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Questions for new HAI Lumina Pro System

Choots

Member
I'm an IT guy with a DIY background and very interested in Home Automation, but just getting into it.  We're doing a lower level renovation in a 25 year old home, and it's a good time to retro-wire the rest of the house with cat5e/6, for network devices and RG-6 for some video distribution, and I wanted to do some lighting automation and possibly Home Theater automation as well with this project.  I was referred to the HAI system by a knowledgeable friend (who did his own great HA summary spreadsheet by the way).
 
He's suggesting the HAI Lumina Pro would be great for my needs, and I'm trying to validate a few use cases I have before jumping in.  I have a few questions related to this so I've created this thread to capture them all.
 
A. HVAC
I see lots of people talk about multiple thermostats with their HAI systems, and the Omni and Lumina Pro controllers support a ridiculous number of them, but few seem to mention whether they have zoned systems or multiple HVAC units, so I'm confused about what these thermostats are controlling.  What does a system like HAI give you except remote control and some ability to do conditional control based on the temperature - e.g. temperature automation?  
 
1) Since our furnace (single stage gas and AC) and ducting was previously zoned, I've been looking at Honeywell Truezone system for a three zone installation.  I'm trying to understand whether the HAI system would perform as a zone controller with the thermostats, or if you'd still have to get the TrueZone zone controller itself, in addition to zone dampers and other pieces of equipment.  I can understand that HAI or other Zwave thermostats could be used and these could interface with Truezone system, but in that case I assume the Truezone controller would contain all the conditional logic to actually operate the zone control HVAC system.  I can't see HAI being able to perform all the functions of the Zone control system without a lot of programming (e.g. Control the zone dampers, and reading the discharge air temp sensor, is one thing but knowing how to program all the resulting behaviour and management of dampers seems harder.)  But if you could do this, it would save between $200 and $400 on the Honeywell zone controller...
 
So are others using HAI just for remote control of temperature in zoned systems, or is it actually controlling the furnace and AC, along with damper control in order to afford true integration and control with HVAC?  And if the latter, is this programming available somewhere so that I can avoid spending on two controller?
 
2) The Honeywell has wired and wireless thermostats which allow you to place them more easily without running retrofit wiring, which already exists in our previously zoned system, but I might like to place the thermostats in other locations.  Would the Zwave  thermostats still need to connect to the furnace and A/C (or the zone controllers depending on answers to the above question) using a four or five wire cable, or are they somehow wireless as well? (I mean other than the interaction with the Lumina Pro controller).
 
3) Since the Honeywell system has it's own ability for remote control and web-based interface (ipad, android), and the Lumina Pro does too, what are the advantages of hooking up with the Lumina, over keeping separate control with the Honeywell system?  What are other people doing with this?  Why would I want my thermostats hooked into the Lumina Pro, if the TrueZone zone controller is really managing the HVAC stuff?  What do you gain?
 
 
B.  Lighting
I was originally very interested in the Lutron RadioRa2 system for lighting because I thought the wall switches and scene controller devices looked really slick and professional - a step above the seemingly less polished nature of the HAI and like systems.... but I know this is quite subjective.  So I'm wanting to take advantage of UPB and HIC(?) powerline switches, but am also interested in some Z-Wave scene controllers I see out there, in addition to the HAI 6 button one.  
 
1) Will all z-Wave scene controllers be compatible with the HAI Lumina Pro, or are scene controllers (and the house status switch and the room switch) different than the typical load switches?  ?  I have it in my head that they may be somewhat proprietary, whereas the switches and devices that control loads are more interchangeable.  I can see how I'd be wrong, but in my reading of the spec, I can't get it figured out. 
 
2) How does Z-wave work for scene control - is all the programming store in the scene controller unit, or stored in the Lumina pro and all that is just transmitted to the scene controller?   I understand you have to add a PIM to do Z Wave, but if Z-Wave scene controllers work with different devices, what ones typically work well?
 
 
I may have additional questions as I go - thanks for any help in advance.
 
Choots
 

neillt

Active Member
Hey Choots.... you are probably on the right path on getting a Lumina Pro.  It's basically an OmniPro without the security side, which you didn't even mention so I am assuming you already have it covered or it's not a concern. 
 
Let me add my 2 cents to each of your questions:
 
A) HVAC - You will still need a zone controller.  The OmniStats are basically remote controlled thermostats, given commands from the Omni/Lumina.  Controlling zone flappers and what not would be a complicated mess trying to use the native capabilities of the panel.  You would use OmniStats in each zone and let the HAI panel control the target temp setpoints, but let a specialized zone controller handle the flappers and air handler control.  If you have a wiring issue, you can always employ Zigbee thermostats for a wireless install.
 
B) Lighting - welcome to the Pennzoil v. Castrol or Mac v. PC argument of the HA world.  RadioRA2 is proprietary, and Lutron holds pretty tight control over those devices, so if that's the way you go expect to pay a premium.  HLC (HAI Lighting Control) is nothing more than UPB devices set up in a standardized way.  I have used HAI, PulseWorx, and Simply Automated devices together with no problem.  HAI's 6 and 8 button scene controllers work well and can be used for many things.
 
I am not a Z-wave expert, but I do know that the Lumina panel will not hold any kind of Z-Wave configuration or control on the board.  You can assign units, locks, and I even think thermostats to Z-Wave IDs but that's about it.  But to be honest this is no different than UPB or ZigBee.
 

Choots

Member
Thanks Neillt - yes, I don't really have to much concern about having a complete security system - my understanding is that the Lumina Pro can do all things related to security except dial out in case of incident - it is not listed to call out and can't support this.  So some of the functions needed to support security devices and use cases are there, but it won't dial out in emergencies.  If that's correct, I'm ok with that.
 
It makes sense to me that you would need the Zone controller for HVAC, it's just too bad that you can't do away with the (seemingly) extra controller and extra cost, but I guess you can't expect the HA controller to do everything.   :)
Regarding how the Omnistats (or another ZigBee or Zwave) thermostat and the Lumina Pro talk to the HVAC equipment - is it correct to say the Lumina Pro talks to each zone thermostat and can adjust temp settings, but the thermostats would still be directly connected to the zone controller to drive the HVAC equipment as in any other non-HA installation?  i.e. there's no connection between the Lumina Pro and the Honeywell Zone controller at all...
 
On the lighting side, I do plan to use the HAI UPB devices that you describe, but I was also planning on using some Z-Wave equipment (locks, thermostats, but also lighting if possible for specific things).  I like the aesthetics of some ZWave scene controllers, but I'm still not clear whether they would work.  Perhaps I'm overcomplicating it, as I originally thought only HAI scene controllers would work with the system.  By your answer I'm assuming then that any scene controller would hold the scene program in it's own device memory, and each supported scene would simply be some kind of address within the device and referenced by the Lumina Pro.  The scene would be activated when that scene button is pressed by the user - the scene controller would communicate and control the switches - but also the scene could also be called by the Lumina Pro when needed based on some other event?  If that's correct then that makes sense, and should allow me to use any Zwave scene controller.
 
Another question is what do people do in a large room like a home theater or multi-use area where you will likely have multiple lighting loads to control? We will have 6 or 7 loads in the Home theater and multiple entrances.  It seems like the switches will create a lot of wall acne...  The way I see it, there could be something like two separate three gang switch boxes, AND a scene controller at the main entrance, and at least another scene controller at the other entrance (but possibly a couple additional switches in a three way config), and at least two switches and possibly another scene controller at the sliding glass door to the exterior.  Seems like a lot of wall space used for switches... is that normal?  Any way that people avoid this?
 
Thanks,
Choots
 

ano

Senior Member
On HVAC:
 
Honeywell has come out with several new wireless options now, and the sales rep. came to my house with the AC guy to sell them, but unfortunately, they are not the way to go.  So the zone controller connects to the HVAC system, and the zone dampers. The HAI thermostats connect to the zone controller, and the HAI controller connects to the thermostats. HAI does have Zigbee versions of the OmniStat2, which I use, and that eliminates the wires from the thermostats to the controller. You still need wires from the zone controller to the thermostats.  The Honeywell wireless part eliminates the thermostat wires, but those thermostats will not communicate with the HAI controller.  The HAI system really doesn't care if the thermostat is connected to a zone controller or separate system. 
 
On lighting:
 
UPB works well, and you can use both UPB and Z-Wave and Zigbee.  A few companies make Zigbee locks so there is no use to use Z-wave just for locks if you have ZigBee.  If you use ZigBee thermostats, they will act as repeaters for the locks. 
 
In UPB, you can have UPB scenes and HAI scenes.  UPB scenes are activated in the switch and programmed with UPStart.  If you go the HAI route, the panel will program the scenes for you.  The HAI method is simpler to setup but requires all HAI equipment, the UPStart method is more flexible, but is also more work to setup.  
 
In a room with many switches, look at the Simply Automated UPB switches. They have faceplates that put two or four switches in the space of a single switch.  Or you could use scenes and in-line modules, but no actual switches.
 

Choots

Member
I've been away for a while but I appreciate the response.  I'll come back to my HVAC/Thermostat questions, but this gives me some good info.  
 
Our lower level remodel will have a bar and Home theater/media room.   I've just had a walk through with the electrician that is going to wire our basement, and he was already knowledgeable and familiar with the basics of the HAi/UPB system - at least how to wire it.  I'm planning for the following loads with the Lumina Pro:
 
Room = Bar - Three Lighting loads (possibly five) on dimmers:
1) Recessed cans
2) Bar Pendant lights
3) Under cabinet LED strip
(4 - possible inclusion of the Stairway landing lighting in a room outside the Bar/HT)
(5 - possible inclusion of an exterior outlet for rope lighting on the exterior deck - on/off control)
 
Room = Home theater - Six loads on dimmers with scene controller
1) Recessed Cans in HT
2) Soffit downlighting around perimeter (small halogen or LED)
3) Screen wall and fireplace wash lights
4) Rope lighting (three different segment in separated locations - planning on three outlets )
5) Built in Cabinet - Niche Art accent lighting (small LED puck lighting - preferably dimmable.)
6) Floor Lamp and Table Lamp on one load - floor outlet and wall outlet receptacle to power lamps (would like this to be controlled by a dimmer switch)
 
I'm thinking of including a couple other switched outlets (possibly put these in the Bar room and program them to coexist with the Bar loads):
1 - Two hidden subwoofers with plate amps - to turn on/off when not in use because you can't get to the back of the amp once installed.
2- Two other outlets for power for remote control blinds (one window and one sliding glass door)
 
 
My Questions:
1) Is this lighting design (rooms, # of loads) going to be possible with the Lumina Pro ?  I've read that you can can assign 8 loads to one room, 7 if you include a scene controller.  Is this correct?  Does my design look appropriate?
 
2) We also need scene controllers at the two separate entries to the Bar/HT, but these might control the HT lighting, not necessarily the Bar area.  I was thinking the scene controllers would behave like a three-way switch - does this reduce the number of loads you can control per room?  Is there a better way to think about organizing this?
 
3) I appreciate the suggestion above to use Simply automated switches and reduce the wall switch footprint.  I'll look into it.  The electrician suggested hiding some of the the switches under that staircase to avoid it being so visible.  I think this needs to be balanced and consider how you are going to use the room.  You may need some switches out to make it simple to just turn on a light when needed.  I'd appreciate some input here.
 
4) We might also need several of these to be 3-Way and even 4-way switches, as it would be nice to turn on the recessed cans from the two entrances as well as the sliding glass door.  Is there a reason I should use Auxiliary switches/dimmers to put specific some 3-way/4-way lighting loads in several places, instead of wiring for it?  Is it just labor costs for the electrician?  Should I plan to have it conventionally wired as a 3-way so it can be converted back to regular switches?  I wanted to ask how others are handling this.  If I put switches for loads away under the stairs then I wouldn't do this for those obviously.
 
5) I haven't researched shade control very much - It sounds like there are many different options, but haven't figured out what devices to use.  But I just want my Lumina Pro to control it.  I'll have a receptacle up near the blinds on both pieces of glass for power, but do I need another kind of wire for the a control signal - like contact closure? Can I just use a UPB outlet and turn a blind motor on/off? Can you suggest some options to research that will work with the Lumina Pro?  At the very least I want to pre-wire properly for it even if I don't implement it right away.
 
Thanks for your input!
Choots
 

neillt

Active Member
1 - Design looks fine... remember that the 8 device limit is really just part of HAI's structured numbering of UPB devices.
 
2 - Scene controllers can do whatever the hell you want... only if you stick to the stock programming does it have to only control devices in the "room" you assign it to.
 
3 - Kind of like above... you can get an HAI 8 button controller and have it control 8 loads that are hidden away somewhere.  Or the 6 button with a defined "On" and "Off" scene but then 4 individual load control buttons in between.
 
4 - The only reason to use aux switches is to save money.  If you wire them with constant hot and a neutral you can use any UPB device to send the commands to turn whatever load you want on and off.
 
5 - Shades can be complicated.  Lumina Pro can control just about anything.  I would say find the shades that meet the decor and budget you have, and then come back and ask specifically if they work.  Chances are there is a way. 
 

Choots

Member
Thanks neillt - 
 
So regarding 1 and 2 above you are just referring to how HAI identifies "rooms" and how the devices are numbered - that's fine.   Regarding my question 2, does a scene controller take up a space in a room?  That's how I read it.  I'm assuming you are saying that doesn't really matter because you can just use another ID from another room and continue programming.
 
3.  Yes, I think I understand that, my problem is deciding whether to hide switches at all, since I have other people in the house who might occasionally want to switch only one load versus using a scene controller button.  Just trying to make it user friendly.  I think you could hide some lesser used switches, and keep only the most prominent switches out in view.
 
4. I'm not sure I got this.  You are saying the aux switches saves money over second dimmer is a three way configuration, right?  But then I'm not sure I understand the rest of this statement.
 
5.  I'm looking at the Hunter Douglas PowerRise motorized shades.  I had an idea to put an outlet near the top of the window and the Sliding glass door where the shades would be installed, and thought that I could do some control through the receptacle, but that's probably wrong.  Then I read that there is a HD RF device they have now that can be controlled with power at the receptacle, and that makes the shades go up and down (apply power and it goes up, remove power it goes down). Is it that simple?  I could control this RF device with an outlet near the blinds and I wouldn't have to mount receptacles up on the wall near the top of the blinds.   Are there any other options I should consider as I'm starting my low voltage pre-wire soon?
 

Choots

Member
Thanks ano - I appreciate your response - just a couple questions.  I'm thinking of using some Z wave devices, particularly for HVAC initially.  I'm considering the ZWave version of the Honeywell Vision Pro which we already have in our house.  We like it.  Because of the high cost, we may just get two for upstairs and move the existing (non-Zwave) one on the main level downstairs (less used space for a while).
 
http://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-YTH8320ZW1007-Enabled-Programmable-Thermostat/dp/B005EJ7YO2
 
Any issues with this device that you are aware of? Is there any reason to go for the Omnistat 2.  I know I'll have to wire them to the HVAC Zone controller, but I think we can get to it.
 
Also, regarding your comments on my switches question,
1) For a multi-switch, like a four switch unit,  I'm assuming you'd have to wire the four loads into one box, correct?  Does that four switch unit come at a significantly higher price?  There's got to be some catch...
2) What are in-line modules?  As opposed to a switch?  
3) I want to use dimmers to achieve the lighting effects in the Home Theater - does this change what you're suggesting?  I would still have to get dimmer type switches right?
4) I'm still trying to decide between hiding some away and having specific ones out on the wall.  If I put some of them away won't that make it extra hard to program scenes?
 
Thanks for your help.
 

Choots

Member
Is no one able or willing to reply?  I really need some help as my pre-wire is coming up fast and decisions are needed about the location of switches.  The HVAC stuff is not so critical, but I would really appreciate any help you all can provide.
 
Also, is there a listing of known working LED fixtures that would work with HLC or Simply Automated UPB gear?  I may need to install incandescent fixtures intially and then replace with LED sometime in future, but I want to be sure I don't have to replace switches at that time too - I don't want something that won't be compatible for my future needs.
 
Regards,
Choots
 

ano

Senior Member
I use ZigBee, not Z-Wave so I am not sure if a Z-Wave thermostat will work with an HAI controller.  I can tell you that non-HAI ZigBee devices usually will NOT work with the Omni Pro II other than the most basic functions.  I'm not sure if that is because they don't want it to work with these other devices, or if they were just too lazy to test with them, and due to lack of testing, they just don't work.
 
Certainly any thermostat will work with a zone controller as long as its a generic zone controller like the Honeywell.  If you get a Trane or Carrier zone controller, they typically ONLY work with their communicating thermostats and that is it.
 
Even IF the HAI panel can control a Z-Wave thermostat, and as I said, that might be iffy, but even so, it won't control any features that are proprietary to HAI, like I'm sure you can't read back the humidity, you can't set the fan cycle mode, etc. like you can with the Omnistat2.  You may, however, be able to set the thermostat through Wi-Fi or Z-Wave using other means.  (The OmniStat2 can be wired or wireless using ZigBee. The wireless one is more expensive and requires the "ZIM" but it does work good, but use wires if you can.) So is it important to you if the Omni Pro II can directly control the thermostats? For me it has been VERY important as my systems relies on this a great deal. I not only have the Omni Pro II control the Omnistats at least hourly, but I also use the information read back from them to control other things. Like room temp determines if the ceiling fan runs, humidity turns on the exhaust fan, etc.
 
As for LED control, I have many types of UPB switches and many types of LED lights, and at a minimum they can turn the fixture on and off without a problem.  Dimming gets more tricky and that will be something you will need to test.  HAI does make a UPB switch designed just for LED lights, but it costs more, so you will need to weigh if its worth it or not.
 
On the switches, there are LOTS of options.  You have to decide what you want, how much your willing to pay, what if you sell your house, and the electrical codes.  The answer to these questions will determine where your electrical boxes go and which ones you need.
 

Choots

Member
Thanks for the input.  I've since wired the basement and think I have mostly got my plan down for the lighting. My electrician has installed several HAI OmniPro IIs (I'm using the Lumina Pro), so he's very familiar with the HAI UPB stuff.  Not so much with the other communication protocols or vendor switches, but he's been helpful.  I'm still working through some lighting questions, and deciding whether to use Simply Automated or HAI switches/dimmers.  I'm sure some would've done things a little differently, but I think it will work out ok.  I'll use a mixture of both, because I'll need some switched receptacles, and some relays, and some dimmers as well as switches.  Haven't made a final list yet and could be convinced otherwise.
 
My main issues now are controlling my furnace, and interfacing this with the HAI system.  I mentioned our furnace was previously zoned, and that was uninstalled before we bought the house. I'm going with the Honeywell TrueZone Zone control system and their ZD dampers.  I've discovered my furnace is a two stage heat unit; the Lennox G27M5-120A-2, but it's setup for single stage use with no zoning, using a Honeywell Vision Pro single stage thermostat - which only has a four-wire connection back to the furnace.  The other 2 previous thermostat locations likely also have a four wire that still runs back to the furnace area, but is not in use.  I'm trying to decide what thermostats to go with for my three zones, and am considering the HAI Omnistat2 multi-stage units, so in addition to adding zoning, I could convert the furnace to use the two stages, and get a little more efficiency out of it.  But that seems to require a five wire connection at least between the furnace and the zone controller.  I am not sure though whether I need three multi-stage thermostats if I'm using the Honeywell Truezone Zone Controller (HZ322 - Three zones; 2-stage heat and cool), or if I can use the single stage thermostats in each zone and the TrueZone controller will manage the first and second stage firing with it's own furnace connection, which will be right in the mechanical room next to the furnace - and easy to wire. 
 
I'm hoping I can get away with single stage thermostats, Omnistat2 single stage thermos wired to Honeywell Truezone Panel, and wired to Lumina Pro for communications - I'll do this if it's easy to wire and I can avoid multi-stage thermostats to reduce the cost.  I got the impression this might work would from reading the Omnistat2 user manual, but I'm not sure.   If not, then I'll either have to rewire the thermostat locations - but I know it won't be that easy.  I also thought about using the remote sensors with the existing wire back to the mechanical room and then use centralized thermostats under remote control, but that probably wouldn't have a lot of WAF initially....at least until I could get her using the HAI Snaplink system from her phone.  
 
So, can I use three, single-stage thermostats with the Honeywell TrueZone controller to manage a multi-stage furnace, or will it have to be multi-stage versions?   Anyone know?
 
Choots
 

fcwilt

Active Member
If you know what model of zone controller you are planning on using just locate the install document(s) and see what thermostats are compatible and how many stages the thermostats are.
 
One problem with HAI UPB lighting is the fairly primative implementation. The HAI approach is to divide the house into multiple "rooms" (31 max if memory serves me) and assign a fixed number (8) of devices (dimmers, etc) per room. This approach allows HAI to NOT have to load the UPB system configuration into the controllers memory.
 
Contrast this with more sophisticated home automation controllers which DO load the UPB system configuration into the controllers memory. With this approach the controller knows what devices send what links, what device respond to what links, etc. This approach allows you to allocate the UPB devices to your home as you see fit and the controller will at all times (aside from communication errors) know that state of each device.
 
I would be comfortable installing an ELK or an HAI system IF the primary use was security with a bit of automation added in. But I would not chose one if my primary goal was home automation.
 

ano

Senior Member
So as I said, recently replaced two HVAC units and have an HAI system, so I went through the same decisions you are having.  I ended up with the same Honeywell TrueZone Zone control system you probably are looking at. I have two Trane two-stage systems, and one has three zones with the zone controller.
 
First I should say I considered NOT using a zone controller, and I had a home automation guy who pushed in that direction. He wanted to use relays on the HAI to control the zone dampers using just temp sensors connected to the HAI unit. It certainly would be cheaper and you could control your temps with an HAI touchscreen.  So no zone controller and no OmniStats, but just dampers, some sensors and some code. The real reason I didn't go with that was because I was already using many of the Omni outputs for other functions, and it would require some rearranging.
 
So in any case, I went with the Honeywell zone controller, and four two-stage Omnistat 2's. Yes most expensive option.
 
Now you ask about one stage or two stage thermostats, and that is a good question.  Yes, the Honeywell thermostat can use one stage thermostats, or two-stage thermostats.  So why use the two-stage?  Basically because the smarts in an Omnistat2 is much greater than the smarts in the zone controller. 
 
I have one stage heat and two stage AC because I'm in AZ, but you are probably in a colder area.  I'm not sure where you live, but my question is, do you even need two stage heat? And do you have gas/oil heat, or a heatpump?  I definitely do need two stage AC here in AZ.
 
So if you use single stage thermostats with a furnace you want to be two-stage, then the Honeywell can do that, but it can only base the stage on the number of thermostats calling for heat, OR the length of time they are calling for heat.  Not the best, but better than nothing.
 
If you use two-stage Omnistats, they can decide stage one or two based on the temperature and how good the furnace is at heating your house.  With AC this is a big advantage, but with heat, I'm not sure its worth the extra cost for two stage Omnistats.  The Omnistats are very smart so they will only call for stage two AC when you really need it. This is good because it keeps peak demand lower. Again for heat, maybe that isn't a factor.
 
So I think your plan to one single stage Omnistats will work, unless there is a reason for tighter control.
 
Also, unfortunately the ONE thing in an Omnistats the HAI can't control is the stage. The thermostats are on-their-own in this case.  (You can semi-get around this by tweaking their temperature.)
 

ano

Senior Member
Frederick C. Wilt said:
I would be comfortable installing an ELK or an HAI system IF the primary use was security with a bit of automation added in. But I would not chose one if my primary goal was home automation.
 
Of course the way around that problem is to use ELK or HAI for lighting control where it makes sense, but also connect your panel up to Homeseer, or CQC which can do more sophisticated control when you need it.  And also note, if you use UPB with HAI, you do NOT have to follow fixed room/HAI approach if you don't want to. Its just the other way requires UPStart and is a bit more work. That is what I have done, and both the HAI system and CQC can control any lights, its just this setup was much more work to configure, but it also gives much more flexibility.  (You don't have to use all HAI switches, for one.)
 

fcwilt

Active Member
ano said:
Of course the way around that problem is to use ELK or HAI for lighting control where it makes sense, but also connect your panel up to Homeseer, or CQC which can do more sophisticated control when you need it.  And also note, if you use UPB with HAI, you do NOT have to follow fixed room/HAI approach if you don't want to. Its just the other way requires UPStart and is a bit more work. That is what I have done, and both the HAI system and CQC can control any lights, its just this setup was much more work to configure, but it also gives much more flexibility.  (You don't have to use all HAI switches, for one.)
 
Indeed you do not have to follow the HAI UPB scheme but then you lose all status tracking unless you put in a ton of rules. Software systems like CQC or hardware systems like Elan g! already have the support needed to track UPB devices status.
 
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