Forums » Questions » Simple(?) Project - Maybe someone can help


Hi. My name is Nathan McEleney.
I have an idea for a project, but I'm not familiar with electronics, and I'm hoping that someone (maybe you) can help me.

Here's the situation:
I'm a tattoo artist and I'm also in a wheelchair. Most people control their tattoo machines with an on/off footswitch. They press the footswitch with their foot to turn it on, and let go of it to stop it from running. Pretty simple.
I, on the other hand, cannot move my feet to control my machine, so... when I first wanted to learn to tattoo, (about 15 years ago) I experimented with a few different ways of turning my machine on and off. I even ran my machine continuously for a while. The danger with that is that you run the risk of bending your needles when you go to dip into the ink caps. I did that a few times and decided I needed another way. SO... I ended up making a switch that attaches to my ring finger with a (click once for ON, click again for OFF) lamp switch from Home Depot and the "ring" part of a Ring Pop. I just squeeze it into my palm.

The only problem with this setup is that not only do I have to continuously replace the switches (they're only built for so many clicks and break all the time), but that I'm also carrying a wire in each hand. One attached to the machine, and one attached to the switch on my finger.

I'm thinking that an Infrared switch would be the way to go. But I've never worked with anything like this before, and I have no idea where to start.
It sounds like it'd be something simple to build with a little know-how in electronics.

This is where YOU (or anyone reading this) comes in.

Here's a picture of what I'm using now: 

It's a bad picture, but that's the switch. On the back side I hot glued a ring pop to fit it to my ring finger on my right hand (I'm a lefty).

My power supply accepts a 1/4" Mono plug (the same as an electric guitar cord).

So basically I need an IR switch made to fit on my right hand. It has to be click once for ON, click again for OFF. Something I don't have to hold down.

If I have to wear some sort of box to house the electronics for the switch, maybe it could strap on to my wrist with a velcro bracelet and the wires could run to my finger switch under my latex glove? IDK...

Would you be willing to help me out with this?

Please email me if you think you have a solution: nathanmceleney@hotmail.com


Thanks for your time!


Hi Nathan,

Sorry I missed your post.. usually I get an email and I must have overlooked it.

Your project sounds both interesting and useful, I would be happy to help.

So we can probably figure something out whether using an infrared switch or something similar. I have some infrared detectors in my shop, and I can do some looking around online for different switch types. Let me think on this for a day or so and I will get back to you with some suggestions.

Thanks for posting on my site!