Several factors can determine how slow or quickly your tattoo machine uses a power supply. First of all, the capacity of the machine and the settings are predominantly the major deciding factors. An 8.5V DC power supply will consume more power than the 7V; hence the 7V may last longer than the 8.5V power supply that is constantly in use. Similarly, setting your tattoo machine to shading, for instance, can quickly run out of the power supply than some other settings. The higher the capacitor, the longer the power supply should last.
So, How Long Should a Power Supply Last on Tattoo Machine
Ideally, a power supply should last for several hours on a tattoo machine if the power supply and machine are in good condition.
Fixing The Tattoo Power Supply Issues
Several power supplies issues can happen in a tattoo machine; the major ones are;
- Dead power cord
- Foot pedal issues
- Clip cord issues
- Dead Power Cord
Dead power cord happens when the wiring in the cord loses its connectivity, primarily due to wear and tear. For instance, there could be a loose wire that is supposed to be attached to the voltage switch. If you yank on the cord or its unit while still connected to the socket, a dead power cord issue may arise.
One easy way of checking if your power cord is the problem is to use another power cord to test your power supply. The cord is usually detachable for most tattoo machine power supplies like the one you find on a computer and some electronics. You can get a cord from other devices and use it to test your faulty power cord. If it doesn’t supply any power, perhaps the cord is the main problem.
If the power cord has detached within, you may rectify the problem by soldering it back. Test the device once the detached component is fixed.
1. The Foot Pedal Problem
The foot pedal can lose or break connectivity with the power supply for several reasons. The most typical reason why this happens is when there is an issue with the wire that attaches this pedal to the power unit. If the pedal or the wire is yanked off, the copper wire within may break. Similarly, if the pedal or connected wire gets twisted when you kick it around, it can lead to problems in the foot pedal and power supply.
The break that leads to foot pedal issues with the power supply often occurs at the plug. You should check the plug by unscrewing its housing, then check if the positive and negative wires are still firmly attached. If the positive and negative wires touch or one of them is detached, the pedal will stop working.
If the wires are touching, separate them and if either of the wires is detached, solder it back. If you have another foot pedal, you may want to try it and see if the other foot pedal is the problem. Foot pedals are cheap to buy, and you may want to keep an additional one or two.
2. Clip Cord Problem
Clip cord issues are closely related to foot pedal problems. In this case, the wire that attaches your power supply to the clip cord might have detached. When troubleshooting, check the mono plug, just the same way you did to the foot pedal. If you have an extra clip cord, use it to conduct a test and see if the clip cord is genuinely the problem. Clip cords don’t cost much; hence you should keep extra ones in case of this.
3. Taking Apart Your Power Supply Before Fixing
Sometimes, you may have to rip apart your tattoo gun power supply to fix it properly. You may find the issue affecting the power supply immediately you take it apart. This step is crucial when you have to fix the detachable wires.
It may be unlikely that damaged power supply components will be fixable; you may have to replace such. You should check if the power supply warranty still exists; otherwise, you will have to spend out of your pocket on the replacement.
Tuning Your Power Supply Settings For Different Gun Speed Needs
The power supplies on most tattoo guns run on DC mode, and most do come in two forms: regulated and non-regulated. Regulated voltage means the output voltage will remain what the power supply setting says. This means that if you choose 8.5V, the output will remain 8.5V. On the other hand, the regulated DC works similarly; though you will get an average of 8.5V, the volt may vary slightly from one operation to another.
Regulated tattoo gun machines are more expensive, but they provide smoother operations and better-quality tattoos. Once you attach the power supply to the tattoo machine gun, you will get a footswitch setup, and that will work as the on and off switch to power the gun. It is also important that you set your gap before you begin operating the machine.
When setting your power supply, make sure the liners contacts are set at the width of a dime apart, while the shaders should be set at a width of nickel apart. Turn on the power supply before setting the voltage output to your desired speed. Keep in mind that the higher the voltage, the faster the tattoo gun machine. A quicker machine is good for lining, while a slower machine is better for shading. It would be best if you practiced with different voltage and speed settings until you get the right setting for shadi9ng and lining.
Step on the footswitch attached to the power supply and observe the needle bar and needle tip movements. Pay attention to any needle wiggle or shimmy as such must be rectified. Pay attention to the sound of your gun if it sounds smooth, weak, or choppy. Sometimes there may be no sound at all. If the points on the machine are too far apart, it may not work properly. Continue to fine-tune the contact screw until you achieve a smooth hum. The needle bar movement should be observed between 1/16th and 3/32nd of an inch.
Adjusting Your Tattoo Machine Gun For Shading And Lining
For the adjustment of your tattoo gun for shading and lining, you will need the following tools;
- Your tattoo gun (two preferred)
- Shader tube
- Liner needle (3” option recommended for beginners)
- Rubber band
- Jewelers loupe or magnifying glass
- Shading needle (4” option recommended for beginners)
- Set Your Tattoo Gun for Lining
1. Set Your Tattoo Gun for Lining
To set your tattoo gun for lining, depress that armature bar which is the metal bar above the electric coils. Check the gap between the front springs of the armature bar and contact screws. Set the gap for line work by turning the contact screw until the gap between the tip of the screw and armature bar front spring is a little thicker than 1mm( a US dime).
Attach the needler tube to the tattoo gun, then insert the needle bar into the tube before fitting the end ring of the needle bar over a rubber grommet on the armature bar. Loop a rubber band around the tattoo gun and encircle the back of the frame and the needle bar front to reduce vibration and needle bar movements.
Examine the needle with a jewelers loupe or magnify while depressing the gun’s armature bar. Adjust the needle tube to allow an extension of the needle’s length for the needle tip to match the gap of the contact screw. Set your speed (around 6V should be okay for lining). Listen to the sound of the gun and adjust the voltage accordingly.
Check the needle when the gun is activated; the moving needle should move rapidly in a solid column. Tighten the rubber on the needle bar band if there is a lateral movement.
2. Setting Your Tattoo Gun for Shading
To set your tattoo machine for shading, you should begin by setting the gap between the armature bar and contact screw for shading to about 2mm thickness which is the thickness of a nickel.
Attach a needle tube that is appropriate for shading to the tattoo gun, then insert the needle bar that matches into the tube to secure it. Examine the tip of the needle with your magnifier or loupe before adjusting the needle tube and rubber band. This arrangement is similar to what you did with the tattoo lining setup.
Reset the speed of the gun to shading. Keep in mind that shading will require a slower speed than the lining. Make sure the humming sound is deeper than what you will get for lining speed. If you don’t get a deeper sound, you may want to increase or decrease the voltage accordingly.
You will have to keep testing different settings until you become so perfecting in the adjustment of the gun for different purposes.
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