Open Source Tattoo

A functional and visual appealing PCB, that also will be a tattoo

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I'm looking to get collaboration and input from the HaD community for the design of a half sleeve tattoo I want of a circuit board design, that also will work as a functional PCB.

Originally I was thinking an Arduino clone or similar with awesome tracework is what's needed, but now- I'm willing to go a step further and get one of the HaD Prize 2015 finalists permanently inked onto my body.

Like the description says, I'm looking to help in designing a functional tattoo (design.) I think it makes sense to design and produce the PCB first, and verify that it will function. Then upon validation of that, get a tattoo of the trace-art done on my shoulder/ upper arm.

This is a shot in the dark at using HaD Projects for something a bit more than traditional hardware. I want everything to be open source, too.

  • You have to start somewhere

    GuyisIT01/28/2015 at 06:11 0 comments

    What's a good starting point for this project? Learning about PCB design. I've always been a big fan of pulling things apart/ turning them on and playing with it, then reading the manual. I'm doing that with PCBs, and what a better place to start than by downloading the EAGLE files for the Arduino Due? This nets us a fun two layer board design as follows:

    So at first look, this looks pretty sweet, but it's a little busy and I'm not digging the ~4 colors for a tattoo. After a quick turning off of the vias and some other things in EAGLE (plus make it monotone), then BAM:

    Now that looks much better for a tattoo. At first I wasn't sure how things would work being dual layer, but this isn't too bad. I would like something that the shape would fit the contour of my shoulder/arm better.

    If you have any interest in helping out with design or technical input, send me a message. I'm moving forward blind at this point, and I want to document the journey for fun. I'll try to update this as frequently as possible with thoughts and findings.

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The Big One wrote 06/15/2015 at 20:36 point

To me at least, I don't like either the color or B&W Arduino board... too much happening.  Personally, I would like something a bit simpler, where you can actually see the traces and function of everything.

TBH, I don't know that real circuits would really work well for this sort of thing.  Real circuits are designed for function, and while I do try to make my layouts pleasing to the eye as well, at the end of the day they are meant to do something, and bring pretty comes well after that.

It may be interesting to do something a bit simpler but yet meaningful; I don't know, perhaps a stylized op amp circuit or something.  (Just throwing stuff out here...)

Best of luck figuring it all out... looks like you will have some fun over the next few months!


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GuyisIT wrote 06/16/2015 at 04:50 point

Thanks! I just went back trying to find entries from the old 555 contest ( & - don't ask why I still remember that was a thing; also, the URL for the contest lapsed) and that didn't reveal anything to my liking.

I could see doing the op amp or similar circuit. I'm putting together another post tonight, so we'll see how that unfolds.

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Jacob Christ wrote 06/13/2015 at 01:48 point

What do you want the circuit to do? What might be more interesting is if somehow the functional circuit could interact with the tat? I'm thinking line following or something related. What if you held the pcb to your arm and it activated based on detection of tat?

I don't know if they have any conductive tattoo ink, but even if they did (and it was not toxic) it may not work too well in semiconductive skin.

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GuyisIT wrote 06/15/2015 at 15:15 point

I like that line of thinking, but I'm not sure I'd be willing to go with a conductive (like you mention- probably toxic) ink.  I don't have any specific requirements or plans for what the circuit design will do- I just think it will be cooler to have a functional design vs a conceptual design.

  Are you sure? yes | no

FrazzledBadger wrote 03/31/2015 at 05:20 point

Great Idea, I love tattoos and have some sort of electronics on my todo list. Would it be better using a single layer from the PCB? Might look a little more coherent. 

Also I'd look for something with wider tracks, not only to stop the tattooist crying, but for in a few years if it spreads a little, although it does depend on the size of the tatt, I'm guessing you aren't going for 0.2mm pitch?

  Are you sure? yes | no

GuyisIT wrote 03/31/2015 at 17:10 point

Sounds good on the single layer. I'm open to anything design wise, especially if it makes the tattoo more doable. My knowledge of PCB design is pretty much zero, which is why I'm keen to get input from the HaD community.

As to size, I'm wanting to get a quarter sleeve, so it would be my shoulder and part way down my arm.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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