My latest and most advance version of the Enclosed Chamber

Markw84

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4,277
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I decided to put all my wish list items in a chamber and build one to incorporate everything I would want. I also want to build these to offer to the folks who buy my Burmese Star hatchlings and would like a great enclosure all set up and ready.

Here it is almost ready to go. I will follow with the build details...

IMG_0691.jpg

The enclosure unit is 36" x 48" and 26" tall. It is modular and either side can come off and two can be put together to make a 3 x 8 chamber when the tortoise gets larger instead of loosing the value of the original chamber. I do feel hatchlings do better in an enclosure that is not too large. So this solves that problem in it being expandable as they grow.

I am building out of expanded PVC sheets. No need to seal and paint, and very durable. Easy to work with and fairly light weight.

The clutter of cords and timers and thermostat is always a problem, so I decided to build everything in and pre wire. The only wire coming out of the enclosure is the cord to plug in the whole unit.

Here is the top I am starting to wire for the lights. I have loved the LED lights and the very low heat they emit, yet very bright light. This enclosure will have four ceiling fixtures for ambient light. I use 2 15 watt grow lights in the rear and two 11 watt 5000K LED in front. That is very bright lighting and just a total of 52 watts. Plants thrive in this lighting. IN the very center I put a 3 foot T5 UVB. The cord is installed and ready to plug into the fixture. Rear center (red/white wires) is the CHE. Forward center (blue/white) is the basking light.

I am wiring in two thermostats and have the sensor probe wires coming from the panel of the wiring chamber I am building into the top front of the enclosure. This gives flexibility in moving the sensors if desired later. The space above the doors is a 5" deep separated chamber for all the wiring so it is isolated from the humidity of the enclosure. The front panel can come off to access the wiring if needed.

Here is the top with the wiring laid out.

IMG_0669.jpg

The top is a double layer of 1/2" board on the top and a 1/4" board for the "ceiling". This forms an area for the wiring so it is not visible inside the camber and routed out of the way. My tools and wire spool are sitting in the area that is the wiring chamber. The top is sitting here upside-down. Wiring is almost run except for the last two ceiling fixtures that go on you right viewing it here. (black and white wires)

Here it is with the 1/4" panel installed.

IMG_0670.jpg

The whole chamber screws together very easily. Easy to move the pieces and assemble where you want it. Takes me about 1 hour to assemble the whole chamber. Here is the top with it installed in the chamber. You can see the fixtures and the plug ins ready for the various items.

IMG_0675.jpg

Here's a view of the front so you can see the wiring chamber. I have 4 outlets installed on the left. I need:
CHE
Basking
UVB
Ambient light
All on their own circuit.

The Larger white cord wrapped up is the only cord that will exit the chamber to plug into a wall outlet.

IMG_0677.jpg

Now the front panel with the thermostats installed in it is wired up along with all the items so it is ready to go.

IN the picture below - From the leftmost outlet:

1st smart timer has the UVB plugged in
2nd smart timer has the ambient lighting plugged in.
3rd smart timer has the thermostat for the basking light (overheat protection) and then the basking light plugs into that thermostat.
The 4th outlet has the heating thermostat plugged in and the CHE is plugged into that thermostat.

The two thermostat sensors are just hanging down into the enclosure and are adjustable for placement from there.

The power cord exits the chamber on either side through a hole.

IMG_0679.jpg

Here it is with the front panel in place and everything ready to go electrically.

IMG_0684.jpg

Here is a view showing all the fixtures I use and their placement.

The tow LEDs in the back are a special grow light that I am really pleased with. Puts out a nice natural white light but is weighted towards good red and blue for plant growth. I use their 15 watt versions to keep heat down. They have 30 and 40 watt versions, but I would need sunglasses for all the baby tortoises.

IMG_0686.jpg
With all the lights on it is a very bright, daylight simulating light. With the timers I sequence the light cycle to mimic daytime a bit.
The basking light goes on before and stays on after the ambient lighting, creating a dawn and dusk, warm lighting.
The ambient is on 14 hours.
The UVB is on 6 hours midday.

Everything is visible on an app on your phone to see what lights are on/off and what the temperatures are through a sensor in the enclosure.

Here are the lights all on:

IMG_0687.jpg
Next I installed the doors. I use swinging doors that are double pane. I like to see the tortoises and not look through a fog of condensation on the windows. The best doors I have built are plexiglass double pane. With plexiglass I can totally seal the double panes. IF you try to do it with glass, and silicone or whatever you use, moisture will eventually seep into between the panes and the condensation is worse than ever. These plexiglass doors work wonderfully and I make them so the frame is clear as well.

Here are the doors on :

IMG_0690.jpg

Finally the planting. I have come to the current method of creating plenty of real, live plant cover in the enclosure for natural hides and great humidity. The tortoises seem to do much better and I am anticipating much better growth with them pushed under plants the bulk of the time. I have a spare older enclosure I use for my nursery:

IMG_0688.jpg

So I always have plenty of great, healthy plants for the enclosure. This is for very young and smaller tortoises, of course, as a larger tortoise will demolish plants. For them I use hanging plants that they can only reach up and trim so far, yet push beneath as their natural hides.

Here is the enclosure again, almost ready for some of the new Burmese Star hatchings that are going to be my "plant cover rainforest" experiment.

IMG_0691.jpg
 

Markw84

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Messages
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Very nice do you have an idea what you will sell them for?

That's the question...!! I'll have to see how this works out. I can build these and offer them for about the price of an AP cage of comparable size. The difference is the cost of adding all the electrical and hooking everything up as well as the dual pane swinging doors.

To me, the issue is having something easy to use, but all set up with everything a healthy tortoise will need, environment - wise. So many people I see coming to the forum, or anywhere I run into questions, are people concerned about the cost of things. Sometimes I feel I need to tell them maybe they can't afford a tortoise right now! They don't seem to realize the real cost of a tortoise, is often very little compared to the cost of setting it up properly. To jury rig a tote, or christmas storage bin, or old aquarium, or rubbermaid tank, leaves them with more problems that need to be solved and they end up chasing a solution and waste money in chunks as they try the different options. Then they still don't end up with an enclosure that really works properly, and doesn't look like anything many people would want in their homes.

When selling my baby Burmese Stars, I am very much interested in seeing them go to a great home. I would want follow-up feed back on how they are doing and want to see how many end up male vs. female as well. When spending the money a Burmese costs, perhaps more of those folks would be more in tune with setting it up properly if they don't already have the experience and setups at home with other tortoises. It is frustrating that we really do not have a good choice for getting an enclosure for our tortoises. Even then, you are still left with a myriad of questions on the proper heat and lighting setup.

So my goal was to have a complete solution I could offer. No need to have to build something. NO worry about buying and placing and setting up lighting and thermostats and timers, etc, etc.

The bare enclosure itself with the dual pane swinging doors, but no electronics at all costs me $270.00 to build.

The electrical all set up and ready to add bulbs (not including UVB) costs me $155.00. This includes the 2 thermostats and 3 smart timers and all fixtures including the 10.5" brooder domes, but does not include the UVB fixture. (The thermostats are $16 ea. and the smart timers are $8.5 ea. You can't really buy anything for less - so why not have it integrated and ready to go??)

So my cost to get everything ready for bulbs and UVB is $425.00

I would need to add probably $150 for labor. (it takes as long to wire everything as it does to build the whole enclosure!)

So I'm looking at $575.00 plus shipping.

The bulbs I recommend you would need to add will run another $158.00 you will need to spend.
$89.00 - 34" T5 HO UVB from lightyourreptiles
$12.00 - a decent quality 100 watt CHE
$42.00* - 2 Sansi 15 watt LED grow lights (Amazon) *(you could also just go with 4 of the LED lights below so make these 2 LEDs for $7.00)
$7.00 - 2 5000K LED 11 watt bulbs 1100 lumen output (Amazon)
2.00 - 1 65 watt incadescent flood bulb for basking light.

The 8 foot by 3 foot enclosure is an expansion of this I make in 4 foot sections for ease of handling, setup and transporting. An 8x3 version of this would come to $900.00 plus shipping.

Your bulbs will be a bit more for you as there are more fixtures:
$99.00 - 46" t5 HO UVB
$24.00 - 2 CHEs
$84.00 - 4 Sansi 15 watt LED grow lights
$14.00 - 4 11 watt LEDs
$4.00 - 2 65 watt flood bulbs.
 

PA2019

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Joined
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Messages
328
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Gainesville, FL
Love the hidden wiring, 1 cord exiting the tank, and the ability to connect multiple units! I have spent hours trying to organize (zip-tie, velcro etc..) the mess of wires coming out of my tank, your solution fixes that annoyance. I'm curious about the white color choice, any specific reason? You tend to engineer down to the minutiae, so I'm wondering if there is some benefit I had never considered. Great job!
 

Markw84

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5 Year Member
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Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
4,277
Location (City and/or State)
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Love the hidden wiring, 1 cord exiting the tank, and the ability to connect multiple units! I have spent hours trying to organize (zip-tie, velcro etc..) the mess of wires coming out of my tank, your solution fixes that annoyance. I'm curious about the white color choice, any specific reason? You tend to engineer down to the minutiae, so I'm wondering if there is some benefit I had never considered. Great job!
I like white as I like to be able to have a bright, daylight - like lighting inside. The white really helps and also reflects and increases overall UV in the enclosure. This also helps the plants do much better in the enclosure and with the plants, there are lots of shaded cover areas as I like to put a lot of plants to improve overall humidity and a natural security for the tortoises.

PVC also accepts paint very well, so easy to paint the outside if another color is desired for esthetics. I can make black if wanted as the PVC also comes in black. I also am making a sandwiched version where the whole enclosure us made with a layer of 1" rigid foam inside 1/4" panels for the sides and top. That one I can make using cabinet grade plywood for the outside and stain to create a furniture quality enclosure.
 

Kapidolo Farms

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The world has been waiting for the 'plug n play' tortoise enclosure Mark. Great job, and frankly great price. I think you'd be able to sell dozens of these units every month. Shipping might be a killer, do they flat pack, or not?

Let me know if you'd sell them to me even if I didn't buy one of your tortoises.
 

Markw84

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Messages
4,277
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
The world has been waiting for the 'plug n play' tortoise enclosure Mark. Great job, and frankly great price. I think you'd be able to sell dozens of these units every month. Shipping might be a killer, do they flat pack, or not?

Let me know if you'd sell them to me even if I didn't buy one of your tortoises.
Yes, they flat pack. I haven't worked out a shipping solution yet. I've never shipped something that big so probably need to go freight. Do you happen to have any experience with shipping something like this? Any tips would be appreciated or points in the right direction.

I will sell these to others, for sure. The impetus to get me going on it was having the Stars hatching and thinking about their new homes.
 

Kapidolo Farms

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Yes, they flat pack. I haven't worked out a shipping solution yet. I've never shipped something that big so probably need to go freight. Do you happen to have any experience with shipping something like this? Any tips would be appreciated or points in the right direction.

I will sell these to others, for sure. The impetus to get me going on it was having the Stars hatching and thinking about their new homes.


I think depending on the 'dimensional' size L x w x d, you might be able to ship UPS, if not then LTL (less than load). I think you could pack them in 1/2 foam board, then 'wrap' in cardboard. Thats what Ikea does, they wrap the item with a box, not place the item in a box.

Corrugated comes in rolls. You'd just need reinforced corners and always ship insured.

I feel comfortable to suggest that your potential market goes way beyond tortoise people.
 

Ghazan

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Jun 5, 2016
Messages
131
what do you use for the UVB holder/fixture? I may have missed it in your detailed explanation. Great work
 

Markw84

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Messages
4,277
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
what do you use for the UVB holder/fixture? I may have missed it in your detailed explanation. Great work
I am using the 34" T5 HO 12.0 light and fixture from lightyourrpetiles.com. It is hung from two cup hooks in the ceiling so it can be adjusted height-wise for the desired UVI level. IN picture #4 you can see the cup hooks and the fixture cord installed in the enclosure top.
 

CarolM

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Joined
Oct 30, 2017
Messages
19,442
Location (City and/or State)
South Africa - Cape Town
I decided to put all my wish list items in a chamber and build one to incorporate everything I would want. I also want to build these to offer to the folks who buy my Burmese Star hatchlings and would like a great enclosure all set up and ready.

Here it is almost ready to go. I will follow with the build details...

View attachment 268847

The enclosure unit is 36" x 48" and 26" tall. It is modular and either side can come off and two can be put together to make a 3 x 8 chamber when the tortoise gets larger instead of loosing the value of the original chamber. I do feel hatchlings do better in an enclosure that is not too large. So this solves that problem in it being expandable as they grow.

I am building out of expanded PVC sheets. No need to seal and paint, and very durable. Easy to work with and fairly light weight.

The clutter of cords and timers and thermostat is always a problem, so I decided to build everything in and pre wire. The only wire coming out of the enclosure is the cord to plug in the whole unit.

Here is the top I am starting to wire for the lights. I have loved the LED lights and the very low heat they emit, yet very bright light. This enclosure will have four ceiling fixtures for ambient light. I use 2 15 watt grow lights in the rear and two 11 watt 5000K LED in front. That is very bright lighting and just a total of 52 watts. Plants thrive in this lighting. IN the very center I put a 3 foot T5 UVB. The cord is installed and ready to plug into the fixture. Rear center (red/white wires) is the CHE. Forward center (blue/white) is the basking light.

I am wiring in two thermostats and have the sensor probe wires coming from the panel of the wiring chamber I am building into the top front of the enclosure. This gives flexibility in moving the sensors if desired later. The space above the doors is a 5" deep separated chamber for all the wiring so it is isolated from the humidity of the enclosure. The front panel can come off to access the wiring if needed.

Here is the top with the wiring laid out.

View attachment 268848

The top is a double layer of 1/2" board on the top and a 1/4" board for the "ceiling". This forms an area for the wiring so it is not visible inside the camber and routed out of the way. My tools and wire spool are sitting in the area that is the wiring chamber. The top is sitting here upside-down. Wiring is almost run except for the last two ceiling fixtures that go on you right viewing it here. (black and white wires)

Here it is with the 1/4" panel installed.

View attachment 268849

The whole chamber screws together very easily. Easy to move the pieces and assemble where you want it. Takes me about 1 hour to assemble the whole chamber. Here is the top with it installed in the chamber. You can see the fixtures and the plug ins ready for the various items.

View attachment 268850

Here's a view of the front so you can see the wiring chamber. I have 4 outlets installed on the left. I need:
CHE
Basking
UVB
Ambient light
All on their own circuit.

The Larger white cord wrapped up is the only cord that will exit the chamber to plug into a wall outlet.

View attachment 268851

Now the front panel with the thermostats installed in it is wired up along with all the items so it is ready to go.

IN the picture below - From the leftmost outlet:

1st smart timer has the UVB plugged in
2nd smart timer has the ambient lighting plugged in.
3rd smart timer has the thermostat for the basking light (overheat protection) and then the basking light plugs into that thermostat.
The 4th outlet has the heating thermostat plugged in and the CHE is plugged into that thermostat.

The two thermostat sensors are just hanging down into the enclosure and are adjustable for placement from there.

The power cord exits the chamber on either side through a hole.

View attachment 268853

Here it is with the front panel in place and everything ready to go electrically.

View attachment 268854

Here is a view showing all the fixtures I use and their placement.

The tow LEDs in the back are a special grow light that I am really pleased with. Puts out a nice natural white light but is weighted towards good red and blue for plant growth. I use their 15 watt versions to keep heat down. They have 30 and 40 watt versions, but I would need sunglasses for all the baby tortoises.

View attachment 268855
With all the lights on it is a very bright, daylight simulating light. With the timers I sequence the light cycle to mimic daytime a bit.
The basking light goes on before and stays on after the ambient lighting, creating a dawn and dusk, warm lighting.
The ambient is on 14 hours.
The UVB is on 6 hours midday.

Everything is visible on an app on your phone to see what lights are on/off and what the temperatures are through a sensor in the enclosure.

Here are the lights all on:

View attachment 268856
Next I installed the doors. I use swinging doors that are double pane. I like to see the tortoises and not look through a fog of condensation on the windows. The best doors I have built are plexiglass double pane. With plexiglass I can totally seal the double panes. IF you try to do it with glass, and silicone or whatever you use, moisture will eventually seep into between the panes and the condensation is worse than ever. These plexiglass doors work wonderfully and I make them so the frame is clear as well.

Here are the doors on :

View attachment 268863

Finally the planting. I have come to the current method of creating plenty of real, live plant cover in the enclosure for natural hides and great humidity. The tortoises seem to do much better and I am anticipating much better growth with them pushed under plants the bulk of the time. I have a spare older enclosure I use for my nursery:

View attachment 268864

So I always have plenty of great, healthy plants for the enclosure. This is for very young and smaller tortoises, of course, as a larger tortoise will demolish plants. For them I use hanging plants that they can only reach up and trim so far, yet push beneath as their natural hides.

Here is the enclosure again, almost ready for some of the new Burmese Star hatchings that are going to be my "plant cover rainforest" experiment.

View attachment 268865
Wow. Don't you want to move to South Africa?
 

Blackdog1714

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Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
3,919
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
I hope people understand that your price for these plus labor is way more than fair. [emoji122]For future ones I would suggest you spend time to build yourself a jig with the hole drill spots to make it go quicker! I am saving up for mine!
 

Verloc

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Joined
Feb 6, 2018
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Aurora, CO
WOW! You sir, have built the Cadillac of tortoise enclosures. While I don't want to cut into your business if you're planning on selling these, would you be willing to provide wiring diagrams, parts lists, and cut lists for those of us who are more DIY minded and want to build an uberenclosure such as this?
 

DesertGirl

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Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
366
Location (City and/or State)
Fabulous Las Vegas, NV
I decided to put all my wish list items in a chamber and build one to incorporate everything I would want. I also want to build these to offer to the folks who buy my Burmese Star hatchlings and would like a great enclosure all set up and ready.

Here it is almost ready to go. I will follow with the build details...

View attachment 268847

The enclosure unit is 36" x 48" and 26" tall. It is modular and either side can come off and two can be put together to make a 3 x 8 chamber when the tortoise gets larger instead of loosing the value of the original chamber. I do feel hatchlings do better in an enclosure that is not too large. So this solves that problem in it being expandable as they grow.

I am building out of expanded PVC sheets. No need to seal and paint, and very durable. Easy to work with and fairly light weight.

The clutter of cords and timers and thermostat is always a problem, so I decided to build everything in and pre wire. The only wire coming out of the enclosure is the cord to plug in the whole unit.

Here is the top I am starting to wire for the lights. I have loved the LED lights and the very low heat they emit, yet very bright light. This enclosure will have four ceiling fixtures for ambient light. I use 2 15 watt grow lights in the rear and two 11 watt 5000K LED in front. That is very bright lighting and just a total of 52 watts. Plants thrive in this lighting. IN the very center I put a 3 foot T5 UVB. The cord is installed and ready to plug into the fixture. Rear center (red/white wires) is the CHE. Forward center (blue/white) is the basking light.

I am wiring in two thermostats and have the sensor probe wires coming from the panel of the wiring chamber I am building into the top front of the enclosure. This gives flexibility in moving the sensors if desired later. The space above the doors is a 5" deep separated chamber for all the wiring so it is isolated from the humidity of the enclosure. The front panel can come off to access the wiring if needed.

Here is the top with the wiring laid out.

View attachment 268848

The top is a double layer of 1/2" board on the top and a 1/4" board for the "ceiling". This forms an area for the wiring so it is not visible inside the camber and routed out of the way. My tools and wire spool are sitting in the area that is the wiring chamber. The top is sitting here upside-down. Wiring is almost run except for the last two ceiling fixtures that go on you right viewing it here. (black and white wires)

Here it is with the 1/4" panel installed.

View attachment 268849

The whole chamber screws together very easily. Easy to move the pieces and assemble where you want it. Takes me about 1 hour to assemble the whole chamber. Here is the top with it installed in the chamber. You can see the fixtures and the plug ins ready for the various items.

View attachment 268850

Here's a view of the front so you can see the wiring chamber. I have 4 outlets installed on the left. I need:
CHE
Basking
UVB
Ambient light
All on their own circuit.

The Larger white cord wrapped up is the only cord that will exit the chamber to plug into a wall outlet.

View attachment 268851

Now the front panel with the thermostats installed in it is wired up along with all the items so it is ready to go.

IN the picture below - From the leftmost outlet:

1st smart timer has the UVB plugged in
2nd smart timer has the ambient lighting plugged in.
3rd smart timer has the thermostat for the basking light (overheat protection) and then the basking light plugs into that thermostat.
The 4th outlet has the heating thermostat plugged in and the CHE is plugged into that thermostat.

The two thermostat sensors are just hanging down into the enclosure and are adjustable for placement from there.

The power cord exits the chamber on either side through a hole.

View attachment 268853

Here it is with the front panel in place and everything ready to go electrically.

View attachment 268854

Here is a view showing all the fixtures I use and their placement.

The tow LEDs in the back are a special grow light that I am really pleased with. Puts out a nice natural white light but is weighted towards good red and blue for plant growth. I use their 15 watt versions to keep heat down. They have 30 and 40 watt versions, but I would need sunglasses for all the baby tortoises.

View attachment 268855
With all the lights on it is a very bright, daylight simulating light. With the timers I sequence the light cycle to mimic daytime a bit.
The basking light goes on before and stays on after the ambient lighting, creating a dawn and dusk, warm lighting.
The ambient is on 14 hours.
The UVB is on 6 hours midday.

Everything is visible on an app on your phone to see what lights are on/off and what the temperatures are through a sensor in the enclosure.

Here are the lights all on:

View attachment 268856
Next I installed the doors. I use swinging doors that are double pane. I like to see the tortoises and not look through a fog of condensation on the windows. The best doors I have built are plexiglass double pane. With plexiglass I can totally seal the double panes. IF you try to do it with glass, and silicone or whatever you use, moisture will eventually seep into between the panes and the condensation is worse than ever. These plexiglass doors work wonderfully and I make them so the frame is clear as well.

Here are the doors on :

View attachment 268863

Finally the planting. I have come to the current method of creating plenty of real, live plant cover in the enclosure for natural hides and great humidity. The tortoises seem to do much better and I am anticipating much better growth with them pushed under plants the bulk of the time. I have a spare older enclosure I use for my nursery:

View attachment 268864

So I always have plenty of great, healthy plants for the enclosure. This is for very young and smaller tortoises, of course, as a larger tortoise will demolish plants. For them I use hanging plants that they can only reach up and trim so far, yet push beneath as their natural hides.

Here is the enclosure again, almost ready for some of the new Burmese Star hatchings that are going to be my "plant cover rainforest" experiment.

View attachment 268865

God, I love you art and crafty guys! Outstanding!
 
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