"Richard Smith" wrote in message
Promised to post on weld conditions. Wish hadn't - this is about
being driven mad by not being able to check conditions which worked on
a particular day, given covid19 pandemic and laid-off from work.
====================================================I've done a lot of temperature, heat flow and contact resistance measurement
to confirm engineers' designs, and largely found that the most significant
source of variation is the exact conditions of metal to metal contact. You
can predict the heat flow but you may have to make measurements and redo the
connections repeatedly to achieve it. Blacksmithing gives a good visual
example, a small crack in the glowing iron bar reveals itself by a large
step difference in color. Presumably you are long past seeing that in your
For serious temperature measurement Type K thermocouples are a nice balance
of reasonable cost, decent accuracy, wide temperature range and ease of use.
They should be welded with acetylene rather than just twisted together at
the working end. KX extension wire is a reputedly cheaper version that only
works near room temperature.
IR meters may be handy but my experience with them shows they can be thrown
off by emissivity variations, so I use them to find hot spots but check them
against thermocouples I've calibrated in slush and boiling water.
The TM902C is the cheapest thermocouple meter I've found.
I buy my Type K wire and connectors from Omega for their quality and
accuracy, which you may not need.
24 gauge tolerates brief yellow heat exposure and isn't as annoyingly
springy as the larger sizes. 30 gauge is rather too delicate outside the
lab, but better to slip under a refrigerator's door gasket.
The braided fiberglass and cheaper ceramic fiber insulation can be upgraded
to tolerate 1000C by rubbing wood stove gasket cement (sodium silicate) into
Thermocouples need to be in a small drilled hole to be accurate. Tightly
clamping them to the surface under a wad of insulation may come fairly
close, perhaps 10C low. Ideally the metal surface being measured shouldn't
short the wires away from the welded junction but the error isn't great if
it does, coming from heat lost down the wires. The extra metal to metal
voltages theoretically cancel out, which we had to prove to ourselves from
first principles in a homework problem.
I use these to log temperature readings to a PC when I have more to do than
watch and write down the display.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
The datalogging program compensates for thermocouple nonlinearity that the
meter display ignores. They are optically isolated and can float at power
line or welding lead voltage, so you could use them with a shunt or current
probe to record your actual welding voltage and current. The separate
datalog files can be combined and aligned by timestamp in a spreadsheet.
With constant heat input, temperature will rise exponentially to a final
limiting value that it may take half an hour to approach if the heatsink is
large. You can raise the heatsink temperature close to the rectifier's limit
with a blowtorch and then see if it decreases under normal load to quickly
determine if your heatsinking is adequate.
In the lab we measured the actual junction temperatures of diodes and
transistors by their forward voltage drops at low current. That's the
junction temperature you see on datasheets. In normal operation it could
easily be 10-20C higher than the heatsink. Exceeding the temperature rating
decreases the life of the part. I've heated a power transistor above 175C
where it failed in minutes. The surprising test was dripping liquid nitrogen
on an unpackaged integrated circuit, under a microscope. The outer silicon
nitride passivation layer shattered like a windshield but the part kept
working. Those maximum ratings come from techs like me who let the electron
smoke escape under controlled conditions.