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I Love This Tool: Hobart Inventor Series Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

Posted May 16, 2022 7:47 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: motorcycles Tools Welding

With all the YouTube tutorials you can watch, all the various welding machines with gee-whiz features you can buy, and all the local community college classes you can take, there are really just two key things you need to become a better welder: practice and an auto-darkening welding helmet.

Yeah, we've all seen those expert welders who make it look so cool when they do the hands-free head nod to flip their helmet down as they start showering the work surface in sparks. It's obvious they've spent years welding with a regular passive helmet, and they've found a helmet with the right fit, padding, and balance so they can line up their weld in plain vision and then pull the trigger almost immediately afterward. On the other hand, welding isn't about looking cool; it's about making and fixing cool things (and, when it comes to helmets, staying safe). An auto-darkening helmet makes that much easier, especially for beginning welders.

True, there's less to go wrong and there's no batteries to drain down with a passive helmet, but for somebody just learning how to weld, who might not yet feel comfortable holding the gun, positioning the tip, and getting their welds started, an auto-darkening welding helmet will remove so much of the frustration that makes beginners feel like they're flying blind and that subsequently keeps them from wanting to practice their welds. In fact, I'd recommend a beginning welder get one even before buying his or her first welder. That way they can get accustomed to the weight and fit of the helmet and start to dial in the filter's sensitivity, delay, and shade settings, perhaps while observing an expert or their instructor at work.

I am one of those beginning welders. I'd had a couple friends and acquaintances show me basic techniques here and there over the years, and I even bought a passive helmet at a tag sale for a buck and replaced its broken glass lens long ago in anticipation of getting a welder of my own. It wasn't until the initial pandemic lockdown, though, that I decided it was time to figuratively pull the trigger on buying a welder so I could start literally pulling the trigger on some metal fabrication projects for the Chenowth EV.

After a few test welds with the passive helmet, and after missing my mark too many times, I decided to switch to an auto-darkening helmet. My only real criteria were that it fit within my budget and that it didn't have goofy tribal graphics or flames like so many helmets seem to have these days (if I want my helmet to look customized, I'll customize it myself, thank you). While there's some super fancy helmets out there that look like something Spaceman Spiff might wear, the Hobart Inventor series seemed like it had a decent set of features for not a lot of money.

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#1

Re: I Love This Tool: Hobart Inventor Series Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

05/16/2022 2:57 PM

Old habits die hard. I still instinctively close my eyes for a moment as I strike an arc even with the auto-darkening helmet.

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Re: I Love This Tool: Hobart Inventor Series Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

05/16/2022 10:48 PM

Indeed! When I took a class in arc welding, 60 years ago, such helmets didn't exist. I was never able to strike the arc reliably in the right place, so I never took up arc welding. ...and Ive got too many irons in the fire to try now...

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Re: I Love This Tool: Hobart Inventor Series Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

05/17/2022 5:06 AM

I have recently taught my son-in-law to weld and given him an auto darkening welding helmet to make the lessons easier for both of us. My old habit is to shout "FLASH" before striking on arc, mig or tig. When wearing a helmet you don't always know if someone has walked up behind you. The habit is so ingrained that I do it even when I know that I am alone welding a closed workshop.

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Re: I Love This Tool: Hobart Inventor Series Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

05/17/2022 9:26 PM

One can be spoiled using the auto-darkening lense…

when I had the fab shop… 20 years ago. I had to step in and welding on a rush project.

As I was doing it, one of the fabricators, asked to try his auto darkening lense/helmet… loved it… and yes,… I blinked… was a little unsettled going back to my old helmet…

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Re: I Love This Tool: Hobart Inventor Series Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

05/17/2022 4:52 AM

I have several of these, not Hobart, but various other types and the best two I have have the super wide screens, no more squidgy little ones for me. Remember the old shields that you had to hold in one hand before the headband type? Ah the good old days. Been welding since I was young enough to hold a rod and burn a hole in thin plate.

Even made my first stick welder out of an old power transformer, which supplied the core and secondary as a primary with a specially wound secondary out of rectangular winding wire from a scrapped 500KVA transformer.

Now I have an inverter style one no bigger than a ladies handbag and not holding as much rubbish.

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Re: I Love This Tool: Hobart Inventor Series Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

05/23/2022 10:39 AM
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Re: I Love This Tool: Hobart Inventor Series Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

05/25/2022 9:35 PM

For those interested, here is a good explanation of how they work.

The main components are the two polarizer layers and the LC (liquid crystal) layer. Polarizers block light when oriented at 90 degrees and allow light to pass through when aligned. The LC layer rotates the polarization of the light by a certain angle, depending on the voltage applied. (It's the same technology used in an LCD computer screen.)

A light sensor controls the voltage on the LC layer to limit the light transfer when the welding arc is present.

https://weldingpros.net/how-do-auto-darkening-welding-helmets-work/

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