A solid power supply is just as important as the coil or rotary machine that it’s powering. When you’re out looking for which one to invest in, there are a few words you should be familiar with that aren’t “warranty”. Here are 5 terms that’ll make you a little more electrically savvy before you shop for your next power supply:
You most likely know what a capacitor is - that’s the little battery-looking thing that you’ve seen anywhere from the inside of a telephone to your coil machine. In tattooing, capacitors are used to get rid of “ripples” in a stream of DC voltage, producing a steadier flow of power.
The amount of power stored in a capacitor is measured in Farads. Because a 1-farad capacitor would be huge (about the size of a hockey puck), the storage potential of a capacitor is measured in MicroFarads, which is 1 millionth of a Farad.
2. Duty Cycle
When it comes to power supplies, duty cycle refers to the amount of time your supply is actively powering your machine. A recommended duty cycle is the maximum amount of time you can safely run your power supply without taking a toll on the unit’s overall lifespan, according to the manufacturer.
DC stand for “direct current”. Unlike AC (alternating current), which has a flow that goes up and down like a wave, DC moves in one direction. Every tattoo power supply uses direct current to power your machine. That brick-shaped adapter that you plug into the wall converts the AC voltage from your outlet into DC voltage for your power supply/machine.
This is one of those words that everyone has heard but seems difficult to explain. In short, volts measure the strength of a current. If you think of electrical current as the flow of water through a hose, voltage is the strength, or pressure, of that flow.
Amps (short for “amperes”) measure the amount of current in a circuit. If we stick of the water hose analogy, amps represent the rate/amount of water passing through the hose.
5. Jump/Kick Start
You’ve probably seen this one popping up a lot over the past few years. Put simply, some rotary machines on the market require “start up” capability, which is basically a higher power output when you start your power supply that settles shortly after. Cheyenne Tattoo Machines, for example, require a Start Up Cable with power supplies that don’t feature “Jump Start” or “Kick Start”. Knowing this will save you a lot of time and frustration in your search for a new power supply.