I’ve been for a weeks hammered by Vlada about replacing the PSU with a Welder. While I initially thought about this being not-that-good idea, after seeing my third PSU dead, I understood that it is a time to give it a go. I started reading about welders and ended up reading a lot. Welding was for me a completely new world to explore. I never thought that there is such a science behind all that!
However, while there are heap of materials on how welders are working, their types, materials they can weld, temperatures and how to operate those – there is (surprisingly) a very little info about them being used for the Hydrogen generation! If I’ll quote one of the Czech greatest minds – Jara Cimrman – I’ve been counting all of them and there were None! Not even any experience on using a welder as a power supply / transformer.
So absence of any information and experience made me bit reluctant to invest into this device. I’ve shared my concerns with Serge and he saved me again! Apparently there his old welder is past its life-time and he is willing to donate it for a good cause. Honestly – just couple hours later – Serge popped with his Compact 2 welder from Cigweld to our door.
Thank you Serge, you are my star! Being really upset about loosing my last PSU, this really meant a new light at the end of the tunnel. I instantly took an image of its data sheet to have something to think of.
As you can see, this welder is in its best years – being made in 1992 it is still more than 10 years younger than me. The worrying bit here is that 105Amps on 25% Duty Cycle – this is because with our hydrogen generator we have just and only the 100% Duty Cycle, nothing less. I’ve tried to Google some operating instructions / product specification for device, but looks like the Internet didn’t exist by then. Nice thing is that it fits into 10Amps socket and I can use it as a proof-of-concept before going serious with something else.
Playing it safe, I plugged it in and connected my multi-meter to measure Voltage. There was a big bump on a meter which ended up in a second on ~0.004 Volts. Having read that these welders operate on 40-60 Volts it made me bit worry about if it still does the job and I decided to look under its hood. It took couple minutes to remove its cover.
It is pure beauty, isn’t it? I really like simplicity of that whole device. Practically just a transformer with an industrial fan. I shared these images with Vlada who upset me quite instantly by stating that it has an AC and not DC output. That is quite set back.
There seems to be no obvious reason why AC (Alternating current) wouldn’t be suitable in a same way as the DC (Direct current), unfortunately there is a major one. As you see on the picture below alternating current keeps changing its poles based on its frequency (~230 Hz), while the direct current is not. This works for us in a way (on AC) that cathode and electrode are constantly swapping its positions and both produce both gases creating a mixture of Hydrogen and Oxygen at once.
There is a way to transform AC to DC. This process is known as rectification and the device doing so is called Rectifier. As visible on pictures above, Serge’s welder has none. Vlada proposed to build one for this experiment, but I’ve dropped it. The idea here is that we’ll use Serge’s welder for the proof-of-concept only and then I plan to get a new Welder Inverter which will produce for us the DC OOB.
One of the Serge’s welder’s clamps was damaged too much so I needed to get “8mm Non-Insulated Eye Terminal 6mm2 – Pk 8” from JayCar ($3.25). Rest worked out beautifully.
Running the device on low power I could instantly see ray of bubbles coming from both electrodes. To be sure I took an evidence of idle and engaged states on power meter.
Seeing this I was confident enough to ask my beneficent (Veronika) to sponsor a new – proper – welder. Browsing through available options I had already in my sight the “ROSSMARK 250Amp Welder MIG ARC MAG Gas Gasless DC Welding Machine Inverter” model.
First fascinating fact about this welder was that its price seemed to be somehow reduced from $399 to $119 at the moment I was shopping. It made me thinking about its quality and usability first, but I think that this is all ok as my plans for it are very dump – reducing all features to a plain transformer.
Second thing, even more interesting, was that it came with guaranteed 160A output on 100% Duty cycle. Well this is precisely what I am looking for! Ordering it online the shop stated that they’ll be shipping it a next business day and it should take 3-5 days to arrive from Sydney.
I can’t wait to see our new baby in action!