Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Paper Circuits Assignment- Nicholas Agate

The first item to cover is the basic paper circuit that I created in class. This was the first time I had ever used copper tape, and I think that it is a great way to introduce someone to the basics of circuitry. This simple circuit had a 3-volt battery, copper tape, a switch, and an LED. Please see my basic paper circuit below.

Next, I picked out a quote for the picture with two LEDs. Because my quote spoke of light, I decided to have the two LEDs shining through a candle. I also ended up creating a circuit in-parallel. When the match is pushed, the positive strip of copper tape touches the battery which completes the circuit and lights up the two LEDs. Please see my picture with two LEDs below.

Finally we have the 3-dimensional paper object. When I was brainstorming for this project I knew that I wanted to somehow incorporate my Italian heritage. So, I decided to create a pop-up card that featured the Italian flag, the Tower of Pisa and the Statue of David. I started by sketching the flag, and then I brainstormed circuit designs that could be used on the back of the card. Please see the sketches below.

I ultimately wanted to have a colored flag with matching LEDs poking through each of the flag stripes. to do this, I used an in-parallel circuit that ran behind the flag. Because of the resistances of the LEDs that I selected, green, white, and red, the current was able to power each of the LEDs without a resistor. I also included a switch by gluing a piece of elevated paper with copper tape on it over a split in the negative copper strip. Please see the circuit and LEDs below.

The largest issue that I encountered while making this project was getting the battery to be seated correctly. Because the material that I used is relatively lightweight, the connection between the battery and copper strips is not the best. I did not end up finding a better way to solve this issue besides pushing the battery down in unison with the switch. If I were to do the project again, I would spend more time looking for a fix to this issue.

Overall, I enjoyed making this project and really like how the final piece turned out. The final project has the Italian flag, the Tower of Pisa and the Statue of David. It also has a green, white, and red theme with an Italian coin which serves as the switch. Please see the final outcome below.

Image Sources


Statue of David:

Leaning Tower of Pisa:

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Copper Tape – Drew Zelac

For my second part of the lab, which was to create the foldable card with two LEDs, I chose the following quote: “Knowledge is being aware of what you can do. Wisdom is knowing when not to do it.” – Anonymous

The first thing I thought of when I saw this quote was to create a picture on the front of the card that had the image of something bad to do and something good to do and a person considering what they should do. I created two simple circuits on the back and it turned out like this. (Red for bad, green for good)

For the final part of the lab, I chose to do something a bit more complicated. I got the idea for a robot from a friend and just went with it. I found a bunch of things in my recycle bin and decided to make a recycled robot out of them.

I began by putting some of it back together again like the tissue box and by cutting off some parts like in the top of the pringles can (to give it structure on the inside of the tissue box). I then used parts of a paper towel roll for the feet.

The first time I tried a simple circuit in here, the copper tape ripped in too many places and I couldn’t get a current to flow through. So this issue here caused me to have to rip out the circuit and start anew.

Next time I got it and the red light I inserted lit up correctly when the switch was pressed down. I then cut out a heart with the Silhouette cutter using cardstock and put that in front of the LED light to give my robot a heart.

Next came the head with the parallel circuit for the green lights in the eyes. I had an easier time with this one. I placed the leds in the wrong direction, but quickly realized this and corrected it. I did have to ask a friend for help to see exactly how the parallel circuit was set up though.

With the head on, all that was left was attaching it to the body and installing the arms.

And then my Iron Giant (with night vision goggles) was born!

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Copper Tape Paper Circuit

This week, the assignment was about using copper tape to craft three circuits including coin LiPo battery (3V), LEDs, and resistors.

1. Simple Circuit

I named this design the “Sunrise”. It was inspired by the graphic on the piece of paper–a rising sun. The flipped corner is served both as a battery case and the switch. The layout of copper tape is shown in the first photo above, and there are two ports for the tape piercing through to the front side of the paper.

2. Two LEDs with Quote

For the second design, I think this line by the great philosopher Goethe, actually, his last words, fits the scene in a way of beauty. “Licht, mehr Licht”, “Light, more light”. I planted two red LEDs in the back of the paper, one behind each “Licht”.

With the experience from the “Sunrise”, I felt that the back side of the copper tape, with the layer of adhesive, has a lower level of conductivity. So I applied a reversed layer of the copper tape where lines contact. One caveat that I am not quite like was my layout, the far line is put between the two lines of the quote, so there appears a dark black line when it’s activated. Negative for the appearance, I should have thought about the effects from both side.

3. Multi-colour LEDs Layout

Thinking of origami, this old game came to my mind. I planted 2x green LEDs and 2x red LEDs for the design. In a premier testing, I found that 39-ohm resistor will do the work when red and green LEDs are set in a parallel layout. There are two parallel loops, each contains a switch and two LEDs in a parallel setting. The layout is not in a fine form. I used short papercut as a shield for bridging the copper tapes. The two resistors are used as bridges as well. It took me some time finding this functional design.

The circuit layout is shown in the first photo above. But when it’s folded, there will be unintended contact among the copper tapes. So I planted a folded facial tissue for blocking such contact. And it works great in actual playing. Here is a short video (as a gif) showing the design in play.

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Copper Tape Circuits

Final Products

For this assignment, we were required to complete three projects: a simple paper circuit, a circuit involving an inspirational quote, and a circuit incorporated into either a pop-up card or piece of origami.

For the simple circuit, we were provided the design in our lab section, and simply applied copper tape and the LED in order to create a circuit with a switch. I had a bit of trouble applying the copper tape due to inexperience with it, but improvised a solution to allow the current to flow.

For the second project, I received the quote “those who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, usually do.” For the image, I decided to draw a brain with a light bulb, and proceeded to draw a design for the circuit (dots representing yellow LEDs).

The goal was to make the brain the switch, causing the light bulb to glow. However, when I applied the two LEDs, battery and copper tape, the LEDs did not glow when the circuit was completed. In order to fix this, the design was changed to have the LEDs be in parallel rather than in series (I forgot to take a picture). This, fortunately, worked. The drawing was then colored in, and the project was assembled using a stapler.

For the final project, we were required to make a 3D paper object using three or more LEDs while using at least two colors. Rather than a pop-up card, I decided to use origami. I took four sheets of construction paper, cut them into squares, and taped them together. I then proceeded to fold the paper into a T-Rex design.

Origami T-Rex

I decided to incorporate the LEDs as eyes and a heart using two white LEDs and a red LED. I used a sewing needle to poke holes in the paper to place the LEDs. I knew how I would implement a circuit into the T-Rex, but did not sketch it because I did not want to put a lot of marks on the paper. I decided to have three paths leave the battery to run the LEDs in parallel. What was difficult with this project was testing which resistor would be needed in order to allow all three lights to glow in parallel, since the red LED would take practically all of the current as the path of least resistance. I eventually decided to use a 120 ohm resistor for the path that contained the red LED.

T-Rex Circuit

There certainly are ways that I could have improved my projects, such as adding more design to the quote project, but I feel that I still made quality projects. I feel that I learned a decent amount about basic circuitry thanks to this project. Overall, this was a very fun project with circuitry.

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Copper Tape Project – David He

Motivation and Initial Designs

Making the Paper Template

Let me first preface this by stating that the build is not 100% complete. And yes, my overambition was absolutely to blame. I wanted to make a paper model of one of my favorite aircraft – the ADF-01 Falken from the Ace Combat game series (shown below)

I first went about this by going into Inkscape and performing a bitmap image trace, allowing me to use the Silhouette Cutter to make precise cuts. I then traced out several cross-sections that I could use to add stucture to the paper model.

The .Inkscape template used for the Silhouette Cutter

By this point I should have realized that 1 – the effort alone was already taking me far longer than expected, and 2 – the complexity meant that I would have to prototype at least 2 iterations for a comprehensive aircraft – a process I simply did not have time for. Nonetheless, I made the silhouette cuts and was ready to start wiring:

Build Process and Modification:

All cut out!

First things first – the Silhouette cuts were not perfect. It appeared the blade had been dulled from overuse so some parts were still attached to the excess. After some moderate difficulty removing the parts via X-Acto knife, I then started making the circuit on gray baseplate for the aircraft.

The first (failed) circuit design

The first iteration of the circuit ran into some issues – Due to space constraints I decided to run the engine lights through a series circuit while the cockpit light was parallel to it. I ran into an issue where the engines had significantly higher resistance than the cockpit light, thus not activating when the switch was activated. After some calculations I realized I would need a second battery to run all lights effectively, something I simply did not have the space for. It was then back to the drawing board.

The second iteration went better. To save on space I integrated the battery into the switch itself, freeing up space for me to run a full 3-way parallel circuit. However, the setup was still relatively unstable, as the switch became heavier and bloated

Nonetheless, I decided it was sufficient enough for the time constraints and then moved on to defining the structure:

As of this moment, I’d say I’m about 80% complete. I’m not completely satisfied with this outcome and wish I had more time. Improvements I would add would be modifications to the template design to allow for smoother interlocking as well as a more robust circuit design backed by solid calculations.

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Paper Circuit Assignment – Mohammed Faiz Patangia

This week’s assignment was to create a copper tape circuit. The entire assignment was fun, but a bit tedious. This assignment consists of three parts:

  • Basic Circuit
  • Picture with LED’s – Quote
  • Paper object – 3 or more LED’s

The first circuit was pretty straightforward. I had to build a basic circuit. The process was smooth and it worked well.

The basic circuit with switch

The second part of the assignment was to pick a quote and make a circuit based on it. My goal for picking up a quote was to pick a short, but effective quote. The quote that I picked was “It’s the kind of kiss that inspires stars to climb into the sky and light up the world.” My idea for building the circuit was that there would be a switch, which would light up three stars in the sky. The three stars would would represent lightning up the world.

“It’s the kind of kiss that inspires stars to climb into the sky and light up the world.”
― Tahereh Mafi 

For the final part, I decided to build a bat origami. I started from making a prototype on plane paper. I though about how the circuit should be arranged on a very compact paper.

First Prototype

Before implementing the actual circuit, I drew different circuits. It helped me in making the process smoother.

Circuit Drawings.

After drawing the circuits, I drew the same circuit on the origami. It gave me the idea of organizing the circuit on the bat. My plan was to have four LED’s, two of red color and two of orange. The first two red LED’s will be at the position of eyes, and they would be connected in series. Those two LED’s will have a parallel connections with the other two orange LED’s.

Drawing the circuit

I end up making the circuit on origami, but it ended up not working. After putting many hours, I realized that I made a mistake in connecting two LED’s, which were in series. I had to change my entire circuit because of that mistake. After changing the circuit, there was some other problem, which I was not able to figure out. I think that my circuit was a bit complex.

Second Prototype

The second prototype did not work because of some complex connections. So, I decided to create another circuit with much easier connection, all LED’s connected in series. This design was much smoother than the second one.

Final Origami circuit

My final product worked, and it ended up lighting the all four LED’s. It was a bit surprising to me that they worked without any resistors. I thought that I would need resistors, because of different voltage of LED’s.

The best thing about the final product was that no part of circuit was visible from front. The entire circuit becomes hidden, and end result looks neat.

This assignment was surely a rough ride for me. I think that I made things more complicated. I should have started by designing a simple circuit, which would have made the process simpler. It was a challenge to fit the entire circuit in that triangle, and to think that the copper tapes should not touch one another after folding the origami. It was also a bit difficult to manage the copper tape, because the current was not passing through the adhesive side. Many times the LED’s did not light up because it was connected to the adhesive side of the copper tape. I liked how the LED’s were connected in series, and they were lighted up without any resistor connected. Before beginning the project, I though that it would be straightforward and very easy, because of learning about them in physics classes. However, the implementation was not at all straightforward. However, I was happy with the end result.

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Copper Tape Paper Circuits Assignment

Basic copper tape circuit.

In lab, we created a pretty straight-forward, simple circuit with one battery, one LED light, copper tape, and a switch. This was useful in learning how to use all the materials. The copper tape was a bit difficult to manipulate but after a bit of struggling, I got the hang of it.

I turned off some lights so you could better see the LED lights shine through! (The LED light in the middle wasn’t very bright.)
A rough, blueprint drawing of the circuit elements underneath.

After, we had to create a circuit that incorporated at least two LED lights. We were given a bunch of quotes and given the freedom to create an image drawn from the inspiration of one. The quote I chose is attributed by Spencer Johnson: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I decided to create a night scuba diving scenario. A lot of my friends have scuba dived at night but it is something that I am way too scared to ever try. I’ll stick to scuba diving when the sun is out.

When you “press” the quote, the lights turn on underneath the drawing as that is where the switch is located. Because I used to UV lights, I had to pile a second battery on top of the first to power all the lights. I attached a blueprint of the circuit operating under the image. I should’ve tested out the lightbulbs before because the LED light in the middle was not as bright as the other two. I placed the UV lights under the images of the glowing jellyfish and a yellow light at the place of the underwater flashlight.

The circuit.

For the 3D paper object with 3 or more LED lights, I chose to recreate a scene in the Disney movie, Finding Nemo. The first two lights are purple/blue tinted LED bulbs that flash behind the purple coral behind Nemo. The third light is supposed to be a white light at the antenna of the anglerfish. At first, I used construction paper but I found that to be a bit flimsy and annoying to work with so I transferred the base of the design onto a thicker, more supportive material. I crafted and cut out shapes of Nemo and Dory as well as the glowing anglerfish. The switch is underneath the yellow “button” reading ‘just keep swimming” in reference to a line in the animated film.

The biggest issue I ran into at first was that in the antenna of the anglerfish, there wasn’t enough room for two strips of copper tape to run from the negative and positive sides of the LED light. So I cut out a piece of black paper and sticked it next to the antenna so that I could fit in the circuit. Unfortunately, I dropped my pop-up card right before I took the picture and two of the LED lights popped out and now my circuit doesn’t work to light up my LED lights. So I’m pretty upset about that. If I had more time to work on the assignment in lab, I would troubleshoot to find where in the circuit path something had gone wrong so that the LED lights worked and I would create more detailed elements using Inkscape, Silhouette, and the printers. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the card looks but a bit frustrated with my clumsiness.

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Copper Circuit Lab

The first two circuits I created were started in lab. The simple one didn’t take long – the most difficult thing I found was practicing looping the wire over and under so it would be conductive as possible.

It was also hard to learn how to successfully connect the copper wire to the LED. On this example, I had to put pressure on the negative side of the LED for it to work most of the time. But this was an issue I would fix later on.

For my first picture, I used a quote that I found during lab last week. I connected the positives and negatives together, then connected it like the first circuit.

I had to tape down the sides of the LEDs so it would light up properly. There must be pressure on the battery so I made the placement of the quote line up with the word light.

For my 3D card, I wanted to do origami but I set up the circuits first. Since there were three LEDs I had to plan it out for a while then connect the wires and LEDs. I connected the positives to negatives again, but it looked a lot less organized than my previous one.

The origami was pretty simple, but it took some planning to decide what size would fit properly on the size I had allotted. I ended up cutting a 6x6in piece of origami paper twice to make the right size. In the end, I made 24 pieces for all the flowers. Once I had made them all, I glued the sides together then taped the flower on the paper. They fit perfectly in the middle of the LEDs which is what I wanted from the beginning.

To finish, I cut another piece of paper and glued it over the battery, so there’s only a little pressure needed for it to light up.

It’s hard to get a picture with all the lights facing straight towards the camera, but they all properly lit – there were no troubles with the circuit on this one, so practice definitely helped.

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Copper Tape Card

Okay! So I don’t know why but I really struggled on this one. I spent like 2 hours trying to figure out how to get my circuit to work on just a flat piece of paper. And I think the problem was that I was only using one battery for 2 red lights, and so after a ton of experimenting and a little help from a friend, I finally got the correct layout.

My original plan was to have lightning bugs as 2 of my lights, but I couldn’t think of what the 3rd light might be, or what kind of saying to include, so I changed to bees instead.

I really like flowers, so I wanted to incorporate some of those as well, which you’ll see later as the third light (the orange one) and the background as well.

Getting started, I made 3 folds so that the flower could be in the middle, a bit taller, and the bumblebees could flank it.

I chose a heavy blue cardstock because I thought it would support the weight of the two batteries I was going to need.

Next I traced out the length of the copper tape, and begun carefully adding it along.

Making sure to use the technique shown in class, to turn corners.

I used a full size strip of tape for the majority of the circuit, so that the electricity didn’t have any problems running around. When I made this layout, I originally planned to have one battery on either side of the circuit, that when pushed atop each other would complete the circuit. In this picture you can see the strips that I left clear so that I could put half strips running down the folds that would extend when the card was opened. These were going to be half-sized to assure that they wouldn’t touch each other.

Here it is with the half strips added, waiting to be attached to the LEDs.

I cut out some thinner cardstock for the bottom of the card, that would cover the copper wire and the batteries.

Above is a photo once the top of the card was added. This daisy patterned paper is actually where I got most of my card inspiration from!

With both top and bottom papers, I was careful to cut around the folds.

I guess I didn’t take a photo once I’d attached the LEDs, but here they are attached negative to positive up and down the three folds. Also shown in this picture are the shapes I created by hand 🙂

Later, I decorated the 3 elements, all meant to be easily taken on and off. I also came up with this cute little phrase, so that the card can be given to anyone on any occasion, just to brighten their day.

This is also when I decided to change the format of my switch. Instead of having the batteries have to be flipped on top of each other, I changed my switch so that pushing the button down would complete the circuit.

In this picture you can kind of see that there is copper wire on the top strip of paper. Paper folded accordion style on both sides, assures that the copper wire won’t constantly be in contact with the batteries, but can easily be lowered atop.

Here’s the completed product! Sorry about the chipped nails 🙂

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Copper Tape Circuit – Brandon Steinman

The initial idea was to create a paper plane that would light up when the fuselage is pressured before throwing. The constraints were the 3V battery, 3 different colored-LEDs, switch activation, and (personally assigned) to keep the paper plane well-balanced and throwable. I decided to line the LEDs in parallel, which made the circuit design somewhat difficult.

I started by lining the fuselage with the main +/- leads. I also aimed to use a fold inside the fuselage to prevent the battery from falling backward. I had to tape portions of the leads to prevent current from flowing between them and closing the circuit early, before reaching the LEDs.

Next, I laid out the copper tape and added two of the LEDs. Portions of the copper tape had to be covered where they overlapped, and insulated so that the circuit wouldn’t close unintentionally. The last LED is shown directly attached to the battery.

The last LED remains there, since the circuit is very finicky and doesn’t always immediately light up. I’m keeping it so that the battery and third LED can be easily removed, so that I don’t add a degree of permanence to the plane that would ruin it and cause the circuit to never light up. In this, I sacrifice a bit of aesthetic and also my ability to throw it safely.

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Copper Tape Project

Patrick Hurtado

Quote Paper Circuit

For my in-class quote paper circuit, I chose the classic quote: “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama”, of which the picture I drew for it was the Panama flag. To activate the flag LEDs, one needs to pinch down on the switch on the top of the flag to complete the circuit.

Quote Side
Panama Flag, with top left blue star and bottom right red star being changed to repectively colored LEDs.

3D Paper Circuit

For my copper circuit implementation, I chose to forgo paper material and chose to go with cardboard for my project. I was never good at origami and don’t have the finger dexterity to work with the fragility of paper. I also wanted to make to make a robot, and cardboard is the most robotic like structure I could use.

Copper Circuit Design

The original design of the robot included two LEDs as the eyes and two LEDs as a form of “fingers” for the robot, much like ET. In order to maintain voltage across the circuit, the eyes were chosen to be yellow, while the fingers would be red. The pairs LEDs are also done in parallel in order to use just one battery to power the entire system.

Design for Copper Circuit.

Robot: The Head

The design for the robot effectively became two parts: one parallel circuit for the head of the robot, and one parallel circuit for the body. The head consists of two yellow LEDs as eyes in parallel, as well as the switch used to turn the robot on and off.

Robot: The Body

The body of the robot takes a more lax form than the head. While the general setup is the same, I chose to make the wires free form, not having them taped down unless necessary. This was to add a more rundown look to the robot. I also wanted the robot to have squiggly arms, and so the wires did that job done well.

Robot: The Hat

The hat of the robot is the switch for the system. When it is inserted, it connected the battery in the head to the rest of the system.

Challenges and Reflections

One of the biggest challenges when working on this project is the wires themselves. Since I wanted them to be freeform, I found difficulty in testing the circuit to make sure everything was connected properly. Ensuring that the robot and hat were able to stand was also an issue.

When reflecting, something I would definitely change is design itself. I would have definitely liked to have taken more time to add more LEDs in the system, as well as design it so the inner wires had a greater effect than they currently do. I also would have added legs of some kind. Ultimately, I am happy with my idea and the execution, particularly with the hat-as-switch mechanism.

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Copper Tape Circuits

Subtitle: “Despite being tape, and despite my love of tape, copper tape does not love me back and I should probably stick to wires in the future.”

(This blog post turned out… weirdly long, I’m sorry. I took a BUNCH of photos apparently).


When lit:

When not lit:

Inspired by none other than good old Opportunity, the Mars Rover. If you have not already heard the story of what happened, I advise you look at this twitter thread:

and have a couple emotions.


I spent a grand total of 10 hours on this because I 1- got way too caught up in it while working and 2- made both a paper prototype and a circuit prototype.

Paper prototype was done first, when I was figuring out the general design and mechanics of how the fiddly bits would work.

Note the two hastily glued pieces of paper because i got WAY overzealous making the original slit, and the paperclip in the mars.

Circuit prototype was next, and took /some time/. I promise I sketched out the lines, but I went over them with the tape before remembering to take pictures.

(note the LED just chillin, up on top.)
Switch logic.
back of the card + sliding shooting star logic
Inside of the shooting star
rover circuitry. i learned to give myself more space on the actual product.


The rover is the “pop up” part of the card, as well as the placement of 2 of the LED’s. The glow makes it a little hard to pick out, but one is meant to be like the “eye” of the rover, while the other is a little light on the end of the antennae, but their proximity kind of makes the colors blur. Opportunity was printed on cardstock, using the silhouette cutter, specifically with the blade set to 5, because I’d tried to cut with 3 previously and had much more disappointing results (see photos of the mockups: that rover is a lil more fuzzy round the edges.).

cleaner than the prototype, still a bit of a mess

The big round red thing is, yes, meant to be Mars, and initially I was going to do some coloring to make it look more like Mars but its about 3:30 AM currently and my circuits insist on being /very/ finicky, so we’re just going as is. “Mars” is a rotateable disk of paper made of 2 layers, and also happens to be the switch for the circuit. I’m quite proud of how I figure out the rotation- its essentially stabbed through with a paperclip, bent so that it sort of pins it to the paper while allowing it to rotate. The two layers are so I can hide the paperclip.

Along the top, is a “shooting star”, with the third LED. This one was trickiest in terms of figuring out contacts, because its meant to be able to slide along the top, while staying lit. The prototypes below show approximately how it works. There are strips of copper above and below the cutout, for the pos/neg legs. The legs are taped (with more copper) to the paper used as the lever, and then everything is held in place with another, larger piece of paper, taped over the sliding parts. This presses the lever+the LED legs to the circuit on the paper, while still allowing it the freedom to slide.

Because the LED is orange, and the other two are white and blue, it required the least voltage, meaning I had to add a resistor to it to ensure my parallel circuit would feed all three lights.

Real talk: It /mostly/ works. The light is a little flickery. But all of them are kind of flickery, and this one /moves/, so….. win? I cant upload videos here so here are frames from a video of me sliding it.

overall! A very fun experience, but also took WAY more time than I expected. Copper tape is /very/ finicky and a lot of the unreliability is just poor connections between the LED’s and the circuit. I hope this works tomorrow in class, but there’s no way of knowing.

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