100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: April 9.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Apr 3, 0145z to Apr 3, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: April 5.

QRP Fox Hunt, Apr 3, 0200z to Apr 3, 0330z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: April 9.

NCCC Sprint, Apr 3, 0230z to Apr 3, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: April 5.

PODXS 070 Club PSK 31 Flavors Contest, Apr 4, 1000z to Apr 5, 0400z; BPSK31, QPSK31, BPSK63, QPSK63, BPSK125, QPSK125; Bands: 20m Only; 070 members: (state/province/country) + member no., Non-members: (state/province/country) + name; Logs due: April 12.

Nebraska QSO Party, Apr 4, 1300z to Apr 5, 0100z and, Apr 5, 1300z to Apr 5, 2200z; CW, Phone, Digital (non-FT8), FT8; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; NE (non-FT8): county, non-NE (non-FT8): (state/province/country), FT8: grid square; Logs due: April 19.

Missouri QSO Party, Apr 4, 1400z to Apr 5, 0400z and, Apr 5, 1400z to Apr 5, 2000z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; MO: RS(T) + county, non-MO W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province/territory), DX: RS(T) + "DX"; Logs due: May 5.

Louisiana QSO Party, Apr 4, 1400z to Apr 5, 0200z; CW/Digital, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; LA: RS(T) + Parish, non-LA: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: April 15.

Mississippi QSO Party, Apr 4, 1400z to Apr 5, 0200z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; MS: RS(T) + county, non-MS: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: April 30.

SP DX Contest, Apr 4, 1500z to Apr 5, 1500z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; SP: RS(T) + 1-character province, non-SP: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: April 30.

EA RTTY Contest, Apr 4, 1600z to Apr 5, 1600z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; EA: RSQ + province, non-EA: RSQ + Serial No.; Logs due: April 20.

North American SSB Sprint Contest, Apr 5, 0000z to Apr 5, 0400z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [your state/province/country]; Logs due: April 12.

RSGB RoLo SSB, Apr 5, 1900z to Apr 5, 2030z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + previous 6-character grid square received; Logs due: April 6.

IQRP Quarterly Marathon, Apr 6, 0800z to Apr 12, 2000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: All; RS(T); Logs due: April 26.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, CW, Apr 6, 1900z to Apr 6, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: April 7.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Apr 7, 0100z to Apr 7, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: April 9.

Phone Fray, Apr 8, 0230z to Apr 8, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: April 10.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Apr 8, 1300z to Apr 8, 1400z and, Apr 8, 1900z to Apr 8, 2000z and, Apr 9, 0300z to Apr 9, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: April 11.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Apr 10, 0145z to Apr 10, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: April 12.

NCCC Sprint, Apr 10, 0230z to Apr 10, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: April 12.

QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party, Apr 11, 0000z to Apr 11, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + (state/province/country) + (ARCI number/power); Logs due: April 27.

JIDX CW Contest, Apr 11, 0700z to Apr 12, 1300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; JA: RST + Prefecture No., non-JA: RST + CQ Zone No.; Logs due: May 12.

F9AA Cup, PSK, Apr 11, 1200z to Apr 12, 1200z; PSK; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 2m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: May 12.

FTn DX Contest, Apr 11, 1200z to Apr 12, 1200z; ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; W: RST + state, VE: RST + province/territory, non-W/VE: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: April 26.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Apr 11, 1200z to Apr 13, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: April 19.

OK/OM DX Contest, SSB, Apr 11, 1200z to Apr 12, 1200z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; OK/OM: RS + 3-letter county code, non-OK/OM: RS + Serial No.; Logs due: April 19.

New Mexico QSO Party, Apr 11, 1400z to Apr 12, 0200z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; NM: Name + county, non-NM: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: April 25.

Georgia QSO Party, Apr 11, 1800z to Apr 12, 0359z and, Apr 12, 1400z to Apr 12, 2359z; CW, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; GA: RST + county, non-GA: RST + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: April 26.

North Dakota QSO Party, Apr 11, 1800z to Apr 12, 1800z; CW, Phone, Digital (including FT4/8); Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; ND: RS(T) + County, non-ND: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 15.

Yuri Gagarin International DX Contest, Apr 11, 2100z to Apr 12, 2100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, Satellites; RST + ITU Zone No.; Logs due: May 7.

WAB 3.5/7/14 MHz Data Modes, Apr 12, 1000z to Apr 12, 1200z (ft8) and, Apr 12, 1200z to Apr 12, 1400z (rtty) and, Apr 12, 1400z to Apr 12, 1600z (psk) and, Apr 12, 1600z to Apr 12, 1800z (ft8) and, Apr 12, 1800z to Apr 12, 2000z (rtty) and, Apr 12, 2000z to Apr 12, 2200z (psk); RTTY, PSK31; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; British Isles: RS + serial no. + WAB square, Other: RS + serial no. + country; Logs due: April 22.

International Vintage Contest HF, Apr 12, 1200z to Apr 12, 1800z; CW, SSB, AM; Bands: 80, 40m; RS(T) + 4-character grid square; Logs due: April 22.

Hungarian Straight Key Contest, Apr 12, 1500z to Apr 12, 1600z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No. + Power Code; Logs due: April 27.

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Apr 13, 0000z to Apr 13, 0200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: RS(T) + (State/Province/Country) + Member No., Non-member: RS(T) + (State/Province/Country) + Power; Logs due: April 15.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Apr 15, 0030z to Apr 15, 0230z; CW; Bands: ; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: April 18.

Phone Fray, Apr 15, 0230z to Apr 15, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: April 17.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Apr 15, 1300z to Apr 15, 1400z and, Apr 15, 1900z to Apr 15, 2000z and, Apr 16, 0300z to Apr 16, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: April 18.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, SSB, Apr 15, 1900z to Apr 15, 2030z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: April 16.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Apr 5, 0100z to Apr 5, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: April 9.

UBA Spring Contest, 6m, Apr 5, 0600z to Apr 5, 1000z; CW, Phone; Bands: 6m Only; ON: RS(T) + Serial No. + UBA Section, non-ON: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: April 19.

144 MHz Spring Sprint, Apr 6, 1900z to Apr 6, 2300z; (not specified); Bands: 2m Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: April 20.

222 MHz Spring Sprint, Apr 14, 1900z to Apr 14, 2300z; (not specified); Bands: 222 Mhz; 4-character grid square; Logs due: April 28.

Also, see SKCC Sprint Europe, Nebraska QSO Party, Missouri QSO Party, Louisiana QSO Party, Mississippi QSO Party, SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, New Mexico QSO Party, Georgia QSO Party, North Dakota QSO Party, above.


1 Apr - 15 Apr 2020

April 2, 2020

April 3, 2020

April 4, 2020

April 5, 2020

April 6, 2020

April 7, 2020

April 9, 2020

April 10, 2020

April 11, 2020

April 12, 2020

April 14, 2020

April 15, 2020

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