How can I test an auto darkening helmet.

Pooh BearJuly 2, 2005

I bought an auto darkening welding helmet at Harbor Freight.

How can I test it to make sure it works.

I took it outside yesterday evening and looked at the sun thru it.

I put my hand over the lense and could see thru the lense.

I moved my had and it went dark for a second then back to clear.

I don't think the sun was bright enough to keep it dark.

But how can I be sure it is working ok.


Pooh Bear

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Just go ahead and strike an arc by tapping the rod to just make a spark. The millisecond arc should make the hood darken without damage to your eyes. If you have a quartz work lite, it should make it darken.
Hope this helps,

    Bookmark   July 2, 2005 at 9:08AM
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You said that you already laid a bead on a piece of steel. Did it burn your eyes? Was the light from the arc too brigh to see what you were doing? Did you notice any changes when you struck the arc and when it quit arcing ? If you used that helment very long and can see what you are typing on the computer without difficulty,or your eyes are not swelled shut, I would assume that it is working or you would be suffering some consequences. Does it have an off and on button inside the helment? Does it have good batteries in it? Did instructions come with it? When all else fails, read the instructions. If you can not figure it out and have serious doubts, I think that I would take it by a welding shop and get one of the guys to look at it, perhaps try it and tell you what they think.
Such is the reasons that I always stress some welding courses if at all possible, especially the safety issues, like making sure the piece you are welding is well grounded, do not stand in water to weld, keep the area clear of combustibles etc. etc.
Good luck with it, I am sure that if you approach it safely, you will have fun with it, if it will do what you want it to do. Post some pictures of your first good weld. Now perhaps you can make that box thing you drew a sketch of to go on your tractor. A little less complex design might be something like this, which is only 3/16th plate but should outlast several tractors.
Bill P.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 9:59PM
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Pooh Bear

Actually I was so excited about welding for the first time,
I didn't notice how well the helmet worked.
It must have worked cause I had no side effects from it.

I was using a 1/16 rod at 35 amps.
Basically I was just burning rods.
Cause there was virtually no penetration or deposition.

Been too hot to do much outside so haven't had time to mess with it.
Been working on another project in the late evenings.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 10:44PM
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It sounds like that it is probably working O.K.
Try sticking two pieces of metal together. Grind a bevel along each side to form a V where you are going to weld, clamp them down good on something safe and secure, make sure that they are grounded and try laying a bead in the groove, and let us know how it works out.
Bill P.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 3:18AM
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Your hand may have been blocking the light sensor (which is above or below the actual lens) and that may be why it darkened momentarily and then brightened.

If your eyes don't feel like you got sand in them the next day, the helmet probably worked just fine.

I took my first welding course last summer, and wound up flashing myself so much with a regular drop down helmet that my eyes suffered the next day. I got one of the HF auto helmets and never had another problem. I think they are great. The only possible hitch is that sometimes bright overhead lighting in a booth can trigger the darkening. Or, more rarely, the arc hits the lens but not the sensor. Seems like some more expensive designs have light sensors both above and below the lens, to avoid the situation where the arc hits the lens but is blocked from hitting the sensor. But for my needs, the HF helmet was fine.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2005 at 1:19AM
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Pooh Bear

I'm still looking for a place to set up my welder more permently.
I unplugged the air compressor and used that outlet to test it.
But I can's use that on a permenant basis.
I need to run a new circuit somewhere so I can setup and practice.
I don't have a garage and my shed is too small.

Maybe I will get it set up soon so I can practice with it.
Been too hot lately to do anything during the day.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   July 10, 2005 at 9:16AM
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Pooh Bear

Is the solar cell on the helmet used to charge the battery
or is it used as a sensor for the helmet to darken.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 4:49PM
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That depends on the helmet.

Some have non-rechargeable batteries.

Some have batteries that are recharged through the solar panel.

The product manual should tell you which you have.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 3:00AM
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there's a guy on craig'slist selling 2 autodarkening masks fo 50 bucks. I think they're brand new, which makes me doubt the quality (don't "good" ones usually cost at least twice that much?). They have a "blue flame" graphic on them, if that means anything.

Before I go to meet him, Is there anything I should watch out for when shopping for an auto dark mask?

I should mention that I use my mig less than once a year, so in this case I don't need "top o' the line"

    Bookmark   September 16, 2006 at 1:09AM
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Personally, I wouldn't use an auto-darkening welding helmet.

Here is my reason:

About 30 years ago, I was making a heavy-duty front bumper for my motorhome. I used a very large truck frame. (I wanted to mount an electric winch on the front of the MH and wanted a bumper strong enough to pull or be pulled.)
After I got the sides of the bumper (truck frame) bent and welded, I mounted it on the motorhome.
There were quite a number of bolt-holes in that frame, so I decided to fill them. For this I used steel plugs (scrap from a shop that installed trailer hitches----they had a portable hydraulic hole puncher to make holes with--- rather that drilling or using a torch.)
I hammered the plugs into the bumper (truck-frame), then welded them. Then I ground the welds flush with the bumper...went back and welded again any pits that showed in the welds.
It was a very sunny, hot summer day and I was at it all day.

That evening, my eyes hurt like hades, watered continuously, and I couldn't stand to even look at the flame of a match to light a cigarette. My eyes were like that day and night for a full week. I put sauve and a patch over the worst eye, and wore 2 pair of dark sunglasses, and avoided any light like it was a plague! VERY PAINFUL! The Doctor said that my eyes would always, henceforth, be somewhat light sensitive, since I had burnt the cones on my retinas. (That forms scar-tissue, which is sensitive.)

I wondered HOW I could have burnt my eyes!!! I had worn a top-quality helmet with a flip lens and had no recollection of seeing so much as ONE FLASH! I checked the was fine.

I concluded that because of my grinding, the reflection of the hot sun, and, of course, the REFLECTION of the arc off of the shiny metal, I MUST HAVE been getting much more light than normal arc-welding.

I went to the welding supply store and bought a lens 2 steps darker than the one I had used. (I had used a 10 and bought a 12, or vice-versa; [bought the darker one].

If I could burn my eyes that badly using a top-quality helmet and lens, I d__ned sure wouldn't trust ANY auto-darkening helmet!

Also, I will NOT ALLOW anyone or any pets near me when I'm welding. They always seems to want to watch that arc!

Just a little anecdotal message as to why I, for one, would NEVER use an auto-darkening helmet or for that matter, one without a "flip-lens". And I always close the lens BEFORE striking an arc!

Best Regards,
Bruce (Junkmanme in New Mexico)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 4:18PM
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Only problem with a cheapo auto darkening lens is that the sensor can easily be blocked and you will get a flash burn. This has happened several times to me, working in a very tight spot where you cannot get good psitioniong. The more expensive models as someone else mentioned have multiple sensor pickup points and decrease the chances of flash but it can and will still happen occasionally. The threat of permanent eye is very real anytime dealing with welding. And YES anytime you are doing a welding operation outside in the bright sun you must increase the shade of your welding lens a factor of two or so and dependent upon what type of welding you are doing a 10 may be insufficent even inside a dark building

    Bookmark   December 3, 2006 at 11:03AM
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I'm a machinist and do arc weld once in a while, some time ago we bought a auto darkening helmet, because our part time Engineer wanted one, he was welding a A frame outside and wanted a "better" helmet.

When I was looking at his poor looking weld and trying to show him how it's done, [also using the same helmet] I had a hard time seeing that weld!....It was way too dark, so then I used my old conventional helmet and put in a nice weld!

The Helmet was returned!.....The Engineer agreed that it was no good! We couldn't adjust to a brighter setting.

Question.....are auto darkening helmet darker?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 9:32PM
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This thread is very old, but for the sake of others who have little welding experience... If you are going to weld for any length of time, use a number 12 lens. A number 10 is always insufficent. If there is anything behind you that can reflect light, then shield the inside of your helmet from this light. Use a blackened sheet of plywood (or cover your helmet).

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 4:54PM
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If you have a laptop or flat lcd screen bring in the helmet and look at the screen it will trigger the helmet to darken. 'What kind of damage does a computer do to your eyes' check out the video Youtube

Here is a link that might be useful: Welding Helmet Test Youtube

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 4:49PM
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