VHF Static from my Garmin Echomap 94sv plotter

MRW

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Mar 4, 2018
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Matt Wilson
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I have excessive static on my hand-held VHF when I power up my Garmin GPS/Fish finder

I have tried multiple different handheld radios and have the same issue, so I’m ruling the VHF as the problem.

I have a single battery with switched Positive lead. Positive accessory’s go to a fuse block and the negative lead goes to a buss bar

The transducer cable and power cables routes from the console through the cable tube under the deck.

The battery is mounted in the aft starboard corner and the excess transducer cable is loosely coiled in the compartment

Disconnecting the transducer cable does not help.

I routed the NMEA2000 cable but have not attached anything to the cable, disconnecting the NMEA cable does not make any difference

I have checked all my power connections

I moved the ferrite magnet as close to the unit as I can approximately at 10 inches from the plotter

I’m not sure what else to try



Thanks in advance

Matt

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ShadowX

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What type of noise do you hear? Its is it a "white noise" where it sounds like a waterfall or do you hear noise as if its a digital signal like a modem in the old days? The white noise just means overall RF noise went up, while the digital noise may be signal leakage. Do you hear the noise when people are speaking or just t he background noise? Most of the time, if its just background noise, you just turn up the squelch a little higher.

Think of your portable VHF as a very sensitive field strength meter. When you turn on the GPS, are you able to move around the boat and get different noise levels? Is it higher just near the fish finder? Its a good way to figure out the general location where the noise level is higher to give you a rough idea of the source. Make sure all the other equipment is turned off, especially the engine, pumps, etc. Nothing should be on other than the fish finder.

My suspicion is your ground is bad. Looking at that picture of the ground buss bar, its highly corroded even though you tried to clean the contacts under the screws. You need to remove all the screws and sand it down lightly with a 1200 or finer grit sandpaper. Make sure all the terminals are clean, especially the main ground wire. Use dielectric grease to coat the bar to prevent corrosion and screw the terminals back in. Repeat the same on the positive power terminal going into the fuse block.

On the power side, do the same with the spade terminals to make sure its not corroded. Pull the fuses out and sand down the spade terminal on the fuse just to make sure you have good clean contact. Put some dielectric grease on the fuse and press it back in.

After that, go to the connectors on the fish finder side and inspect for corrosion also. Spray some terminal cleaner on the contacts and put in some dielectric grease for additional moisture protection. Screw everything back in.

At this point, check the terminals that goes to your batteries to make sure they are clean also. Look at all the wires in the battery all the way to the fish finder and make sure there are no breaks, green spots or corrosion. If the insulation is cracked, water gets into the wire and causes electrical issues quickly.

That giant round block around your wires under the console is your RF ferrite choke. You want that as close to the connector as possible. I don't know if yours are removable, but if it is, move it up even above the console if you can. If it doesn't change anything, you can leave it as is.
 
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MRW

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ShadowX,

Its white noise, worse on some channels and OK on others if I move away from the console or turn my back, I can get a good reception and the white noise goes away. All testing has been done with the engine off and the only other items I have on the battery are the nav lights and a cigarette lighter. (Both off)

I will re-clean the terminals and apply dielectric grease as you have described

I have moved the RF ferrite block and did not see an improvement, so I returned it to the spot inside the console

Fishboy93, My concern is that there is something wrong with the Garmin unit and even if I placed a permanent VHF with a fixed antenna I would still have this problem.



Thanks for the help, I’ll report back later this week

-Matt
 
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ShadowX

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ShadowX,

Its white noise, worse on some channels and OK on others if I move away from the console or turn my back, I can get a good reception and the white noise goes away. All testing has been done with the engine off and the only other items I have on the battery are the nav lights and a cigarette lighter. (Both off)

I will re-clean the terminals and apply dielectric grease as you have described

I have moved the RF ferrite block and did not see an improvement, so I returned it to the spot inside the console

Fishboy93, My concern is that there is something wrong with the Garmin unit and even if I placed a permanent VHF with a fixed antenna I would still have this problem.



Thanks for the help, I’ll report back later this week

-Matt

With a permanent VHF, the two equipment share a common ground. It may improve the issue with noise. Some of the better VHF radios have better noise rejection and you have a much bigger antenna to pick up radio signals. The rubber ducky antennas on most hand held radios are helical wound and is not as efficient. It also tends to pick up more local noise.

When you are holding the radio, you are acting as part of the ground system on some radios and that has an impact on the noise levels too. An easy test is to put the radio on a surface and see where the noise level is and then hold the radio to see if the noise increase or decreased.

Replacing the fish finder sounds like a more involved job since you may need to replace the transducer. On the other hand, you can get use VHF radios relatively cheap. I've seen used Standard Horizon on eBay with prices less than $100 all the time. I'm sure many people on this site has lots of old radios lying around too.
 
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Invictus

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I had the same noise and it was a dirty ground or stray ground somewhere. It was time to re-wire the boat anyway, and once we did and properly grounded everything, it was totally gone. We even put ferrite blocks on the LEDs, and other electronics prior and it did nothing to help. You may have something "leaking" somewhere. The above was with a fixed mount VHF and 8' foot good mast. Before, noisy, after re-wire, not a hiss.

Also, have you adjusted the squelch on the hand held? Sorry if I missed this.
 
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ShadowX

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Always inspect the crimps on the terminals. Someone used the wrong type of crimper that crappy electricians use. Its one of those cheap Klein tools that compresses a dimple in the wires. Never use that crap, especially on expensive marine terminals like these blue Ancor terminals.

You can see the ends of the crimp are uneven and all it did was puncture the outer jacket of the insulation. Even though the terminal looks like its not green and corroded, you can see the wires are all black from oxidation. Water definitely got in due to the open end and bad crimp. Those yellow heat shrink sleeving is not going to make the connector waterproof. The water can get in through the crimp and from the back too. It doesn't even look like its adhesive lined. Sometimes, it makes it worse because water likes to flow in small gaps via capillary action.

Whoever wired it tried hard, but they missed some critical steps that compromised the connection over time. I normally spray on a protective coat over buss bars and terminals when I'm done.


1649231866785.png



The proper tool will not only crimp the ends perfectly, it also swages the sleeve around the wire for stress relief. Its really a double crimp. Even a cheap Chinese made ratchet type of crimper is better than the Klein crimper. If you used the correct crimper, the wires will be swaged into almost a solid slug of copper so dense that even the water can't get in between the strands. After you are done crimping, always tug on the wire and terminal to make sure you have a good solid connection. If its a bad crimp, the wires would pull out. It would take 5 or more pounds to pull a terminal off a wire, so you are not hurting anything when you test it.

33-Marine-Wire-Termination.jpg


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Cheap Klein Tools:
1649231960553.png



There are some good tips and info in the links below if you want to learn how to properly make the connections.


 
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MRW

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good morning,

that's my wiring job and yes I own and used the Klein crimper.

Luckily I have some $ and time this weekend to rewire the boat. I'll study up this week work on the boat this weekend and report back next week.

Thanks
Matt
 
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sickcat

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    good morning,

    that's my wiring job and yes I own and used the Klein crimper.

    Luckily I have some $ and time this weekend to rewire the boat. I'll study up this week work on the boat this weekend and report back next week.

    Thanks
    Matt

    In a perfect world a quality crimper would always be used. I do have one and still use a klein like yours often because I like the feel. I see electrical work I did over 30 years ago with it and the wiring has held up fine.

    A couple suggestions. First always put the dimple on the underside of the connector. In Shadows last post the two connectors he pointed out with red arrows were crimped with the dimple on top were the connector is split. The third connector looks like the dimple was on the underside. You can see the difference where the connector is deformed at the split on the first two compared with the third where it is not.

    I usually use liquid tape to seal the smaller connectors where the end of the wire is exposed and under the shrink tubing putting the shrink tubing all they way over the connector so it shrinks down over where the end of the exposed is wire as much as possible. The other end of the shrink tubing goes about an inch over the wire past the connector for strain relief. I also put a shot of corrosion block on the bare wire before I crimp it.
     
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    ShadowX

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    In a perfect world a quality crimper would always be used. I do have one and still use a klein like yours often because I like the feel. I see electrical work I did over 30 years ago with it and the wiring has held up fine.

    A couple suggestions. First always put the dimple on the underside of the connector. In Shadows last post the two connectors he pointed out with red arrows were crimped with the dimple on top were the connector is split. The third connector looks like the dimple was on the underside. You can see the difference where the connector is deformed at the split on the first two compared with the third where it is not.

    I usually use liquid tape to seal the smaller connectors where the end of the wire is exposed and under the shrink tubing putting the shrink tubing all they way over the connector so it shrinks down over where the end of the exposed is wire as much as possible. The other end of the shrink tubing goes about an inch over the wire past the connector for strain relief. I also put a shot of corrosion block on the bare wire before I crimp it.

    I would say if it this was 20 or 30 years ago, the cost of a decent crimper would be very expensive, but in today's world, it costs less than $25 for a crimper. I would bet the old junky Klein tool cost even more than that. Its a relatively low cost expense when it comes to boating and I'm sure the crimper will come in handy many times when you add or change electronics.

    There are actually two types of tools you need. One is for a regular terminal where it does not have heat shrink tubing. With those, you need the first crimper where it does a double crimp. It crimps the wire and also the insulation. The second crimper is specifically for heat shrink terminals. It has only one set of crimp and smashes the terminal without going through the insulation. If you used the Klein tool, it would puncture the insulation and render the heat shrink useless. No point in buying expensive heat shrink tubing connectors when the crimping tool destroys it. Most people don't even know there are two types of crimpers.

    There it a lot of variables which determines if a crimp holds up fine. Some boats are stored in relatively wet areas like in the marina or in dry storage. Even in dry storage, the daily moisture and dew is enough to make a boat damp with lots of salt corrosion. What is fine for one person may not be for another if a connection is not properly terminated.

    Liquid tape tends to crack over time in dry conditions. Its worse when its outside when its exposed to the sun. The best way is to use adhesive lined heat shrink tubing. If you don't have that, you can use a small amount of silicon around the area of the heat shrink and heat from the enter of the heat shrink out to squeeze the excess out. The silicon will form a barrier to keep moisture out. I've done it with battery connectors where either heat shrink tubing with adhesive is not available or expensive.

    As for terminals, stay with known name brands like Ancor, TE connectivity, AMP etc. Stay away from any junky Chinese made connectors. The Chinese made connectors cut on corners to save costs. It has less metal, the ends of the two half folded is not welded or brazed and it does not have a shroud around the welded portion. The good quality connectors are all braze/welded at the ends so it doesn't split and it has the shroud hold the shape and to form over the wire for stress relief. When you pull on the wire, you are not pulling at the crimp joint.

    Once people understand the important of good electrical connections, a lot of the electrical related gremlins go away. Its very straightforward. Even the Ancor terminals are around 25 cents a piece when you buy in higher volume. The total cost for most people to get a decent crimper set and some terminal is less than $100 and $200 tops. Its more than what people spend on terminal tackle.

    By no means these crimpers below are the best crimp tools for the job, but they are more than adequate for the job. The compound jaws gives you a mechanical advantage and uses less force to crimp the terminal. The key is to look at the crimper die carefully to make sure it has good tight tolerances. The die constrains the contact area where its swaged so that it does not move around or the ends open up like in your contacts. The ratchet action allows you to have a consistent crimp force. If you don't crimp tight enough, the wires are loose. If you crimp too tight, the wires break.

    I work on electrical wire harnesses for many years as part of my job. I own multiple crimpers that are over $1000 each when its new. Some of those mil spec crimpers are needed for other jobs on aircrafts that needs 100% reliability where you have to test the connections up to 50+ lbs for larger terminals. You literally crimp a three sample wires with a connector and put it on a calibrated machine to check the pull test so that it takes over 50 lbs to pull the wires off the terminals. You do this each time before you use the crimper to verify that its within specs. I mainly use those crimpers when I have a need for it.

    You don't need that level of tool. All you need is a reliable terminal crimper that you can trust. The way you trust the crimper and your crimp is to pull on the wire as hard as you can. I give it a good 5 lb tug if I think the connection is not reliable or if I am changing wire gauges. I usually give a good tug on the first time I crimp a certain wire size. If the connection was bad, it would pull right out. If you are not sure, pull.


    Normal terminals:
    1649273260591.png


    Heat shrink terminals:
    1649273252381.png
     
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    sickcat

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    I understand there are many ways to skin a cat. I'm fine with others doing things differently than me.

    I am comfortable with the methods and tools I use. My work has stood up over time including being submerged in saltwater with no gremlins afterwards.

    As an added bonus my Klein crimpers are made in the good ol U.S.A.
     
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    MRW

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    Thanks everyone for the comments and suggestions, I still plan on re-wiring the boat, its, not that expensive compared to the cost of the boat and I enjoy working on the boat. I'm really lucky it fits in my garage and can work on it whenever and This weekend doesn't look like good weather in the SB channel
     
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    ShadowX

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    Thanks everyone for the comments and suggestions, I still plan on re-wiring the boat, its, not that expensive compared to the cost of the boat and I enjoy working on the boat. I'm really lucky it fits in my garage and can work on it whenever and This weekend doesn't look like good weather in the SB channel

    If the wires are black inside, replace them or cut back until its not black. The black color usually means you have a copper wire without a tin coating and water got in. The black is actually corrosion. Water tends to wick inside between strands of the wires and goes in 6-12 inches from the terminals. If you do get replacement wires, make sure they are marine tinned wires.

    When you are all done and the connections are shiny, you need to spray a protectant on any exposed metal surface. I usually use CRC HD Corrosion Inhibitor. Its a bit thicker and leaves a sticky surface at first, but it sure protects. I use it on the trailer and other locations where it tends to rust too. If you need to add more terminals later, you may need to wipe some of it off because it leaves a coat. If you prefer something lighter that you have spray from time to time, you can use Boeshield T-9. That stuff is amazing.

    Good luck.

    1649295661928.png
    513Hd-U3ciL._AC_SY879_.jpg
     
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    ShadowX

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    I understand there are many ways to skin a cat. I'm fine with others doing things differently than me.

    I am comfortable with the methods and tools I use. My work has stood up over time including being submerged in saltwater with no gremlins afterwards.

    As an added bonus my Klein crimpers are made in the good ol U.S.A.

    You may want to read the fine print when you buy a Klein tool next time. Way way on the bottom, is a little blurb: the product is manufactured in china.

    Most of the new products are not made in the US anymore. Its how the world rolls in this current age and time. Not all Chinese made products are bad. There are good and bad parts. You just have to know how to tell one from the other. Klein just rebrands their Chinese made tools. I bet you they make them in the same factory as other tools with different logos. One batch is for Klein and the other is for another company right on the same assembly line. There are plenty of examples. I'm sure they still make some, but its because they already have the automated equipment to make certain tools and probably buys the raw materials from China.

    Amazon product

    There is nothing wrong with your Klein tool as long as you use it correctly. It clearly labels the spike point to be used on un-insulated terminals (red) and labeled as "NON". If you have insulated terminals, you need to use the "INS" section of the crimper (green arrow). That section does not leave a dimple on the terminal nor does it damage the insulation. Most people don't even know there is a difference.

    1649296924648.png
     
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    sickcat

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    You may want to read the fine print when you buy a Klein tool next time. Way way on the bottom, is a little blurb: the product is manufactured in china.

    Most of the new products are not made in the US anymore. Its how the world rolls in this current age and time. Not all Chinese made products are bad. There are good and bad parts. You just have to know how to tell one from the other. Klein just rebrands their Chinese made tools. I bet you they make them in the same factory as other tools with different logos. One batch is for Klein and the other is for another company right on the same assembly line. There are plenty of examples. I'm sure they still make some, but its because they already have the automated equipment to make certain tools and probably buys the raw materials from China.

    Amazon product

    There is nothing wrong with your Klein tool as long as you use it correctly. It clearly labels the spike point to be used on un-insulated terminals (red) and labeled as "NON". If you have insulated terminals, you need to use the "INS" section of the crimper (green arrow). That section does not leave a dimple on the terminal nor does it damage the insulation. Most people don't even know there is a difference.

    View attachment 1370037
    I bought my Klein crimpers decades ago when they were made here. Likely why they have lasted so long.
     
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    ShadowX

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    I bought my Klein crimpers decades ago when they were made here. Likely why they have lasted so long.

    Yeah, they just don't make them like they used to. Mostly garbage quality now. America and corporations sold our souls for cheap shit.
     
    sickcat
    sickcat
    ....and We the People not only allowed it but bought it up. Only ourselves to blame.
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    MRW

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    well, today was an enjoyable way to spend time rewiring the "yacht" I'm happier with the results but disappointed that I still have the static noise as soon as I power up the chart plotter.
    I have contacted Garmin and they have offered to replace my unit with a "tested" one.

    new Data point is the static is a bit less on one of my hand held units and it increases if I hold the antenna

    I'm starting to lean towards buying a fixed VHF and permanent antenna.

    Right now I'm headed to the harbor to beat the heat and have a drink

    Thanks for the tips and techniques!
    Matt

    tool kit.jpg


    Fuse block final.jpg
     
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    sickcat
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    A fixed mount VHF would give you a lot more transmit power - always a good thing.

    Have you tried shutting off the Garmin's WiFi to see if that has any effect on the VHF?
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    ShadowX

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    well, today was an enjoyable way to spend time rewiring the "yacht" I'm happier with the results but disappointed that I still have the static noise as soon as I power up the chart plotter.
    I have contacted Garmin and they have offered to replace my unit with a "tested" one.

    new Data point is the static is a bit less on one of my hand held units and it increases if I hold the antenna

    I'm starting to lean towards buying a fixed VHF and permanent antenna.

    Right now I'm headed to the harbor to beat the heat and have a drink

    Thanks for the tips and techniques!
    Matt

    View attachment 1371062

    View attachment 1371063

    The wiring looks a lot better now. You really went to town with that Boeshield T9.
     
    M
    MRW
    Thanks, I definitely see the difference n the crimps.
    RE; Bosheild T9 I was trying not to put to much on its a brand new can that was like two bursts... I didn't want that much on, maybe I should have used the spray tube?
    would it be good for engine also?
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    ShadowX

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    Thanks, I definitely see the difference n the crimps.
    RE; Bosheild T9 I was trying not to put to much on its a brand new can that was like two bursts... I didn't want that much on, maybe I should have used the spray tube?
    would it be good for engine also?

    I usually keep the straw on because it shoots out quite a bit with the nozzle. Boeshield T9 is good stuff. I spray some on the battery terminals and other areas where I don't want corrosion. Its definitely great for pliers too. It does have a strong smell so you don't want them on lures. You can spray some on gaff hooks to keep corrosion off.

    The crimps look nicer and evenly crimped. The other crimp tool for heat shrink tubing is also. You can use the crimper you have, but you have to switch sides because the crimp is on one end and the other end for the stress relief is a slightly larger crimp diameter. The heat shrink crimper is also wider so it spreads out the load without damaging the heat shrink tube. If you just do a couple of heat shrink connections, you can get away without it, but $25 is a cheap price compared to gas and other things we spend on a boat on every trip. I'm a big believer in having the right tools, because it makes your life easier. It'll pay back in the long run.

    Get a nice fishing tackle holder like a 3700 and you can put all those connectors in that container. It keeps it neat and all the parts you need are in one place. I usually store it in a tool bag with my crimpers and strippers so I have a tool bag with all the electrical connections. I even put in a cheap hot air gun like the one shown below in my tool bag to shrink the tubes. You never want to use a lighter unless you have no choice. You don't want to burn the insulation on the wires.


    1649685263563.png
     
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    MRW

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    Good advice, its looks like I'll be installing a VHF and NMEA bus in the future and will need to be organized.

    I forgot to mention that turning off the WiFi did not make a difference

    I have been to and EMC testing site for my work and we found noise coming from the touch screens on one of our systems, so that s why I'm thinking its something with this unit.

    I have an email exchange with Garmin and will update with their response, I couldnt find much on my google searches for this issue and want to help out the next person that has a problem

    -M
     
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    Bottom Dragger

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    As a test, run a pair of wires from the garmin directly to the battery without anything else connected to the battery and the garmin disconnected from the buss bars.

    If you still have noise, point your finger at the garmin.
     
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    MRW

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    here is the update,

    Garmin sent refurbished chart plotter, Or I should say I bought a refurbished chart plotter and they will refund my $ when I return the original.
    Unfortunately the refurb unit also has static.

    I did run the chart plotter straight from the battery and that did not make any difference.

    Next step is to set up a permanently mounted VHF with antenna an see if it has a clear signal, if that works I'll mount it and move on.

    I should have the experiment completed by next weekend and will report back

    to all that posted, thanks!

    -Matt
     
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