Rough-in For equipment Rack - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 38 Old 01-30-2007, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm going to rough in my equipment rack this weekend. I've decided to go the route of buying the rack rails, and then just buying shelves as needed. I'm building the rack space under the stairs, so I've got a limited amount of space. Plus, on the right side of the rack, I've got cold air return ducts (the silver part of the walls in the pictures below) to deal with. I'm building it just off the floor 1.5", sitting on my sill plate basically.

I figure I can squeeze in a 60" rack. I've checked the boards and it seems that 19 1/8" or 19 1/4" is the necessary width for the rack rails, can someone help me figure out which one is best. I've seen 19 1/4" on the board, but on some websites where I can purchase the rails, they say 19 1/8". Is that 1/8" provide wiggle room?

Something I haven't seen anywhere though, is how do people finish off their rack. When they say a rough in space of 19 1/4" for example, that's not to the studs. that is to your trim material right? Because if you're building it in wall, you need to have your wood that your mounting to be flush with the drywall, so it has to stick out a half inch or 5/8" right? I'll be surrounding the hole with casing, just like a door, so my wood trim needs to come out to meet that.

Anyway, I probably am not being very clear. I did a Sketchup rough in to help me figure up dimensions when measuring and stuff. Can you guys take a look and give me feedback, criticisms, wisdom?

Front pic of rack space. Framed in space is 61" x 20 1/4", finished space is 60" x 19 1/4".


The brown stuff is oak boards, 1/2" thick by 7.5" deep. This is the trim that will meet up against the casing similar to a door frame. It sticks out from the framing by 1/2" to account for the drywall:


Here's a pick from the front right side:


Here's a closeup of the bottom to illustrate the trim extended to be flush with the drywall and thus the casing that will go around it:


Here's what it would look like standing in the doorway in the storage area under the stairs:


I have to be a little creative with the ceiling above the rack. There is some ductwork I have to work around. At the top part of the ceiling though I'll be putting in a ceiling fan that vents to the mechanical room:


So, what's everyone think? Am I thinking right in regards to the finished space? Or am I overthinking this? Hopefully I'm not the only one who's obsessed over this, but I figure better to overthink it before hand than have to redo it later.

Another quick question while I'm thinking about it. This is a load bearing wall. Roughing this in won't hurt the structural integrity at all will it? I'm putting in what I feel extra studs in order to make up for the one stud I'm cutting into to make the rack.


Edit:
Another thing I forgot to mention, here's a link to the rack rails I'll be getting probably. I'm going to get the RRF45 - 45 space 78 3/4" rails that I'll cut down to 60".
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post #2 of 38 Old 01-30-2007, 01:16 PM
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You don't want the racks to be 60 inches. Each rack space is 1.75 inches so that will give you 34.2857 rack spaces. The closest is 56 inches which will give you exactly 32 rack spaces which should give you plenty of room. When you order the shelves you might want to get them with custom face plates for your equipment which really would look nice. Just get on to Middle Atlantic and see what you need. I've got 36 rack spaces with equipment that takes from one space to five. Some equipment either comes with rack ears or you can order them from the company and you won't even need a shelf. Go with 19 1/8.
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post #3 of 38 Old 01-30-2007, 01:17 PM
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whistlersix,

While I unfortunately don't have any direct answers to your questions, I can say that I have many of the same questions! I intend to use the same rack rails and add shelves as needed. I expected to rough-in (stud-to-stud) at 19 1/4", but wasn't really sure how to go about finishing the sides of the rack space. I'll be following this thread to see what others have to recommend.

Not fully understanding how to go about this has me focused on other framing projects in my basement right now, so I'm hopeful to get this figured out in the next week before I get back to this space out of necessity to move forward.

-Ryan
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post #4 of 38 Old 01-30-2007, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quarterhorse View Post

You don't want the racks to be 60 inches. Each rack space is 1.75 inches so that will give you 34.2857 rack spaces. The closest is 56 inches which will give you exactly 32 rack spaces which should give you plenty of room. When you order the shelves you might want to get them with custom face plates for your equipment which really would look nice. Just get on to Middle Atlantic and see what you need. I've got 36 rack spaces with equipment that takes from one space to five. Some equipment either comes with rack ears or you can order them from the company and you won't even need a shelf. Go with 19 1/8.

Thanks for that info QH, I never even thought of that. I suppose I want the rack spaces to be a round number...

I have a little wiggle room at the top, so I can bump it up to 35 rack spaces for a rail length of 61.25 inches. I don't mind having an odd number of spacesThat makes me wonder though, do I need to keep any space at the top or bottom? Maybe an 1/8" on each end? That would make it 61.5" for the finished space. I don't mind the odd number of rack spaces, since you can get 1u shelves.

What's your input on the detail framing? Did you use a finished piece of wood (like my 1/2" trim), or did you just lag into the studs?
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post #5 of 38 Old 01-30-2007, 02:51 PM
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You use 1.75 inches per rack space if you are only buying the rack rails. But it sounds more like you are buying a full rack. If that is the case, then you probably have to add in the top and the bottom pieces. How much extra space is that? Depends on which rack you are buying. Plus, you can't just decide that you want a 35 space rack unless you plan to buy your own rails and cut them to length (front and back) and then assemble them after that. Or, you have to special order them to size which means more $$$ on and already expensive item.

For the opening, since you are trimming it out like a door, you could make the opening larger than the rack like a door is done and then shim it in place like you would do a door. Then trim it out to finish.

As for me, I made the space the exact size needed. Then I bought just the rails and cut them to the length I wanted and used lag bolts to mount them in place. No top, no bottom, no rear rails.

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post #6 of 38 Old 01-30-2007, 03:08 PM
 
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This is a great post. Hopefully somebody will answer you.
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post #7 of 38 Old 01-30-2007, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toxarch View Post

You use 1.75 inches per rack space if you are only buying the rack rails. But it sounds more like you are buying a full rack. If that is the case, then you probably have to add in the top and the bottom pieces. How much extra space is that? Depends on which rack you are buying. Plus, you can't just decide that you want a 35 space rack unless you plan to buy your own rails and cut them to length (front and back) and then assemble them after that. Or, you have to special order them to size which means more $$$ on and already expensive item.

For the opening, since you are trimming it out like a door, you could make the opening larger than the rack like a door is done and then shim it in place like you would do a door. Then trim it out to finish.

As for me, I made the space the exact size needed. Then I bought just the rails and cut them to the length I wanted and used lag bolts to mount them in place. No top, no bottom, no rear rails.


That is what I am planning on doing. Build a finished space that is 19 1/8" wide by 61 1/2" tall (that includes 1/8" wiggle room at both the top and bottom). Then I would buy just a pair of rack rails and cut them to the length of 61 1/4", which would give me 35U of rack space. No top rack parts, no bottom rack parts, no rear rack parts. Once the rails are up, I'd just buy individual shelving, 1u, 2u, 3u, 4u, or drawers, or blank face plates as needed.
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post #8 of 38 Old 01-30-2007, 03:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whistlersix View Post

That is what I am planning on doing. Build a finished space that is 19 1/8" wide by 61 1/2" tall (that includes 1/8" wiggle room at both the top and bottom). Then I would buy just a pair of rack rails and cut them to the length of 61 1/4", which would give me 35U of rack space. No top rack parts, no bottom rack parts, no rear rack parts. Once the rails are up, I'd just buy individual shelving, 1u, 2u, 3u, 4u, or drawers, or blank face plates as needed.

So 19 1/8" wide is your finished space, so the rough in would be 20 7/8", right?
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post #9 of 38 Old 01-30-2007, 03:51 PM
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How much do those rails cost? Please post install pics.
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post #10 of 38 Old 01-30-2007, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luvavsforum View Post

So 19 1/8" wide is your finished space, so the rough in would be 20 7/8", right?

I thinking of using 1/2" oak boards for the finished space/trim, so that would make the rough in 20 1/8". I think.
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post #11 of 38 Old 01-30-2007, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dc_pilgrim View Post

How much do those rails cost? Please post install pics.

Doing a froogle search for RRF75, the 45 rack space rails from Middle Atlantic yields this.. To save you a click, the cheapest is around $50. I plan on cutting those down to the required length via a hacksaw.

By the time I get around to buying the rails, I'll do some more thourough price searching though, so I imagine there are different brands for cheaper prices. This gives you an idea though.
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post #12 of 38 Old 01-30-2007, 06:20 PM
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I originally was going to go with shelves but then switched to rack rails later. You can see pictures of the conversion in my construction website. I decided to make the whole rack flush with the fabric walls. No trim was needed around the rack to finish my install. Here's an almost final picture.



To do an install like this, you have to make the opening exactly the right size. That means the opening has to be exactly 19 1/8" wide. That 1/8" is NOT wiggle room. The best way to do this would be to either make the rough in exactly the right size, or make your casing with the rails already in it and then install in the opening. The problem with the latter, is that the rails have to be able to hold several hundred pounds leaning toward the back. So you have to use a lot of shims, predrill holes through those shims and then screw in and hope the shims don't compress.

I found that the best way to get the opening the right size is to mount blanks or shelves in the rails before installing them. That way you know they are the right width. Oh yeah, I made the rails flush with the firring strips holding the fabric. So that means they are mounted 2" away from the studs. 2 layers of 1/2" drywall and 1" firring strip.

There are no stupid questions, but there are a LOT of inquisitive idiots. Me being one of them at times.

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post #13 of 38 Old 01-31-2007, 11:29 AM
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The longest rack rails they sell is the 78 1/4 inch RR45 and it cost $47.00. Before you buy shelves check what units they're for so you can get the heights correct if you want to add the custom face plates later. Tell me what one of your units are and I'll tell you what you need and what it will cost.
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post #14 of 38 Old 02-01-2007, 08:11 AM
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[quote=whistlersix]I thinking of using 1/2" oak boards for the finished space/trim, so that would make the rough in 20 1/8". I think.QUOTE]

Regardless of the finish material you want the finished opening width to be 19 1/4". The rails are 1/8" thick. So just go backwards from there.

Ex. 19 1/4" + 1/2" drywall + 1/2" drywall = 20 1/4" rough opening.
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post #15 of 38 Old 02-01-2007, 01:14 PM
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Toxarch had a good idea pre-mounting a couple of shelves to get the 19 1/8 correct but instead of using shelves which are quite heavy try using a couple of one rack space high blank or vent panels one on top and one on bottom.
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post #16 of 38 Old 02-01-2007, 02:12 PM
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Hey whistler, i am doing pretty much the same thing you are doing, excep on the end of the staircase. I will post a pic this evening. I will watch this thread to see what you do. My plan is to use one of my tv stands (the big tower ones meant for big tvs) and retrofit that into the opening and trim it off with some nice molding. I only have a receiver/cable box/ps3/360 and a wii and a low budget so the rack is kinda pointless for me. They look awesome though.

IM FINALLY FINISHED...(WELL ALMOST)

THE PITT CONSTRUCTION THREAD
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post #17 of 38 Old 02-01-2007, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quarterhorse View Post

Toxarch had a good idea pre-mounting a couple of shelves to get the 19 1/8 correct but instead of using shelves which are quite heavy try using a couple of one rack space high blank or vent panels one on top and one on bottom.

That's exactly what I was thinking of doing. Since I don't want to (and won't be able to) actually mount the rails for quite a while, I thought maybe i'd just buy some 1/2" pine, the rails and 2 x 1u vent panels. then I'd do a temporary mount using the vent panels to square the opening. I won't be drywalling for quite a while yet, so I don't want to mount the trim wood and rails permanently, until that is done.
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post #18 of 38 Old 02-01-2007, 02:53 PM
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This is a great thread. I am building a new house, with dedicated home theater room and intend to install an equipment closet much like this one. However, I plan to recess the rack an inch or two instead of flush mount as I think this will look more finished and hide the mount screws better (perhaps with a removable frame for the same reason). This would also allow me to rest the rails on the concrete slab just behind the drywall and allow the floor to carry most of the load. (Or should I just bolt the bottom part of the rails to the footer stud, or whatever it's called?) But how to keep the rack secure? Just bolt it to the wall studs? And since the aperture is wider than the standard 16" stud spacing, what should it be here? 20"? 22"? Is the casing necessary or should I just mount the rails to the studs directly? Go nearly floor to ceiling for the full rail length or just cut out the section of the drywall that I'm likely to need (4 ft max)? Important decisions all but I don't have much info to base them on.

I am a complete noob where it comes to house building or home theater design, but does this sound like a viable plan? We've just barely broken ground on the house so if there are changes to be made, now's the time.
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post #19 of 38 Old 02-01-2007, 03:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, I think I've found the rail I'm buying. Has anyone ever bought from www.rsem.com? They seem to have good prices. Plus, the rail I'm planning on buying is the right size, so I don't even have to cut it.
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post #20 of 38 Old 02-01-2007, 03:10 PM
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So is it cheaper to buy these rails on line, or should I check out a music instrument store, which seem to sell this kind of stuff? The shipping on the longer lengths tends to add.

Craigslist hasn't yielded anything in the last few days.
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post #21 of 38 Old 02-01-2007, 03:37 PM
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I made my opening 20 1/8" and then bought the rails and a shelf or two. When it came to the time to make the correct size final hole, I screwed a few shelves into the rails and measured how thick the trim boards needed to be. I used oak planed down to about 1/2 inch. There is a bit of wiggle room +/- 19 1/8". Just look at a shelf and you'll see the holes are bigger than the screw holes in the rails. Buy the longest rails you can because there are all kinds of drawers, dvd holders, blank plates, etc. that you can mount in the rails. markertek.com has good prices.
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post #22 of 38 Old 02-02-2007, 06:28 AM
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Whistler, I bought a rack drawer and some rail trim from rsem a few years ago when I built my first in-wall rack in a previous house. They were ok to deal with. The only thing I didn't like was they aren't very clear on shipping charges at checkout on-line. Best to call and order.

BlueDude, Check out this post . Some good info there and I posted some rack framing pics about halfway down.

Andy
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post #23 of 38 Old 02-02-2007, 07:56 AM
 
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You should download Racktools from Middle Atlantic, along with the rackshelf database. You can use the database to see what specific size shelves your equipment requires, then use this info to figure out exactly what size rails you need. Don't forget to include vent spaces. The racktools utility will allow you to create an actual drawing of the rack that you can use to lay out your equipment on paper and get measurements from.

Like others have said, ideally you want to frame your opening so that when you are done you have an exact 19 1/8" finished opening, meaning you need to account for the thickness of your trim/drywall etc when doing your framing. Not difficult, but if the opening isn't exactly square you'll be in trouble. There is a little wiggle room in the mounting holes on the shelves but not much. I have found it a little easier to frame for a 19 1/4" finished opening, then shim out the side casings 1/16" +/- for a perfect fit before screwing on the rails and nailing on my outside trim.

This is my living room rack. I have an access panel in the back. You may want to consider how you will service your equipment. (There's always something).


Also, it's not a bad idea to get your rack rails and shelves in before construction and put a single space vent on the very top and bottom of the rails and square them up, you can use this as your template to make sure you get a nice tight fit to your trim. Lag or screw the rails through the trim and into your studs. It's really pretty simple carpentry. Oh yeah, you might want to recess the rails back into the opening an inch or so, which gives a little more detail. You really don't want your knobs sticking out into the hallway either. With the rack going that close to the floor (dust, little fingers, etc), you may want to put a door on it someday as well, and setting the rack back into the opening a little will allow for this without having to redo everything.

I've worked extensively with Middle Atlantic products of all sorts, and this type of application is by far my favorite, due to the very clean "built-in" look it has when finished.
Feel free to PM me with any questions you have, or if you get stuck on something.
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post #24 of 38 Old 02-03-2007, 10:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Lomax View Post

You should download Racktools from Middle Atlantic, along with the rackshelf database. You can use the database to see what specific size shelves your equipment requires, then use this info to figure out exactly what size rails you need. Don't forget to include vent spaces. The racktools utility will allow you to create an actual drawing of the rack that you can use to lay out your equipment on paper and get measurements from.

Like others have said, ideally you want to frame your opening so that when you are done you have an exact 19 1/8" finished opening, meaning you need to account for the thickness of your trim/drywall etc when doing your framing. Not difficult, but if the opening isn't exactly square you'll be in trouble. There is a little wiggle room in the mounting holes on the shelves but not much. I have found it a little easier to frame for a 19 1/4" finished opening, then shim out the side casings 1/16" +/- for a perfect fit before screwing on the rails and nailing on my outside trim.

This is my living room rack. I have an access panel in the back. You may want to consider how you will service your equipment. (There's always something).


Also, it's not a bad idea to get your rack rails and shelves in before construction and put a single space vent on the very top and bottom of the rails and square them up, you can use this as your template to make sure you get a nice tight fit to your trim. Lag or screw the rails through the trim and into your studs. It's really pretty simple carpentry. Oh yeah, you might want to recess the rails back into the opening an inch or so, which gives a little more detail. You really don't want your knobs sticking out into the hallway either. With the rack going that close to the floor (dust, little fingers, etc), you may want to put a door on it someday as well, and setting the rack back into the opening a little will allow for this without having to redo everything.

I've worked extensively with Middle Atlantic products of all sorts, and this type of application is by far my favorite, due to the very clean "built-in" look it has when finished.
Feel free to PM me with any questions you have, or if you get stuck on something.

Lomax, excellent post! Beautiful rack! and just what I needed and I'm sure the OP. Thank you.
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post #25 of 38 Old 02-04-2007, 10:56 AM
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Lomax that is a great rack. Just curious on what you do for cooling since you don't have any vent panels in the front. Thanks for telling us about that program. It works perfect.
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post #26 of 38 Old 02-04-2007, 11:27 AM
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There are six single space vents in his rack. He has the small perforation vents so they are less noticable.

There are no stupid questions, but there are a LOT of inquisitive idiots. Me being one of them at times.

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post #27 of 38 Old 02-04-2007, 07:49 PM
 
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^^

Plus I hardly ever put the access panel on in back. I like to play with the pretty wires, what can I say.

Another tip I can recommend is to paint the inside of the equipment closet black before installing the rack. It helps conceal wires etc. and you don't want to see white walls through the vents holes.
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post #28 of 38 Old 02-07-2007, 10:08 AM
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Thanks for the info, guys. I'm going back underground now until it's time to build. Look for a construction thread in a few months.
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post #29 of 38 Old 02-08-2007, 09:03 AM
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That looks amazing. How did you make the panels for non-rack mount equipment like the x-box for example?
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post #30 of 38 Old 02-08-2007, 10:21 AM
 
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I used a sharpie and a Dremel. Just kidding.

Middle Atlantic has a custom faceplate for pretty much every piece of equipment in existence. If not, you can send the component to them and they will make you one. The faceplate is a part of the shelf assembly.
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