Introduction: Welding Mask Mods
Auto darkening welding masks can be bought relatively cheaply these days (under £20), and are great when they work!
Most of the cheap auto darkening masks are solar powered (eg charge up a rechargeable battery whilst in use from the bright welding sparks).
My problem, is that my mask does not get used very often, at best a few times a year. I dont want to have to leave it out in the sun to recharge for a few days before I use it.
Charging from the sun didnt work for me either, maybe the rechargeable batteries were too badly depleted. Its not worth risking your eyes on a dodgy LCD lens.
The rechargeable battery are sealed inside the lens unit, and they do not make it easy to prise apart to replace or recharge the batteries.
i decided to buy a replacement LCD unit, which contained a removable coin battery.
The other problem is not having enough lighting to see where I'm pointing the mig, before I pull the trigger. A mask mounted spot light is needed.
Step 1: Lens Unit Replacement
An easy mod.
Buy a replacement auto darkening unit WITH REMOVABLE COIN BATTERY.
These are a few quid more but worth it in the long term. The cheaper units contain a non replaceable embedded battery.
Just unscrew the old unit and darkening knob.
Replace with new unit and control knob.
Step 2: Add a 3W LED Strip
I fixed a 3W LED Strip to the front of the mask. This is also battery operated via a toggle switch and old mobile phone battery. This can be recharged using an external 18650 charger (see my other projects on this). All hot glued inside the mask.
Wow, plenty of light now, just where I need it, and its not bright enough to trigger the auto darkening lens.
It will need a plastic protector lens to prevent splatter on the LED unit.
Step 3: Happily Auto-darkened and Lit Ever After!
This mod works great, and you can always remove the battery if its going in long term storage.
It also seems to work without the backup battery, so must contain a solar rechargeable battery too.
You can test it using the test button, which is a bit awkward when the button is inside the mask.
I find it easier just to look at a bright light source and wave my hand in front of the lens, this causes it to flicker on/off. Thats re-assuring, just before you start your welding.