Prison Tattoo Machine Made From PlayStation

Prison inmates have a history of being gruesomely resourceful hackers. The toothbrush shiv comes immediately to mind. One such inmate in the UK wanted to offer tattoos to his fellow convicts so he came up with a tattoo gun using a PlayStation for parts. The crude setup involves a sharpened ballpoint pen and the use one of the motors from the optical drive to move it up and down. The inmate didn’t document his work for us but there are other examples of this method available. Even with modern hardware, ink seems a little 20th century when compared to laser tats.

[Thanks Memmy T]

25 thoughts on “Prison Tattoo Machine Made From PlayStation

  1. Tell you what, when you can shove a CNC table up your ass and smuggle it into the state pen, you can talk about ink tats being “a little 20th century”. Until then, why don’t you show some proper respect for the ingenuity on display?

  2. the thought of shoving a playstation up your ass is a little, um … I dont even want to think about it

    SO we know prisoners get swag, we know they have various trade shops, so an inmate having access to a laser cutter is not really all that far fetched (crap they have better cable tv than I do, they have better video games than I do, why not give them a laser cutter too while were at it, its not like I am paying for it, oh wait)

    Aaron, you seem a bit defensive about this project, author?

  3. Prisoners have been known to do this for ages, and some of the designs are remarkable! – a prisoner made a gun out of the plumbing from his toilet and sink, a few made crossbows out of their underwear, the Alcatraz escapees (who were never caught and it is unknown if they are dead or alive) used raincoats to make a boat, and the list goes on!

  4. Prisoners have too much time on their hands ;)

    jokes aside the designs that some prisoners come up with are astonishing – and Playstations are given out in alot of prisons today.. and i certainly wouldn’t recommend trying to shove one up your ass to take it anywhere!

  5. It might be a good idea to remind anyone reading this that home tattooing is notoriously unsafe- it can lead to hepatitis, AIDS and infection. Also, makes you look like a bit of a dick, haha! Anyways yeah, just a suggestion, you never know if the young’uns are reading!

  6. Prisoners should not have Playstations. It’s PRISON FFS!!! There should be only punishment, with no entertainment involved! And, yes, I have been there briefly, DUI…

  7. @Hitek146
    Prisons can be very different, while some may have Playstations, Cable TV and all that stuff, there are still many that are just bare concrete walls with cameras all over the place. It all depends on whether it is a local, state or federal prison; its security rating; and even the classification of the crime. I do agree with you that NO prison should have entertainment, since it promotes crime amongst the youth.

    Although I do wonder why they do not jam cell phone signals in prison, isn’t very hard to do. Hell they could even set up their own cell transceiver, jam all the others and have every call from the tower routed through some sort of FBI listening post. Just put it into the employment contract at the prison, put up a few signs about monitoring communications and everyone is happy. You’ll also break up a bunch of drug rings and cells of organized crime.

    Still hilariously ironic to see a 200-lb, heavily muscled man with about 50% of his body covered in prison tattoos go through an MRI machine.

  8. @ Eliot. Agreed. I dont see any playstation parts whatsoever. The story is also taken from a pretty crapy uk tabloid newspaper so no surprise the details are a little shaky.
    cant quite figure out what it is though. It looks as though it could have been part of a portable dvd player, there is clearly a battery compartment.
    Any one else recognize it? Its really going to bug the hell out of me.

  9. From the article on The Sun’s website: “They are allowed PlayStation 1 and 2 consoles, but not the PlayStation 3 model because it can connect to the internet”.

    This is the most ridiculous statement I’ve read in months; implying every prison cell has it’s own unfiltered telephone socket! It’s much more likely a basic cost issue, PS1/2 is dirt cheap comapred to a PS3.

    I do loathe the red tops. Love Hack a Day though, on good days I get to see mind-blowing hacks but even the bad days are great for the debate they spark.

  10. This is a modification of the one I have seen. They used the guitar strings mentioned in an earlier comment, the tube from a ball point pen, and the motor from a tape cassette player, which is far more common in prison than a playstation.

    When lighters are not allowed, they also have a way of using pencil lead to short across the terminals of an outlet to light their joints. I never tried that one (don’t smoke), but saw it done… looked VERY dangerous!

  11. I have never been arrested but have been a professional tattoo artist for a bit over 16 years now. These are very common, but also pretty inventive. They are not like a real tattoo machine though. The real thing uses electro magnets that provide true up and down motion. A “joint gun” works via an offset cam on the end of the motor shaft. For fun my friends and I have made a ton of these out of all kinds of crap. Just about any small dc motor would work. You can also make them out of door bells, old rotory phones, etc. But please don’t ever let someone stick you with one of these. The risks are just too high. We spend years learning the medical side of tattooing, have all of the required shots, random health board inspections and so on. But all that said, yeah it’s kinda kewl. I live by Folsom prison. I’ll try and get pics from there museum of all their joint guns and upload them to ya guys.

  12. Best makeshift prison gear I’ve seen is an edible shiv. Guy took a handful of jolly ranchers from the commons, and melted them with a candle, and formed a handle and a knife then proceeded to sharpen them. Pretty damned ingenious considering you can shatter it on the ground or eat it.

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