New Tattoo

by Jimmie on January 11, 2013

resistor tattooI finally got my new tattoo yesterday. I’ve been meaning to get this done for the past two years, but being a nomad and being able to get appointments from good tattoo artist is a bit rough. Luckily Marcio Bornholdt at Blut & Eisen in Berlin had an open slot and was up for doing my tattoo on short notice, as I already had all the design files ready to go. There’s a ton here, despite the plain look.

The most obvious thing is the resistor color codes. Doing electronics for a living, that’s kind of easy to see why I would get such a thing done. However, that’s a very small portion of the population that will initially recognize it. Most people tend to see just the rainbow, and that leads to lots of fun questions. I’m openly bisexual, and have done queer geeks panels at both CCC-Camp 2011 and again at 28c3. So I’m fine with the ambiguity, which adds itself into the meaning of the tattoo for me.

While I didn’t really need to have the colors implanted into my skin (already have them memorized), it will be a fun way of teaching others how to read the colors in classes. Also, I had the tattoo made to be five inches long, making each block one half inch. So I can use this tattoo as a reasonable-guess ruler. Being skin, it stretches and deforms, so I’ll have to learn the proper way to hold my arm so that it’s at least moderately accurate.

The next part of the tattoo, is that I programmed it in processing. It’s obviously open source, so do with it what you will. ;-)  Here’s the source code:

int[] colors = {
#000000, #964B00, #DF0101, #FF8000, #FFFF00,
#04B404, #0101DF, #BF00FF, #848484, #FFFFFF
float Phi = (1+sqrt(5))/2;
int X = 140;
float Y = X * Phi;
float ratio = X/TWO_PI;
size (int(X*10 + ratio), int(Y + ratio));
for(int i = 0; i <10; i++){
  rect((i*X)+(ratio/2), ratio/2, X, Y);

So in summary, it’s a resistor color code chart, it’s a rainbow, it’s a ruler, it’s got both the golden ratio and Tau built in, and it was written in a programming language. So it’s a meaningful tattoo that’s also useful for me beyond looking great.

{ 4 trackbacks }

Resistor Color Code Tattoo « adafruit industries blog
January 11, 2013 at 16:50
MAKE | Resistor Code Tattoo
January 14, 2013 at 10:02
Resistor Code Tattoo
January 15, 2013 at 02:08
resistor tat / Jimmie Rodgers | External Brain
January 17, 2013 at 07:05

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristen January 11, 2013 at 13:51

:D It turned out beautifully! Congrats. :)

2 Jeremy January 11, 2013 at 14:27

The processing source code did not work. Which version of processing did you use?

3 Rose (@yarnivore) January 11, 2013 at 14:37

That looks wonderful! Congrats on a gorgeous and meaningful tattoo!

4 Griffin January 11, 2013 at 14:58

I tried your code in Processing. Two errors occurred. The close bracket at the end doesn’t have an open bracket and the for loop seems to be unfinished and missing a close parentheses.
I think this would do it:
for(int i = 0; i < 10; i = i+1){ fill(colors[i]);
rect((i*X)+(ratio/2), ratio/2, X, Y);

The finished product is snazzy.

5 Jimmie January 11, 2013 at 16:24

Ok, source code fixed! It got eaten a little when I pasted it into WP before creating the code blocks.

6 Gorpitor January 11, 2013 at 19:01

Yuk yuk. When I see tattoos I really want to vomit. Why would someone debase their bodies like this? What happens when you are much older and your skin is wrinkled and in decline, it will look terrible.

7 Liz Quilty January 11, 2013 at 19:43

Gorpitor: why would you come to somebody elses blog to force your own personal opinion onto them and insult their choice?
I don’t like tattoos, probably never get one, but i think this one is great! what a cool tatt, with great meaning (and code) behind it

I have a wordpress plugin i made that consists of this

remove_filter(‘the_content’, ‘wptexturize’);
remove_filter(‘the_excerpt’, ‘wptexturize’);
remove_filter(‘comment_text’, ‘wptexturize’);

Also i use another to insert formatting for code called wp-syntax

8 Thomas Hunter January 11, 2013 at 19:52

Gorpitor, you look terrible.

9 tudd January 11, 2013 at 20:37

World’s first open-source tattoo? :D

10 Joseph Cummings January 11, 2013 at 20:55

Gorpitor: When Jimmie is 85 years old, his tattoo will still look badass.

11 Kshatrya January 11, 2013 at 22:40

Love it! Both meanings are great.

Given my own work in comms, I’d have to use both forearms to get all the pin-outs I need. Not so colourful though. -G-

12 Lol, Liz January 12, 2013 at 01:51

I see you came to someone else’s blog and asserted your own personal opinion. Hypocrisy, anyone?

13 Kibo January 13, 2013 at 10:42

Cool tattoo! But what happens if we suddenly switch to using Metric? You’d have to shrink your forearm to 100/127 its original length to keep the ruler function working. And have you ever tried shrinking your bones by a ratio based on a Mersenne prime? It’s harder than it should be.

14 Jimmie January 13, 2013 at 11:25

@Kibo I actually wanted to do it in metric, but I didn’t like the size at 10cm, so I went up to 5 inches. I hadn’t really thought about shrinking the arm. I think I’ll probably just wait till a matter reconstruction system can correct these things for me. ;-)

15 Jason January 13, 2013 at 17:27

Gorpitor: When I’m much older and my skin is wrinkled and in decline, I’m pretty sure how my tattoos will look would be the least of my worries.

16 Matt January 13, 2013 at 19:23

Fail, you don’t have silver/gold for /10 and /100, and you don’t have flesh/silver/gold/red/brown/green/blue/violet/gray for the tolerances.

Besides, if you were really hardcore, you would have a diagram explaining the six-dot color code for old mica capacitors.

17 C Backus January 14, 2013 at 15:23

…and some people (gorpitor) are just jerks.

Congrats to you on deciding on some skin-art that means something to you. If/when you get the chance, check out the book ‘science ink’. it has a lot of science-related submissions, including my little noise circuit on the back of my neck. : ) there’s a lot of people out there who take their careers as passions, and decide to make a permanent statement with it.

18 Keith January 14, 2013 at 18:02


19 hugh newell January 15, 2013 at 04:30

great tattoo, thought you might like to see some recent art pertaining to the same subject:

20 Andrew January 15, 2013 at 09:18

I LOVE the resistor color code aspect, but absurd kudos for being an openly bisexual man, though. Well done recognizing what most people will see it as and not letting it deter you. Gives me hope for the future :)

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