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Old 06-29-2022, 03:55 PM   #1
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2022 Interstate 19
Athens , GA
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Energy Sources

I'm enjoying my '22 AI19 for the last couple of weeks, but need (a lot of) help. I realize the chassis diesel engine powers the drivetrain and can also charge batteries (obviously the engine battery; what about the lithiums?). I also know that there's a propane generator that can power the the unit, and that there are solar panels on top and a couple of Lithium batteries as well. Other than that, I'm clueless. Is anyone aware of a primer/power for dummies that can explain how they all work and interact? For example, I know there's an inverter/converter, but have no idea what it does and when I need it. Also, I've received the following message several times on czone but not sure why or what to do (besides start the battery- but which one, and how?). I tried the Airstream owner's manual and the individual literature provider for each device but was hoping for something more user-friendly. I'm willing to put in the work to understand but appreciate y'alls direction towards a resource.

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Old 06-29-2022, 04:22 PM   #2
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2022 Interstate 24X
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Hi

There are various YouTube's on this or that component of your system ( generator, inverter, solar, alternator ....). I do not know of any "all in one" presentation. The normal delivery process has a (likely couple of hour) walk through by the dealer showing you what's what. It is a lot of info in a very short time period ... overload is a common problem.

What you have:

Alternator charges the house battery ( the lithiums ) and the chassis battery ( the one attached to the engine ). If the house battery goes flat, you still *should* be able to start the engine and head down the road.

Solar charges the house battery, but on your van, I don't think it charges the chassis battery. That feature came out more recently.

Inverter turns house battery power into 120V AC to run things like the TV and a couple of wall outlets. You can not run the A/C off the inverter. You may or may not be able to run the microwave off the inverter ( again, things have changed over the years).

The converter charger is part of your inverter ( = you have what's called a hybrid setup). That turns the shore power from the 30A input into 12V to charge the batteries. It also runs the LED lighting and various other 12V items ( like the water pump and fridge).

The generator should be big enough to let you run the A/C. It also will power the converter / charger section to charge the house battery. You may or may not be charging the chassis battery off the generator / shore power. Again things change and previous owners add this or that to their vans.

The magic "dc voltage low" message means you need to charge your batteries. That may or may not be relevant due to the CZone being a bit flakey and the system possibly still being set up for lead acid.

The van did not come with lithiums and was originally set up for lead acid. There are a bunch of things that need to be done to make it run properly on lithiums. I would suggest that either you spend a couple weeks diving into all that or find a good tech to go through it for you.

Quick list ( and not 100% targeted at your van):

1) Converter / charger needs to be set up for lithium voltages ( this is very important).

2) Chasis and house sytems need to be separated since they now operate at different voltages.

3) A DC/DC converter needs to be installed to charge the lithiums while you drive down the road. The alternator can't put out both the right voltage for the chassis battery and the house battery all at once.

4) The various alarms and monitors need to be recalibrated for lithium voltages.

That's a quick list and it at least hits the high points.

Fun !!!

Bob
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Old 06-30-2022, 02:21 PM   #3
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MJ - Start with the many videos on the linked Airstream Support web page for the AI-19.

https://support.airstream.com/hc/en-...s/360011285391

There are dozens of videos at this site covering all your systems.
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Old 07-02-2022, 06:38 AM   #4
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I appreciate y’all’s help! I’m down in Athens GA and welcome anyone to some southern hospitality if in the area.
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Old 07-02-2022, 06:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi


..............

Quick list ( and not 100% targeted at your van):

1) Converter / charger needs to be set up for lithium voltages ( this is very important).

2) Chasis and house sytems need to be separated since they now operate at different voltages.

3) A DC/DC converter needs to be installed to charge the lithiums while you drive down the road. The alternator can't put out both the right voltage for the chassis battery and the house battery all at once.

4) The various alarms and monitors need to be recalibrated for lithium voltages.


Bob

2) & 3) is a very simple and relatively low cost fix. First, the chassis and coach batteries do not need to be separated (AGM & Lithium) they need to be isolated and managed. This is done by the BIM (Battery Isolation Manager)

The non-lithium BIM in the AI is a made by Precision Circuits. This can simply be replaced by the 225A Lithium BIM from the same manufacturer, a 15 minute job once you can see and touch the existing BIM. I have one of these installed and working for two years now and it functions absolutely flawless. Save a bunch of money and time and do not loose any previous system functions.
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Old 07-03-2022, 09:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailfast View Post
2) & 3) is a very simple and relatively low cost fix. First, the chassis and coach batteries do not need to be separated (AGM & Lithium) they need to be isolated and managed. This is done by the BIM (Battery Isolation Manager)

The non-lithium BIM in the AI is a made by Precision Circuits. This can simply be replaced by the 225A Lithium BIM from the same manufacturer, a 15 minute job once you can see and touch the existing BIM. I have one of these installed and working for two years now and it functions absolutely flawless. Save a bunch of money and time and do not loose any previous system functions.
Hi

Setting things up so that a lead acid house battery can act as a starting battery for the engine ( = supplement the chassis battery) is ok from the standpoint of the lead acid house battery ( flooded or AGM). Lithiums do *not* like to be used as starting batteries. Separating the two so this does not happen is a really good idea.

Bob
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Old 07-03-2022, 05:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Setting things up so that a lead acid house battery can act as a starting battery for the engine ( = supplement the chassis battery) is ok from the standpoint of the lead acid house battery ( flooded or AGM). Lithiums do *not* like to be used as starting batteries. Separating the two so this does not happen is a really good idea.

Bob
Well, ........ the BIM will keep the two battery systems "happy". It is correct that Lithium batteries are not ordinarily suitable as starting batteries, but the engine will start with a 100AH LFP battery. Think of the instant current draw the microwave oven has on a LFP battery system(!). In my years with an AI I have yet had to use the coach battery to start the engine. The chassis battery uses next to no power while shut off (radio is fed by coach bat) If one would not want to even try to start the car on the coach batteries, you can just hold the button on the dash and give the chassis battery a boost and then try starting.

If I read the details on the Precision Circuit LI-BIM one can see how the chassis and coach batteries keep each other happy. For years I have connected a 50 amp solar panel on the chassis battery during winter lay-over. The solar panels on the roof are at times covered with snow on not feeding the coach batteries. However when I check the voltages on both battery systems, it is the same. I have to add that for winter I replace LFP batteries with two 6V/220AH AGM's, however, the LI-BIM is the manager. The LFP's are removed because I haven't had the nerve to leave them in -20C for extended periods. Though, no reservations to store them down to single digits for extended periods.

Anyway, this is just my opinion and I think it makes sense to leave the system as designed and accommodate LFP chassis battery charging with the least time and effort. This is just one charging method that changes with LFP, solar- as well as shore/generator power-charging also has to accommodate LFP. Unfortunately LFP battery systems are a bit more complex and it takes learning and knowledge to maintain one.
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Old 07-04-2022, 05:53 AM   #8
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A little bit more info on what is being discussed is that you should not and cannot use your lithium battery to feed your chassis battery any longer, once that upgrade is done. That means if your chassis battery goes to low to start your vehicle, you cannot any longer, jump start your vehicle by connecting the two once you have a lithium setup.

Probably discussing that further is a bit confusing in my opinion. I think it’s easier to say doing one of these two options will fix the problem without having to go into tons of details and debate.

As was mentioned, we, as Interstate owners, have a BIM in our coaches. Once you upgrade to lithium, you either need to install the Li-BIM in place of the BIM, or change to a DC to DC converter. There are pros and cons to doing either, which gets a little involved in discussion at this point. To say it like this, installing the Li-BIM is almost like magic, not to sound cheesy. The Li-BIM will let your systems work in harmony without having to worry about voltage and draw differences. Just know you can’t jump your chassis battery from your lithium battery any longer, like I said, unless someone knows more than me on that.

We also, like Sailfast, installed the LI-BIM to convert to lithium. We have a 2014.5 Interstate which only came with one measly 100W solar panel, which barely if any puts power back into the system. I have not yet upgraded our solar at this time.

You have advantage over our older Interstate, as you, I believe, have three panels (???…been a bit since I’ve looked at the newer models)…. It will help to recharge your lithium batteries, if you convert.

Really, I think one of the most overlooked aspect/discussion in converting to lithium is how to recharge the batteries. We are limited as to how many and how big our solar panels can get on an Interstate. We still have no regrets upgrading, but I am at a disadvantage over you at this point as once I get lower on my lithium battery charge, you have to plug in, drive, or combo both, and if you have a decent solar setup, that’s another consideration. It’s not really a huge issue but might be a consideration before I’d want to boondock for an extended period as I am low on options to recharge batteries. I don’t use our generator much as it is loud, but that helps to recharge the batteries too. I have yet to use it to recharge our lithium battery system.

If I were to look at better options than what I have, I’d consider upgrading solar of course, maybe look at adding on another alternator but that system is spendy too, and look at a DC-DC converter setup instead of the Li-BIM as it gives you more charging capability off your current OE alternator over the LI-BIM.

You can swap your batteries with consideration to your charging profile meaning inverter/converter. You should have the newer version of the Magnum which should let you add a lithium profile for charging if you don’t have it already programmed in your inverter. You might have to buy a different controller or look into that. I called Magnum to figure that out on our upgrade.

I still think the two videos by Irene Fitness does a good job of explaining upgrading to lithium in the Interstates. Keep in mind that your Interstate again, has a newer model Magnum that should accept or have that lithium charging profile. I think if that is the case, and you do leave your Magnum in as your charger/inverter, you wouldn’t have to rewire a lot of your coach like he did in the video. It does show how to wire in the Li-Bim which you would have to change. Maybe someone else would have a good reference for wiring in a DC-DC charger as I have not done that and/or researched that much yet.

We had an older Magnum, and I wanted to be able to run the air conditioner off lithium, so we rewired like Aaron from Irene Fitness did, and installed a Victron 3000W inverter/charger. I think I might not have done so if I had the Magnum with lithium charging capabilities. It was a lot of work to install the inverter in such a small space, and I don’t know if it was worth the expense and effort yet at this point. Mostly the effort. I tried to get creative and mount it differently, and I don’t know if I would do that again. Twisting into little 6” spaces isn’t the most fun. Seemed easy in my head….not so much in practice.

I personally have not seen any other videos that really does a good job of explaining van upgrades like ours other than the Irene Fitness videos. Hope someone else can provide direction for you on that.

I’ll post a link to the two videos in another window. Good luck on your research! It took me a few weeks and a lot of notes to compile all the information I needed to make the upgrade.

Best part of lithium in my opinion, is having the extra power there when you need it, but I’d say best of all, is getting to unplug and not worry about damaging the batteries by doing so. That was a big improvement for us. Enjoy it if you decide to take the leap. We have no regrets.
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Old 07-04-2022, 06:12 AM   #9
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Old 07-04-2022, 06:50 AM   #10
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To the OP, about that message on your CZone - a couple of things to check. First, that start battery is your cranking battery. It could be low due to damage/age (maybe it sat for a while during build waiting on a final part) or it could be being drained while you are parked.

To check for damage, you can have it load tested at any auto parts store or garage like a tire store. If it drained down for too long, that could be the issue.

As for draining while toy are parked, that would require using one of the things that relies on chassis batteries vs house batteries for a while without driving around. Leaving the headlights on (they should turn off after a while on new coaches to prevent this), running the radio for a while while parked? That could do it. The steps also use the chassis battery but I can’t imagine that being the issue. What is chassis vs house battery usage is one of the hardest things to learn but it isn’t really important until you try to determine why you are getting that message.
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Old 07-04-2022, 07:24 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Hawk-ination View Post
A little bit more info on what is being discussed is that you should not and cannot use your lithium battery to feed your chassis battery any longer, once that upgrade is done. That means if your chassis battery goes to low to start your vehicle, you cannot any longer, jump start your vehicle by connecting the two once you have a lithium setup.


Just know you can’t jump your chassis battery from your lithium battery any longer, like I said, unless someone knows more than me on that.
Hawk-ination,

The dash switch is still functional. I have the LI-BIM installed too and when I press the dash button you can hear the clanking of the BIM and the two battery banks tying in together. Attached is the first page of PC BIM page and # 8 notes this.

Those are too great videos for those who own units up to 2015 for space constraints purposes and not wiring. Mine is a 2015 and that is the year that they cramped everything under the drives side jump seat - fun times!
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Old 07-04-2022, 07:53 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjacobs View Post
I'm enjoying my '22 AI19 for the last couple of weeks, but need (a lot of) help. I realize the chassis diesel engine powers the drivetrain and can also charge batteries (obviously the engine battery; what about the lithiums?). I also know that there's a propane generator that can power the the unit, and that there are solar panels on top and a couple of Lithium batteries as well. Other than that, I'm clueless. Is anyone aware of a primer/power for dummies that can explain how they all work and interact? For example, I know there's an inverter/converter, but have no idea what it does and when I need it. Also, I've received the following message several times on czone but not sure why or what to do (besides start the battery- but which one, and how?). I tried the Airstream owner's manual and the individual literature provider for each device but was hoping for something more user-friendly. I'm willing to put in the work to understand but appreciate y'alls direction towards a resource.



Attachment 418600


Good morning all

I also have a 22 AI19 (factory included lithiums) and received this message. Additionally, I received an email from the configured Mercedes Me that the start battery was critical and I needed to run the vehicle for 30 to 60 minutes.

Was plugged into shore power while this was going on. Since it was nighttime I did nothing but tried to get some sleep. Next day a good friend with elec knowledge pointed out that the engine should start with +- 12 volts so he was unsure why all the scary messages. Looking at the monitor menu tab in the czone the voltage was hovering right around 12v. By about 10am the start battery icon in the czone went from orange colored back to blue so it must have been getting charge from somewhere, solar or shore. After the trip had Mercedes check the battery and they said it was fine. Let’s avoid the topic of the Mercedes-Airstream (lack of) relationship.

Am I nervous about the next trip, heck yes. I am handy but untrained in electrical engineering. Love love love the aesthetic of the van but the technology is mind boggling to me.

With a lot of experience with airstream trailers over the years both used and new I also have a level of concern of what “from the factory” means.

Dealers are well intentioned but again with these newest configurations, a boot camp put on by the one or two people who actually know would be highly valuable to have.

Apologies to OP for not knowing the answer to your question but sharing “me too” and how my situation resolved itself.

Take care
Christine
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Old 07-04-2022, 10:26 AM   #13
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Good points on it being a good layout on the earlier model. Theory still applies at least. I’d hate to try to get inside the jump seat also. Not sure under the lounge and next to the frame would be less desirable or not!

I’d missed the page you attached on the LI-BIM so that explains how they are connected.

Apologies to the OP, as in re-reading the post, I think they already have lithium installed. My information is probably not helpful in that case.


Quote:
Originally Posted by StogieMan View Post
Hawk-ination,

The dash switch is still functional. I have the LI-BIM installed too and when I press the dash button you can hear the clanking of the BIM and the two battery banks tying in together. Attached is the first page of PC BIM page and # 8 notes this.

Those are too great videos for those who own units up to 2015 for space constraints purposes and not wiring. Mine is a 2015 and that is the year that they cramped everything under the drives side jump seat - fun times!
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Old 07-04-2022, 10:34 AM   #14
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Hi

Your lithiums like to run up around 13.6 volts when resting. Your lead acid or AGM batteries like to run around 12.6 volts when resting. There is no way any connection between those two battery types is going to keep both "happy".

You *can* put in a device ( a diode) that will let the chassis battery source power to the house side. Your tiny chassis battery isn't of much use to power the house stuff and flattening it makes starting up in the morning a PIA.

A diode between the house and chassis is only going to help you when you go to start the vehicle. Since it will put high voltage ( well above 12.6V) on the chassis, you will be running on the house battery most of the time. Again, not a good thing.

When AS does a stock van with lithium, there is no longer a BIM or anything like it hooking the two empires. You have a (one way) DC/DC to charge the lithiums and no other connection. The other factories who do stock lithium setups do it the same way.

Bob
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Old 07-04-2022, 10:52 AM   #15
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Hi

Your lithiums like to run up around 13.6 volts when resting. Your lead acid or AGM batteries like to run around 12.6 volts when resting. There is no way any connection between those two battery types is going to keep both "happy".

You *can* put in a device ( a diode) that will let the chassis battery source power to the house side. Your tiny chassis battery isn't of much use to power the house stuff and flattening it makes starting up in the morning a PIA.

A diode between the house and chassis is only going to help you when you go to start the vehicle. Since it will put high voltage ( well above 12.6V) on the chassis, you will be running on the house battery most of the time. Again, not a good thing.

When AS does a stock van with lithium, there is no longer a BIM or anything like it hooking the two empires. You have a (one way) DC/DC to charge the lithiums and no other connection. The other factories who do stock lithium setups do it the same way.

Bob

Bob, I take it that's why they now have one dedicated solar panel for the chassis battery for keeping it charged up.


Also, I just checked my rig as I have it tied into my home 30 amp connection and the voltage on both seem to be pretty spot on with the LI_BIM 225.
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Old 07-04-2022, 11:35 AM   #16
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Hi

Your lithiums like to run up around 13.6 volts when resting. Your lead acid or AGM batteries like to run around 12.6 volts when resting. There is no way any connection between those two battery types is going to keep both "happy".

Bob

Thanks for this!

Less-obvious-to-me question, is the starter battery AGM then? Have the sprinter manual here, and unable to find that.
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Old 07-04-2022, 09:30 PM   #17
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Thanks for this!

Less-obvious-to-me question, is the starter battery AGM then? Have the sprinter manual here, and unable to find that.
Yes, a 100Ah AGM Mercedes battery. This is in your Airstream owners manual. I couldn't find the info for mine as well in the Mercedes manual either.

Attached is the diagram.
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Old 07-04-2022, 09:52 PM   #18
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Yes, a 100Ah AGM Mercedes battery. This is in your Airstream owners manual. I couldn't find the info for mine as well in the Mercedes manual either.

Attached is the diagram.


Thank you so much !
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Old 07-05-2022, 10:48 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Your lithiums like to run up around 13.6 volts when resting. Your lead acid or AGM batteries like to run around 12.6 volts when resting. There is no way any connection between those two battery types is going to keep both "happy".

You *can* put in a device ( a diode) that will let the chassis battery source power to the house side. Your tiny chassis battery isn't of much use to power the house stuff and flattening it makes starting up in the morning a PIA.

A diode between the house and chassis is only going to help you when you go to start the vehicle. Since it will put high voltage ( well above 12.6V) on the chassis, you will be running on the house battery most of the time. Again, not a good thing.

When AS does a stock van with lithium, there is no longer a BIM or anything like it hooking the two empires. You have a (one way) DC/DC to charge the lithiums and no other connection. The other factories who do stock lithium setups do it the same way.

Bob
Well Bob, you are telling me that the AS with LFP coach batteries no longer have a BIM? If this is the case then Airstream committed a serious oversight. I.e. the chassis battery only is charged when the engine is running and is no longer kept "happy" via shore power- or solar-charging when it drops below "approximately 80%" (see Prec Circ).

Read Precision Circuits description real careful. The LI-BIM DOES keep both battery systems happy, LFP and AGM/LA.

About the solar panel hookup to the chassis battery during storage, the coach battery is being charged from the chassis bat if shore- and/or solar-power does not work. So if your AI is in storage under a roof or even in a garage, you run a cable outside, mount a solar panel somewhere, clip the wires to the positive and negative in the engine compartment and voila, you keep all the batteries happy (at least if you have a functioning BIM)
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Old 07-05-2022, 12:18 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Sailfast View Post
Well Bob, you are telling me that the AS with LFP coach batteries no longer have a BIM? If this is the case then Airstream committed a serious oversight. I.e. the chassis battery only is charged when the engine is running and is no longer kept "happy" via shore power- or solar-charging when it drops below "approximately 80%" (see Prec Circ).

Read Precision Circuits description real careful. The LI-BIM DOES keep both battery systems happy, LFP and AGM/LA.

About the solar panel hookup to the chassis battery during storage, the coach battery is being charged from the chassis bat if shore- and/or solar-power does not work. So if your AI is in storage under a roof or even in a garage, you run a cable outside, mount a solar panel somewhere, clip the wires to the positive and negative in the engine compartment and voila, you keep all the batteries happy (at least if you have a functioning BIM)
Hi

I have a van that AS ships stock with a lithium house battery. I'm not making this up. You can go to the web site and download the manual and see for yourself.

The reason they did this is a sound one. You do *not* want the lithiums put into an engine starting situation. You also (regardless of claims made) want to hook the lithium and lead acid systems together without a DC/DC converter involved.

As noted above, they put a separate solar charger on the chassis battery when they do a lithium / lead acid combo.

Bob
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