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Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by hevans1944, Dec 21, 2017.

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  1. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

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    Jun 21, 2012
    Last year, for the first time in my life, I signed a non-compete agreement with a re-seller of magic props used by the amateur as well as the professional performing magician. These are rather expensive props imbued with modern technology. In return, I was made privy to several magic "gimmicks" and asked to duplicate some of these. Samples were provided for me to "reverse engineer," as the original builder was either unable or unwilling to continue production.

    The problems I ran into were not related to proprietary information, per se, but nevertheless needed protection as "trade secrets," lest anyone familiar with the technology would duplicate and sell the objects that had the "gimmicks" installed. To date, the only thing I have accomplished is to identify what needs to be done to duplicate the now-unobtainable "gimmicks" using both custom and off-the-shelf components. Since accomplishing that feat, somewhat with the help, advice, and assistance of the original designer, two things have occurred to prevent further immediate progress.

    First, my wife and I bought a house last year in October and moved to Venice, Florida in December. I no longer have an "electronics lab" to "play" in... just a table next to the kitchen, which my wife insists that I vacate ASAP.

    Second, my implanted pacemaker/defibrillator started shocking me back to life unexpectedly in January of this year, after remaining quiescent in my chest for three years. Following these events was an emergency double carotid artery bypass graft (cabg) procedure, which I survived but am still recovering from. I have also had two congestive heart failure incidents since the open-heart surgery, both remedied by large doses of furosemide (Lasik) tablets, as well as IV injections of furosemide in a Dayton hospital when we returned there for Granddaughter's High School Graduation this past summer.

    All this has made it a real bitch kitty to get involved with electronics again, despite agreeing (during the summer trip) with my former employer to re-program and document an Allen-Bradley PLC used to control and sequence the vacuum valves in a 1.7 MV tandem particle accelerator. When we arrived back in Venice, it was waiting for me in a large sixty-pound box from FedEx.

    P1030320.JPG

    So far, I have resurrected the programming environment, whose license I had registered in my name, replaced a Li-Ion primary battery in the SLC 5/03 CPU module that was well beyond its ten-year shelf-life (it's "death" caused my original ladder-logic program, stored in volatile static RAM, to become non-existent) and purchased a USB-to-RS-232 adapter cable for communication with the A-B system... the original PC died years ago, the programs stored on it are unavailable, and it was ancient enough to have a built-in RS-232 serial port. I am ready to get back to work and finish this little project so I can go on to my "retirement" personal favorites: ham radio and hobby electronics.

    73 de AC8NS -- Hop
     
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  2. kellys_eye

    kellys_eye

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    So sorry to hear of your personal health issues Hop - I wish you the most successful of recoveries and a calm and relaxing holiday period!

    You most certain do have an interesting past history in electronics and its nice to read of your skills being requested to renovate that old equipment - there is still demand for stuff that used to just 'do the job' and long may it continue.

    The wiring of those panels is fantastic and often overlooked by those that think everything comes out of a machine these days - the skill level involved (certainly the experienced skills shown) are lacking these days and would benefit from apprenticeships to maintain them.

    Dave
     
  3. davenn

    davenn Moderator

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    HI Hop

    I have moved your post to its own thread ...
    It appeared to have nothing to do with the thread you posted it in ( reversing electro-magnets)

    if you would like a better title give me one and I will edit it

    cheers
    Dave
     
  4. Ian

    Ian Administrator

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    A very neat job you've done there @hevans1944! It must be nice to work on resurrecting a project like that :).

    Sorry to hear of the health problems you suffered early on in the year, but pleased to hear that you're recovering well. That's a handy bit of electronics kit you have implanted!
     
    davenn likes this.
  5. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

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    Thank you all for the supportive comments. And thanks for moving my off-topic comments to a new thread. I apologize for inflicting on you an update on my health problems. The move to Florida was more stressful than I had anticipated, but ultimately was in the best interest of my health... well, so far, anyway. I've had to give up a lot of "bad habits" accumulated over the years just to stay alive this long... smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, consumption of sweets... all to excess of course. Giving up vaping was the easiest: my wife hid the vaping apparatus after my heart surgery!

    The problem with living is no one survives it. At one time (early in my youth) I had the notion that technology might indefinitely extend some semblance of life, but that was (and still remains) in the realm of science fiction. It turns out that even if I had done everything right for the past seventy-something years, there is a built-in self-destruct mechanism for every cell in my body: telomere deterioration. This is probably Nature's Way of avoiding over-population of the planet, while allowing evolution to proceed, but it sounds like a rather poor design to me, even if done with good intent. Maybe the bio-tech weenies will figure out a way to fix it.

    Oh, well... my father was more than eighty years old when he asked me how long a person was supposed to live. He had survived two open-heart surgeries by then, was fighting to survive lung cancer, and was legally blind from macular degeneration in both eyes. His favorite things, tending to his vegetable garden and small backyard fruit-tree orchard and visiting his beloved and nearby Rocky Mountains were now impossible for him. My reply to my father was to "live as long as you want." Some time later, he refused to continue to accept an experimental anti-cancer drug treatment that the VA hospital said was keeping his lung cancer in remission. He died quietly and alone shortly afterwards. A few years later my mom tripped over a toolbox and fell but never regained full consciousness after a "successful" operation. She died, also in her eighty's, in a nursing home in Georgia, more or less in a permanent vegetative state, kept alive by a feeding tube surgically inserted in her stomach. My brother died last year in Sarasota, FL, while living with my daughter and her husband, after a decades-long battle with cancer, not quite reaching the age of seventy. Realistically, with my former reckless life-style, I never expected to survive to reach the 21st Century... yet here I am. I do plan to go out kicking, screaming, and fighting all the way if possible, but who knows? In the meantime, I continue to do what I do and live one day at a time.

    Yes, it literally saved my life... several times, apparently. Battery inside is NOT externally rechargeable but is supposed to last another eight or nine years. Coin toss whether it or I expire first.

    Nah, that one is "vague and hard-hitting" enough, a phrase we used to use to describe technical proposals we sent to the Government, seeking taxpayer's money.

    Thank you. I wanted it to be maintainable, since I would probably be the one maintaining it. One of the C&K toggle switches mechanically failed several years ago and I did not replace it. The wiring is tight around the switches, so replacing one would not be easy. Since there were those three "extra" switches not connected to vacuum valves, I simply re-purposed one of them to replace the defective switch and then ignored the defective switch.

    Each of those white wires is identified with a laser-printed paper label encased in transparent shrink tubing. Years ago, while working as an electronics technician for UDRI, I had the task of making wiring harnesses under a government contract. I was supplied with a spiffy little wire marking machine that repeatedly imprinted entire lengths of wire with a specific wire number. I don't remember exactly how that was accomplished, but the idea stuck in my head that it was a pretty nifty thing to do. So when this project came up thirty years later, I decided to label each end of each wire with something useful to identify its function. Fortunately affordable desk-top laser printers had come into being by then, so it was no trouble to print up batches of labels created in Microsoft Word and cut them out with a razor blade to wrap around the wires.

    I got carried away, a little, with the initial design of the switch panel. There are ten DPDT center-off toggle switches used to control solenoid-operated electro-pneumatic high-vacuum valves... seven switches for the valves and three more for things like the heaters on the oil-diffusion pumps and a radiation warning light above the entrance to the accelerator lab. Each switch has three positions. The center OFF and fully up ON positions turn a valve solenoid off or on for manual operation. The third fully down REMOTE position was intended for automatic sequencing of the valves under control of the Allen-Bradley PLC.

    However, I am not much of a believer in allowing a computer to have full control of anything without putting a human somewhere in the control loop. So I engineered in the manual mode of valve control, "just in case" it might be needed for troubleshooting or to override the PLC. To that end, the initial (and only) programming of the PLC was a routine to examine the toggle switch positions and then energize or de-energize the appropriate 120V AC output, connected to the top ten terminals on the left side of TB6 (the leftmost barrier terminal strip on the panel in the center of the picture). These ten outputs, on the right side of TB6, are obviously unconnected in the photo since those connections go to the external valve solenoids, or heater contactors and such.

    One of the center poles of each toggle switch provides the left-side connections to TB6, with 115 V AC either being supplied through its REMOTE contact, via one of the two 6-output AC output modules in slots five and six, or directly from 115 V AC applied through the ON contact. In both cases, the 115 V AC is fused and switched by a fail-safe interlock relay on the interlock panel partially visible on the right side of the photo.

    BTW, for those of you who are counting, Slot 0 is occupied by the SLC 5/03 CPU module. Slot 1 is occupied by a 4-channel thermocouple digitization module, Slots 2 and 3 are occupied by 16-channel DC input modules, and Slot 4 is occupied by a 16-channel DC output module. The DC inputs are provided by other poles on the other half of the toggle switches to allow the PLC software to determine the switch state, i.e., REMOTE, OFF, or ON.

    Having pretty much decided how I wanted this beast to behave I went ahead and wired it as shown before tackling the programming. I had never written a PLC logic-ladder program before, but had performed several dozen diode-relay logic designs in the 1960s and 1970s. How hard could it be?

    The A-B PLC mounts on a removable panel with its own barrier terminal strips located inside a NEMA enclosure mounted below the interlock relay panel, so it was easy to remove remove both panels without disconnecting any wires connecting to the PLC. The interlock panel was retro-fitted to an existing, much modified, 120 VAC interlock system that I inherited with the particle accelerator, so there were some wires that had to be temporarily removed there. Basically, all the interlocks are normally open switches, wired in series and located all over the accelerator in various places. If an interlock is "satisfied" the switch contacts close, and when all switches are closed the machine is ready to operate. I added contacts from a three-phase "power good" module, seen protruding from the back of the interlock panel, to the interlock chain and modified the interlock relay to be "fail safe" and thus require a manual reset operation to restore operation.

    To "seamlessly" transfer from manual to remote operation, I programmed the PLC to determine and maintain the previous state of the toggle switch when it is moved from either the OFF position or the ON position to the REMOTE position. If the switch was initially ON, then moving it quickly through OFF to REMOTE resulted in the switched output remaining ON. If the switch was initially OFF, then moving it to REMOTE resulted in the switched output remaining OFF. All of this essentially required only the ability to recognize, and remember, when a change-in-state of the switch occurred and then act accordingly. My original intent was to design a state machine in software that would sequence the vacuum control valves in the proper sequence to automatically pump down the accelerator while warming up two oil-diffusion pumps.

    By the time the project reached this point, I had demonstrated the "nifty" toggle switch action, but we had run out of time and money for any further "improvements," unless performed gratis by me on my own time. Okay, I thought, so it isn't a fully automagical pump-down vacuum valve sequencer like I planned. It doesn't monitor the oil temperature of the oil-diffusion pumps. It doesn't monitor the water temperature of the chillers used to cool the diffusion pumps and the mass-selection electromagnet. It doesn't automatically open the high-vacuum valves when the diffusion pumps have reached operating pressure. Yada, yada, yada. What it does do is sense whether there has been a power failure of the incoming three-phase lines and, in response to said power failure, close all the vacuum valves until an operator presses a RESET switch. Mission accomplished. More or less. We had a few power failures over the next ten years, but the machine always shut down and the vacuum valves closed, milliseconds before hot diffusion pump fluid could be injected into the accelerator columns through failure of the fore-line mechanical vacuum pumps. This avoided an expensive and time-consuming procedure to clean the accelerator columns, which was the whole reason for doing the project in the first place. This was my "baptism by fire" after less than two years on the job, circa 1998.

    Certainly I was remiss in not changing the Li-Ion battery myself, but I had informed my "replacement" of its imminent demise and suggested he take care of it. I also mentioned it to my supervisor, who ignored it. Since no one else was interested, and I could see the writing on the wall (no business for the accelerator), I ignored it too. Today, with flash memory, it would not be a problem.

    Two years after my "retirement" on December 31, 2014, I received word that the particle accelerator wasn't working, and was asked if I could come "look at it?" I didn't respond right away, but since we had to return to Dayton anyway, I decided to stop by and see what the problem was. Sure enough, the A-B PLC program was trashed. There were other problems as well, because it should have been possible to manually sequence the vacuum valves to pump down the accelerator, but I didn't have time to farkle with it. So I suggested they send the control panels to Venice for me to work on them here.

    It took awhile after I received "the package" shown in the photograph to get to the point where I could begin programming and testing it again. I found some hand-written diagrams (my personal notes made during its construction) of how it is was wired, but part of the job was to transfer this information to a "pretty print" PDF file so someone else could use the documentation for maintenance and troubleshooting.

    I only just recently, with some trepidation (I don't have a lot of replacement fuses on hand), connected 120 V AC power to the interlock panel to power up a 15 V DC power supply there that energizes the switch panel lamps and provides high-level logic signals (through the toggle switches) to the DC Input modules. It was quite satisfying to see the LED bit-status indicators on the input modules responding properly to toggle switch positions! Onward to replacing the corrupted ladder-logic program!

    NEWS FLASH!

    I learned yesterday that the Tandetron tandem particle accelerator will be disassembled and moved to Anaheim, CA, gratis with no cost to UES, Inc. Maybe the new owners could use my help and advice on how this move can be accomplished, and the re-located particle accelerator brought back to life... there are a lot of nuances involved in handling sulfur hexafluoride and cesium metal, not to mention the beam-line components that require "special handling" and replacement "O"-ring gaskets once the vacuum joints are opened... I don't think the "tank" can be moved without separating it into three sections for transport, but these Nimrods are claiming they can accomplish the move in one week. Yeah, gimme a Sawsall. a sledge hammer. and a muscular crew with low foreheads and I'll have that sucka outa there in pieces in one week! Good luck putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

    IIRC, it took the folks at Oak Ridge National Laboratory more than a month to move their de-comissioned Tandetron to a local college in Huntsville, AL. I guess we'll just have to "wait and see" what happens. I am probably not going to get paid for any of the work I have done, or the expenses incurred so far... <sigh>
     
  6. Ian

    Ian Administrator

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    It's a good job you put so much effort in to designing it in the first place - I'd have forgotten how to service something after 2 years ;). A bit unfair if they're expecting the work to be completed for free though! Send them an invoice afterwards and see what they say.

    Glad to hear it! :D
     
  7. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

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    Jun 21, 2012
    Thanks, Ian, for the advice on sending them an invoice. That's clearly necessary, even if I don't expect them to pay it. My mistake was not getting a purchase order that specified exactly what was to be accomplished, the cost billable to UES, and the proposed delivery date.

    So far, the cost in time and money has been minimal: a few bux for a battery shipped from Canada, a few more bux for an RS-232 to USB adaptor from Amazon, a few hours on the telephone with Allen-Bradley (Rockwell Automation) to get the software license activated again, and a few more hours un-packing the box and making sure the wiring was intact and functioning as expected. Disposing of the Styrofoam packing "peanuts" was the hardest job. Here in Venice, Styrofoam is not allowed to be disposed with household trash! Nor can Styrofoam be placed in the recycle bin. It has to be taken to a local landfill and disposed of there.

    I received a phone call this morning from one of the owners of the company in California that will take possession of the Tandetron and remove it from UES. They already own and operate Varian ion implanters, similar to the one I first operated and maintained in 1996. However, this is their first experience with a tandem accelerator. They want to hire me as a consultant to come to Dayton to assist in its disassembly for transportation. I still own a house there, so that could be somewhat practical, although inconvenient this winter.
     
    Ian likes this.
  8. dorke

    dorke

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    Jun 20, 2015
    Hop,

    As advanced as medicine is nowadays there is still a long way to go in heart related health issues.

    You probably now that AMD (Age related Macular Degregation) is treatable with eye injections.
    There is no cure yet, but it keeps the eyesight in relative good condition.

    Nice to hear you are still kicking ,and have some work on your hand.
    I would like to wish you good health and good enjoyable long living.

    Smoking and Drinking "Blackbeard" style?
    Ney, not anymore ,If I could only CQ him...:cool:
     
  9. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    I have some experience with this...

    When I was being shown around a former workplace by Hop he was collared to explain some of the details of the operation of the linear accelerator there. I'm sure there's a lot in Hop's head that people want to decant. :)

    Keep healthy!

    My vote is for you receiving a battery replacement in 2026.
     
    Rayregula likes this.
  10. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

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    That would be my option, too, if given any say in the matter.

    It's a pretty simple procedure: slice open the skin over the cavity containing the device, disconnect the leads to the heart, remove the old device and re-connect the leads, test to make sure the new device is working with the existing leads. If successful, close the incision with sutures or staples and apply a dressing. Complications would be damaged leads requiring replacement. Not sure if they would leave the damaged leads in place and insert replacements, or attempt to remove them. The leads are designed not to move around once they are implanted, so hopefully removal would not be necessary.

    Yeah, maybe, But they usually want free samples and never want to pay to see the full Monty. We'll see how it goes with the new owners of the Tandetron. I don't think they have any idea of the magnitude of the task ahead of them if the expect the machine to ever work again. Or maybe they do know because new tandems sell for upwards of a several million dollars, especially if you want them equipped for accelerator mass spectrometry, used for dating samples by measuring certain (usually) radioactive isotope ratios. Much quicker, and much more practical, to measure isotopes that way than to wait for them to decay so you can count the decay events. And only extremely small samples are required. Acceleration of the ions does two things: it allows the isotopes to be easily mass-separated for counting by individual detectors, and the increased energy allows even very small ions currents to be detected and measured to determine the isotope ratios present in the sample.

    AFAIK these folks are not interested in using their accelerator for dating, and this one would require extensive modifications and additions to be useful for that. I know this because I asked NEC (National Electrostatics Corporation) several years ago about using our Tandetron for carbon dating (the most common application) and was basically told it would be cheaper to purchase a new machine made for that purpose than to try to modify the one we had. I didn't buy that for one minute, but I also didn't have any customers lined up begging for accelerator-based carbon dating, so the upgrade idea was abandoned.

    Seems, from the conversation I had with one of the principals, that they want to do high-energy helium ion implants. I would have liked to do those too, but the boss wasn't interested so I never pursued that either. Turns out there is a port on the mass analyzer magnet, midway between the four poles that bend the ion beam through a ninety degree angle, that in the original implementation had a lithium ion-exchange canal inserted in the path of the ion beam. This device converted positive ions into negative ions, required for acceleration by the tandem accelerator. It had been removed and stored away by the time I arrived on the scene, but the physics are simple enough that a well-equipped machine shop could duplicate, and maybe even improve on, the original. I would certainly investigate that (if asked) if one cannot be obtained elsewhere.
     
  11. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

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    Jun 21, 2012
    Here is an update on the Tandetron particle accelerator migration from Dayton, OH to a new home in Anaheim, CA... and also the end of this thread, which I would like to ask a moderator to close.

    The move ain't gonna happen. It seems I told the principals too much about how the accelerator works, especially it's low current output compared to the Varian ion implant accelerators used for semiconductor doping, which is what their business is based upon. The Varian accelerators routinely produce milli-amperes of target current, whereas the Tandetron produces a few micro-amperes of current on a good day. And, in it's present configuration, without a duoplasmatron positive ion source and a lithium ion charge-exchange canal to convert positive ions into negative ions, the Tandetron cannot accelerate helium at all. So, apparently a wise decision on their part, but wife says I am an idiot for informing them without recompense. She's probably correct. Next time (if there is a next time) I will ask for a retainer fee up front, and will not offer any "free" advice at all, and will not offer paid advice until payment arrangements have been agreed upon in writing.

    This is exactly opposite from the way I offer advice on this forum, and it is also in opposition to the free exchange of ideas and information I experienced all those years working with others involved in the accelerator community: scientists, engineers, and technicians alike freely exchanged information. I guess it is a little late for me to learn how to swim with the sharks either as an entrepreneur or as a consultant.

    73 de AC8NS - Hop

    Edit: I am going to try to finish the programming of the Allen-Bradley PLC vacuum valve control, whether I get paid for it or not.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
    Ian likes this.
  12. kellys_eye

    kellys_eye

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    Your actions were those of a gentleman and scholar Hop. The actions of your prospective clients to take advantage without recompense shows them to be quite the opposite.
     
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  13. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

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    I suppose that's the normal modus operandi of the business world. I was peripherally aware of it from other worldly experiences, mainly how my father and his brother-in-law conducted their business in the 1960s. They started their company by literally stealing a patent and manufacturing a product that undersold all competitors because they didn't have to pay any royalties to the patent owner. Imagine making and selling "safety razor blades" early in the 20th century without having to pay royalties to Gillette. Of course they went to great lengths to keep their manufacturing source in Dayton a secret, and I won't reveal it here even though everyone involved is probably now deceased. But that was just one reason I refused the nepotistic offer by my uncle to pay my way through college if I would come to work for him. Turns out there was an electronic way to circumvent the patent, but Uncle Harry didn't know how to implement it. The patent eventually expired, but by then the "electronic way" was fully established and sold by Harry's competitors. Harry had to buy, and re-sell, the "solution" from them if he wanted to continue to stay in business.
     
  14. dorke

    dorke

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    Dear Hop,
    being honest is still highly regarded and honorable...it may not pay your bills though.

    My friend,you should learn a lesson form that ordeal.
    A detailed work contract should be signed before the start of such work.
    Stating the minimum pay(per hour,and/or the minimum amount of hours) for the job.

    About patent and copyright infringements,
    They are so common and have been so for decades,
    I personally had a hard time believing that the giant firms are doing it on a day by day basis.
    They see it as a calculated business risk they are willing to take and pay the fines years later when and if they are sued,if at all.

    I'm not talking about the Chinese firms and the government backed faking industry in China .
    I'm talking about the Top Blue American companies practicing it !!!
     
  15. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

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    I have long maintained that the patent system is fatally flawed and useless for the individual inventor with little or no resources to defend a patent. If you have invented the next better chicken, then control the production of eggs. Don't publish how you did it for all the world to see and copy. Sells as many eggs as possible until someone reverse engineers your chicken and begins underselling your eggs. When that happens, get out of the chicken and egg business and go invent something else. Wash, rinse, repeat until fabulously wealthy.

    There is on Netflix a streaming series about competition between "geniuses" in America... Edison versus Tesla, Sarnoff versus Farnsworth, Openheimer versus Heisenberg... people like that. My take-away after watching a few episodes is this: money talks. More money talks louder than little money. Sarnoff in particular was clever in buying up all the patents associated with the production of radios and then licensing the patents to manufacturers who needed to use the art protected by those patents to build radios. Sarnoff and RCA would vigorously sue anyone who even appeared to use an RCA patent without license, whether there was merit to the lawsuit or not. Merit didn't matter: tie them up in court with injunctions until they ran out of resources. The same business model is still used successfully today.
     
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