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Lincoln Electric Darkfire Autodarkening Welding Helmet Information

welding helmet autodarkening helmet quit storing a welding helmet

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#1 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted December 30, 2016 - 03:21 PM

A few years ago I purchased a Lincoln Electric Darkfire Autodarkening Welding Helmet and it has worked great for me up until this week.  I use it periodically when I weld with my MIG welder - sometimes two or three times a week and sometimes it sits on the shelf for a month or two at a time.  I try and treat it with respect as I have heard stories where people have dropped a helmet and the module quit working.  When not in use I store it on a shelf in the shop that is not heated and the shelf location does not allow the helmet to be exposed to a lot of light if the lights are not on.  I mention these facts as I thought I would share some information on the module and  why the helmet quit working in my opinion - lack of constant exposure to a light source.  I am making this post not to complain but to educate other owners of similar autodarkening helmets (Lincoln or other brands) about making sure you store them in an area that gets adequate light to keep the batteries charged. 

 

I tried to use the helmet earlier this week for a small welding job and it did not appear to be darkening so I did some reading as to what could be wrong with it and the most common answer appears to be the batteries going dead from lack of being charged.  According to the instructions and the advertising my helmet was solar powered and there is no battery that requires replacement.  They do mention not to store the helmet in a dark cabinet or other storage area for long periods - what they do not mention is this is because there are two Lithium 3 volt batteries inside the helmet that need to be charged by the solar cell array or they will eventually go dead.

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  • .5 Lincoln Darkfire Welding Helemt.jpg

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#2 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted December 30, 2016 - 03:32 PM

I placed the helmet in a well lit area of heated shop today and left it for a couple of hours and tried it but it still would not autodarken so I decided to remove the module and try and take it apart to see if there were batteries inside and if so what the voltage readings were.

 

I do not recommend that you try and take the module apart as it is a sealed unit and unless you are electronically inclined you probably will not be able to repair it if you try and you may hurt yourself or damage the screen.

 

For those who are curious I used a sharp utility knife and cut along the seam where the module halves were joined and used a small flat screwdriver to pry the two halves apart at the seam and break the bond - if you try this be very careful as you could slip and cut yourself with the sharp knife or damage something inside - you have been warned.

 

Here are pictures of what the module looks like inside - as you can see there is a circuit board above the screen and two 3 volt lithium batteries #CR2335 that have solder tabs and are soldered to the circuit board. 

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  • 1 Lincoln Auto Darkening Module.jpg
  • 2 Module Seam Cut.jpg
  • 3 Circuitry And Battery Locations.jpg

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#3 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted December 30, 2016 - 04:00 PM

I did a voltage reading on the left battery and got a reading of 3 volts and then I measured the battery on the right which measured 1.51 volts - not good.  As I was measuring it I noticed the reading increased a little bit so I continued to measure the voltage and noticed that it was continuing to climb so I set the module aside with the solar array exposed to the shop light and did some other things.  About two hours later the voltage had reached 2.60 volts so I decided to try a test to see if the screen would autodarken so I tried using a trouble light pointed at the two light sensors on the front of the screen but it would not darken.  I wanted a couple of pictures of the front of the module so I took a picture with my camera which uses a flash if the light is not adequate - when the camera flash went off I noticed the screen autodarkened for a second and then it went back to the non darkened state.  I now knew the module still worked and that it was a battery voltage problem that had caused it to stop working.  Some of the articles I had read said the module uses two batteries because the circuitry requires a positive and negative power supply to operate and that the negative side uses very little current compared to the positive side which explains why the one battery was still around 3 volts and the other one was about half voltage.  I have put the two halves back together with scotch tape and set it in the window in the house to charge for a day or two and will see if the one battery charges back up to the three volts it should be - I know when the screen darkened while I was testing it the voltage dropped down from 2.60 to about 2.40 volts so the battery made have been damaged to the point where I will have to replace it with another 3 volt supply or buy a new helmet.  Since I like to fix things, am cheap and already have the module apart I will probably try and find another way to power the module - some of the searches I did show people have replaced the coin style batteries with 2 AA or AAA battery holders mounted elsewhere and ran wires from them to the module.  I did some research and the CR2335 has a current rating of 300 mAh which is higher than most 3 volt coin style cells and I am not sure how hard it would be to find the style with the solder tabs on them. 

 

Hope you find this information useful and remember -

 

Store your helmet where it is exposed to a light source if you are not using it everyday to keep the batteries inside charged!

Attached Thumbnails

  • 4 Left Side Battery.jpg
  • 5 Right Side Battery.jpg
  • 6 Front Of Module.jpg
  • 7 Front Of Module.jpg

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#4 petrj6 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 30, 2016 - 04:07 PM

    I weld for a living and obviously use a helmet every day and my experience has told me to look for helmets with replaceable batteries.  Almost all welding helmets have solar chargers in them to keep the batteries up but no battery is good forever.  3m makes the best auto hood by far in my experience otherwise I use a standard Jackson.  Thanks for the input, I never really thought about keeping the helmet in the light. 

                                                                                                                                                      Pete


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#5 hamman OFFLINE  

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Posted December 30, 2016 - 04:11 PM

Great write up and awesome information. Several years ago I purchased a auto darkening helmet from HF. In the instructions it said not to store the helmet in direct light. Not sure why but I suspect so it doesn't use the batteries to auto darken the screen. Now I have used it for MIG and Stick welding and it worked great for a $ 39.00 helmet. I store it face down on a cloth and then I keep my welding gloves in side and then I fold my welding jacket in on top of the gloves. Recently i was talking with my BIL and he said he just bought a bout storing it. He said his was one that used ambient light to charge the batteries???? Well I was surprised about that. Can't find my instructions for my helmet but it still works. I don't use mine near as often as you do but I test it every time I use it to make sure it still works before I go ahead and weld. Thanks for the information.                                                                                                                                   Roger


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#6 ol' stonebreaker OFFLINE  

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Posted December 30, 2016 - 04:56 PM

  My Speedglas doesn't have a solar cell and the replaceable battery is still working good after 5-6 yrs. It also has auto-shutoff.

                                            Mike


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#7 propane1 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 30, 2016 - 05:51 PM

I store mine under a terry cloth type towel, to keep the dust and paint over spray off of it. It's also by a window, and I would think some light would get through. Have had the helmet for about 10 years or a little less and no problems yet. Auto darkening helmet makes welding so much nicer. And because it's a shade 4 while it's not in darking mode, you can use it for gas torch welding and cutting. Just my two cents worth and two cents ain't worth much these days.

Noel

Oh, and thanks for the info, Stew.

Edited by propane1, December 30, 2016 - 05:55 PM.

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