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Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Upgrade - RFC 
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Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:31 pm
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A long time ago (2004) in a Galaxy not so far away I bought a nice/expensive (IIRC ~400nzd) helmet (Cigweld Predator ArcMaster branded) with a European (Slovenia) made panel (http://balder.si V913) with built in lithium battery (never replaced in 13 years, unit replaced after 1 year, hence not 14) and solar panel (how the battery survived). It's been pretty good to me. However I want better/more, because:

1) The pots on it were never sealed, and grit got in and messed up their action of adjustments
2) The pot adjustments didn't default to the safe side of the spectrum leaving me under protected
3) Normal sized window, sometimes insufficient for funky angles etc, bigger better, some are up around 100x100mm
4) Two sensors, modern good ones have 4, I've had a couple of minor user error arc-eye events due to blocked sensors, 4 halves the chance
5) Head gear, okay, but never great, tried a cheapy recently and it was much nicer on my head than my expensive one, really nice, actually
6) Battery condition not apparent, needed to be left in sunshine to be ready for use, left in dark it would not work immediately and require some charge time from the arc or sun

Things I did like:

1) 9-13 shade adjustment suitable for all of the MIG and stick welding I've done, or more
2) Quality non-china unit, even if not perfect.
3) Durable shell, 14 years of use minus say 5 overseas is 9 years of hobby level use, including some fairly beefy projects and various abuse.
4) Fast enough, reliable enough save the pot (which I leave alone in a good spot) and the lack of 4 sensors (which I mitigate with care) and the lack of battery condition certainty (which I mitigate with storage)

However it's time to move on, I think.

If you have any large-window helmet recommendations for me, I'm happy to hear them. I'll be dumping a link per post with pros/cons/thoughts below until I make up my mind and buy one of them to replace the old one.

Thoughts and interjections of any kind welcome - free form, go nuts.

EDIT: Adjusted #1 things I like item after checking unit, memory was a bit optimistic

EDIT2: Some media of the old unit: https://twitter.com/FredCookeNZ/status/ ... 0423165953

Image

Image

Image

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Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:32 am
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So, although the cigweld helmet is long gone, CIGWELD is now owned by ESAB, and CIGWELD products are now at least partially made in China nor Australia (like my MIG!), the sensor, or a slightly upgraded variant of it is STILL available: http://www.balder.si/index.php?sv_path=4546,4571,4873

From that we can see that my one has 1/1/1/3 performance, and a window size of 96x46.5mm - saved a copy in case that goes offline.

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Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:16 am
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Looking at the range of sizes of windows aside from "small"/"standard" I see, in order from smallest height to largest height:


I must say, I never had a problem with width for side to side viewing, or not that I can recall, so the upgrade from 96 to 100 means little to nothing to me, but going up in height from 46.5 to 98 would be a HUGE win, and to only 62 a small win.

However I've been and touched and poked and played with the Toolshed one and although the helmet and lense looked okay and the head gear was REALLY good minus how firm it was to the helmet (though even that wasn't terrible), BUT, the controls on the outside are vulnerable to being bumped in use or in storage, and felt cheap/loose. Hmmmm, remains the verdict. Think I'd rather gamble on one that even better suits my needs on the face of it.

And... I'm already selling myself on the Tacklife unit, it seems REALLY nice in every respect. At least it and the dekopro have test button (confidence builder!) and low battery indicator (eye saver). But on the Tacklife unit there is a range select switch grind/low/high and a range knob 3-8 for low and 9-13 for high. The knobs have a stuck out flat tab for easy of twisting and eyes closed indexing. The sensors are recessed into what appear to be parabolic slots which give them two properties: ample/increased exposure to light from the arc in front, and reduced exposure to light from the sky/lamps/etc around, ie, less falsing. Actually, the top two have little plastic awnings over them to do exactly that.

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Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:48 am
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Reading reviews on the Tacklife unit:

1) Everyone loves the auto darkening filter element - seems to do what it says on the lid and do it well, people say as well as the Lincoln which might be 250usd on Amazon but is 580nzd retail locally
2) Everyone thinks the head bands are weak/flimsy but for most it doesn't seem to be a deal breaker - will see what I think, I guess. Worst case I'll get a toolshed harness setup as a spare part and swap it in, as that's great.
3) The worst review said he LOVES the ADF so much that despite the TERRIBLE head bands, he bought spare bits after it got semi-crushed in the back of his truck. Many of his complaints were specific to heavy industry use, eg knobs bumped by breathing gear (I don't have any of that).
4) Same review said "spare parts from X" because same helmet, sure enough, it is, so below are a few more links
5) Another review compared the dual identity and said it was well regarded on some welding forum where everyone was raving about it

Links:

Tacklife product page: https://www.tacklifetools.com/product/p ... dex/id/125
HTP Striker Supreme XL page: http://www.usaweld.com/Striker-Supreme- ... remexl.htm
Replacement headgear from HTP: http://www.usaweld.com/Striker-Digital- ... adgear.htm
"On the recommendation of someone here or on WW I bought a Striker Supreme XL helmet and it is fantastic." http://forum.weldingtipsandtricks.com/v ... hp?t=13042 though this could be a shill
super annoying youtuber who in another video tacks with just his eyes closed reviewing it positively after getting it likely for free: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OA4gkwLOEA
discussion favourable but related to the other forum: https://www.tractorbynet.com/forums/wel ... met-4.html

AvE video showing ultra cheap vs lincoln, I like the high vis of lincoln in off mode, and couldn't find the striker/tacklife unit on the supplier site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDG9Mb2O3Ec and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fAXcSheP0E

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Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:11 pm
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Uh oh, found a 95x85mm Lincoln Viking 3350 locally for 200nzd in lightly used condition (near new) and pulled trigger. That was quick! :-o

Still curious about the Tacklife one, maybe I'll get one of those later to play with and for guests? We'll see.

Keen to get some serious welding done once it's in hand, but it's down the line a bit and will have to wait for it to find its way north at some point :-)

Review right here shortly after that!

_________________
DIYEFI.org - where Open Source means Open Source, and Free means Freedom
FreeEMS.org - the open source engine management system
FreeEMS dev diary and its comments thread and my turbo truck!
n00bs, do NOT PM or email tech questions! Use the forum!
The ever growing list of FreeEMS success stories!


Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:18 am
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