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This article is to share how a microwave oven works... and what it does actually..... Microwaves fall into the radio frequency band of electromagnetic radiation. Microwaves should not be confused with x-rays, which are more powerful.Microwaves are produced inside the oven by an electron tube called a magnetron. The microwaves bounce back and forth within the metal interior until they are absorbed by food. Microwaves cause the water molecules in food to vibrate, producing heat that cooks the food. That's why foods high in water content, like fresh vegetables, can be cooked more quickly than other foods. The microwave energy is changed to heat as soon as it is absorbed by food. Thus, it cannot make food radioactive or contaminated. lthough heat is produced directly in the food, microwave ovens do not cook food from the inside out. When thick foods like roasts are cooked, the outer layers are heated and cooked primarily by microwaves while the inside is cooked mainly by the slower conduction of heat from the hot outer layers. Microwave cooking can be more energy efficient than conventional cooking because foods cook faster and the energy heats only the food, not the oven compartment. Microwave cooking does not reduce the nutritional value of foods any more than conventional cooking. In fact, foods cooked in a microwave oven may keep more of their vitamins and minerals, because microwave ovens can cook more quickly and without adding water. Glass, paper, ceramic, or plastic containers are used in microwave cooking because the microwaves pass through them. Although such containers cannot be heated by microwaves, they can become hot from the heat of the food cooking inside. Some plastic containers should not be used in a microwave oven, as they can be melted by the heat of the food inside. Hope this article would have helped the ones who are unaware of microwave oven cooking
The heating effect of microwaves was discovered accidentally in 1945. Percy Spencer, an American self-taught engineer from Howland, Maine, was building magnetrons for radar sets with the American company Raytheon. He was working on an active radar set when he noticed that a peanut chocolate bar he had in his pocket started to melt. The radar had melted his chocolate bar with microwaves. The first food to be deliberately cooked with Spencer's microwave was popcorn, and the second was an egg, which exploded in the face of one of the experimenters. To verify his finding, Spencer created a high density electromagnetic field by feeding microwave power into a metal box from which it had no way to escape. When food was placed in the box with the microwave energy, the temperature of the food rose rapidly. On October 8, 1945 Raytheon filed a U.S. patent for Spencer's microwave cooking process and an oven that heated food using microwave energy was placed in a Boston restaurant for testing. In 1947, the company built the Radarange, the first microwave oven in the world. It was almost 1.8 metres (5.9 ft) tall, weighed 340 kilograms (750 lb) and cost about US$5000 each. It consumed 3 kilowatts, about three times as much as today's microwave ovens, and was water-cooled. An early commercial model introduced in 1954 consumed 1.6 kilowatts and sold for US$2000 to US$3000. Raytheon licensed its technology to the Tappan Stove company in 1952. They tried to market a large, 220 volt, wall unit as a home microwave oven in 1955 for a price of US$1295, but it did not sell well. In 1965 Raytheon acquired Amana. In 1967 they introduced the first popular home model, the countertop Radarange, at a price of US$495.
unlike a conventional oven. where heat migrates toward the interior by conduction. Blown fuse due to power surge or old age: Replace fuse. replace fuse and test. You will learn a lot in the process. they are converted directly into heat. Repair or replace? With small to medium size microwave ovens going for $60-100 it hardly makes sense to spend $60 to have one repaired. Fixing an old microwave for the dorm room may just make sense after all. if you can do the repair yourself. An MOV. Many problems can be solved quickly and inexpensively. glass or ceramics.. Locate and replace defective switches and/or realign door. More detailed explanations are provided elsewhere in this document. the equation changes dramatically as your parts costs will be 1/2 to 1/4 of what a professional will charge and of course your time is free. . may have shorted due to a power surge blowing the controller fuse. fats and sugars. which are basically radio waves. The commonly used frequency is roughly 2.500 MHz (2. Even full size microwave ovens with full featured touchpanel can be had for under $200. However. Metal reflects microwaves.let touchpad dry out for a week. When absorbed.. Replace carbonized or damaged waveguide cover. Thus. The educational aspects may also be appealing.. Touch up the interior paint. replacement should be considered seriously before sinking a large investment into an older oven. Smooth rough metal edges. The simplest problems • • • • • • Bad interlocks switches or door misalignment causing fuses to blow or no operation when the start button is pressed. Remove remains of MOV. replace MOV for future surge protection. Arcing in oven chamber: clean oven chamber and waveguide thoroughly. Radio waves in this frequency range are absorbed by water. the main fuse may even be intermittent causing very strange symptoms. They are not absorbed by most plastics.A microwave oven uses microwaves..5 GHz).the controller circuit board is a nice warm safe cozy place to raise a family. Bugs in the works . In a microwave oven. On rare occasions. which is why metal pans don't work well in an oven. probably on the controller. The radio waves penetrate the food and excite water and fat molecules pretty much evenly throughout the food. to cook food. there is heat everywhere all at once because the molecules are all excited together. Erratic touchpad operation due to spill .
or conduit with ground) AND the adapter's ground wire or terminal is securely attached to the outlet box ground screw. remove the waveguide cover and thoroughly clean inside the waveguide as well. It will be cheaper to buy. especially from a . DO NOT use a spray where any can find its way inside through the door latch or ventilation holes. Inspect the cord and plug for physical damage and to make sure the plug is secure and tight in the outlet .g. heating. you may discover that your oven has features you were not aware were even possible.as well as potentially more serious damage to the magnetron. Clean the exterior of the cabinet and touchpad in a similar manner. It is very easy to cause a fire through the use of excessive times or power settings. Do not use strong solvents (though a bit of isopropyl alcohol is fine if needed to remove sticky residue from unwanted labels. arcs. for example). This is particularly important if the door of the oven opens down instead of to the left side (only a few models are built this way. cheaper and easier to service. there may be requirements or suggestions that are specific to your model and will enable you to get the most performance from your new microwave. Romex. Select a convenient location .) Heat. (Yes.easy access and not too high or too low. If there is any chance of food deposits having made their way above the waveguide cover in the roof of the chamber. or a dripping wet cloth. Allow adequate ventilation . and possibly more reliable since ventilation and adjacent heat producing appliances will not be as much of a factor. Leave at least 2 inches on all sides and top if possible. Microwave oven maintenance • • • Clean the interior of the oven chamber after use with a damp cloth and some detergent if necessary. Built up food deposits can eventually carbonize resulting in sparks. I know it is difficult to get at but I warned you about that!. What a concept! If nothing else. Even something as simple as microwave popcorn can explode and/or catch fire if heated for too long .particularly if the unit is installed inside a cabinet.Microwave oven installation and use • • • • • • Read your users manual from cover to cover especially if this is your first microwave. In any case. Put the microwave oven on its own dedicated 3 wire grounded circuit. Temporary use of a 3 to 2 prong adapter is acceptable only if the outlet box is properly grounded to begin with (BX. Do not let children use the microwave oven unless properly supervised. 5 minutes instead of my precisely determined 3:41 on high :-). however). Select a stand-alone unit rather than a built-in if possible.e. and damage to the mica waveguide cover and interior paint .do not push it up against the wall or wedge it under a tight fitting wall cabinet (or inside one for that matter!).. Be especially careful around the area of the touchpad since liquid can seep underneath resulting in unresponsive or stuck buttons or erratic operation.
this isn't exactly microwave specific but cockroaches and other uninvited guests might just like to take up residence inside the electronics bay of the oven on the nice warm controller circuit board or its neighborhood and they aren't generally the tidiest folks in the world. If there is evidence of overheating at the outlet itself.long before the beep has ended or the door has cleared the front panel. clean up whatever is attracting the unwanted tenants (and anything they may have left behind including their eggs!!). Keep your kitchen clean.• • • combination microwave/convection oven or from other heat producing appliances can damage the plug and/or cord. Keeping the ventilation free will minimize the chance of overheating. I know. If you do this by accident. This is because: 1. or other noises especially if they were not there when the oven was new . (Based on the . for that matter. it is safe. Listen for any unusual sounds coming from inside the oven.500 W depending on oven size. immediately unplug the oven and let it dry out for a day or two. Once the beep has sounded (or the door has opened).the only component that can store energy .may indicate the need for some more extensive maintenance like belt replacement or motor lubrication.has a capacity of less than 15 W-s (Watt-seconds) even for the largest ovens. Clean them up and use a vacuum cleaner to suck up loose dust. squealing. Attending to these minor problems now may prevent major repairs in the future. If possible. the capacitor will be fully drained in much less than . Power consumption is typically 800 to 1. While these appliances are not exactly quiet. How long does microwave energy hang around? You have probably been warned by your mother: "Wait a few seconds (or minutes) after the beep for all the microwaves to disappear". Yes. However. the outlet (and possibly the plug as well) should be replaced. Such an open mesh should not affect the cooling of the electronic components significantly. scraping. tell them to get lost and then put window screen over the vents (or wherever they are entering). If it is too late and you have a recurring problem of cockroaches getting inside the electronics bay. WARNING: See the section: SAFETY before going inside. 2. There is no scientific basis for such a recommendation. Periodically check for built up dust and dirt around the ventilation holes or grills.1 second . CAUTION: Do not spray anything into the holes where the door latch is inserted or anywhere around the touchpad as this can result in internal short circuits and costly damage . There is little energy storage in the microwave generator compared to the amount being used. grinding. There is no such thing as residual microwave radiation from a microwave oven it is either being produced or is non-existent.or anywhere else inside. the mesh will likely clog up more quickly than the original louvers so make sure it is cleaned regularly. Therefore. The typical high voltage capacitor .
Very high voltages (up to 5000 V) at potentially very high currents (AMPs) are present when operating . the magnetron may not be drawing any current from the HV power supply and the HV capacitor can remain charged for a long time. above. for a 1.that can retain a dangerous charge for a long time. it is more like . These dangers do not go away even when unplugged as there is an energy storage device . WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! Microwave ovens are probably the most dangerous of consumer appliances to service.a high voltage capacitor . Microwave Oven Troubleshooting SAFETY The following applies to microwave oven troubleshooting . Cross section diagram of typical magnetron The really extraordinary ASCII art below represents (or is supposed to represent) a cross section of the 2M214 type magnetron (not to scale) through the center as viewed from the side. There is also safety information on proper use of the oven in subsequent sections. ________ | ____ | |_| |_| Antenna cap / |____| \ | | || | | Antenna insulator | | || | | xxxxxxxx|__| || |__|xxxxxxxx RF sealing gasket ____________________| || |____________________ .once the cabinet cover is removed. Please see Typical Microwave Oven Electronics Bay for parts identification.numbers. below. Back to Microwave Oven Repair FAQ Table of Contents. there is a very real risk of potentially lethal electrical shock even after several minutes or more of being unplugged! See the section: SAFETY if you will be troubleshooting a microwave oven.01 seconds!) WARNING: This only applies to a *working* microwave oven! If there is no heat. In this case.deadly combination. If you have the slightest doubts about your knowledge and abilities to deal with these hazards.500 W oven with a capacitor storing 15 W-s. replace the oven or have it professionally repaired.
may cause collateral damage . and other consumer and industrial equipment can be both rewarding and economical. Just be sure that it is also safe! • Don't work alone .there are many sharp edges inside this type of equipment as well as other electrically live parts you may contact accidentally. while perhaps harmless in themselves. Note that the danger to you is not only in your body providing a conducting path.case | | | | | | (5)|| Top || Magnet || || || || || || || (5)| Top | Magnet | | | | Outer sink fins | |__________|| || ||__________| | | ______| \\ |______ | | /____ (7) \\ ____\ | |____________|| \__ ______ \\ / ||____________| | ||_______ |__ __| _\\ ___|| | |____________|| | o || o | ||(4)||____________| | || | o || o | || (6) | Heat |____________|| Vane | || (3) |____________|| | o || o | | o || o | | o || o | Vane ||____________| (3) || | ||____________| o: helix Filament | ||_______|(1)|| o |_______|| | |____________|| __ |_||||_| __ ||____________| | ||____/ || || \____||<-.in the event of an emergency another person's presence may be essential. microwave ovens. monitors.(2) | | \______ \\ \\ ______/ | | __________ | || || | __________ | | | (5)|| || || || (5)| | | | Bottom || || || || Bottom | | | | Magnet || || || || Magnet | | |________|__________|| || || ||__________|________| | |__||__||__| | | | || || | Filament | | | || || | insulator | | (RF chokes |_||__||_| | | not shown) || || Filament/cathode | | || || connections | |____________________________________________| Safety guidelines These guidelines are to protect you from potentially deadly electrical shock hazards as well as the equipment from accidental damage. Any involuntary muscle contractions caused by a shock. particularly through your heart. . The purpose of this set of guidelines is not to frighten you but rather to make you aware of the appropriate precautions. Repair of TVs.
or otherwise touch circuits with power off. Microwave ovens use the chassis as ground return for the high voltage. In addition. Use clip leads or solder temporary wires to reach cramped locations or difficult to access locations. you will blow a fuse if you should forget to remove it when powering up the microwave. A Variac(tm) is not an isolation transformer! (See the next section with regards to isolation transformers and microwave ovens. Perform as many tests as possible with power off and the equipment unplugged. Prop them up with insulation sticks . • • • • Connect/disconnect any test leads with the equipment unpowered and unplugged.plastic or wood. short across its terminals with the blade of a well insulated screwdriver. Wear rubber bottom shoes or sneakers. Clip the reference end of the meter or scope to the appropriate ground return so that you need to only probe with one hand. put electrical tape over all but the last 1/16" of the test probes to avoid the possibility of an accidental short which could cause damage to various components. put insulating material between the boards and anything they may short to. discharge (across) large power supply filter capacitors with a 25 W or greater resistor of 5 to 50 ohms/V approximate value. Touch each of the capacitor terminals to the nongrounded end of the resistor for several seconds. or the high voltage side of a microwave oven. to be doubly sure that the capacitor if fully discharged. however. prevent your scope probe ground from . A circuit breaker is too slow and insensitive to provide any protection for you or in many cases. the semiconductors in the power supply section of a TV or monitor can be tested for short circuits with an ohmmeter. If you need to probe. do not assume that the chassis is a suitable ground for your test equipment! If circuit boards need to be removed from their mountings. your equipment. or get caught in moving parts. Set up your work area away from possible grounds that you may accidentally contact. For example. Hold them in place with string or electrical tape. for example.) The use of a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protected outlet is a good idea but will not protect you from shock from many points in a line connected TV or monitor. Then. At most. Don't wear any jewelry or other articles that could accidentally contact circuitry and conduct current. Mount the resistor on the end of a well insulated stick. solder. I also recommend leaving a clip lead shorting across the capacitor terminals while working as added insurance. For the microwave oven in particular. use a 25K to 100K resistor rated for at least 5 kV and several watts with a secure clip lead to the chassis. If you must probe live. A GFCI may. Use an isolation transformer if there is any chance of contacting line connected circuits.• • • • • • • Always keep one hand in your pocket when anywhere around a powered lineconnected or high voltage system. Know your equipment: TVs and monitors may use parts of the metal chassis as ground return yet the chassis may be electrically live with respect to the earth ground of the AC line.
lean on.it's almost never needed in any case. Don't attempt repair work when you are tired. use of a GFCI is desirable to minimize the risk of a shock from the line portions of the circuitry if you don't have an isolation transformer. An isolation transformer is even limited value as well since the chassis IS the HV return and is a large very tempting place to touch. And.• • smoking should you accidentally connect an earth grounded scope to a live chassis. never assume anything without checking it out for yourself! Don't take shortcuts! As noted. an isolation transformer can and should be used to test the primary side circuitry if necessary including interlocks. motors. Actually. Failures are usually easily found by performing test with the oven unplugged. etc. it won't be terribly useful as noted above. If you insist on making live measurements. or brush up against. Qualified service people have been electrocuted using proper test equipment on microwave ovens! Troubleshooting tips Many problems have simple solutions. It would have to be HUGE due to the high power nature of a microwave oven and since the high voltage return is the chassis which is grounded. Finally. Don't immediately assume that your problem is some combination of esoteric complex convoluted failures. However.deductive reasoning . a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) will NOT protect you from the high voltage since the secondary of the HV transformer is providing this current and any current drawn off of the secondary to ground will not be detected by the GFCI. However. there may be a defective door interlock switch or just a tired fuse.will not be operating at full capacity. connect the meter before power is applied and disconnect or move its probes only after power is removed AND the HV cap has been discharged (even if the meter catches fire or explodes!). none of these devices will protect fools from themselves! Take extreme care whenever working with the cover off of a microwave oven. Not only will you be more careless. . triac/relay. For a microwave oven. but your primary diagnostic tool . of course. Isolation transformers and microwave ovens There's little point to using an isolation transformer with a microwave for testing the high voltage circuitry. the best policy is to NEVER EVER attempt to measure anything in the HV section while the oven is powered . Disconnect the HV transformer to eliminate the possibility of high voltage shock and to reduce the load.
just letting the problem bounce around in your head will lead to a different more successful approach or solution. Instant troubleshooting chart .not on a deep pile shag rug. sleep on it. These do not need to be really expensive but poor quality tools are worse than useless and can cause damage. Don't work when you are really tired . Sometimes.most common problems and possible causes .it is both dangerous (particularly with microwave ovens) and mostly non-productive (or possibly destructive . this does have its advantages at times. However. Old dead microwaves can often be valuable source of hardware and sometimes even components like interlock switches and magnetrons as these components are often interchangeable.If you get stuck. See the document: Troubleshooting and Repair of Consumer Electronics Equipment for additional info on soldering and rework techniques and other general information. and plastic ice cube trays come in handy for sorting and storing screws and other small parts after disassembly. Select a work area which is well lighted and where dropped parts can be located . A basic set of high quality hand tools will be all you need to work on a microwave oven.very destructive).they may not all be identical. An assortment of solderless connectors (lugs and wirenuts) is handy when repairing the internal wiring. Something like a large plastic tray with a slight lip may come in handy as it prevents small parts from rolling off of the work table. A crimping tool will be needed as well but the $4 variety is fine for occasional use. most of the power components in microwave ovens use solderless connectors (lugs) and replacements usually come with these as well. Needed tools include a selection of Philips and straight blade screwdrivers. needlenose pliers. make notes of which screw went where . wire cutters and wire strippers. A medium power soldering iron and rosin core solder (never never use acid core solder or the stuff for sweating copper pipes on electronic equipment) will be needed if you should need to disconnect any soldered wires (on purpose or by accident) or replace soldered components. The best location will also be relatively dust free and allow you to suspend your troubleshooting to eat or sleep or think without having to pile everything into a cardboard box for storage. film canisters. More notes is better than less. Stanley or Craftsman are fine. Pill bottles. While not advocating being a pack rat. If you need to remove the cover or other disassembly.
3. Possible causes: 1. Touchpad or controller board contaminated by overenthusiastic cleaning. Previous or multipart cook cycle not complete. Defective/damaged touchpad. 2. 4. 2. 3. Clock needs to be set before other functions will operate (some models). Open thermal protector or thermal fuse. 2. Defective sensor (particulalry covection/mirowave combos). 4. Cabinet screws replaced in incorrect location (safety interlock not engaged). 5. Possible causes: 1. Defective triac or relay. :) Problem: No response to any buttons on touchpad. Cooling fans (only) running due to bad sensor or still warm. 2.likely due to other problems. 5. Defective/damaged touchpad. Blown main fuse . Possible causes: 1. Possible causes: 1. Controller is confused (pull plug for a minute or two to reset).• • • • • • • Problem: Totally dead oven. Door is not closed (some models). 6. Possible causes: 1. 6. Defective controller or its power supply. Faulty controller or its power supply. Defective/damaged touchpad. Possible causes: 1. Controller is confused (pull plug for a minute or two to reset). Oven needs to be reset (pull plug for a minute or two to reset). Any number of screwups. 2. Problem: Oven starts on its own as soon as door is closed. Problem: Totally dead oven after repair. Defective controller or its power supply. Controller is confused (pull plug for a minute or two to reset). 7. Touchpad or controller board contaminated by overenthusiastic cleaning. Broken display panel. Possible causes: 1. Defective interlock switches. 3. Defective controller or its power supply. You waited to long (open and close door to wake it up). 4. No power to outlet (blown fuse or tripped breaker or GFCI). Defective controller or its power supply. . 5. Problem: Whacked out controller or incorrect operation. 4. Problem: Oven works but display is blank. 2. 3. Problem: Oven runs when door is still open. 2. 3. Damaged interlock assembly. 5. Touchpad or controller board contaminated by overenthusiastic cleaning.
Power surge at start of cook cycle confusing controller. 2. much less commonly used). Possible causes: 1. cooling fan. Possible causes: 1. Burnt carbonized food in or above oven chamber. Defective door interlock switch(s). Previous or multipart cook cycle not complete. Possible causes: 1. or magnetron filament. Defective/damaged touchpad. 5. Possible causes: 1. or turntable rotation. 4. 7. HV capacitor (will blow a fuse). Touchpad or controller board contaminated by overenthusiastic cleaning. Faulty controller. Microwave (RF) leakage into electronics bay.• • • • • • • Problem: Erratic behavior.open and close door to wake it up! Problem: No heat but otherwise normal operation. 3. Faulty relay . You waited too long . 3. Interlock switch knocked out of position. 4. magnetron. Possible causes: 1. Controller is confused (pull plug for a minute or two to reset). Frayed insulation on HV wiring. 6. Faulty relay or triac. 3. Defective START button.primary (or HV side. Problem: Some keys on the touchpad do not function or perform the wrong action. Problem: Timer and light work but no heat. Bad contacts/connections on mechanical timers. 5. Door is not securely closed. 3. Faulty interlock switches. 4. Blown fuse in HV transformer primary circuit or HV fuse (if used). Defective HV relay (not commonly used). Bad connections (particularly to magnetron filament). Shorted HV diode. 3. Faulty controller. Problem: Microwave oven does not respond to START button. 5. 4. Shorted winding in HV transformer. Open thermal protector or thermal fuse. Possible causes: 1. 4. HV diode. Bad connections in controller or microwave generator. Problem: Loud hum and/or burning smell when attempting to cook. Defective (lower) door interlock switch or door not closing fully. Misaligned door. Problem: Fuse blows when closing or opening door: Possible causes: 1. Open HV capacitor. . or magnetron. Intermittent fuse. 2. 2. HV transformer. 2. 2. Defective controller or its power supply. 2. 2. 3. Shorted HV diode. 6.
Bad connections in controller or microwave generator. Possible causes: . 2. Possible causes: 1. Defective relay. Possible causes: 1. Stirrer (or turntable) not working. Problem: Fuse blows when initiating cook cycle. 6. Problem: Oven immediately starts to cook when door is closed. 6. Possible causes: 1.• • • • • • • • Problem: Arcing in or above oven chamber. Low line voltage. 3. Magnetron with low emission. Shorted HV diode. Burnt carbonized food deposits. 4. 2. Defective interlock switches or misaligned door. Defective HV transformer. Problem: Fuse blows when microwave shuts off (during or at end of cook cycle). Faulty controller. 3. Faulty interlock switch or marginal door alignment. Faulty primary relay or triac or HV relay (not commonly used). Faulty controller. Problem: Oven heats on high setting regardless of power setting. Faulty controller. Problem: Oven makes (possibly erratic) buzzing noise when heating. Faulty primary relay or triac or HV relay (not commonly used). 6. Stuck stirrer fan resulting hot spots detected by sensors. 2. 3. Overheating due to blocked air vents or inoperative cooling fan. Problem: Oven heats but power seems low or erratic. Possible causes: 1. Old age or power surges. 2. 2. 7. 5. Possible causes: 1. 3. 7. Possible causes: 1. Problem: Oven heats but shuts off randomly. 2. Possible causes: 1. Faulty controller or set for wrong mode. 2. Shorting wires. 5. Overheating due to bad magnetron. Shorted magnetron (probably won't blow main fuse but HV fuse if used). 4. Shorted relay or triac. Shorted HV capacitor. Intermittent connections to magnetron filament or elsewhere. Defective triac (doesn't turn off properly). 8. 5. Short in wiring due to vibration or poor manufacturing. Overheating due to extremely high line voltage. Exposed sharp metal edges. Defective triac. 4.
Loose or broken belt. Problem: Fans or turntables that do not work. Vibrating transformer laminations. 3. Problem: Oven light does not work. Possible causes: 1. Vibrating sheet metal. Bad connections . 2. Bad thermostat. 4. Possible causes: 1. Fan blades hitting support or shroud. Burnt out bulb :-).• • 1. 2. 4. 3. Turntable or stirrer hitting some debris. 5. Bad motor. Gummed up lubrication or bad motor bearing(s). Bad connections. 2.
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