Is my tattoo
clip cord damaged?

October 5, 2021
(0 min)

How to troubleshoot speed fluctuations in my tattoo machine?

Have you been experiencing fluctuations in your machine lately? We know it is annoying because those fluctuations are ruining the quality of your work. And this is particularly annoying when you are doing those delicate lines that require all of your concentration.

There are 4 possible explanations for the fluctuations in speed

  1. Main’s power is not stable:
    This is one of the major reasons in some regions and even in some countries, but it is also a typical problem that plagues conventions. When this happens your equipment is just reflecting the main’s power dips.
  2. The tattoo power supply is inconsistent:
    This use to go linked to poor quality power supplies, or also to a very old power supply with drained electrolytic capacitors. You will notice this because the voltage is not clean and the fluctuations are smaller and usually associated with pressure on the skin (higher power demand).
  3. The machine has some internal failure:
    This is not rare either, and it is recognizable because it use to happen in certain positions of the machine because it is normally caused by a bad connection or a frame shortcircuit in the case of the coil machines.
  4. The clip cord (or RCA) cable is damaged or broken:
    This is probably the most frequent since the clip cord cable is the element that suffers the most: vibrations, bending, pulls, bumps… and we know that cables are not indestructible.

In this article you will learn how to diagnose the health of your tattoo cord just in the spot, while you are tattooing, and most important, only with the help of your power supply in two easy steps. This trick will is not perfect because some failures could be so small that are difficult to catch, but you can locate probably 75% of the problems. Welcome to the cheating pedal technique!

"In this article you will learn how to diagnose the health of your tattoo cord just in the spot."


To diagnose the health of your tattoo cable just in the spot using the Cheating Pedal Technique you will only need:

  1. The suspicious cable that you want to check.
  2. A tattoo power supply with pedal input and a visual indication of pedal activation.
  3. A tattoo machine, no matter if it is rotary or coil, both are valid for the test.

To illustrate the technique we will use a MUSOTOKU Machete. The yellow led indicator will work perfectly for the purpose of detection.

"You will only need your power supply and your tattoo machine (coil or rotary, both will work okay)."

The Cheating Pedal trick:
How to know if your cord is causing fluctuations in your tattoo machine?

If you think that your tattoo cord is starting to fail but you are not sure, then you can use this technique to diagnose it.

As seen above, you will only need your power supply and your tattoo machine (coil or rotary, both will work okay).

Step 1

  • Setup
    Disconnect the machine cable and the pedal from the power supply. Also, disconnect the tattoo machine from the RCA cord (or clip cord).
    Make sure that your power supply is not in continuous mode either.
    Now plug the suspicious cord into the pedal input of the power supply.
  • Diagnose
    If your cord is okay then you won’t see any sign of activation of the power supply. How to check this? Well, if your power supply has a led indication, like the MUSOTOKU Machete for example, then it will be easy to identify that the led is in a solid OFF state.
    On the contrary, if you see any indication of the led showing an activation, even for the fraction of a second, then you can be sure that the cable you are testing is damaged.

Step 2

  • Setup
    Leave the setup as in the previous step: suspicious cord plugged in the pedal input and continuous mode deactivated.
    Now connect the machine to your cord under test. No worries while doing this, your machine won’t suffer any harm in this setup.
  • Diagnose
    If your cord is okay, then you will see how the led indication of activation is in solid ON.
    If by any means the indication doesn’t light up you can be sure that the cord is damaged.
    Again, as mentioned in step 1, even just a glitch of the indication going to OFF is enough to diagnose the failure of the cable.

Pro-tip: If you want to cover even more in this step you may want to try to bend the cable near the connectors, which is the most vulnerable part of the cable. By doing this you will probably find the telltale position where the cable fails.

Remember, it is enough to see just a brief sign of failure indication to ensure that the cable is damaged.