View Full Version : Harbor Freight Welding Helmet Repair

12-11-2013, 11:27 PM
As I had mentioned in this other thread http://forum.atomiczombie.com/showthread.php/8191-How-Do-I-Check-My-Auto-Darkening-Helmet I have been having problems with my Harbor Freight welding helmet. The auto darkening would quit working, in the middle of a pass, and the shade darkness was not adjustable. I had let the helmet sit for about 2 years without using it and I don't remember if the shade adjustment ever worked.

After some research on the web I found that these helmets have batteries in them, DUH! A "Rocket Scientist" like myself should have figured this out.:dunce2: The person on the web who did the write up on replacing the batteries used externally mounted, still in the helmet but not inside the sensor box itself, AAA alkaline batteries. I have a problem with this. The solar cell is supposed to recharge the batteries and alkalines are not supposed to be rechargeable. I thought about using rechargeable AAA's but they are only 1.25V so two are 2.5V and not the 3V of the original Lithium CR2330's.

What you will need to replace your bateries: 2 CR2330 batteries and 2 CR2032 battery holders, I got mine from Radio Shack. Radio Shack did not have the 2330's so I substituted 2032's. They are the same size and voltage but the 2330's have a higher amp hour rating. If I wasn't in a rush I would have ordered the batteries on line where they would have cost less than the $6.00 ea. I paid.

You will also need 4 pieces of about 22 gauge wire. They don't have to be red and black but you will need to keep track of which is positive and which is negative. These are 3.5" long. If I were to do this again I would make them about 5" to allow for more mounting location choices. Strip & tin the ends about 1/4" then curll 1 end into a hook.

Hook one end of each wire around the apropriate post on the back of the battery holders and solder them on.

When you are done you will have 2 battery holders that something like this.

Now pull the adjustment knob off of it's post. Remove the spatter shield from the front of the helmet (sorry no picture). The auto darkening module removes from the front of the helmet. Looking inside the helmet there is a clip that holds it on the opposite side from the adjustment post (it can be seen in some of the other photos). Pry the helmet away from the clip and push the module out the front of the helmet.

This is an after picture so ignore the wires sticking out of the side. In fact forget you saw them at all as they are in the wrong place. Using a small screwdriver or a knife pry the module apart at the seam.

When you get the back open this is what you should see. Don't pull too hard, you don't want to break the wires going to the dimmer control. This is about as far as you can move the back out of the way.

Use solder wick or a solder sucker to de-solder the batteries and remove them. WARNING: USE AS LITTLE HEAT AS POSSIBLE!!!!!!! The components are surface mounted and if 1 leg comes lose you probably won't get it back on the board! Take note of which terminals are the positive and negative for each battery.

I tested my bateries, 1 was 2.2V.

The other was 0.0V

Continued in the next post as there is a limit on images.

12-11-2013, 11:29 PM
Continued from above:

Solder the positive and negative wires to their appropriate pads, once again use as little heat as possible! Note that on MY unit, on the left side the positive wire is at the top but on the right side it's at the bottom. Yours may be different. DO NOT make holes in the side of the case. This is where I messed up, the wires need to exit out of the back of the module. You can make a hole and pass the wires through before you solder them (pain in the butt). Or you can use your soldering iron to make 2 small notchs in the back cover that run from the side to the back to let the wires exit out the back.

When you are done put the cover back on and you should have something that looks like this, except with the wires coming out of the back instead of the sides.

Re-install the module and secure the batteries. I used GOOP because I had some at the house.

Now test your helmet before you try to weld with it. Some ways to do this are described in the other thread mentioned in the beginning of this post. If you are satisfied it is working; Go out and weld something.

By the way mine is working fine. I ran a couple of beads and turned the adjustment knob while doing it. So that's the way it's supposed to work.:punk:

Just a note: If you decide to remove the head gear to help with this project, unscrew the side screws slowly and take note of where the pieces go. I'm still not sure if I got mine back together correctly but it seems to be holding everything in place.

12-12-2013, 05:02 AM

great thread thanks for this , no doubt we will all need to go down this road at some point !

12-12-2013, 08:30 AM
So what was cost for all the supplies?
And how long did it take?

Glad you were able to identify and fix the problem.


12-12-2013, 11:06 AM

Batteries $6 each = $12, holders $1.50 each = $3 Total $15. I later found batteries on line, eBay, CR2330's 2 for $2.50 and free shipping so your total cost would be only $5.50 with the holders. The 2330's have a higher amp rating so should last longer than the 2032's that I used. I had the Goop, wire, solder and iron already.

Total repair time about 1 hour. Now that I've done one I could probably do it again in much less time.

Before someone asks, CR2330 batteries have a 265 mAh rating and the CR2032 is 240 mAh.

12-12-2013, 04:06 PM
Thanks for that - great write up (for when mine will eventually pack-up, as they inevitably will...)
It is important to stress to use the right batteries - it is easy to get confused between 2032 and 3032 and all the other versions available - only use rechargeable ones!!

12-12-2013, 10:14 PM
Nice write-up. Mine had the same problem a while back and it was also a battery problem. I picked it up one day and kept getting flashed and it wouldn't charge. The thing I remember about the fix was how hard the two sides were to get apart without wrecking it. It was really glued together good. It has a couple cracks in it now. I hadnt thought of remotely locating the batteries. Great idea but if someone really wanted to do it on the cheap, it would just be the cost of a couple batteries.

Amazon also has them for under a buck a piece, shipped.

12-13-2013, 12:19 AM
Thanks. I'm confident a lot of us have at least one of the HF helmets.

One more question though, why didn't you use the battery holders inside the unit and simply replace the batteries by reusing the existing connectors? Future maintenance?


12-13-2013, 05:03 AM
One more question though, why didn't you use the battery holders inside the unit and simply replace the batteries by reusing the existing connectors? Future maintenance?


They don't look like battery holders to me ? they look as though they have tabs spot welded directly to the battery ?

12-13-2013, 10:11 AM
Some of those types of batteries (with tabs spot welded on to the battery) came up in the Amazon search but they were more expensive than using the holders so I'd either use the holders or carefully solder on my own leads. Some liquid tape would be good to brush on the back of the battery as well.

12-13-2013, 10:44 AM
After doing this I thought about just soldering wires to the batteries. It would work with a big iron and a quick application of heat. The first set of batteries lasted over 5 years so battery changes aren't frequent. If I get another 5 years out of these I'll be happy. The battery holders are too tall to fit in the module. I wouldn't want to mount them on the module as that would leave 2 shiny discs just in my line of sight, which might be distracting.

12-13-2013, 11:13 AM
This is a warning about soldiering batteries. On another forum there is a group building battery pack for an electric drag motorcycle. They were experimenting on how to attach batteries together. They had a couple different results
1) cold joint wire popped off
2) after good attachment the battery was dead
3) battery exploded spraying bits of battery all over
4) they got good connection and was able to move to the next
This was with soldiering wires on. Eventually they discovered a low amperage spot weld that was far more successful.
There were far too many batteries to place all in holders.
However with only two batteries a pair of holders will provide the best alternative to spot welding.
Just a thought and a warning

12-13-2013, 12:03 PM
We have several of the spot welding devices at work like the ones used to put the tabs on batteries. We use them for attaching strain gauges to steel. These devices are hard to come by so they have to rebuild them or cobble a good one together with parts from another from time to time. This would definitely be the way to go if you can get your hands on one (or can make one in true Zombie spirit).