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  • Welding Helmets

    I've been using an HF auto darkening for awhile, and while I do like it better than the nod your head relic I had, I still can't see good enough. I want to be able to see both pieces of metal and what the tip is doing at all times! A glint of light off of one edge is about the best I ever get.

    Could be I got weird eyes. Narrow pupils maybe? Never seen the need for sunglasses my whole life. I can almost stare at the sun. 55 and as far as I know still 20/20. It's seeing thru a darkened welding helmet that's pissin' me off!

    So I'm thinking about one of them high dollar helmets. Or possibly and old style with a lighter filter. I asked a salesman about that once and he didn't think it was a good idea.

    So how good can you guys see when welding? Is there a chance a $200 helmet is gonna let me stop welding in the dark?

    SP

  • #2
    I too have the HF AD helmet. Mine has settings inside to adjust how dark and how sensitive. I can see well as long as I have my glasses on. That is a real pain. The helmet itself is great. I think they have batteries in that work the elctroincs for the AD. Maybe your battery is dead.
    I have had mine 3 years now and still going strong.
    Life Is Grand

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    • #3
      Originally posted by pntrbl
      Is there a chance a $200 helmet is gonna let me stop welding in the dark?

      SP

      Yes. The best hood I have ever owned was an optrel satellite. Auto dark shade selection from din 5-13. I payed nearly $500 for it about 5 years ago, and it just recently quit on me. It's only downfall is that it does not have serviceable batteries. It has a rechargeable cell that cannot be replaced and it is powered primarily by solar power. My battery went bad. I frequently used the hood on a shade of 7-8 although it is not recommended to arc weld at that light of a shade setting.

      When I replaced it I did a lot of research looking for something with a similar shade selection, but with replaceable batteries. It seems Optrel is the only company with a autodark shade selection in those ranges. Most hoods are 9-13. A few hoods out there offer a fixed din 4 for grinding/torch work and autodark 9-13, but no other manufacturer that I found had a autodark selection from 5-13, or even 7-13 which was my actual criteria for a new hood.

      I also wanted firm head gear. I have used 3m's speedglass hoods, and frankly I thought they were junk. They feel flimsy, and IMO have very poor visability, even with the side lights.

      I eventually settled on a Miller Elite. The head gear is pretty good, although not nearly as nice as the Optrel (I already had to replace it once, due to a stripped rack). The miller is only shade 9-13 as are many others, but it has a large viewing window, replaceable batteries, and 4 arc sensors. So far, shade 9 has been sufficiently light for most work. The other nice feature of the elite is that it has the capability of using a diopter (cheap magnifier lens) and I find that is helpful in making up for the darker shade.

      When I run into something that 9 is simply to dark for, I break out my old fixed shade 9 gold glass. The gold lens reflect more light from the arc back to the work, and a shade 9 gold looks about like daylight. I frequently use it for low current tig. I like the higher visibility, in addition to the fact that my high frequency for the tig scrambles the new millers electronics and I frequently get flashed if I try to use it...

      All in all, the elite is a nice hood for the money. I have also heard very good things about the Jackson NexGen, but I have no first hand experience.

      Good luck,
      Jason

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      • #4
        i've got a hobart hood - not the top of line by any means, but neither was it a cheap helmet. For low amperage (or voltage if your a mig guy) i change my setting to a shade 9. At shade nine i can see whats going on no problem. Up towards 10-11 at low amperage it gets pretty murky. 12-13 is not much at all.

        Does yours have a setting like that on it? Maybe you can change it so it doesnt darken to as dark a shade. On mine they say the factory settting is 12 and thats what all of the battery life ratings were based on. Once you roll it back a few shades its really nice.




        Just read the above post and thought i should add a few quick comments.

        "A few hoods out there offer a fixed din 4 for grinding/torch work and autodark 9-13, "

        My helmet has a fixed shade 5 and then dims to the darker shades. I assumed all did, but it sounds like not all of the helmets are. The shade five can be a little bit dark if you work in dark areas, but otherwise its fine.



        "I like the higher visibility, in addition to the fact that my high frequency for the tig scrambles the new millers electronics and I frequently get flashed if I try to use it..."

        I am surprised by that. My helmet has a sensitivity adjustment that makes suitable for high frequency welding. I had not thought of mine as being nearly as nice as the miller elites, but i know one of the selling points of this particular hood was its effectivness when welding low current high frequency tig jobs. I had previously assumed that all of the upper level helmets would have this adjustment and that this feature was emphasized so much just because it was the first in lower price range (i.e. $200)


        p.s. I think the miller elite helmets are super sweet! Just surprised to hear that the TIG interferes with it.
        Last edited by Fasttrack; 05-20-2007, 01:34 AM.

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        • #5
          I've used high dollar Jackson's and have a Hobart and a cheap ebay one. I could not tell any difference from one to the other as far as function. The Jackson was a fixed setting and was $400 buck. The Hobart $289 and Ebay Special $29 are both adjustable. I've used the $29 helmet for 4 years now... Hobart is on shelve waiting for the cheap one to fail. Is your helmet an adjustable one? Have you cleaner the lens inside and out? Anyway I have no trouble seeing the weld puddle unless the lens get to smoked... then it's a quick cleaning and back at it. I also made a inside shade cover from thin plastic which helps. Been working on a iron fence that I'm building for the community... lots of machining... drilling and welding. Oh and painting just finished up 128 ft of it. That's why I've been MIA for a bit.
          Wow... where did the time go. I could of swore I was only out there for an hour.

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          • #6
            This one of the solar models and I had it out basking in the sun for awhile this morning.

            I think it's me. My SIL says he can see fine thru it. There have been times in the past when I've hung lights all around the object to be welded to improve my view. My bench has two 30 watt tubes mounted under a shelf, probably 12" from the work, and as long as I angle the piece right for a reflection ....

            But ya can't weld everything on a bench.

            I've been fighting this for years. Got so mad at some expanded metal today I'm about ready to throw $200 at it! LOL!

            If I had some sunglasses I'd get the Oxy/Acet out and gas weld it.

            SP

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            • #7
              9-13 on the HF auto I'm using, but I can't see any better at 9 than 13. Maybe that's broke?

              Mig welder BTW and I was working with .023 wire at the lowest range. Probably my worst case scenario now that I think about it.

              Thanx for the responses BTW. I do admire a pretty weld, but most of my life it's been a crapshoot over how well I can see what I'm doing.

              SP

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Fasttrack
                "I like the higher visibility, in addition to the fact that my high frequency for the tig scrambles the new millers electronics and I frequently get flashed if I try to use it..."

                I am surprised by that. My helmet has a sensitivity adjustment that makes suitable for high frequency welding. I had not thought of mine as being nearly as nice as the miller elites, but i know one of the selling points of this particular hood was its effectivness when welding low current high frequency tig jobs. I had previously assumed that all of the upper level helmets would have this adjustment and that this feature was emphasized so much just because it was the first in lower price range (i.e. $200)


                p.s. I think the miller elite helmets are super sweet! Just surprised to hear that the TIG interferes with it.
                You are absolutely correct, most auto dark hoods have a sensitivity adjustment. The sensitivity of the shutter, or shade switch, whatever you want to call it, does not have anything to do with whats happening. It is actually the RF interference from the High Frequency power that scrambles the hood. I have had it flash me, and I have had it slowly change to a darker or lighter shade on its own. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but when I realized it only happened with my head in close to the torch/puddle I figured it out. On further research, I have found that lots of folks have had trouble. There are lots of things you can do to reduce radiated HF energy, but in my scenario, it is just as easy when it poses a problem to grab the fixed shade hood.

                HF will screw with all sorts of electronics, I have had it totally kill a new cell phone in my pocket. Had it kill a multi meter that was sitting on the welding table while I was welding. And interestingly enough, it scrambles my shop computer which is about 30 feet away and on a totally different circuit. The computer has never been permanently fubar, just goes nutty for a few minutes like it is getting keyboard and mouse buffer overruns. Complete with mouse pointer going crazy around the screen, and the annoying beep you get if you lay on a keyboard key for a while.

                Later,
                Jason

                Comment


                • #9
                  I pointed this out in a recent thread where helmets were discussed in passing. You cannot get "flashed" by using an auto darkening helmet at too low a level. The filter on the helmet stops 99.999% of damaging infrared and ultraviolet energy even if it isn't darkened. You may set the shade at whatever level works for you, if it is adjustable. The darkening feature is to prevent your eyes from being dazzled and leaving after images that interfere with your vision.

                  Auto-darkening helmets don't darken until the welding arc is struck - will this “split second” response time damage my eyes?
                  No. Again, all helmets that comply with the current ANSI Z87.1 standard (when in the proper down position) always protect operators from the harmful UV and IR emissions from the arc. This protection occurs whether the lens is darkened or not. However, the faster the helmet darkens, the more likely it is to prevent discomfort from the high-intensity visible light. Less than a millisecond in response time is not perceivable by the human eye and will provide the most comfort. Look for a helmet that has a response darkening time of a millisecond or less.


                  http://www.asashop.org/autoinc/jan2002/collision.htm
                  Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                  • #10
                    My pet peeve...."Welding Hood". I doubt if many of you guys have ever wore a hood or prolly never seen one. Real hoods are made out of leather and fit your head like a sock. I've used them many times when working in very tight places where a regulat helmet won't fit.
                    Have a look at a real "hood"
                    http://www.thegangbox.com/c-29-leath...ding-hood.aspx
                    Also ...beware...especially with Optrel inside lens covers. They have a plastic coating on them that doesn't even look like it's there. You can't believe the difference if you peel the plastic off. They used to use a green plastic "sticky" cover on the inner lens covers. You could see it and it was a no brainer to remove it. Then they went to the clear protective cover that you can't really tell is there. It really hampers your vision.
                    I have a lot of trouble seeing to weld now also. I have to have a very new lens cover to see well. A few scratches or some smoke film and I'm hooped for seeing well. A doubler does help but it's still not as good as my plain ol' eyeballs where even 5 years ago.
                    Russ
                    I have tools I don't even know I own...

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                    • #11
                      I'm sure not able to see the weld as well as I used to. I'm keeping the shade turned all the way down most of the time unless I am using high amps. Even at shade 9 on my hat I still have trouble sometimes following the seam. Getting old sucks but it beats the alternative.
                      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                      • #12
                        MIG welding helmet problems

                        Well, I thought I was the odd one out with this problem - but thanks to this thread it seems not - thanks.

                        My Auto hood can be set for shades 9 - 13 as well and it does have a setting for low current MIG. And knowing its draw-backs and the work-arounds that work for me, I get on fine with it. But asd expected everything works better at higher amps (and lighting).

                        It works very well just about every time providing I remember to do a few things.

                        Relax and make yourself comfortable. If you're not - don't bother to go on until you are!!

                        Use 0.8mm (0.032") wire with a minimum of 35 amps (and up to 160 depending on the job) and adjust my weld speed, direction (fore-hand or back-hand) and arc length accordingly. You have it set pretty right when the arc noise sounds like "frying eggs" (also affected by open ciruit voltage).

                        I make sure I can see the arc and that it is not shielded from me by the work or the nozzle.

                        Don't wear bi-focal glasses.

                        Do wear single lens "reading" glasses.

                        Clean and re-clean hood lenses inside and out (pull them apart if necessary) and "reading glasses" until the "bloom" (as on the inside of automoble windscreens - from the plastic in the car) and/or "soot" (fumes from the welding process) are completely gone. I use the readily available and very cheap but very effective aerosol "lens cleaner" spray can - at "Welding" shops.

                        One of the main problems with MIG is "breeze/wind". Too much of it and it blows your gas away and too little and you get the fumes in your lungs and helmet. I always either use a portable screen in a windy area and use a small electic fan in the work-shop or in a "still air" situation.

                        Jacking up the open circuit voltage can be a big help as well as it does seem to help in "lightening up" the weld area. So, open circuit voltage can be lost by poor connections, poor earthing, too long a cable and to much electrical distance between the weld and the earth connection/clamp. Every welding and connection surface (including the torch) need to be CLEAN. Grind all weld and earth connection surfaces. And make sure the cables are neither too long nor undersize nor "broken".

                        Make sure your toch "stick out" (0 - 3mm) is OK and thay you get a long enouh arc (8 - 12mm) (5/16 - 1/2") or longer. You will be surpridsed at how it improves the "visibility bit".

                        Make sure your weld wire feed is not slipping as it will play hell with your wire feed rate.

                        Under-rated electrical supply circuits don't help at all. Mine are 240v single phase 50 Hz 50A as my machine pulls 32A for 240A at the torch. My workshop had 2-phase 50A as it is fitted with an old but very good 200A "chockey" welder for when I was doing a pressure plate welding course a lot of years ago. (It is just right for my plasma cutter and compressor as well).

                        If I am getting my work too hot or "burning through" and perhaps leaving "whiskers" then I just speed up my weld rate along the weld and/or "hit" and then "miss" come back and "hit" again etc. to let the heat disperse and to reduce heat build up.

                        My 0.32" wire is a real "one size fits all" electrode for me as it and I get along fine.

                        For what its worth, Plasma cutting is worse with a short (3mm) arc as the torch is big compared to the cutting place and so shields it from sight - a real PIA but can be "worked around". Local fab shop said to use Oxy/acet glasses or if careful even "sunnies" but DON"T look at the arc - particularly at "ignition".

                        And last but by no means least - the weld/process gas. Make sure you have the right one for the job's you are doing - it is a MUST.

                        And for a good "run-down" see the "Publications" at Miller Welding at:
                        http://www.millerwelds.com/education...pamphlets.html and download their "Guidelines for Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)" aka "MIG" as its in pdf format, is just over 1.1 MB and will set you right as it has lot of "rules of thumb" and (surprise, surprise) is geared toward Miller welding machines. But it is very good and very practical.

                        OK, OK, I truly don't mean to be the "smart a**e" from "down under" but I thought of that and then thought it might be of some use - so I took my chances and sent it off.

                        I hope it helps.

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                        • #13
                          Helmets

                          Used to use solar battery ones. Junk now use a cheap ols school model. Works good and is cheap.

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                          • #14
                            I'm gonna go back to school like Madman and get a fixed glass. Then I'll just keep lightening the lens until I can see what I need to see. Never did break myself of the "nod and start" habit anyway. It'll be fine.

                            None of us can see thru someone else's eyes but in talking to my SIL I've become convinced I don't see in the dark as well as most people. Using the same helmet there's times when he shuts the garage door down to kill ambient. I can't never get enough.

                            SP

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                            • #15
                              i was given a ad helmet when they first cam out tried it did not like it. will never use one again. i have used shade 10 all my life for all types of welding from low amps to high amps. even when i was mig welding 1.50 thick al. armor plate, and air arcing.

                              i am 57 been welding for 30+ years.

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