electronicstoday
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Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Sun Jun 06, 2021 11:09 pm

Before reading, please refer to a video I found on YouTube, where someone else also noticed the same thing I have noticed:

https://youtu.be/ngZcYLF-UhI

My photos HERE (forum attaching is a strange art, I ain't mastered it): https://photos.app.goo.gl/82J7Vren4poWFKAs9


I've just received a Raspberry Pi 400 (USA version) to review. Off the bat, I can tell you things about it which I can't, for the life of me, fathom:

#1 The keyboard flex and "feel" - the KB demonstrates significant flex, and a kind of "clacky", hollow sound/feel when typing on it. Bear that in mind, I shall pick up on it again at the end.


#2 The rubber feet number only two - the front "feet" are moulded plastic mounds, as common with a few other similar products. The rubber used for the back feet is not grippy enough; I feel they would have been wiser to use high grip rubber, such as silicone, or other product (TPU?) - think of the rubber used on older "ThinkPad" or HP "ProBook" machines (namely my ProBook 6460b, which, when on a desk, a wild horse couldn't drag off! MEGA high gripping friction!)

#3 The micro HDMI ports:

~ The where/why these are used has been done to death, it's daft, but I'll skip over that - the fact is, they managed to label pins #1 and #40 of the GPIO header (moulded in labels on the casing), so why not label the main HDMI "HDMI (primary, for single monitors)" or similar? One would assume that HDMI port #1 would be the one on the left as you sit at the unit, ports facing away from you... nooope... I sat there for a few mins wondering why I got no video (okay, partial PEBKAC, but ya know... come on, it's TRIVIAL to emboss some labels)

Okay so back to the keyboard flex/hollow sound & feel:

I took mine apart - a VERY simple affair with a plastic pick, unclipped the two-part (upper and lower) housing, lifted the keyboard upper part, and was greeted by a 26 pin membrane ribbon cable which has "3M" double-sided tape on it, the other side stuck to the cable, CLEARLY meant to stick the ribbon down to the steel keyboard backplate, but the brown backing paper is intact, and the ribbon IS NOT stuck down.

Also of note, three or four heat-staked plastic "rivets" which hold the steel keyboard backplate to the plastic, had ALREADY broken off (I've used the machine TWICE, it's brand new). They are clearly cheaping out on the keyboard assy mfr - I am not sure how much I believe the whole "Made in UK" thing, as the keyboard is obviously made El-Chinarado, and has a Chinese label on it. Fair enough, but HOW cheap do you need to go?

What is UTTERLY baffling, however, is the missed opportunity of having the keyboard assembly backplate and the large (2mm?) thick aluminium sheet which is a huge heatsink, in SUCH close proximity - parallel to each other across the width and height of the internal dims of the machine, and yet... THERE IS A GAP, a void between them, so that the keyboard is UNsupported apart from the edge of the mouldings where they clip together - this means the the typing experience is "okay-ish" but hollow, and the best word I can use is "clacky" - plasticky.

Whilst inside, I added strategically ;D placed blobs of "White Tack" across the heatsink plate (the thing barely breaks a sweat, so heat is no issue) as a test analogue for some form of high density foam or rubber which I have to find, and ensured each blob was around 5mm high, and then clipped the two halves back together, and then pressed firmly and uniformly across the keyboard, to ensure the "White Tack" had settled and reached a level. The reason for this is to allow the heatsink plate to act as a support for the KB - which works!

... the sound and typing feel are almost NIGHT AND DAY! The "White Tack" absorbs resonance and "clacky" sounds, and transfers the typing load onto the heatsink plate. It's not as if I covered the ENTIRE heatsink in it, or in foam, just at "strategic" points (Okay, I winged it ;) )

Why would they MISS OUT such an obvious, EXTREMELY cheap (moreso in bulk!) mitigation? Clearly the QC is lacking, I feel. I have attached my photos.

The complaints about the heat-staked "rivets" on the backplate, I have seen elsewhere also. No one seems to have mentioned the HDMI ports not being labelled. I am not sure why they wouldn't do that.

jamesh
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Mon Jun 07, 2021 1:22 pm

I have passed your post along to the production team, they will investigate.
Principal Software Engineer at Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd.
Working in the Application's Team.

simon-martin-rpi
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Mon Jun 07, 2021 3:41 pm

Hi there,

This is Simon Martin. I was lead designer for the Pi 400. I'm sorry to hear your complaints. I thought I would reply personally to them.

#1 The keyboard flex and "feel" - the KB demonstrates significant flex, and a kind of "clacky", hollow sound/feel when typing on it. Bear that in mind, I shall pick up on it again at the end.

Simon - the key matrix scissor mechanism was chosen based on its feel. It is a fairly standard scissor key mechanism used in laptop keyboards. It feels more robust in a heavy laptop.

#2 The rubber feet number only two - the front "feet" are moulded plastic mounds, as common with a few other similar products. The rubber used for the back feet is not grippy enough; I feel they would have been wiser to use high grip rubber, such as silicone, or other product (TPU?) - think of the rubber used on older "ThinkPad" or HP "ProBook" machines (namely my ProBook 6460b, which, when on a desk, a wild horse couldn't drag off! MEGA high gripping friction!)

Simon - yes this has often been a concern and one we can address in future versions. The industrial design team may have put colour matching and aesthetic to a higher priority than friction performance.

#3 The micro HDMI ports:

~ The where/why these are used has been done to death, it's daft, but I'll skip over that - the fact is, they managed to label pins #1 and #40 of the GPIO header (moulded in labels on the casing), so why not label the main HDMI "HDMI (primary, for single monitors)" or similar? One would assume that HDMI port #1 would be the one on the left as you sit at the unit, ports facing away from you... nooope... I sat there for a few mins wondering why I got no video (okay, partial PEBKAC, but ya know... come on, it's TRIVIAL to emboss some labels)

Simon - The two HDMI ports behave very much the same way so there was on need to number them (there is a slight difference in frame rate with 4K screens only). The issue is that if you plug the HDMI port in after it is powered up, Linux is unable to locate and set up the screen. Like a PC, the screens need to be fitted before boot so the screen resolution can be determined.

Okay so back to the keyboard flex/hollow sound & feel:

I took mine apart - a VERY simple affair with a plastic pick, unclipped the two-part (upper and lower) housing, lifted the keyboard upper part, and was greeted by a 26 pin membrane ribbon cable which has "3M" double-sided tape on it, the other side stuck to the cable, CLEARLY meant to stick the ribbon down to the steel keyboard backplate, but the brown backing paper is intact, and the ribbon IS NOT stuck down.

Simon - The double sided strip is not necessary. It comes with the matrix module but gluing it the backing just makes it harder to fit the ribbon cable. Try it for yourself. It is possible to fit still. Just more difficult so we removed the requirement.

Also of note, three or four heat-staked plastic "rivets" which hold the steel keyboard backplate to the plastic, had ALREADY broken off (I've used the machine TWICE, it's brand new). They are clearly cheaping out on the keyboard assy mfr - I am not sure how much I believe the whole "Made in UK" thing, as the keyboard is obviously made El-Chinarado, and has a Chinese label on it. Fair enough, but HOW cheap do you need to go?

Simon - There are very few keyboards made in countries outside of China. The circuit board, the base plastic, the assembly, the final test and final packaging are all made in the UK. We do have problems with the keyboard manufacturer and we are working diligently to deal with the quality issues. The heat stakes breaking off was an issue in earlier days with them and the UK factory are quicker to notice this now. In fact we have changed to a new matrix module recently because of the quality issues.

What is UTTERLY baffling, however, is the missed opportunity of having the keyboard assembly backplate and the large (2mm?) thick aluminium sheet which is a huge heatsink, in SUCH close proximity - parallel to each other across the width and height of the internal dims of the machine, and yet... THERE IS A GAP, a void between them, so that the keyboard is UNsupported apart from the edge of the mouldings where they clip together - this means the the typing experience is "okay-ish" but hollow, and the best word I can use is "clacky" - plasticky.

Simon - I appreciate what you said about this gap. The heat stakes need clearance and there was a tolerance to this which we allowed for with the gap. Maybe we gave it too much clearance (0.4mm). It is true that a plastic shim could have been placed in there by the factory but this gap issue is not on the new matrix anyway which has much tighter tolerances.

Whilst inside, I added strategically ;D placed blobs of "White Tack" across the heatsink plate (the thing barely breaks a sweat, so heat is no issue) as a test analogue for some form of high density foam or rubber which I have to find, and ensured each blob was around 5mm high, and then clipped the two halves back together, and then pressed firmly and uniformly across the keyboard, to ensure the "White Tack" had settled and reached a level. The reason for this is to allow the heatsink plate to act as a support for the KB - which works!

... the sound and typing feel are almost NIGHT AND DAY! The "White Tack" absorbs resonance and "clacky" sounds, and transfers the typing load onto the heatsink plate. It's not as if I covered the ENTIRE heatsink in it, or in foam, just at "strategic" points (Okay, I winged it   )

Why would they MISS OUT such an obvious, EXTREMELY cheap (moreso in bulk!) mitigation? Clearly the QC is lacking, I feel. I have attached my photos.

Simon - The QC is lacking by the keyboard matrix manufacturer. The factory in Wales where the Pi 400 is built have bent over backwards to make this product work. They have an inspection team just for checking every keyboard matrix before it is fitted because of this problem. The pandemic has made QC very difficult because there are no factory visits allowed.

The complaints about the heat-staked "rivets" on the backplate, I have seen elsewhere also. No one seems to have mentioned the HDMI ports not being labelled. I am not sure why they wouldn't do that.

Simon - I am sad that you did not like the product. We really did our best to make it work for the $70 price point which is only a little more than a Pi 4 4GB. The ethos of the company is to make products affordable for those who cannot afford expensive laptops and PCs. Obviously if the price point had been $100, we could have added more expensive components.

Kind regards,

Simon

electronicstoday
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:55 pm

Oh gosh, I fear I may have come across as a real moaner and nitpicker, and that really, truly wasn't my intention; I truly love the Pi and the Pi 400, I hope I haven't upset or offended you or your team, Simon, I truly hope not, and I am sorry from the bottom of my heart, if so.

Only you and your colleagues can know just many hours of hard work and testing, failing and testing again, time delays, shortages, frustrations etc, you experience on a daily basis. I was concerned by the device having these flaws, but they're NOT the end of the world (but it would be good to see them addressed, all the same).

I want to tell you how very thankful and appreciative I am that my post was escalated to you by "jamesh", and I want to thank you for bothering to take work time out to give a point-by-point, genuine and succinct response to my concerns; you come across as a nice chap, you have altered my very likely jaded perception of companies in the modern age, where I sometimes tend to believe (falsely) that not many listen nor care about feedback (because that seems to be the rule, rather than the exception, sadly, in this time of Amazon and eBay, mass sales and Chinese vendors spamming us with "SEND 5 STAR FEEDBACK PLEASE!" when they've done nothing to warrant such).

As a parting question - is it 0.4mm distance from KB backplate to the surface of the heatsink? I would like to order suitable rubber pads for my unit, so knowing this would be helpful; is there any deviation on that?

Thank you so very much, you have left a very sweet taste (raspberry sauce flavoured) in this sometimes-cynic's mouth, and have changed my view and perception of you as a company, seriously.

:)

simon-martin-rpi
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Tue Jun 08, 2021 10:30 am

Hi again,

Thanks for writing back. While the feedback can be tough to read, we do appreciate it so we can improve products. All new product concepts have teething problems and we are quite new to keyboards. We released the official Keyboard & Hub product in 2019 to give us some experience first but it did not teach us everything.

From how you describe the defective heat stakes on your unit, it sound like what you have done to your unit is fine. Paper sheets in the gap are another way of fixing it. Or just returning it because you have reason to request a replacement. May I ask you for the serial number on the bottom label? It is useful feedback for the factory, especially if the serial unit shows it is recently built unit.

So far the new module we use in production nowadays has fewer QC issues. It gets easier once we are further up the learning curve. :-)

All the best,

Simon

fruitoftheloom
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Tue Jun 08, 2021 12:14 pm

simon-martin-rpi wrote:
Tue Jun 08, 2021 10:30 am
Hi again,

Thanks for writing back. While the feedback can be tough to read, we do appreciate it so we can improve products. All new product concepts have teething problems and we are quite new to keyboards. We released the official Keyboard & Hub product in 2019 to give us some experience first but it did not teach us everything.

From how you describe the defective heat stakes on your unit, it sound like what you have done to your unit is fine. Paper sheets in the gap are another way of fixing it. Or just returning it because you have reason to request a replacement. May I ask you for the serial number on the bottom label? It is useful feedback for the factory, especially if the serial unit shows it is recently built unit.

So far the new module we use in production nowadays has fewer QC issues. It gets easier once we are further up the learning curve. :-)

All the best,

Simon

Raspberry Pi Trading are on the ball as always, many manufacturers do not bother to change design and hope for the best, lots of documented and undocumented changes by RPT and not just the 400 line.
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electronicstoday
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:53 am

UPDATE:

I have (semi-temporarily) laid "Sellotape" strips on the heatsink, sliced up a "3M" self-adhesive foam pad into little slices (around 20 I think) and stuck them at strategic locations ON TOP of the "Sellotape". My adding the "Selloptape" is to allow me to remove this arrangement, the fact being that consumer sticky tape is infinitely easier to lift off than "3M" MEGA grade, will-hold-an-elephant adhesive!

The result is a MUCH firmer, more solid typing experience with little if any "clackiness" or hollowness in the key feel. Also, these foam pads are very dense (closed-cell foam I'd think), and will likely reduce the chance of the heat-staked plastic "rivets" breaking off, to low or nil.

I see no bowing of the keyboard across its width (looking across from the right end, eye aligned with the surface) and I see only a VERY slight curvature from the bottom to the top edge of the keyboard, but that may be by design anyway. I hope this helps people, it sure makes typing a whole lot more enjoyable (I am hyper sensitive across all my human senses and perception, being able to still hear 18Khz sounds at the young age of 46!)

There is a concave recess where the heatsink plate is formed to contact the SoC, which I didn't add pads to - it seems redundant and a little pedantic to do so, and also I am unsure about how transmitting force directly down on the SoC, via that area of the heatsink, would affect the SoC.



Photos of the mod: https://photos.app.goo.gl/QTnaBuDibfpBTsoD6

electronicstoday
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:58 pm

Question:

My 400 is a USA layout model; if I buy a UK layout Pi keyboard and transplant the keyboard matrix into the 400, will it auto-detect that it's UK layout - is there some form of ID in the matrix which tells the 400 which layout is connected, or is the matrix literally just a silvered plastic membrane?

Thank you.

jamesh
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:19 pm

Er.....dunno, but an interesting question. I'll ask tomorrow.
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:24 pm

electronicstoday wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:58 pm
My 400 is a USA layout model; if I buy a UK layout Pi keyboard and transplant the keyboard matrix into the 400, will it auto-detect that it's UK layout - is there some form of ID in the matrix which tells the 400 which layout is connected, or is the matrix literally just a silvered plastic membrane?
This assumes it's a USB keyboard (I don't have a 400).

Last time I was looking into USB HID keyboard emulation the spec I read stated that all HID messages are sent as if frm a US keyboard layout and it's up to the OS to remap for the actual layout in use.

I don't think I've ever seen a standard USB keyboard (i.e. one that uses the generic drivers) indentify its layout to the host OS. It's up to the user to set it. That's why we keep seeing questiopns about keys not giving the correct character when pressed.
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cleverca22
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:04 pm

electronicstoday wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:58 pm
is there some form of ID in the matrix which tells the 400 which layout is connected, or is the matrix literally just a silvered plastic membrane?
my rough understanding, is that its an id in the OTP of the SoC, so the default layout will be wrong if you swap the tops

you can still change it after installing i believe

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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:09 pm

cleverca22 wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:04 pm
electronicstoday wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:58 pm
is there some form of ID in the matrix which tells the 400 which layout is connected, or is the matrix literally just a silvered plastic membrane?
my rough understanding, is that its an id in the OTP of the SoC, so the default layout will be wrong if you swap the tops

you can still change it after installing i believe
Wouldn't that make it a feature of the SoC rather than of the keyboard? Though given the integrated nature of the 400...
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electronicstoday
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:27 pm

jamesh wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:19 pm
Er.....dunno, but an interesting question. I'll ask tomorrow.
I appreciate that very much, thank you :)


To clarify, for others, the 26 pin membrane ribbon cable exiting the KB matrix, is not communicating via USB protocol afaik; that stuff is done inside the Holtek MCU - I would naturally assume that what's seen on these 26 pins is the shorting of rows/columns, so any talk of a USB keyboard sending its ID to the 400, is moot, since this is an internal ribbon and not a USB connection, at this point in the circuit.

jamesh
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Mon Jun 14, 2021 9:14 am

electronicstoday wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:58 pm
Question:

My 400 is a USA layout model; if I buy a UK layout Pi keyboard and transplant the keyboard matrix into the 400, will it auto-detect that it's UK layout - is there some form of ID in the matrix which tells the 400 which layout is connected, or is the matrix literally just a silvered plastic membrane?

Thank you.
No it won't detect the change - but it's easy enough to change it via the Preference menu, which will be remembered over boots.
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Mon Jun 14, 2021 11:25 am

electronicstoday wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:27 pm
jamesh wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:19 pm
Er.....dunno, but an interesting question. I'll ask tomorrow.
I appreciate that very much, thank you :)


To clarify, for others, the 26 pin membrane ribbon cable exiting the KB matrix, is not communicating via USB protocol afaik; that stuff is done inside the Holtek MCU - I would naturally assume that what's seen on these 26 pins is the shorting of rows/columns, so any talk of a USB keyboard sending its ID to the 400, is moot, since this is an internal ribbon and not a USB connection, at this point in the circuit.
I'd expect the matrix to be a passive component and the same for all layouts unless additional keys are needed. What defines the layout is what's printed on the key tops.
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gordon77
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Mon Jun 14, 2021 4:16 pm

My Pi400, assumed to be UK, doesn't even select a UK keyboard when you install raspi os, (even if you tell it it's not US in the install routine). You have to go to preferences to select it. So l doubt it can ID anything.

KeithMck
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Mon Jun 14, 2021 6:00 pm

That would be because the keyboard doesn't choose anything.

It may be UK, US, DK, or whatever, but you need to tell the operating system, when installing it onto your SD card/HDD/SSD/pendrive.

Each keyboard layout will be using the same socket on the RPi400 main board.

andrum99
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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Sun Jul 04, 2021 4:45 pm

jamesh wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 9:14 am
electronicstoday wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:58 pm
Question:

My 400 is a USA layout model; if I buy a UK layout Pi keyboard and transplant the keyboard matrix into the 400, will it auto-detect that it's UK layout - is there some form of ID in the matrix which tells the 400 which layout is connected, or is the matrix literally just a silvered plastic membrane?

Thank you.
No it won't detect the change - but it's easy enough to change it via the Preference menu, which will be remembered over boots.
If memory serves, the keyboard layout is set in the keyboard controller, either by changing the USB Product ID (PID), or some other method internal to the keyboard controller.

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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Sun Jul 04, 2021 5:06 pm

gordon77 wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 4:16 pm
My Pi400, assumed to be UK, doesn't even select a UK keyboard when you install raspi os, (even if you tell it it's not US in the install routine). You have to go to preferences to select it. So l doubt it can ID anything.
Odd. The default is UK. What does "od -t x1 /proc/device-tree/chosen/rpi-boardrev-ext" say?
andrum99 wrote:
Sun Jul 04, 2021 4:45 pm
If memory serves, the keyboard layout is set in the keyboard controller, either by changing the USB Product ID (PID), or some other method internal to the keyboard controller.
The standalone Pi keyboards have a number appended to the end of the USB product description that is an index into country/layout arrays in piwiz. The Pi 400 is different and instead stores that index value in OTP register 33.

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Re: Raspberry Pi 400 - Quality Control problems

Tue Jul 06, 2021 9:32 am

trejan wrote:
Sun Jul 04, 2021 5:06 pm
gordon77 wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 4:16 pm
My Pi400, assumed to be UK, doesn't even select a UK keyboard when you install raspi os, (even if you tell it it's not US in the install routine). You have to go to preferences to select it. So l doubt it can ID anything.
Odd. The default is UK. What does "od -t x1 /proc/device-tree/chosen/rpi-boardrev-ext" say?
I tried a full install again...

FULL Raspi OS
Country: UK
Language: British English
TimeZone: London

Ticked Use English language
NOT ticked Use US Keyboard

Let it update software
Rebooted

Keyboard shown as:

Model generic 105-Key PC (intl)
Layout: English US
Variant English US

Locale shown as:

Language: en(English)
Country: US (United States)
Character ste: UTF-8

What does "od -t x1 /proc/device-tree/chosen/rpi-boardrev-ext" say?

0000000 00 00 00 01
0000004

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