welding helmet

I want to buy an auto darkening helmet but don't know what to look for.For example,what range of filter settings,speed of lens
darkening.types of batteries or solar powered and anything else I should consider.
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tony stramella wrote:

Mine has filter settings 10-14, or when the filter is powered off, it's about a 5 or 6, like burning goggles. I haven't ever needed anything else. However, mine is a bit older and you can't buy it anymore (Speedglas XL).
Consider the cost and availability of plastic cover plates. You have to cover the (very expensive) lens with plastic cover plates and if you have an oddball helmet they may be hard to get or they may be pricey.
Consider starting with the Harbor Freight helmet. They are said to work OK and are a whole *lot* cheaper than anything else.
GWE
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On Fri, 30 Dec 2005 08:54:47 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (tony stramella) wrote:

I use the Swiss Made Optrel helmets. I have both of these: http://www.envirosafetyproducts.com/html/Subcategories/optrel/optrel.htm http://www.envirosafetyproducts.com/html/Subcategories/optrel/twisty.htm I'm very happy with them.
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My first helmet was a 10 dollar fixed shade one and its still my backup
I haver a miller helmet because all my welding dealer had in was it or a dale earnhart signature one at 150% of the price and the two helmets were idential other than the paintjob and price
But when it comes to safety I honestly believe that you cannot buy something too expensive to protect your eyes my eyes are worth anything of the difference
Dont skimp ont the cost of a good helmet (agreed in my case dale earnharts signature wasnt worht the 100 extra for the same helmet but i love using the autodark i have especially since i do a lot of low amperage tig work with frequent stops and restarts on short beads
tony stramella wrote:

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tony stramella wrote:

A few things to remember, all autodarkening helmets use batteries. I sufferred the loss of my Optrel satellite. It was dissappointing to have it go, and to observe the replacement cost of the module, which was only slightly cheaper than getting a new helmet. The batteries are embedded in the module, and can't be replaced. It was taken apart, and could only be serviced with a milling machine, knowing exactly where to cut and a lot of patience. Results would likely not be great. Eventually, all batteries will fail, even though they are topped up by the solar panel.
So, I purchased a Speedglas. The batteries are user replaceable. The Speedglas has a better lens, but lacks the exterior shade adjustability of the Optrel which is a marginal benefit. You have to take the Speedglas off to change the settings. The Speedglas also has slight misfit between tho silver cover and the bottom of the mating helmet, allowing some light to penetrate. Some tape can fix the issue. The Speedglas does have better breathing than the Optrel. The Speedglas shade and delay settings are clever, and seem to work better than the Optrel. The lens also seems to be of better quality with no banding, or edge effects.
The Speedglas uses protective lens covers both inside and outside. I can't remember if the Optrel allows for interior lens covers. It doesn't seem like a big deal for it to have the notches in the module. Some of the lower cost helmets don't have the protective lens options, this can be an issue.
The head fixture on the Speedglas isn't as nice as the Optrel, and I wound up cannibalizing the Optrel's to fit the Speedglas. The Speedglas harness is a bit floppy for my taste. Using the Optrel harness means that the helmet can't flip anymore, but it can be brought to perfect distance from the eyes now, increasing the field of view and decreasing the light leakage from below the chip. More time could be spent making the Optrel harness work properly, but another fix turned out better than expected, read on.
All helmets suffer from heating of the user's face or head, and fogging of the lens. These are the main reasons you have to lift it off after welding. Controlled breathing is a solution, but isn't great. The true remedy is to buy a miniature fan, and to power it with a 9V battery that is affixed to the top harness head strap with a section of inner tube. A small fixture can be made with sheetmetal to support the fan above the lens, to blow air downward. The Speedglas has a couple of bosses perfectly located to do the job. This is the best thing imaginable. No more unbearable heat during welding, no more fogging of the lens, and lots of fresh air. The 9V battery seems to last for over twenty hours at present, though I haven't timed the burn. It seems to be convenient enough. The helmet stays on most of the time since the unbearable heat is gone, and this reduces the need to wipe perspiration and condensation from the lens. It also keep the head cool, and increases productivity. You can see well enough through the lens, especially with the Optrel harness, so you can keep motoring on.
The fan is a comair-rotron 25mm square model 12V. The part number for digi-key is CR011-ND. The comair part number is CR0212LB-G70. It appears to fit perfectly between the headgear and the lens, even when using the Optrel headgear which sits closer to the lens than the Speedglas hardware. On the subject of the fan, you do need to manage your hair to keep it out of the fan. It isn't hard, but one has to be mindful.
There are many other models of auto darkening helmets. Remember that some of the features in the pricier models do address safety concerns and ergonomics. The Speedglas for example has "off" shading that protects your eyes if you forget to turn it on. When you turn the helmet on, the lens goes a bit clearer, and then gives you whatever shade is programmed when activated by the arc. The photodiodes on the Speedglas are better located than the Optrel, and provide more consistent shade activation in difficult welding situations, especially with pipe and complex fixtures. The Optrel is always on, which is a benefit.
As with all auto darkening helmets, always keep a spare set of batteries around, or a regular helmet as a backup. As great as auto darkening helmets are, it is a downer when the batteries go.
Best,
Guy
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SNIP-----SNIP-----SNIP-----SNIP-----SNIP-----SNIP

SNIP-----SNIP-----SNIP-----SNIP-----SNIP-----SNIP ----------------------------------
Is that a fact?
I guess my solar powered auto-darkening welding helmet doesn't exist then.
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Hello Jim,
My Optrel solar powered auto-darkening welding helmet also existed. The batteries were embedded inside the cartridge. It took some forceful disassembly to get to them, but sure enough, there they were. I've kept the parts, so if you need some pictures to relieve your incredulity, please advise. My welding rep also said that it was solar powered, blah, blah, blah, caveat emptor.
No matter what the cartridges use, there has to be some form of energy storage to power the device when there is no direct sunlight or welding flash, this means some form of capacitor, battery, or other life-cycle limited device. If there wasn't any energy storage, you probably could not get the crisp response since the circuits would have to power-up before enabling the shade. Also, some form of memory is needed to store the shade settings, delay, and other useful settings. These things don't fall from the sky. Most capacitors have finite life and will degrade over time, as with all batteries.
So much for the solar powered, and, wink, wink, battery powered auto-darkening welding helmet.
Laws should be enacted to protect the consumer against such misrepresentations.
Hope you don't feel too disappointed when those batteries go south. It can take over five years with good illumination.
What did you think of the fan?
Best,
Guy
Diamond Jim wrote:

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Five years? Really? I consider myself lucky if I get two years of service out of a good quality helmet, whether it be Speedglas or Optrel. Welding helmets are meant to be used, not placed on a mantel to be admired.
Auto-dark helemts are more fragile than the manual flip-up types. Accidently drop one and its life expectancy is cut on half, no matter what brand, if it still works -- just a cost of doing business if you want the convenience. There is much to be said for applying the KISS principle and using a manual flip-up type if the environment you work in is hostile to fancy electronics, besides, replacing a standard #10 filter is much less expensive than replacing a proprietary auto-dark cartridge, especially if you are on a project in the middle of nowhere.
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Hi Speechless,
Uh, I figured I couldn't win regarding the specification of time, either way. Hence the use of "can". Apparently, some representatives have indicated that having the cells exposed to light can be of benefit in maintaining the batteries in a high charge state, which is conducive to prolonging their lives. It does mean paying attention to the helmet, and taking care of it. If you leave it in an unlit trailer with the rest of your gear, the batteries are going to go much faster. Wear and tear are also big factors.
We agree that in practical terms, and especially given the environment in which welding equipment is used, fragile protective equipment can easily come to grief. As for leaving it on the mantle, we also agree. The convenience is lost if it doesn't get used. This being written, it is possible to give the helmet a good home when not in use. Whether this means building a decent box if you're on the road, or a proper mounting bracket that puts the helmet in the vicinity of a window to maximize battery charge state, the user can take care of such gear. Finding a decent home, especially on the road, is a must. Too many things can happen in the best of environments.
Helmet manufacturers have put effort in making the helmets lighter. This makes them more fragile and increases comfort.
This is also why I didn't mind eliminating the flip portion of the headgear by using the Optrel hardware. It seems to me that most accidents happen when one forgets the helmet is up there flapping about with a raised profile. When I do take it off, I have to be mindful of where I set it down. The box, the bracket, or some other hospitable spot.
Given all these factors, having a backup is a must. I've grown fond of the larger window helmets as a backup since they seem to be more versatile. It also seems that failures happen when you really need the convenience of the auto-darkening, either because you can't swing your head, or you're lying down, or some other situation that really makes a regular helmet a pain. A good working light is a must when having to use a regular helmet in difficult places.
Any thoughts on the fan?
Speechless wrote:

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wrote:

Correct, but...
A solar cell powered helmet is just that -- it has no battery.
The liquid crystal filter is powered directly by the solar cell which gets its energy from light waves generated by the arc. Since the arc is not constant -- it flickers -- the output from the solar cell is not constant, but varies in sync with the instantaneous intensity of illumination received from the arc. This would be fine if the liquid crystal filter could respond instantaneously but, it can not -- there is a delayed response because it takes time for the liquid crystals to mechanically twist and untwist in reponse to the variable voltage being applied -- the filtering response is out of phase with the instantaneous intensity of illumination being received from the arc.
To solve this problem, a capacitor is used to average out the instantaneous output voltage coming from the solar cell, the way a flywheel is used to average out the instantaneous power strokes on an internal combustion engine.
A capacitor is very similar to a battery but, it is not a battery, even though it may look like a battery with + and - markings. A battery internally generates electricity. A capacitor only stores electricity -- it does not internally generate electricity. In some circuits, a capacitor and a battery can be used interchangably, if the purpose is to average out instantaneous voltage variances, with a capacitor being perferred because it requires no maintenance, unlike a battery.
Capacitors are strange devices that maintain their efficiency only when they are used and exercised regularly by having a charge applied to them. If left unused for a period of time, they can discharge to the point where they behave as though they have dead short internally. To revive them, a certain threshold voltage, called a "set charge" voltage, must be applied to set the charge in the the dieletric materials inside. As capacitors age with time (the dielectric material dries out), the "set charge" voltage becomes higher and higher, and eventually becomes higher than what the solar cell can generate under normal conditions, which is most likely what happened in your case.
To prevent this problem, a capacitor should have a charge applied to it regularly. So, yes, leaving your chronologically aged solar powered auto-dark helmet exposed to bright light when not in use for long periods of time will prolong the useful life of the auto-dark cartridge by avoiding the issue of having to apply a "set charge" voltage to the capacitor. By leaving the helmet In bright light, the solar cell generates enough voltage to maintain a charge on the capacitor at all times, thus preventing discharge to the point where a "set charge" voltage must be applied.
A trick that sometimes works to revive an aged auto-dark cartridge that has been in the dark for too long is to repeatedly flash the solar cell using a camera flash, held about two inches in front of the solar cell -- one of two things usually happens -- either the auto-dark cartridge starts to work again, or the flash on your camera burns out -- which ever comes first.
The rule-of-thumb is to use your solar powered welding helmet regularly and to never leave it in a dark place for extended periods of time. The idea is to keep that capacitor, or as you call it, "battery", exercised and charged.
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There are a few issues that are unclear in your description.
For starters, capacitors come in several varieties and for this application would include electrolytic and dielectric. Electrolytic would provide greater capacity per unit mass and volume than dielectric.
Interestingly, capacitors are the opposite of batteries in that running them constantly at their rated voltage degrades them faster.
Capacitors have much lower energy density than batteries, especially when taking cost into account. They are also susceptible to many failure modes, and are degraded by heat and vibration. Batteries used in these applications are more resistant from these two environmental factors.
Also, the output of the solar cell is likely to be very low, and only capable of trickle charging a battery. I doubt that they can supply enough power to drive the LCD. Again, this is a question of economics. Solar cells with high efficiency are very expensive. I haven't done a power and energy budget, but would have to be convinced by way of a genuine circuit diagram, or picture of a live unit to be entirely convinced.
One additional aspect to capacitors is that they do not provide constant voltage as do batteries, which does not suit them to LCD applications. This basically reduces the useable capacity by a substantial factor. My guess is that it would reduce the rated capacity by a factor of 4.
Your reasoning is unconvincing. For my part, I would like see a picture of these capacitors, or a part number. It is not to say that it isn't possible, it just doesn't fit with regard to the economics, or the feasibility.
Your description also mentions some delay of activation, this would likely be negative from an safety perspective.
Speechless wrote:

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ONCE AGAIN! MY AUTO-DARKENING WELDING HELMET DOESN'T HAVE ANY BATTERIES IN IT!
I donn't think you can tell the difference between a capaciter and a battery;
BTW, why don't you get with the program and quit "top posting".
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Diamond Jim wrote:

Always happy to oblige!
Can't tell the difference between a battery and a capacitor? Okay.
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Those work anywhere and all time - no need batteries flashlights - Coil - magnet - rectifier - and a cap & "white" LED. You generate power by flipping it over and over - wearing out your elbow - then the cap charges enough for current in the LED.
No battery - just a cap.
Martin
Martin Eastburn @ home at Lions' Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net NRA LOH & Endowment Member NRA Second Amendment Task Force Charter Founder
Diamond Jim wrote:

-
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Guy, I'm not competent to weigh in on the battery debate, but yes, I love the fan idea. Can you post pictures in the drop box?
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wrote:

This is indeed true. Though capacitors tend to live very long and full lives.
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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wrote:

Not true. Shrug
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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Have you taken one apart?
Gunner Asch wrote:

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wrote:

Yes. Catastrophicly.
Gunner

"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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How about posting some pictures, or some part numbers for those capacitors?
Gunner Asch wrote:

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