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New guys take on a DWC, with pics.


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  #21  
Old 03-24-2011, 09:44 PM
Twilly Twilly is offline
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Just something to keep in mind.... I started 4 tomato plants in a tub just like yours.... When the plants were about a foot tall, I decided to transplant each plant to its own 5 gallon bucket. Even at a foot tall, all the roots were intertwined and difficult to get apart. Today the plants are about 5 feet tall, and the root system takes up the entire 5 gallon bucket, and each one drinks about a gallon of water a day... And my tomatoes are only the size of grapes so I have a way to go.

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  #22  
Old 03-26-2011, 07:03 PM
halfway halfway is offline
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The led panel can always be used as a stand alone for "starts". But...it looks like it would add to the red spectrum enough to enhance flowering of those cukes.
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  #23  
Old 03-27-2011, 02:13 AM
cable24601 cable24601 is offline
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hey PaulF

Things are looking really good. I totally understand your led pain. The first ones I got on ebay claimed that it would be good for a 9 sq foot space but the reality is that it will only cover a 1 foot square at 6 inches. I currently have it above some potted kitchen herbs and they do grow but its no where near the specs online.
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  #24  
Old 03-27-2011, 04:25 AM
hydrophotobio hydrophotobio is offline
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Sorry to hear about the led panel. It's decent for smaller kitchen herbs and starting seedlings, but not much more.

I'm in agreement with Gps, you're going to need more room. Also, run a separate circuit for your heater. Anything running 1kW or more should be on its own separate circuit to avoid overloading the others. metal halide lamps, especially those 400w types using older magnetic ballasts, have a HEAVY initial draw (digital ballasts do not cause this issue as badly but it still exists,) and if the 1500w heater is on that same circuit you're guaranteed to cause yourself issues.

Be wary of LED right now. While I've had great success in both home and commercial setups, most sellers of LED equipment are selling you nonsense, as cable has noted.
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  #25  
Old 03-31-2011, 11:10 PM
PaulF PaulF is offline
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Hey all-

The current draw issue isn't a big deal. The heater has a high/low setting. The high is 1500W and the low is 750W. The heater ALWAYS stays on low so it is never drawing more than 750 watts. The circuit this is on is independent and supports only the hydroponics setup. So I have the heater (750W), two 100W equivalent CFL's (23W draw each for 46W total), the LED panel (14W), and the air pump, maybe 100W or so? Not sure. So total draw at any given time on this circuit is a grand total of 910 Watts. I am totally safe.

The growth continues to be impressive. The two CFL's in my Bubba fixture and the LED panel are more than enough light to make my little indoor garden ROCK. I had planned on doing a nutrient change today and stepping up to the "Aggressive Growth" strength of the GH nutrients but I didn't get around to it. Maybe tomorrow. I'm not really sure it is even worth it to be honest.

And the pics. The first picture is one that was taken two weeks ago when I had just planted my tomatoes, just for reference purposes. Check out how much everything has grown since then. It has all more than doubled, it's amazing! I am still fascinated with how well this works despite the lack of any soil and just artificial light.

More coming next week.

Two weeks ago.



Today, this stuff is getting big. What a change in only two short weeks.


Last edited by PaulF; 03-31-2011 at 11:13 PM.
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  #26  
Old 04-07-2011, 10:38 PM
PaulF PaulF is offline
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Another weekly update for anyone following along.

A few changes for this week.

Two days ago I drained the nutrients and upped them to the "Aggressive Vegetative Growth" schedule on the GH bottle. Wow. It works, and it works big time! The growth has been explosive in just 48 hours.

I also decided that my 4" flower pots with tiny holes in the bottom were a big stumbling block. I had one tomato and one cuke that had put roots out through the holes in the bottom of the flower pots. Both of those plants were markedly bigger than the ones that still had root systems contained in the pots. I bought some net pots and some expanded clay pellets and transplanted everything. I have to say that the expanded clay pellets are also a lot more visually appealing to me for some reason. The plants just look really nice coming out of those little clay balls.

All the plants took a hit and went into shock but within a couple of hours they were back and healthy. I have never seen plants recover so quickly from transplant shock. It usually takes at least 24 hours, with hydroponics it practically happens while you watch.

I threw out the flexible air stones. They were junk. When I changed nutrients on Tuesday I cleaned them again and they were putting out lots of bubbles. On Wednesday it was back to just a few bubbles here and there. I bought two 10" air stones at Wal-Mart for 3 dollars each and they put out a HUGE amount of bubbles. Lesson learned here.

And finally I have decided I will be going back to my original MH high bay light. I am going to spring for the 32 dollar bulb. As I get more and more plant growth I realize the CFL's will only do so much. And I just don't think they are up to the task of lighting this setup when I have a dozen plants going.

Stay tuned, more to come.

Check out this growth in only a week. I am continually amazed at how well this works. I think you could easily measure the growth that happens each day, it is astonishing! I really can't believe how good this is working in just a little dark corner of my basement.

Oh yeah, the cukes have got flowers on them if you can believe that!

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  #27  
Old 04-14-2011, 11:14 PM
PaulF PaulF is offline
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Has it really been only a week?

I don't know if anyone is still following along. But since I am have having fun doing it I am going to keep updating this post.

Like I said in my last post I decided to bring my MH lamp back to life. I bought the rather expensive bulb after I found some evidence that the symptoms my light was displaying were the EXACT thing one would see when a MH bulb is at the end of its life. To make a long story short my MH light is rocking and even my big noisy shop vac can't make it kick off. So my $50 MH light ended up costing me $82 when I put a new bulb in it. Not a big deal.

What IS a big deal is the astonishing growth that has occurred since I:

Re-potted everything in net pots.

Switched the nutrients to the GH "Agressive" formulation.

And most importantly brought this monster HID light back to life!

So probably the the net pots and the nutrient strength helped quite a bit. But I think a fully functional, 16 hours of Metal Halide light blasting down on my plants has made a HUGE difference.

I started the second 20 gallon tote and it is sporting lettuce, two peppers (which are pathetic!), and strawberries. I planted it all on last Saturday (04/09/2011) and the lettuce has easily tripled in size, and the strawberries have already put out flowers!

The real story however is the tote with the Tomatoes and Cukes. The Tomatoes are nothing short of enormous since just a week ago. And the cukes that had just put out some wimpy flowers last Thursday have now got actual cukes on them! I have hand pollinated the female flowers and it is working great. Cukes in my basement, from plants that have never seen the light of day and have NO dirt underneath them. It just boggles my mind.

More to come next week. Can it keep up like this? I can't imagine it, but who knows!

A good shot showing my MH lamp with its new lease of life. My homebuilt CFL fixture and the joke of an LED panel are gone. As I am sure most everyone knows there is no replacement for HID lights. Some of us just are slow learners. Note that the DWC on the left is fully planted and kicking butt!



Look at that Romaine! And the strawberries, they have doubled in size since I brought them home from Lowes last Saturday as sad little things. The only thing that has me stumped are the peppers, and to be honest, after the tomatoes they are the things I wanted to have the most. Well, I'm not giving up yet. I did see some growth on them today, but only very little.



And what is this? I know, not very exciting, but it is to me! A cucumber, growing in my basement. I should mention I did the cukes so I could have homemade pickles when I wanted them. I am a pickle FREAK. I could live on them. And here is the start of my next batch of pickles, just grown in my basement!



And finally I have saved the best for last. Compare the photo below of my cukes and tomatoes to the one above that was taken only a week ago. I have it here in my basement and I can hardly believe it.




What will next week bring? I am continually amazed by my own hydro grow!
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  #28  
Old 04-15-2011, 11:48 AM
amadare amadare is offline
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Looks good.
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  #29  
Old 04-15-2011, 04:33 PM
ProZachJ ProZachJ is offline
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Looking good, get prepared to seperate and trellis those plants as they get larger their nutrient needs will make growing them in the same system a problem. Yields won't be nearly as high because they all need a slightly different pH and EC
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  #30  
Old 04-19-2011, 06:46 PM
cable24601 cable24601 is offline
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Looking real good keep up the great posts
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  #31  
Old 04-21-2011, 10:40 PM
PaulF PaulF is offline
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Thanks for the encouragement guys. I appreciate it.

As for this week, I hate to sound like a broken record, but, DANG!

This DWC is absolutely ROCKIN'! I am just blown away. I think the plants are probably doubling in size on a weekly basis. And I have to do almost nothing to keep up with them. I have noted a sizable increase in water consumption but that is very easy to keep up with.

The bad news is the space heater, oh my, the space heater! I had been using it to keep the grow room at 75 degrees 24 hours per day. Well, the power bill showed up and guess what? It added 70 dollars to the bill prior! D'oh! So the space heater has been relegated to keeping the grow room at 58-60 degrees at night and the MH lamp keeps the room at 66-68 degrees during the day. So far there have been no ill effects.

I have got cukes coming on like crazy! Probably at least a dozen growing right now. I have had to pollinate them all by hand but all of them took. The peppers have shown growth which makes me think they might work out. The strawberries that flowered I pollinated by hand and they are sporting little bitty strawberries now, how cool! Still not a single flower on the tomatoes, but soon I hope. The tomatoes are putting everything else to shame size wise, they are just incredible. The basement now smells like tomato plants all the time. It is really quite nice.

More to come for those of you following. The pictures below tell the real story.

Now who said that surplus High Bay lights don't work good for hydroponic applications?



My Romaine is delicious! And every leaf is perfect. Caesar salad from my basement? Now this is livin'! How can you beat it? Check out those strawberries too, they are lovin life in my hydro closet.



To give a sense of scale as to how much these tomato plants are growing I put a bottle of Sam Adams in there. Check out the stalk on that plant, unreal! I can't get over how FAST this stuff is growing and how big it is. Look at the size of the leaves on the cukes, and all the flowers!



And finally my standard overhead shot of the tomatoes and cukes. They have gotten so big that this pic has lost its impact. The plants are all just starting to look like one big mass of green!



More pics next week!
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  #32  
Old 04-22-2011, 07:32 PM
hydrophotobio hydrophotobio is offline
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Looking absolutely beautiful! DWC hauls major butt so expect insane growth, especially if you're forcing a lot of oxygen through the nutrient solution!
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  #33  
Old 04-22-2011, 10:10 PM
biloyp biloyp is offline
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Beautiful plants, really growing well and I know that light really did the trick. I am hoping your tomato plants don't take over by growing too much. How are you gonna support the tomato plants...cage or stick?? I think you should move the totes some so the cucs have some room. Looks ;like they may just grow down onto the floor whicch would be ok. I know cucs need lots of water so no problem there ha-ha.I think I need to get a lamp like yours. I am growing lettuce and spinach...spinach not doing too well but the lettuce has provided us with about 6 bowls of salad...But I am in the middle of a home renovation so I can't devote a whole lot of time to my hydro. Thanks for the pics and info.
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  #34  
Old 04-23-2011, 05:42 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello PaulF,
Great looking growth, It won't be long before the taller plants outgrow the space. Are you sure the added $70 is all the heater, and not the light as well?
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  #35  
Old 04-28-2011, 06:29 PM
PaulF PaulF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hydrophotobio View Post
Looking absolutely beautiful! DWC hauls major butt so expect insane growth, especially if you're forcing a lot of oxygen through the nutrient solution!
Thank you, the stuff is gorgeous! And to say that DWC hauls major butt is right on the money. This is just unreal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by biloyp View Post
Beautiful plants, really growing well and I know that light really did the trick. I am hoping your tomato plants don't take over by growing too much. How are you gonna support the tomato plants...cage or stick?? I think you should move the totes some so the cucs have some room. Looks ;like they may just grow down onto the floor which would be ok. I know cucs need lots of water so no problem there ha-ha.I think I need to get a lamp like yours. I am growing lettuce and spinach...spinach not doing too well but the lettuce has provided us with about 6 bowls of salad...But I am in the middle of a home renovation so I can't devote a whole lot of time to my hydro. Thanks for the pics and info.
Thanks for the compliment! Funny you should mention about moving things around due to size concerns. The pics below will reveal that you may have seen into my hydroponics future haha! As far as the support for cukes and tomatoes go I am going to put pieces of wire fencing in the grow room to help hold everything up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Hello PaulF,
Great looking growth, It won't be long before the taller plants outgrow the space. Are you sure the added $70 is all the heater, and not the light as well?
The light was definitely some of it. But the first month I ran the light it added about $15.00 to my electric bill so the majority of the increase was the heater. But I have to say, without the heat on at all the plants seem to be doing fine.


So, another week and another update. The closet continues to amaze! The growth is exponential. I really could never have imagined it would be like this. Having been a soil gardener for years I was expecting growth more along that type of rate. I guess not!

I had to re-arrange the cukes and tomatoes. The tomatoes were so tall they were shading everything else, and the cukes were running so much that I knew everything was going to get tangled up. So I moved the two to opposing totes and put them on the outsides. Everything is a much better fit now.

Water consumption has gone up drastically on the tomatoes. It wouldn't be a huge problem except the strawberries have very puny root systems and end up getting dried out. In the first picture if you look at the tote on the right the strawberries in the middle net pot are all wilted. When I went down to take these pics I found them like that, I put a gallon of water in and by tonight they will be back up and happy.


On a side note, I am an Air National Guard member and Uncle Sam has seen fit to send me to Europe for a couple of weeks. So there will be no updates for the next three weeks. My wife will be taking care of the garden while I am gone. I can only imagine what things will look like when I get back. Enough blabbing though, onto the pics.


The growth in only a week is just staggering. I thought the stuff looked big last week! I am going to put some wire fence on the out sides of the two totes. I figure it will give the cukes something to hold onto and it will allow the tomatoes support when they come.



I have been wanting to take one of these root system pics since the first day I planted everything! Finally here it is. Notice how small the strawberry root system is. I hope my wife keeps up with the water level while I am gone! Check out those tomatoe roots!



Look at all those baby cukes. I have lost count of how many are growing down there now. I thought it was going to be tough to hand pollinate them. It is so easy. You only need to gently rub the flowers together and by the next day you can tell it has taken by the way the base of the cuke gets shiny. It is really cool!



One of the bigger cukes. I have two or three this size now.



Gigantic Romaine leaves! And look at that healthy strawberry plant, they love it in there.



And the thing I have been waiting for the most! Flowers on my tomatoes. They have yet to open up but soon I hope.



See you in three weeks! Thanks to everyone following along.
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  #36  
Old 04-28-2011, 06:50 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Looking good. Stay safe in Europe, and come home in one piece. I look forward to seeing what those things look like in 3 weeks as well.
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  #37  
Old 05-15-2011, 06:18 PM
PaulF PaulF is offline
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I made it back. I had planned on updating this coming Thursday to keep with my weekly schedule but I thought people might like to see this.

What was waiting for me in my grow room FAR exceeded my greatest expecations.

My wife did a great job taking care of things for me, the tub with the tomatoes drank about 1/2 gallon of water per day. The one with the lettuce and the cukes drank far less. And I think this contributed to a big problem. One of the cukes looked very unhealthy and was quite limp. I lifted the plant out of the tub and found the roots very yellowed and generally unhealthy looking. I figured it was a nutrient issue but strangely all the other plants in that tub looked fine. Out of curiosity I checked the pH level, it was at 4.5!!!! Yikes. So I immediately decided to do a full nutrient change on both tubs. Before I started I checked the one with the tomatoes and it was still at 6.5. I can only guess that the constant addition of fresh water the pH stayed where it needed in one tub and was drastically altered in the other due to the needs of the plants in there, but that is a very amateur guess.

Long story longer, nutrients are now fresh in both tubs now but the one cuke plant is looking like it is not going to make it. I changed to the "Blooming and Ripening" schedule per the GH instructions. It is a shame about the sick plant though because it has a lot of nice thumb sized cukes on it. Live and learn I guess.

Before I get to this weeks pics I want to throw out a couple of things I have learned on this grow purely by accident.

1. The drains built into the tubs were beginners dumb luck on my part. I don't know how I would change out the nutrients without them. The plants and root systems are so big now that lifting the lids and temporarily setting them somewhere so I could pull the tubs out to drain them isn't feasible. Thank God I did that!

2. Having this downstairs with the closest water source upstairs is a HUGE pain in the butt. Each tub needs 17 gallons of nutrient solution. A 5 gallon bucket of nutrient solution is very heavy and easily spilled while going down the stairs. Do the math, it is a lot of trips back and forth.

3. Surplus MH lights rock. Despite what I read prior to doing this the warehouse style light DOES work. I was reading a thread in the lighting section of the forum where someone said that MH will give you tall stringy tomatoe plants. If that is the case then I guess my MH light must not be working right. Take a look at the pics below and tell me what you think.

Finally some pics!

This is what greeted me when I opened the door. I actually laughed out loud, I couldn't believe it! Now those are some bushy tomatoes. And from a warehouse light that isn't even wearing a grow style reflector, how cool is that?



My peppers have finally started to come on. They are looking very healthy.



Blossoms all over the tomatoes! Some have pollinated. But to be on the safe side I took a swab and hand pollinated every one I could find.



Look at the size of that stalk on the tomatoe! These are some HEALTHY plants!



An actual strawberry, there are 4 like this. About the size of raspberries right now, time will tell if they ripen and produce tasty fruit.



And as usual, I saved the best for last. How about those cukes? I am awed at how big these two are. I have another half dozen on the two other healthy plants that are thumb sized or a bit bigger. My first batch of pickles will be coming the next couple of weeks. I can't wait!



More to come next week.
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  #38  
Old 05-15-2011, 09:57 PM
silkcom silkcom is offline
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I guess i don't know, but I bet your cukes could come back now that u've fixed the nutrients. But man, those all look nice (if not a little cramped). Looks like you should eat some salads .
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  #39  
Old 05-16-2011, 12:02 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello PaulF,
Glad you made it back. Your plants look like they grew twice as big while you were gone. Ya your right your pH issue was probably due to all the added water if it wasn't pH adjusted first. But the larger plants will take up more nutrients faster as well, and that changes the mineral content of the water, and will affect the pH also. That happens faster with larger plants.

Quote:
Having this downstairs with the closest water source upstairs is a HUGE pain in the butt. Each tub needs 17 gallons of nutrient solution. A 5 gallon bucket of nutrient solution is very heavy and easily spilled while going down the stairs. Do the math, it is a lot of trips back and forth.
I don't know if it's reasonable with your house layout, but it may be worth considering running a water line downstairs. You can get a splitter for the faucet under any sink, even behind the toilet. Or even just changing it from a single to a duel faucet. Then just run flexible 1/2 inch poly irrigation tubing downstairs either permanently, or temporarily and rolling it up like a garden hose when your done. You can get a couple hundred feet of tubing for about $20. And use a inline ball cock valve to open and close the water flow at the end of the tube. All and all, including quick connect fittings, faucet, and ball cock valve, you could probably do it for $30-$35. If your water source is a water filtration system, same basic idea, though you may need to use 1/4 inch poly tubing instead. And just connecting it using "T" connector spliced inline between the filter, and faucet.
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  #40  
Old 05-31-2011, 11:31 PM
PaulF PaulF is offline
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Another update!

Saturday of last weekend was a BAD day. On Friday I had checked in on my garden and thought the tomato plants looked a little droopy. I didn't worry about it too much though. I came back late Saturday morning and found total devastation! All 3 plants were totally limp and falling over. I couldn't believe it. After looking things over for a few minutes I realized I couldn't hear any bubbling at all from my air pump. I lifted the lid on my tote with the tomato plants and saw no bubbles at all. In fact the only thing I could see were roots, EVERYWHERE. I finally fished out the air stone and it was completely wrapped in tomato roots. It was really quite amazing. The root systems had become so enormous that they actually completely covered and then blocked the air stone from putting any oxygen into the nutrient solution, unreal!

This is what greeted me on Saturday morning. Obviously dying tomato plants!



So after getting pretty upset at what had happened I made a trip to my local hydro store. Even though I live in the sticks I have really good hydroponic outlet only about 15 minutes away. The guy there gave me some great advice. I bought a fresh supply of GH nutrients and came home and did a full nutrient flush and change. I also added another air pump and 2 more stones. Long story longer, my plants came back to life and are kicking butt once more. The moral of this story, THE MORE O2 THE BETTER. Big plants need big amounts of oxygen. I dodged a bullet on this one. My hydro closet is back up and healthy again!

Here is something pretty cool. A fully ripe strawberry. Not very big, about the size of a walnut. But dang, it sure is pretty!



My cukes are just amazing. Two more weeks and I will harvest everything I have and make some pickles, I have got 6 really nice cukes going right now. I am going to make a batch of bread and butter chips. I think they are going to rock.





And finally some of my many Roma tomatoes that are coming on. Thank God I saved these plants. These tomatoes are growing at an astonishing rate. I can't wait to pick fresh tomatoes, from my basement, and slap them on a homemade pizza. How delicious does that sound?


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