Worklog First N64 Portable

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Hi all!

Long time lurker, first time portable builder. For now I'm calling it the M64 (M for mobile) but the name is subject to change. I intend on making this thread a worklog but also hope it could be a place to bounce ideas off of more experienced members of the forum.

A bit of background on me, I'm a mechanical engineer who focused my studies on design (CAD modelling) and applications in FDM (traditional 3D printing). I've designed multiple 3D printers from scratch and doing so has enabled me to expand my knowledge of wiring and circuitry.

Here are my goals of the project
  • Have a portable N64 (obviously) with internal expansion pack and a cartridge slot. To keep cost down I decided against an internal everdrive. I already have the x7 so I can just swap it between the portable and my home console.
  • Entirely 3D printed case.
  • 3D printed charging dock with controller ports and tv screen hookup inspired by @Booshman.
  • I'd like to take this project as an opportunity to start learning PCB design via Eagle. Even if I don't use any custom made PCBs in the final result, I'd like to start thinking about it and honing some skills for future projects.
  • Hopefully be able to have a comfy controller layout so I can practice my Super Mario 64 speedrunning on the go (I'm by no means good, but enjoy running none the less). This means having a good stick and a well placed Z button.

Here is my current list of acquired parts:
  • Nintendo 64 Rev05 board with minimum trim (generously donated by a friend)
  • Original N64 controller and buttons
  • Expansion pack (in the mail, currently using a regular jumper for testing)
  • 4x 3000mAh 18650 Li-Ion batteries
  • 2k resistor for Pin 8 on the PIF

So, what have I done so far besides copious amounts of research? Here we go.

First thing I did was strip down this sad looking N64. The case was in shambles after a botched paint job, and P1 and P2 ports had damage. The console has been tested and works fine.
20200218_145623.jpg


20200218_145605.jpg


Now, being the dummy I am, I decided to start desoldering components to get ready for the board trim. However in hindsight I think I should have kept as making things on the board until I figured out how I would do my cartridge relocation and subsequently test it along with any screen that I buy. Regardless, I started with the expansion slot:
20200218_151914~2.jpg


Then made my way to the other unnecessary components, as well as the parts that would be in the way of my trim.
20200219_174930~2.jpg
20200228_092856.jpg


As you can see I made a test cut with my dremel on the bottom right near the controller port just to tune the speed I'll need to make a smooth cut.

Now this is where I'm at and what my thoughts are going forward. Since I desoldered the power button, controller ports as well as some capacitors which were in my way, I am not sure if I'll be able to test my cartridge relocation or not. If anyone knows if I can run the board without C134, C24, C28, C34 and C140 I'd love to know, I don't want to risk frying the board.

I'm not going to end up going with this method after some test fitting, but I'll leave these imaged here for documentation reasons.
̶I̶ ̶t̶o̶o̶k̶ ̶i̶n̶s̶p̶i̶r̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶@Bamboo ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶t̶r̶i̶d̶g̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶l̶o̶c̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶.̶ ̶I̶ ̶t̶h̶o̶u̶g̶h̶t̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶w̶a̶s̶ ̶a̶ ̶v̶e̶r̶y̶ ̶s̶m̶a̶r̶t̶ ̶w̶a̶y̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶g̶o̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶b̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶l̶o̶c̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶b̶e̶c̶a̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶r̶e̶q̶u̶i̶r̶e̶s̶ ̶m̶i̶n̶i̶m̶a̶l̶ ̶s̶o̶l̶d̶e̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶q̶u̶i̶t̶e̶ ̶n̶i̶f̶t̶y̶.̶ ̶I̶'̶m̶ ̶u̶s̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶5̶0̶ ̶p̶i̶n̶ ̶I̶D̶E̶ ̶c̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶a̶l̶o̶n̶g̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶r̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ ̶a̶n̶g̶l̶e̶ ̶p̶i̶n̶s̶ ̶s̶o̶l̶d̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶t̶r̶i̶d̶g̶e̶ ̶s̶l̶o̶t̶.̶ ̶I̶'̶v̶e̶ ̶e̶n̶s̶u̶r̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶l̶e̶n̶g̶t̶h̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶w̶i̶r̶e̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶u̶n̶d̶e̶r̶ ̶5̶ ̶i̶n̶c̶h̶e̶s̶,̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶y̶'̶r̶e̶ ̶a̶r̶o̶u̶n̶d̶ ̶4̶ ̶n̶o̶w̶.̶
20200228_094308.jpg
20200228_094446.jpg

So, what is next? Well I need to get a few things to continue, and that's where I'm looking for some input and support from the community.

Power management:
Currently I'm torn on my power management. I really love the N64 PMS solution, but unfortunately it's pricey for me as a Canadian. The $66.64 US (thats including shipping) comes out to $90 CAD and part of the goals of this project are having a reasonable budget. So I'm currently looking for a suitable replacement that won't break the bank. I see @Booshman is using this 2S inteligent balance charging board and it seems like a decent choice, would love some thoughts on this.

Screen:
̶I̶ ̶a̶m̶ ̶a̶l̶s̶o̶ ̶t̶o̶r̶n̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶s̶c̶r̶e̶e̶n̶.̶ ̶I̶ ̶a̶m̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶g̶o̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶g̶o̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶a̶ ̶s̶e̶t̶u̶p̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶U̶l̶t̶r̶a̶H̶D̶M̶I̶ ̶n̶o̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶U̶l̶t̶r̶a̶V̶G̶A̶,̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶g̶o̶ ̶s̶i̶m̶p̶l̶e̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶p̶o̶s̶i̶t̶e̶.̶ ̶I̶ ̶w̶a̶n̶t̶ ̶a̶ ̶m̶i̶n̶i̶m̶u̶m̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶5̶"̶ ̶s̶c̶r̶e̶e̶n̶,̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶d̶o̶n̶'̶t̶ ̶m̶i̶n̶d̶ ̶g̶o̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶u̶p̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶6̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶7̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶ ̶a̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶e̶ ̶N̶i̶n̶t̶e̶n̶d̶o̶ ̶S̶w̶i̶t̶c̶h̶ ̶l̶i̶k̶e̶ ̶f̶e̶e̶l̶.̶ ̶T̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶u̶r̶r̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶n̶t̶ ̶r̶u̶n̶n̶e̶r̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶a̶ ̶s̶c̶r̶e̶e̶n̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶ this car monitor ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶p̶o̶s̶i̶t̶e̶ ̶h̶o̶o̶k̶ ̶u̶p̶.̶ ̶@MomSpaghetti ̶u̶s̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶s̶c̶r̶e̶e̶n̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶m̶o̶d̶e̶d̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶r̶u̶n̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶3̶.̶3̶V̶.̶ ̶I̶'̶m̶ ̶a̶l̶s̶o̶ ̶e̶y̶e̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶ this screen ̶w̶h̶i̶c̶h̶ ̶s̶e̶e̶m̶s̶ ̶v̶e̶r̶y̶ ̶s̶i̶m̶i̶l̶a̶r̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶i̶t̶'̶s̶ ̶1̶5̶ ̶b̶u̶c̶k̶s̶ ̶c̶h̶e̶a̶p̶e̶r̶.̶
Ended up ordering the 5" ZJ050NA-08C screen.

Audio:
̶I̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶n̶k̶ ̶I̶'̶l̶l̶ ̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶P̶A̶M̶8̶8̶0̶3̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶p̶e̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶p̶o̶r̶t̶a̶b̶i̶l̶i̶z̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶B̶O̶M̶.̶ ̶S̶e̶e̶m̶s̶ ̶l̶i̶k̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶r̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ ̶c̶h̶o̶i̶c̶e̶.̶ ̶I̶'̶m̶ ̶l̶o̶o̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶c̶u̶r̶r̶e̶n̶t̶l̶y̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶a̶u̶d̶i̶o̶ ̶j̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶w̶e̶l̶l̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶h̶o̶o̶k̶ ̶u̶p̶ ̶h̶e̶a̶d̶p̶h̶o̶n̶e̶s̶ ̶t̶o̶,̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶w̶e̶l̶l̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶p̶a̶s̶s̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶u̶d̶i̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶r̶o̶u̶g̶h̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶d̶o̶c̶k̶ ̶I̶'̶l̶l̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶m̶a̶k̶i̶n̶g̶.̶ ̶M̶y̶ ̶l̶o̶c̶a̶l̶ ̶e̶l̶e̶c̶t̶r̶o̶n̶i̶c̶s̶ ̶s̶t̶o̶r̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶r̶i̶e̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶S̶p̶a̶r̶k̶f̶u̶n̶ ̶P̶R̶T̶-̶1̶2̶6̶3̶9̶ ̶w̶h̶i̶c̶h̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶a̶ ̶T̶R̶R̶S̶ ̶j̶a̶c̶k̶.̶ ̶I̶t̶ ̶h̶a̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶e̶x̶t̶r̶a̶ ̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶y̶p̶i̶c̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶u̶s̶e̶d̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶a̶ ̶m̶i̶c̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶v̶i̶d̶e̶o̶ ̶s̶i̶g̶n̶a̶l̶,̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶I̶ ̶d̶o̶n̶'̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶n̶k̶ ̶I̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶.̶ ̶I̶'̶d̶ ̶r̶a̶t̶h̶e̶r̶ ̶f̶i̶n̶d̶ ̶a̶ ̶T̶R̶S̶ ̶j̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶'̶t̶ ̶f̶i̶n̶d̶ ̶a̶ ̶s̶u̶i̶t̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶l̶o̶c̶a̶l̶l̶y̶.̶
Decided to design an audio amp solution based on JacksonS' board. Using his design but only keeping the analog volume control and using a wheel potentiometer much like the Gameboy color

So that's it for now, I look forward to continuing the project and hopefully getting feedback from the community. I'm most excited to start work on designing the case, but first I want to get the electronics completely sorted out before starting that.
 

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Gman

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Looks like a great start. The main capacitors I would keep on the board are C81, C128 (most important one here, required to boot) ,C73, C141. The ones outside your trim are safe to remove.
 
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Looks like a great start. The main capacitors I would keep on the board are C81, C128 (most important one here, required to boot) ,C73, C141. The ones outside your trim are safe to remove.
Great thanks! I guess before I perform my trim I'll test out my cartridge relocation then get on with that and post my results. I don't think I'll be doing a cartridge bend, seems too advanced for now and I think with a 5-7" screen I won't be worries about that extra space.
 
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Great thanks! I guess before I perform my trim I'll test out my cartridge relocation then get on with that and post my results. I don't think I'll be doing a cartridge bend, seems too advanced for now and I think with a 5-7" screen I won't be worries about that extra space.
If you're planning to try a bend in the future
Make sure you cut evenly probably a little more than half way down, you can tell by the way your dremel cuts throughout the board if you need to cut more on certain areas, but the edges is the best way in my opinion to determine how far down the board you're cutting, I'd say the hardest part of this process is the start because you need to cut straight, slow and have one solid swipe to keep it from slipping. Using minimal pressure if your board doesnt bend right away it needs more cutting.
 
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If you're planning to try a bend in the future
Make sure you cut evenly probably a little more than half way down, you can tell by the way your dremel cuts throughout the board if you need to cut more on certain areas, but the edges is the best way in my opinion to determine how far down the board you're cutting, I'd say the hardest part of this process is the start because you need to cut straight, slow and have one solid swipe to keep it from slipping. Using minimal pressure if your board doesnt bend right away it needs more cutting.
I think I'm going to have to perform a bend on the expansion pack. I've read using a razor blade and going slow, doing around 10 passes works well. Never heard of doing a bend with a Dremel.
 
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I think I'm going to have to perform a bend on the expansion pack. I've read using a razor blade and going slow, doing around 10 passes works well. Never heard of doing a bend with a Dremel.
Yea Ashens guide says to use a razor blade which honestly gives a cleaner edge
Back when bacteria had a forum site he wrote the same guide, but used a dremel for his choice of method, I personally never tried using a blade to perform one or to trim a motherboard, but it's out of preference. Either way hope your bend succeeds, haven't tried bending an expansion pak before, but it seems easier than the cart slot.
 
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Yea Ashens guide says to use a razor blade which honestly gives a cleaner edge
Back when bacteria had a forum site he wrote the same guide, but used a dremel for his choice of method, I personally never tried using a blade to perform one or to trim a motherboard, but it's out of preference. Either way hope your bend succeeds, haven't tried bending an expansion pak before, but it seems easier than the cart slot.
Okay interesting. Must have really steady hands to do the trim with a Dremel. Unless he has a jig which can adjust the depth of the cut... Could be able to 3d peint something like that but it's a lot of work for something that can be done with a blade. Regardless my expansion pack is on its way from Japan and probably won't get here for another few weeks, so for now I gotta focus on figuring out which display I need and if I'm going to go with the battery charging board @Booshman is using or not.
 
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Okay interesting. Must have really steady hands to do the trim with a Dremel. Unless he has a jig which can adjust the depth of the cut... Could be able to 3d peint something like that but it's a lot of work for something that can be done with a blade. Regardless my expansion pack is on its way from Japan and probably won't get here for another few weeks, so for now I gotta focus on figuring out which display I need and if I'm going to go with the battery charging board @Booshman is using or not.
Yea if you're not careful you can really ruin that section having to be forced to do an rcp. I actually tried it a few times and one of them was a fail because It ended up bending at an angle lol.
Although someone said when he rcpd his board he scratched the traces like you would with the data lines for the bluetooth module on the wii so it sounds less tedious that way and would save a couple cms of wire at the end of the solder job and less chances of bridging.
Looking forward to seeing this progress and what charging unit are you're talking about?
 
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Yea if you're not careful you can really ruin that section having to be forced to do an rcp. I actually tried it a few times and one of them was a fail because It ended up bending at an angle lol.
Although someone said when he rcpd his board he scratched the traces like you would with the data lines for the bluetooth module on the wii so it sounds less tedious that way and would save a couple cms of wire at the end of the solder job and less chances of bridging.
Looking forward to seeing this progress and what charging unit are you're talking about?
yeaaah don't wanna risk doing an RCP, not my jam, maybe one day in the future. This is the one I'm considering: https://www.ebay.ca/itm/Intelligent...987212?hash=item4894140c8c:g:J~kAAOSwCGVYBRVB

I saw Booshman is using it in his build and seems pretty legit. I wanna be able to plug in and charge while playing, similar to what he's doing.
 
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For the screen, I would recommend getting a different one, I also have that one, it works if you sit directly in front but for the rest the viewing angles are absolute thrash, buydisplay might have some cheaper options / better screens imo
 
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First of all I'm honored that you mentioned me.

I also second @wudopecker 's opinion on the screen, you need to position yourself well to get full visibility, if you have no other options then go for it.

Another thing i like to point out, i really like the ribbon cable's idea, but that would kind of take a lot of space in my opinion, also another thing, you see the through-hole where you placed the right angled pins? they're actually not connected to anything, so you'll need to bridge the connection to the actual pins above them.

I look forward to the Expansion pack soldering and overall how this turns out!
 
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Looking forward to seeing your docking solution. I'm calling it now, you'll be finished before I am.

That red board is a good solution, I'm sure I got the info for it in the battery info thread on here.
 
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First of all I'm honored that you mentioned me.

I also second @wudopecker 's opinion on the screen, you need to position yourself well to get full visibility, if you have no other options then go for it.

Another thing i like to point out, i really like the ribbon cable's idea, but that would kind of take a lot of space in my opinion, also another thing, you see the through-hole where you placed the right angled pins? they're actually not connected to anything, so you'll need to bridge the connection to the actual pins above them.

I look forward to the Expansion pack soldering and overall how this turns out!
Hmm alright I'll look into getting a different screen. Its tough to know at first glance online what screen would be best. As for the pins I plan on bridging them with solder. The ribbon cable is kind of bulky you're right, if at the end of the day I need to save on some space, Ill most likely end up just soldering straight to the board but for now I'm going to see if this can work.

Looking forward to seeing your docking solution. I'm calling it now, you'll be finished before I am.

That red board is a good solution, I'm sure I got the info for it in the battery info thread on here.
I'm thinking of doing something very similar to your dock with the detector switch and most likely an HDMI to carry all of the data for video, controllers and power. As for the red board, have you tested it and run your n64 off of your batteries with it? I may pull the trigger and order it now because I feel like the shipping will take a while.
 
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As for the red board, have you tested it and run your n64 off of your batteries with it? I may pull the trigger and order it now because I feel like the shipping will take a while.
I had the screen and the n64 running with the red board briefly, you can see the red board in this picture.


Poking out between the controller ports.

I haven't done any great amount of testing though.
 
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you could use 28 AWG stranded wire just keep it short
in my opinion its probably the best for a cart slot job I didn't have luck with 30 AWG wrapping wire

If you dont have a desoldering iron you could use tweezers with a normal iron to pull out the metal prongs that are used from the back slot. The wire fits perfectly in the holes so you dont have to worry about having any misconnections it's also as clean as it can get.
 
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you could use 28 AWG stranded wire just keep it short
in my opinion its probably the best for a cart slot job I didn't have luck with 30 AWG wrapping wire

If you dont have a desoldering iron you could use tweezers with a normal iron to pull out the metal prongs that are used from the back slot. The wire fits perfectly in the holes so you dont have to worry about having any misconnections it's also as clean as it can get.
I have copper braid and a small hand suction pump for desoldering, works pretty well. I was also just experimenting and I can get the cartridge slot done with just 1 50 pin IDE cable and straight pins instead of 90 degree ones. The cartridge slot pins fit into the IDE connector with minimal bending, I think I may end up going that route in the end, half the cable and easier to move around.

I'm still at a loss for a screen currently, that's the next big thing I need figured out.
 
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It depends on what you want from a screen but I've been through a couple to give you some ideas:

The eyoyo 5" display is IPS, kinda pricey but gorgeous with vga

The displays from buydisplays are good middle point, they look really good for their price imo but don't shine as much as the eyoyo, you can use composite / vga on them. You can also find them all over eBay but seem to be a bit cheaper at their own site

As for the car displays, from the front is alright, it's cheap and the driver board is really tiny, so if you need space its nice, but the damn viewing angels are just so terrible, I would recommend picking a tft display from buydisplay are your appropriate size
 
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I have copper braid and a small hand suction pump for desoldering, works pretty well. I was also just experimenting and I can get the cartridge slot done with just 1 50 pin IDE cable and straight pins instead of 90 degree ones. The cartridge slot pins fit into the IDE connector with minimal bending, I think I may end up going that route in the end, half the cable and easier to move around.

I'm still at a loss for a screen currently, that's the next big thing I need figured out.
Word sounds like a plan
For the screen gman had one listed in his bom I was gonna order it if I make progress for my build down the road probably a little on the cost side, but I trust his recommendations. Wish you luck finding one screens can be hard to decide
 
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Canada
A little update:
After some research and scouring the web I found this screen that others have used before for a decent price: https://www.aliexpress.com/snapshot...3f14f414d4eb1ac44ee7bfc22b957&ck=in_edm_other

Many people have used it and the price wasn't half bad, with epacket shipping I'll get it in 16-25 days so it's not too long of a wait. As for the red charging board all the shipping estimates are quite long, so I'm looking for possible alternatives.

I'm looking now for power boards, the redboard @Booshman used is available pretty cheap but the shipping times are aweful, I'll probably only get it in April. My local electronics store has this: https://abra-electronics.com/batter...l-lipo-batteries-charger-balancer-module.html

Unfortunately I don't think this is quite what I need. I don't think it would be good for a dock, charge and play solution.
 
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