Need Portal Gun Electronics Help!

Triple 8 Props

Active Member
Basically, I have been looking into building a portal gun, and I have everything figured out except for the lighting with LEDs. After seeing the one made by Volpin Props, I decided I cannot make this without some awesome lighting. I do not want to wimp out an put a flashlight in there, I want this to be built by me!

I have hardly any electrical experience. The only thing I have made is an Iron Man Arc Reactor with some prewired LEDs and a 9v battery holder with a switch. The Portal Gun will require much more advanced (for me) electronics.

For the Portal gun, I need to have both the orange and blue LEDs. I am going to leave the red ones out. I believe I need a three way switch but I still don't even know how to wire up to that. I need to know what I need to buy and what needs to be connected to what. I would like to use prewired LEDs again because I already have a bunch of them.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
 

Jon Kelley

Active Member
Basically, I have been looking into building a portal gun, and I have everything figured out except for the lighting with LEDs. After seeing the one made by Volpin Props, I decided I cannot make this without some awesome lighting. I do not want to wimp out an put a flashlight in there, I want this to be built by me! I have hardly any electrical experience. The only thing I have made is an Iron Man Arc Reactor with some prewired LEDs and a 9v battery holder with a switch. The Portal Gun will require much more advanced (for me) electronics. For the Portal gun, I need to have both the orange and blue LEDs. I am going to leave the red ones out. I believe I need a three way switch but I still don't even know how to wire up to that. I need to know what I need to buy and what needs to be connected to what. I would like to use prewired LEDs again because I already have a bunch of them. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
What do you have on hand, and what effect - specifically - are you trying to achieve? (I don't know what a "portal gun" would do, I haven't played the game. I believe it's from a game, anyhow.) I'm perfectly willing to help, I just need to know what you're trying to do. We can discuss this backchannel if you like - PM me for my email address. JDK
 

Triple 8 Props

Active Member
What do you have on hand, and what effect - specifically - are you trying to achieve? (I don't know what a "portal gun" would do, I haven't played the game. I believe it's from a game, anyhow.) I'm perfectly willing to help, I just need to know what you're trying to do. We can discuss this backchannel if you like - PM me for my email address. JDK
Thanks for the response! I'd prefer to talk here if that's OK (I think it will help others trying to build this).

So, I'll give you my best possible explanation of the Portal Gun. It has 2 modes, blue and orange (for shooting the different portals). When on the blue mode, there is a small clear cylinder in the middle of the gun that glows blue and there is a small circle on top that also lights up blue. When it is in the orange mode, the same places are glowing just in orange.

I need to wire something that has a blue mode (where only the set of blue LEDs are on), an orange mode (orange LEDs on only) and obviously an off mode. Each set of LEDs will have 3 in the top, and 6 in the core. So that's nine per color, and 18 LEDs overall. I would prefer to use prewired LEDs (just an LED already soldered to a resistor) and I think 5mm would be best. I have some blue ones already and I can easily buy orange ones as well. The major thing I need help with is the whole three way switch thing. How do I attach the battery to it and then attach the LEDs? I do know I have to connect all of the positive ends of the LEDs (of the same color) and all of the negative ends until I have a single positive and negative for the blue and orange LEDs. I need to know what switch to purchase, and where I connect the wires too. I would also like to know if 9v is enough to run these LEDs.

Also, here's what I've been imaging the circuitry would be like but it may be seriously wrong.

A 9v battery pack w/ on off switch is then wired to another switch (of what type, I have no idea). When the switch is one way the Blue LEDs would be on and the other way would illuminate the orange ones (once again, I have no idea if this is right - I just came up with it based off of nothing - but if it is, let me know what switch I need and how I wire that switch).

Here's a picture to help you out:

Portal Gun.jpg You can see the circle on top that will have 3 LEDS of each color (6 total and arranged in a circle) and the core that will have 6 LEDS of each color (12 total also arranged in a tight circle). Right now, the gun is in the blue mode and when it's in the orange mode, the blue areas seen here are orange.

I do also have a soldering iron (it's not very good but it works) and I can do basic soldering.

Thanks so much for the response and I really hope I can get this to work!
 

Jon Kelley

Active Member
No worries - the main reason I was thinking email would be to allow attachment of images and relevant documents, and if you wanted to post it publicly, it's not a problem. Are you able to read simple schematics as well? It's far easier than trying to explain things (moreover, I suggest that /anyone/ looking at doing simple electronic work go and FIND a copy of _Getting Started in Electronics_, by Forrest M. Mims III. It's still in print, I think, and it's well worth the money! Mr. Mims has no formal training in electronics - or even science, beyond high school - but he's probably the best science and technical writer I've ever read, and is one of my own influences. His lack of formal training, I think, is what makes him so readable - just as I'm not a formally-trained engineer, but do it by intuition and experience. BUY HIS BOOK! He used to sell through Radio Shack, but you can find him in most electronic stores these days...) Anyhow... 9V is more than enough to run the LEDs - typical Vf on an LED is around +2.1VDC (this is the need for the resistor.) In fact, you'd be better off working with something like two 1.5V cells in series, or one 3V cell (or two in parallel, for longer life,) than a single 9V. Less "step-down" need, and more available current (it's the current capacity that gives the longer life.) Me being me, I'd probably use two CR123 cells (3V Li cell, a bit fatter than a AA cell and about half as long.) But, this sounds easier than most projects I've worked on. Wire the LEDs in parallel (positive to positive, negative to negative) with voltage-limiting resistors at the common positive leads, and then use a momentary ON-OFF-ON rocker for the trigger. Set it as, say, "Up for blue, down for orange," and you have a two-finger trigger (just use whichever finger for the colour you want.) Make sense so far?
 

Triple 8 Props

Active Member
No worries - the main reason I was thinking email would be to allow attachment of images and relevant documents, and if you wanted to post it publicly, it's not a problem. Are you able to read simple schematics as well? It's far easier than trying to explain things (moreover, I suggest that /anyone/ looking at doing simple electronic work go and FIND a copy of _Getting Started in Electronics_, by Forrest M. Mims III. It's still in print, I think, and it's well worth the money! Mr. Mims has no formal training in electronics - or even science, beyond high school - but he's probably the best science and technical writer I've ever read, and is one of my own influences. His lack of formal training, I think, is what makes him so readable - just as I'm not a formally-trained engineer, but do it by intuition and experience. BUY HIS BOOK! He used to sell through Radio Shack, but you can find him in most electronic stores these days...) Anyhow... 9V is more than enough to run the LEDs - typical Vf on an LED is around +2.1VDC (this is the need for the resistor.) In fact, you'd be better off working with something like two 1.5V cells in series, or one 3V cell (or two in parallel, for longer life,) than a single 9V. Less "step-down" need, and more available current (it's the current capacity that gives the longer life.) Me being me, I'd probably use two CR123 cells (3V Li cell, a bit fatter than a AA cell and about half as long.) But, this sounds easier than most projects I've worked on. Wire the LEDs in parallel (positive to positive, negative to negative) with voltage-limiting resistors at the common positive leads, and then use a momentary ON-OFF-ON rocker for the trigger. Set it as, say, "Up for blue, down for orange," and you have a two-finger trigger (just use whichever finger for the colour you want.) Make sense so far?
Sounds pretty good. What switch would I use? Like this? Small Non Illuminating Rocker Switch SPDT on Off On | eBay

Also, the big thing I really need to know is what gets connected to the switch and where (seeing that there are three prongs on the bottom0?
 

Jon Kelley

Active Member
Make sure that switch is "momentary" (only on in either direction WHILE YOU HOLD IT) - else find something else. Also, make sure it will mount within the handgrip you have - use the widest switch possible, saves you having to find it. You may also use a toggle, with the switchbat between two fingers - then just shift your grip slightly to "trigger" the "gun." Most SPDT (Single Pole, Double Throw) switches like that will have the centre terminal as the common (input) connection, which is where your connection to the battery would go. The two outer terminals will either go to the corresponding position of the switch (push UP to engage the UPPER terminal) or will oppose (the LOWER terminal will be connected when you push the switch UP,) depending on internal construction. Easiest way to find out? Hook it up and experiment. (NB: Toggle switches commonly OPPOSE, while rocker switches commonly CORRESPOND. Has to do with switch design.) Then, either make sure to remember switch positions, or reverse the outer leads if you don't like they way they work (this is why I like quick-connect fittings, they're easier to shuffle around.) The switch you linked to looks like it would use 1/4" female spade-type quick-connects to attach. You can also find switches that use #6 binding screws to attach the wire - you can either strip the wire and attach it directly, or use a #6 fork lug to attach your wiring. Essentially, an ON-OFF-ON switch is just to SPST (Single Pole, Single Throw) ON-OFF switches backed against each other on the "OFF" side. It's probably a good deal simpler than you're thinking... (Then again, I've been playing about with electronics for 30 years, so it may only be simple to me anymore... :) )
 

Triple 8 Props

Active Member
Make sure that switch is "momentary" (only on in either direction WHILE YOU HOLD IT) - else find something else. Also, make sure it will mount within the handgrip you have - use the widest switch possible, saves you having to find it. You may also use a toggle, with the switchbat between two fingers - then just shift your grip slightly to "trigger" the "gun." Most SPDT (Single Pole, Double Throw) switches like that will have the centre terminal as the common (input) connection, which is where your connection to the battery would go. The two outer terminals will either go to the corresponding position of the switch (push UP to engage the UPPER terminal) or will oppose (the LOWER terminal will be connected when you push the switch UP,) depending on internal construction. Easiest way to find out? Hook it up and experiment. (NB: Toggle switches commonly OPPOSE, while rocker switches commonly CORRESPOND. Has to do with switch design.) Then, either make sure to remember switch positions, or reverse the outer leads if you don't like they way they work (this is why I like quick-connect fittings, they're easier to shuffle around.) The switch you linked to looks like it would use 1/4" female spade-type quick-connects to attach. You can also find switches that use #6 binding screws to attach the wire - you can either strip the wire and attach it directly, or use a #6 fork lug to attach your wiring. Essentially, an ON-OFF-ON switch is just to SPST (Single Pole, Single Throw) ON-OFF switches backed against each other on the "OFF" side. It's probably a good deal simpler than you're thinking... (Then again, I've been playing about with electronics for 30 years, so it may only be simple to me anymore... :) )
Ok, I think I'm starting to get this. The only thing I'm still confused about is what exactly is connected to the terminals. You mentioned that the middle terminal is where the battery connects to but what do I connect? If the battery holder has a positive and negative wire, then what gets connected to the terminal? I am wondering the same thing about the LEDs because they will also have a positive and negative with one terminal to connect to. Also, I say a Youtube video of a guy wiring some LEDs with a normal on/off switch but the switch had the same amount of terminals so where does the second set of LEDs go? I probably sound really stupid but I really know nothing about this.
 

Jon Kelley

Active Member
Hm. Do you understand the difference between "series" and "parallel" wiring? In "series", there's a single current path. You would wire the positive terminal of one LED to the negative terminal of the next, &c &c, until you have all LEDs in one circuit. This will give a very dim light output, because the voltage drop is applied in each case (either that, or you'll need far too much battery to push enough voltage to make the LEDs work.) In "parallel" you wire the positive terminals to a common bus, and the negative terminals to another common bus. You still have only two terminals to connect power - but each LED would see full voltage, you just need enough power density in the battery to supply current (which is going to be negligible, unless you're using stupid high output LED emitters.) Each LED is its own current path. I may have to draw something up - and hit a break in my scanning (going through old records right now, so I need to hit a "section break" before I can do something else) - to attach an image so you can see what I'm talking about - it's kinda difficult to explain in words, but would make sense if you could see it. Anyhow, you'd wire one "set" of lamps (say, the blue set) to one of the outer terminals on the switch, and the other "set" (orange) to the other outer terminals. Then, when you push the switch in one direction, you'd have the blue set light up. Release the switch, they turn off (that's the "momentary" bit.) Push the switch the other way, and the orange set lights up. Since you're using all LEDs, wiring is greatly simplified, since you don't need to bother with relays and suchlike. (I hope this makes sense - I don't know why my formatting gets destroyed when I use the "reply window" at the bottom of the string, but it's about the only way a reply actually posts for me. I'm not sure why. Yet...)
 

Triple 8 Props

Active Member
Hm. Do you understand the difference between "series" and "parallel" wiring? In "series", there's a single current path. You would wire the positive terminal of one LED to the negative terminal of the next, &c &c, until you have all LEDs in one circuit. This will give a very dim light output, because the voltage drop is applied in each case (either that, or you'll need far too much battery to push enough voltage to make the LEDs work.) In "parallel" you wire the positive terminals to a common bus, and the negative terminals to another common bus. You still have only two terminals to connect power - but each LED would see full voltage, you just need enough power density in the battery to supply current (which is going to be negligible, unless you're using stupid high output LED emitters.) Each LED is its own current path. I may have to draw something up - and hit a break in my scanning (going through old records right now, so I need to hit a "section break" before I can do something else) - to attach an image so you can see what I'm talking about - it's kinda difficult to explain in words, but would make sense if you could see it. Anyhow, you'd wire one "set" of lamps (say, the blue set) to one of the outer terminals on the switch, and the other "set" (orange) to the other outer terminals. Then, when you push the switch in one direction, you'd have the blue set light up. Release the switch, they turn off (that's the "momentary" bit.) Push the switch the other way, and the orange set lights up. Since you're using all LEDs, wiring is greatly simplified, since you don't need to bother with relays and suchlike. (I hope this makes sense - I don't know why my formatting gets destroyed when I use the "reply window" at the bottom of the string, but it's about the only way a reply actually posts for me. I'm not sure why. Yet...)
I just looked up parrelel wiring LEDs and I understand that. Do you have a schematic for this because I can understand most of them and I'll just google what I don't know.

- - - Updated - - -

a good person to ask would be Harrison Krix aka Volpin on the rpf and everywhere in between. he has made an excellent portal gun

Volpin Props | Portal Gun (V2), Portal
I have looked at Harrison's build log and from what I can tell, his wiring is WAY too complicated for me. Although he did have good information on the placement of the lights.
 

Jon Kelley

Active Member
Okeh - gimme a bit... Bloody tax records. I swear - the IRS has a paper fetish that borders on obsessive. I'm scanning old tax returns so I can keep the information without keeping all the bloody PAPER! If they want it kept so bad, then THEY can keep it - once I finish and file a return, all of its paperwork gets scanned & shredded. If they want to see a return, I'll just send them a CD...
 

Jon Kelley

Active Member
Thanks to a nifty online tool I just found - this should be easier to read, too... The circuit on the left is four LEDs wired in series to a battery. In this case, voltage drop is additive - assuming that each LED has a Vf of +2.1VDC, you'd need to supply +8.4VDC to get (hopefully) full brightness - and it would fall off rapidly as the battery wore down to the point where it couldn't supply If for all emitters /and/ maintain enough voltage to feed them. The circuit on the right is four LEDs wired in parallel to a common battery. Current is also additive (If requirements don't change,) but the requirement for voltage supply is merely that of the component that requires the most - assuming you're using identical LEDs, you would only need to supply ~+2.1VDC to feed all of them. Since most 1.5VDC and 3VDC cells have higher current-sourcing density than the typical 9V battery, you'll note increased battery life as well. Yes, this is a grossly oversimplified schematic - only LEDs and batteries, no specs, nothing like that. It's merely meant to convey an /idea/ - and it's quite literally something I threw together in thirty seconds (or less... That included figuring out the interface and where the components were in the menu - so, maybe, it took me sixty seconds. But, no real thinking involved. Yet...) But, it should illustrate the difference between series wiring and parallel wiring - the same thing may be done with sources (if you wire batteries in /series/, then /voltage/ is additive. If you wire batteries in /parallel/, then /current/ is additive. /Id/ /est/ - wiring three 9VDC batteries in series, rated at 2100mAh/battery, will give you 27VDC @ 2100mAh. Wiring three 9VDC/2100mAh batteries in /parallel/ will give you +9VDC @ 6300mAh. (Conversely, if you wire four LEDs in series requiring +2.1VfDC and 5mA each, you need to source +8.4VfDC @ 20mA. If you wire them in parallel, you require +2.1VfDC @ 20mA. Again, grossly oversimplifying, and pulling numbers out of thin air. When sinking, you'll need full current either way. But, the voltage requirement can change - which can change what you need to do for your batteries. This can work in your favour...)
 

Attachments

Workshoppe

New Member
A good starting way to learn electronics is to invest in a breadboard and some jumper cables and maybe a couple of clip leads. You can get them easily at any electronics shop or online (eBay, Sparkfun, Digikey, etc.) and they shouldn't cost more then $10 together. That way you can easily prototype a circuit before commiting to soldering, and a breadboard layout makes it easy to sketch out the circuit diagram either on paper or with a computer software for replicating later.

I do have some switches and a bunch of leds. I can do up a simple circuit as an example and show it to you if you like.
 

Triple 8 Props

Active Member
A good starting way to learn electronics is to invest in a breadboard and some jumper cables and maybe a couple of clip leads. You can get them easily at any electronics shop or online (eBay, Sparkfun, Digikey, etc.) and they shouldn't cost more then $10 together. That way you can easily prototype a circuit before commiting to soldering, and a breadboard layout makes it easy to sketch out the circuit diagram either on paper or with a computer software for replicating later.

I do have some switches and a bunch of leds. I can do up a simple circuit as an example and show it to you if you like.
If you'd be willing to make a circuit that would be awesome seeing as I need every ounce of help I can get.
 

Triple 8 Props

Active Member
Thanks to a nifty online tool I just found - this should be easier to read, too... The circuit on the left is four LEDs wired in series to a battery. In this case, voltage drop is additive - assuming that each LED has a Vf of +2.1VDC, you'd need to supply +8.4VDC to get (hopefully) full brightness - and it would fall off rapidly as the battery wore down to the point where it couldn't supply If for all emitters /and/ maintain enough voltage to feed them. The circuit on the right is four LEDs wired in parallel to a common battery. Current is also additive (If requirements don't change,) but the requirement for voltage supply is merely that of the component that requires the most - assuming you're using identical LEDs, you would only need to supply ~+2.1VDC to feed all of them. Since most 1.5VDC and 3VDC cells have higher current-sourcing density than the typical 9V battery, you'll note increased battery life as well. Yes, this is a grossly oversimplified schematic - only LEDs and batteries, no specs, nothing like that. It's merely meant to convey an /idea/ - and it's quite literally something I threw together in thirty seconds (or less... That included figuring out the interface and where the components were in the menu - so, maybe, it took me sixty seconds. But, no real thinking involved. Yet...) But, it should illustrate the difference between series wiring and parallel wiring - the same thing may be done with sources (if you wire batteries in /series/, then /voltage/ is additive. If you wire batteries in /parallel/, then /current/ is additive. /Id/ /est/ - wiring three 9VDC batteries in series, rated at 2100mAh/battery, will give you 27VDC @ 2100mAh. Wiring three 9VDC/2100mAh batteries in /parallel/ will give you +9VDC @ 6300mAh. (Conversely, if you wire four LEDs in series requiring +2.1VfDC and 5mA each, you need to source +8.4VfDC @ 20mA. If you wire them in parallel, you require +2.1VfDC @ 20mA. Again, grossly oversimplifying, and pulling numbers out of thin air. When sinking, you'll need full current either way. But, the voltage requirement can change - which can change what you need to do for your batteries. This can work in your favour...)
I think I understand the wiring of the LEDs. However, above you mentioned the switch uses a spade connector. I looked into those and found out you put a wire in and crimp it in. What none of the videos said is which wire you put in (positive or negative).
 

Workshoppe

New Member
Did up an example circuit on breadboard with an On-On Switch with 3 output terminals. This switch let's you toggle between the 2 colors as well as turn it off. As you can see, O is off, I activates the blue light and II activates the orange light.

20140515_222034.jpg20140515_222052.jpg20140515_222105.jpg

I know it looks rather complicated and messy with the breadboard board, so I drew up a simple circuit to help you understand better.

circuit.jpg

I used parallel wiring so that voltage will be spread evenly throughout. As you can see, I connected the toggle switch to control the ground (the negative) of the circuit. It's a personal preference of mine but you can also connect the switch to the voltage (positive) of the circuit. The basic principle is whichever way the switch is pressed, it'll complete the circuit for that side only. As you can see from the diagram, right now the switch is on blue, so the blue leds will light up, but not the orange. If I were to toggle it though, then the orange leds will light up, but not the blue. It's quite simple.

Also, I read that your leds have come prewired with resistors. That is good because that means you won't have to mess around with resistance calculations for now, but for a reference, I'm using 330ohm resistors and the circuit is powered with a 5V power supply. However, since you've mentioned that your leds with resistors can be used with a 9V supply, that feel free to use them then.

I hope that helps. To be honest, I'm still dipping my toes into electronics as well and I'm no expert by any stretch, but I'm happy sharing what I know so far. :) Good luck with the build!

Edit: About the power supply. Since you're planning to run at least 18 leds with it, I'd recommend using 6 AA batteries (1.5V each) instead of a single 9V battery. It'll make the light glow brighter and it'll last longer. You can buy one of these battery holders http://fasttechcdn.com/products/100/1001003/1001003-2.jpg or http://www.conrad-electronic.co.uk/medias/global/ce/6000_6999/6100/6150/6155/615587_LB_00_FB.EPS_1000.jpg to use.
 
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javajax1

New Member
Some fantastic information on this thread. Makes it very easy for beginners to understand not only the "how" but the "why" it works.
 

Triple 8 Props

Active Member
Did up an example circuit on breadboard with an On-On Switch with 3 output terminals. This switch let's you toggle between the 2 colors as well as turn it off. As you can see, O is off, I activates the blue light and II activates the orange light.

View attachment 325451View attachment 325452View attachment 325453

I know it looks rather complicated and messy with the breadboard board, so I drew up a simple circuit to help you understand better.

View attachment 325461

I used parallel wiring so that voltage will be spread evenly throughout. As you can see, I connected the toggle switch to control the ground (the negative) of the circuit. It's a personal preference of mine but you can also connect the switch to the voltage (positive) of the circuit. The basic principle is whichever way the switch is pressed, it'll complete the circuit for that side only. As you can see from the diagram, right now the switch is on blue, so the blue leds will light up, but not the orange. If I were to toggle it though, then the orange leds will light up, but not the blue. It's quite simple.

Also, I read that your leds have come prewired with resistors. That is good because that means you won't have to mess around with resistance calculations for now, but for a reference, I'm using 330ohm resistors and the circuit is powered with a 5V power supply. However, since you've mentioned that your leds with resistors can be used with a 9V supply, that feel free to use them then.

I hope that helps. To be honest, I'm still dipping my toes into electronics as well and I'm no expert by any stretch, but I'm happy sharing what I know so far. :) Good luck with the build!

Edit: About the power supply. Since you're planning to run at least 18 leds with it, I'd recommend using 6 AA batteries (1.5V each) instead of a single 9V battery. It'll make the light glow brighter and it'll last longer. You can buy one of these battery holders http://fasttechcdn.com/products/100/1001003/1001003-2.jpg or http://www.conrad-electronic.co.uk/medias/global/ce/6000_6999/6100/6150/6155/615587_LB_00_FB.EPS_1000.jpg to use.
Thanks so much! I finally get it! I'm gonna buy the things I need and get started. I'll let you know how it goes.
 

nomuse

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
At the risk of making things more confusing, in an LED circuit the resistor isn't there (primarily!) to adjust voltage, it is there to limit current. The goal is still the smallest resistor value possible, aka your supply voltage is as close to the LED forward voltage as possible. Because any voltage above that is just getting wasted in the resistor.

Don't get scared by the term "forward voltage." If you see a voltage listed for an LED, that's the one. And the online LED resisotr calculators (incredibly handy) have a drop-down that lets you pick the correct voltage based on the color of the LED. That said, 2-3.5 volts is a good enough guess for most of them.

So 2 AA or AAA cells -- or any other cell with a nominal 1.5 volta -- is marginal. The better compromise is a 3-pack of batteries; this gets you nominally 4.5 volts, dropping down to around 4 volts after any use. So you are throwing away around 1/3 the power -- it goes into heating up the resistor.

One unfortunate aspect in this whole current-limiting aspect is that the resistor really needs to be on each individual LED. LEDs vary a little even within a batch from the same manufacturer, and you can create a condition where one is drawing too little current and another too much. So most people put a (series) resistor on each individual LED. You said you were getting pre-wired, tho, so this probably is not an issue.
 

Gixxerfool

Well-Known Member
I have just put all my electronics to bed for my own ASHPD. It was a lot of prototyping as I wanted very specific actions to happen in a certain way. I found that knowing how you want it to work will help in deciding on how to design your circuit. I needed to finally stop adding electronics cause I kept making the circuits more complicated. Good luck with build. I'll be following it.
 
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