Good welding helmet

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Hello:

I’m trying to become a better mig welder and have a problem. I’ve got a Harbor Freight auto-darkening hood, model 61610:

https://www.harborfreight.com/blue-design-auto-darkening-welding-helmet-61610.html

Try as I may, I can’t quite get it adjusted well enough to see the weld puddle, or even where I’m welding. Does someone have a process they can cite or send me to, to adjust my hood to achieve a better setup? Or, is it not possible with this hood? The thing has over 3800 4 or 5 ratings, so I think it is me. I’ve tried light right in the welding area and zero light, with the same results.

Thanks for the help. Steve
 
What do you have the shade set to? I have trouble seeing the puddle as well, and usually run mine at a 9 for sheetmetal. I don't have a Harbor Freight helmet, I have a Jackson hood with a Prostar auto lens. These are the same lenses the welders at work use.
 
I have an Eastwood auto darkening helmet and it was better than my earlier Harbor Freight helmet. It has the dial settings as well and I think I keep mine around the 9 setting as well. I had a hard time seeing the puddle as well and picked up a Mig Light at Eastwood and it surprisely helped a lot. It's just a light that clips to the mig gun and shines on the spot that you are welding. It did take a little getting used to since it does jar out of position sometimes but I got used to it pretty quickly. Good luck.

Tom
 
I can’t comment on your setup. Hard to go wrong with a speedglas brand. I have had one for years and have found it to be robust, and the consumables are reasonable. I have a fresh stash of outer lenses in the toolbox.
 
Mine is set at 9. I see only the flash, and it’s almost impossible to see what I’m welding. I usually put the tip of the wire right in the metal seam before pulling the trigger. Otherwise, it’s a crapshoot what I’m welding. Bright light does help. I learned to weld in college, and those old flip helmets worked great, had no trouble seeing the bead, following the path I wanted, etc.
 
I had an IDF81 (not a cheap hood) and switched to the Lincoln 3350 and the difference was night and day. I don't know anything about the lens your hood uses, but when I was researching, I found that the Vulcan top of the line (sold at HF) had a very similar lens compared to the Lincoln. My concern with the Vulcan was battery related....I felt more confident I'd be able to get the internal battery replaced on the Lincoln. Much easier to see the puddle. What a difference that makes!
 
Hello:

I’m trying to become a better mig welder and have a problem. I’ve got a Harbor Freight auto-darkening hood, model 61610:

https://www.harborfreight.com/blue-design-auto-darkening-welding-helmet-61610.html

Try as I may, I can’t quite get it adjusted well enough to see the weld puddle, or even where I’m welding. Does someone have a process they can cite or send me to, to adjust my hood to achieve a better setup? Or, is it not possible with this hood? The thing has over 3800 4 or 5 ratings, so I think it is me. I’ve tried light right in the welding area and zero light, with the same results.

Thanks for the help. Steve
I have one of those HF helmets and it works fine. I personally don't use the helmets anymore, unless I'm welding underneath something. I buy one of those small self-darkening lenses and install them in the welder's safety goggles. You need enough surrounding light to see the project to start with. You should be able to see what you are welding through the lense fairly good then then watch it darken when you see the spark. My personal problem is my own eyesight isn't what it used to be, so I have to use reading glasses under the goggles or helmet to work the puddle.
 
As far as technique goes I have found that when I am stitch welding I look in from the side of the weld to sight the wire and the middle of the but weld. When I am seam welding I find I can see better if I am behind and over the gun and the puddle. I still keep my weld times short which also helps to prevent warpage. Hope this helps
 
Great suggestions, thanks all. What’s interesting to me is the significant price differences in the various helmets.

I think I’m going to take my existing helmet to the welding supply place and see what they think, since I need my tank refilled. Maybe they’ll pity me and help me setup the hood or show me why I need to buy one of theirs? Here’s hoping.
 
The cheater lenses do work, really well. I had some in my Miller Digital Elite that I used for years. I wear progressive lenses and looking through the upper portion I couldn't focus when close enough to see the puddle. The cheater lenses really did the trick for that. I have since upgraded to an ESAB Savage A40 helmet, and what a difference that made. Even without the cheater lens installed, the puddle is much clearer. It's not the cheapest, but it's not the most expensive, either, but it's by far, the best helmet I have used.
 
Thanks for the advice.
Ye, just because mine works fine doesn't mean you didn't get a lemon. I forgot about the opposite effect. If it's staying dark, it may be oversensitive to your surrounding lights. Perhaps you have a light nearby that is self-darkening before you add spark to it. Bringing it to the welding store for a 2nd set of eyes is a good idea, provided he's a welder and not just a counter dweller.
 
Actually, it’s too bright to see the puddle. In the before times, the very dark lenses of the tilt hoods, I had no problem seeing it. I’m sure part of the problem is the three different settings; I’m sure I must have screwed it up. And, I have special glasses that have a 12 to 18” focal length, great for computer work, close quarters car work and welding. So, I’m pretty sure it’s not my focus. It’s just too bright, it washes everything out.

I’ll be back next week to my Az place, and I’ll let you know what the guys at the welding supply shop say.
 

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