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frothmeister View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote frothmeister Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Spy Hunter thread
    Posted: 18 April 2012 at 1:39am
OK dudes,

As it is my favourite game of all time I've decided to make a thread dedicated especially to it. 

I know lots of others on the forum really have a fondness for this game too but it seems to be very difficult to get hold of one of these in the UK nowadays.

Although it was quite common back in 1984 when it was released by Bally/Midway, I think that the game proved difficult to keep running for operators and because it was not easily converted into another game, most were eventually smashed up to make way for newer more reliable and profitable machines.

I remember there were 5 Spy Hunter's in my home town of Withernsea when I was a kid back in '84 (including one sit down 'cockpit' versionCool), but I think all bar two uprights disappeared within about 18 months. Perhaps they became faulty or maybe they were taken out for some other reason, I don't know and as an 11 year old in 1985, never really thought to ask but I don't actually recall ever seeing any of them standing there out of action at any point.

I think the last time I recall seeing a Spy Hunter in the wild was probably around 1988 when I moved away from Withernsea. From that point onwards I still clearly remembered the game though. It was the one that had most captured my attention since I started frequenting arcades on a regular basis circa 1983 I think as a 9 year old.

I even remember asking my parents how much it would cost to buy my very own Spy Hunter machine as I loved the game that much. I think this was early 1985. Surprisingly enough I was never bought a full size arcade machine as a kid or even ever found out how much one would cost.........it was a crazy dream really, I knew my parents never had the sort of money that one of those was going to cost but I did want it more than I'd ever wanted anything before.

I think it was Easter 1985 when I got the Spectrum 48k version by US Gold as a gift 'instead of an Easter Egg'. I was over the moon as this was the closest it was going to get really although I knew straight away that the game actually was quite lame really and a poor imitation of it's arcade parent. Not even a snippet of the Peter Gunn theme.Ouch

The game came back to my attention in 1998 I think. A mate of mine was well into video game consoles, I had not really paid them much attention since I got rid of my Amiga in '91 and discovered other interests which mainly revolved around nightclubs up and down the country.

My mate had a Playstation and this crazy setup like an arcade machine in his bedroom. (It was basically a 21" Toshiba TV standing on top of a wooden cabinet with a Namco Arcade stick just at the right height, like a proper arcade machine. I had never heard of JAMMA at this point but the moment I saw that was the moment I fell back in love with games!

He had these arcade perfect conversions of Pacland, Paperboy, Gradius, Salamander and loads of my other favourites including Spy Hunter on the Williams Arcade Classics. Spy Hunter was good. It was amazing that I could now play an 'Arcade Perfect' version of the game, but after a few goes, playing it with a Playstation joypad just did not feel right.

I soon bought myself a similar set up to what my mate had and bought all of these classic collections for the Playstation. It was fantastic and I really enjoyed them over the next 2 years, building all manner of 'shame cabinets' on which to mount these arcade sticks/steering wheels etc.

Then in 2000, my gaming mate told me about this new toy he had coming. A proper JAMMA arcade machine. It sounded fantastic in theory, the only shame was that the only game he had at the beginning was T.M.N.T.Confused. This just didn't do it for me but it did convince me that this was the future.

I knew I was soon to be moving into my own home at this point so I set about making it my main priority to get myself a JAMMA cabinet in which to play some 'proper' classic games. Before I moved in, I already had a collection of about 7/8 JAMMA pcbs ready to plug in any play when the big day came.

Another thing I knew was that this although a fantastic prospect was lacking something vital. I still wasn't going to be able to play Spy Hunter properly.

So I set about my quest to find one, searching online. I kept looking on these websites Arcade Warehouse and Arcade Heaven at the machines they had and drooling. I also checked ebay on a regular basis but alas there was not a sniff of a Spy Hunter machine anywhere.

After asking about for a few months I eventually got a lead. I got in touch with this guy through ebay who suggested that I should sign up to this website called U  K  V  A  C. He had already asked there for me but without success. He did know that there were at least a couple of members there who had one though, so it was definitely worth a go!

I signed up there in probably mid 2001 after I had moved into my house with my girlfriend (now wife). The first JAMMA cab arrived probably about a week after that I think. 

I finally found out that there was a guy called Andrew Baker who owned a Spy Hunter upright a couple of weeks after signing up to U  K  V  A  C. Coincidentally, he was also the guy who owned the Arcade Heaven website that I had kept on searching to try and find my grail.

This machine was not one he was retailing though, it was one of his 'keepers' from his personal collection. Nevertheless, I made him a 'very good offer' for it based upon his description of it as minty.Big smile I finally got my machine a few days later when he drove it up about 250 miles to me in a Mercedes Sprinter van loaded with other arcade classicsShocked.

He had stopped off at Arcade Warehouse on the way and they apparently had offered him even more for it than I had after seeing it in the van. But Andrew was a man of integrityStar and declined their offer, even though I think I had yet to pay him a penny for it. (There was no internet banking or paypal at that time, certainly not that I was aware of anyway).

When I finally got hold of the machine and Andrew had driven off into the distance, I quickly realised that there was no way this monster of a machine was going upstairs into the spare bedroom of my new-build house. I think the strain of this beast together with (now 2) JAMMA cabinets in there would have probably sent the whole lot through the floor boards and destroying my living room which was directly below.

So it stayed in the garage where he had left it, for the time being at least. After allowing it a little time to acclimatise as he had suggested I finally turned it on. At this point my heart sank.Cry  Although the game was running, there was what I have subsequently found out to be a monitor fault in that the picture had a thick white horizontal line running across the screen about 1/3 of the way up.

The game could also not be steered, the car just veered off to the right and crashed into the side of the road every time you put your foot on the pedal. I subsequently found out that this was because the wires to the potentiometer on the 'steering wheel' were not connected properly.

Remember I was a total 'noob' at this point and had no clue about fixing these old machines when they developed a fault.

These things were just minor though in the grand scheme of things. My major problem was that the 'speaker fault' which Andrew had told me about which he hadn't had time to sort out actually turned out to be far far worse than that.

I'm sure he did not intentionally mislead me as he was a really helpful guy and did everything he feasibly could to help from 250 miles away including sending me a huge box of spares which he had forgotten to bring with him in the van when dropping it off.

I eventually found out that there must be faults which needed someone experienced with these types of old arcade machines to help resolve. I needed to know why I had this really bad scratching sound interfering with the Peter Gunn music when it played. (I managed to sort out the potentiometer so at least the game was playable).

This sound problem I found really detracted from the whole experience of playing the machine and partially because of where I lived.......in East Yorkshire....seemingly 70 miles minimum from anyone else on U  K  V  A  C and partially through desperation of not knowing what to do with it, I ended up taking the whole machine to Arcade Warehouse in Castleford for them to try and fix it for me.Ouch

EDIT: Had to leave it here for a while..........the story continues a few posts down this thread.


Edited by frothmeister - 19 April 2012 at 1:05am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote singy1uk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 7:10am
Nice story mate can't wait to hear the rest of it and pics to.my local arcade had the cockpit version which I played all the time such a fun game bitd.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DBX1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 9:14am
I read (or maybe saw on youtube) something really interesting about the history of Spy Hunter about how someone from Gobblieb Pinball either co-designed the game or the cab or the controls or something.

That's how it ended up so perfect, and used lights on the cab for the weapons, etc. That used to boggle my young old mind trying to work out how computer & lights on the dash could work together.Wacko

I only played the cab in the wild once, at Dover Ferry Port before a ferry to France, they had Star Wars next to it. I played the C64 version to death and used to kill everything, civilians and all. It was only quite recently I found out that's not the proper way to play it.LOL

By the time I was old enough to visit arcades on my own they had all gone.

Best ever game music in my book, so atmospheric. Apparently it was originally gonna use the Bond theme but copyright got in the way. Good job too.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DBX1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 9:21am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBT1X6U190M

I think this is it. Very interesting.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smidsy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 8:01pm
Great thread, and one of my grail cabs. Remember there been one in one of the arcades in Weymouth for a good few years. Until it burnt down.Cry
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote IDCHAPPY Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 8:06pm
I enjoy these stories, i remember being blown away by the theme tune on it and those nasty cars with the spiked wheels Cry
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote IDCHAPPY Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 8:06pm
Thread Paging Ben... Spy Hunter discussion in progress Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ben76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 8:13pm
Spy Hunter you say.....?
- Ben
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote IDCHAPPY Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 8:14pm
Originally posted by ben76 ben76 wrote:

Spy Hunter you say.....?
- Ben
Wait for it.......
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ben76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 8:16pm
Originally posted by IDCHAPPY IDCHAPPY wrote:

Originally posted by ben76 ben76 wrote:

Spy Hunter you say.....?
- Ben
Wait for it.......
Wait for what?
- Ben
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote IDCHAPPY Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 8:18pm
Originally posted by ben76 ben76 wrote:

Originally posted by IDCHAPPY IDCHAPPY wrote:

Originally posted by ben76 ben76 wrote:

Spy Hunter you say.....?
- Ben
Wait for it.......
Wait for what?
- Ben
I have one of them, it's not for sale but i was just letting you know Wink LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ben76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 8:20pm
Originally posted by IDCHAPPY IDCHAPPY wrote:

Originally posted by ben76 ben76 wrote:

Originally posted by IDCHAPPY IDCHAPPY wrote:

Originally posted by ben76 ben76 wrote:

Spy Hunter you say.....?
- Ben
Wait for it.......
Wait for what?
- Ben
I have one of them, it's not for sale but i was just letting you know Wink LOL
http://www.jammaplus.co.uk/arcadeuk/DatabaseBrowseUsers.aspx?ac=lbc&u=4122
Not one in my list mate........ Rare cab in the UK aren't they?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote IDCHAPPY Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 8:33pm
I'm sure you'll pick up one soon dude, i know you like them Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ZedEx48K Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 8:45pm
You might want to make sure AW don't 'upgrade' it to an LCD and some Jukebox software LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tb Lilley Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 8:46pm
Nice thread. I think a lot of us have got similar stories to tell about acquiring our own personal grail cabs, and why they became grails in the first place. I know I have. Must try to write it up one day.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote frothmeister Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 April 2012 at 9:51pm
Originally posted by ZedEx48K ZedEx48K wrote:

You might want to make sure AW don't 'upgrade' it to an LCD and some Jukebox software LOL

No worries there dude. I recollected it from them about 10 years ago nowLOL.

Will get back to the thread with some more soon.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote frothmeister Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 April 2012 at 1:03am
OK here's some more continued from first post. After the bit when I took it in to Arcade Warehouse:

This you may not be surprised to find out was not such a great move. They failed to repair the scratchy sound fault even after several weeks of having the entire machine to hand. They did sort out a few minor issues on it such as the white line across the monitor and they fitted a new ballast so the top marquee was lit again. I'm sure there was something else very minor as well but I forget now, it was a long time ago!

Anyway although they could not fix it, they did correctly diagnose the fault as being located on the separate Peter Gunn theme sound board known as the Cheapsqueek Deluxe pcb and advised me that I was going to need to find a working one of these somewhere. 

I borrowed my mums company car (circa 2000 Astra estate........great size for transporting cabs in btw). Well actually my dad had to drive it which was great fun with him spitting feathers that I was going to pick this thing up again, pay a not inconsiderable fee and it STILL wasn't even fixedEmbarrassed). We travelled the 50 or so miles to recollect the machine from them, probably in early 2002 and then I set about trying to find Cheapsqueek Deluxe pcbs on US ebay. 

I did manage to find a couple of them and also some spare audio amp boards and original PSU's over the following months.  Unfortunately none of this lot did me any good at all.Angry 

By now I had tried 3 or 4 cheapsqueek deluxe pcbs (all untested as none of the sellers seemed to have the facility to test the stuff) and was starting to think that the fault had to be something else and that AW had incorrectly diagnosed my problem.

By this time I was pretty desperate, I had posted appeals for help many times on U  K  V  A  C but it seemed like I just went round and round in circles. This was obviously a set of boards that not many of the experts there were too keen to get involved with. For those that don't know, they are the MCR hardware which is the same as Tron I believe.

After already shelling out a small fortune acquiring the cab in the first place and then paying a ridiculous amount to Arcade Warehouse for their time 'searching for the problem' I was running out of patience and cash and I often wondered if I would ever get this holy grail machine going again properlyCry.

The first tentative offer I had was from Andy Welburn (P-man) but he did warn me in advance of his charge rate and not only that, he was in Luton which was about 4 hours away from me so even if I could have afforded to plough yet more cash in, I still thought I was going to have to get the entire machine to him somehow and then there were still no guarantees that he could fix it.

So I waited further and a few more months passed with the machine neglected. I couldn't bring myself to play it without the sound at all and the scratching noise it made just made it unbearable.

Eventually after one more appeal, a guy called Chris Hardy AKA Junofirstman came to my rescue. He seemed confident that if I sent him all of the 3 main game boards, audio amp and the Cheapsqueek deluxe sound board then he could build a test rig for it and sort it out. So I packed it all up and sent my huge box of boards away. 

I think all in all this consisted of 3 x full 3 board sets, 4 cheapsqueek deluxe boards and 3/4 audio amps. I never bothered sending the PSU's I don't think. My cabinet did not have these connected in any case, they had apparently been removed and replaced with a Switch Mode Power Supply. I think this was fitted by Andrew Baker the previous owner.

Several more weeks went by until one day I received the great news. I had an email from Chris Hardy telling me that he had finally managed to sort it. I think he said it was correct that all 4 of the Cheapsqueek Deluxe sound boards were faulty. IIRC they needed a new crystal fitting in each one which cost around £20 each and a couple had other problems as well, so he fixed 2 of the 4 for me so at least I had a spare for when the inevitable happened.

I'm pretty sure that there was supposed to be one full working spare set of main boards too although to be honest when the parcel arrived back I was that excited at the thought of plugging it in again and playing it after all this time that I never dared to check any of the others. 

To do this anyway would have involved unplugging all of the working boards that were held together in the proper metal mounting boards and disconnecting all of the 5 ribbon connectors to swap them over as I only had the one set of these. There was no way I was going to jeopardise being able to play that first proper game and hear that music play properly for the first time in 15 years.Big smile

The first proper game I had on it was I think in around Spring/Summer time 2003, approximately 18 months after first getting the machine. 

I then played it sparingly over the next few months. I'm pretty good at the game so the main problem was having the time to have a proper go. Typically a game will last me anything from around 45 minutes up to a couple of hours, maybe a bit more I think is probably the longest.

So I'm guessing dates still here but I estimate it worked fine for approximately 8/9 months before it developed a monitor problem.Ouch After it getting left for a while untouched, I finally removed the monitor in its entirety and took it to Craig (Ordyne) in Barnsley just over an hour away from me.

When I took it to Craig I mentioned the bad screen burn which it had and asked him whether he had any spare tubes to go with it once he had fixed my chassis. The original monitor was an Electrohome G07 and these Craig informed me were very difficult to find without any burn in but he did say he would keep his eye out for me.

Once he'd fixed it I refitted it back in the cab and think it ran fine for about another 3 months without issue but the screen burn was still niggling me.

Fortunately (or so it seemed at the time), Craig then contacted me to say he had acquired a 19" Wells Gardner monitor which was in really great condition and would be a direct replacement for my G07 if I wanted it.Thumbs Up I reckon by now this was probably mid 2005. So I went and picked up the new monitor from Craig and removed the old one, swapping in the WG after a little bit of work remounting the chassis in the original monitor frame.

When I turned it on again, it seemed the game board had developed a fault.Cry The graphics were all over the place and sprites were appearing and disappearing randomly all over. Holy shit here I was again with a non-working machine!

I tried swapping over game boards for my spares but nothing I did was making any difference. After a while I gave up with it as by this time I had really got the bug for buying new machines and over the next year or two I was that busy buying/selling/attempting to fix my other stuff that Spy Hunter just kept getting left. 

I kept saying to myself that once everything else was sorted out then I would get back on to it. 

After I moved house in 2007, I went back to it briefly a couple of times and bought a load of SCSI interconnect cables from Bob Roberts in the States as the original ones of these were apparently notorious for causing faults such as this but still I got nowhere swapping these in and checking and double checking all connections and voltages were fine.  

Once again shortly after this it got buried behind a mountain of other machines and stuff and was not touched again until I finally got back to it a few months ago. I have no idea what I did, but this time the board miraculously sprung back to life.Shocked No missing sprites or anything, everything was bang on again...........for the whole of about half an hour.

In the few years since I had last had it running I had made the decision to put all of my machines on Freeplay. So once I got Spy Hunter running again (or thought I did), I decided to try and put it in Freeplay mode. Noting that there was not a dipswitch option for this according to the settings, I stuck the game into TEST mode using the little switch just inside the coin door.

Unfortunately, I have since remembered that there is no Freeplay mode on Spy Hunter. Although I believe there is a ROM hack or some mod which can be done now to enable this.

Anyway whatever I did in the TEST mode I think screwed up the main cpu board. Presumably when it tried to access the RAM which saves the settings, it didn't like this so I now have a cpu board that does not boot and just displays garbage when you power it on.

All was not lost however. I have swapped over the main cpu board for one of my spares and after replacing a ROM from my 3rd spare cpu board it is now currently alive again.Big smile

I've managed two 'proper' games on it so far so fingers crossed after a few teething problems which I'm hoping were down to voltages it is now OK again. Watch this space though I know it could all go wrong again very soon.

Well that's another much longer instalment in this write up than I was reasonably expecting to do when I started this thread. Hope it's not too boring to follow but I at least wanted a log of events to date on it which I can refer to in the future.

Looks like pictures will have to wait again now guys. Hopefully I can get these up tomorrow though. I wanted to create a thread dedicated to the game itself rather than just my personal struggle. I know there are at least two more members on this forum with cabs, (both cockpits too) who might find this interesting and also chip in with some info themselves.

Also I know Ben76 is due to collect his upright cab very soon as well so wanted to at least get some pics up here of boards etc for him to refer to if required. Sorry Ben, as you know I don't have a lot of technical info to give you but whatever I can help with then I will do my utmost to if required (Fingers crossed it fires up first time though ehWink).


Edited by frothmeister - 19 April 2012 at 1:06am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ben76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 April 2012 at 8:30pm
Originally posted by frothmeister frothmeister wrote:


Also I know Ben76 is due to collect his upright cab very soon as well so wanted to at least get some pics up here of boards etc for him to refer to if required. Sorry Ben, as you know I don't have a lot of technical info to give you but whatever I can help with then I will do my utmost to if required (Fingers crossed it fires up first time though ehWink).
Big smile I'm so excited Thumbs UpBig smile It even has permission to come into my house and go next to the Lesuire 2000 Big smileBig smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote IDCHAPPY Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 April 2012 at 8:33pm
Originally posted by ben76 ben76 wrote:


Originally posted by frothmeister frothmeister wrote:


Also I know Ben76 is due to collect his upright cab very soon as well so wanted to at least get some pics up here of boards etc for him to refer to if required. Sorry Ben, as you know I don't have a lot of technical info to give you but whatever I can help with then I will do my utmost to if required (Fingers crossed it fires up first time though ehWink).


Big smile I'm so excited Thumbs UpBig smile It even has permission to come into my house and go next to the Lesuire 2000 Big smileBig smile
- Ben Big smileBig smile



I thought you weren't getting one
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ben76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 April 2012 at 8:49pm
Originally posted by IDCHAPPY IDCHAPPY wrote:

Originally posted by ben76 ben76 wrote:


Originally posted by frothmeister frothmeister wrote:


Also I know Ben76 is due to collect his upright cab very soon as well so wanted to at least get some pics up here of boards etc for him to refer to if required. Sorry Ben, as you know I don't have a lot of technical info to give you but whatever I can help with then I will do my utmost to if required (Fingers crossed it fires up first time though ehWink).


Big smile I'm so excited Thumbs UpBig smile It even has permission to come into my house and go next to the Lesuire 2000 Big smileBig smile
- Ben Big smileBig smile



I thought you weren't getting one

Never said that just said there wasn't one in my collection.... Its not been delivered yet Tongue
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