Suitcase Welder
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Thread: Suitcase Welder

  1. #1
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    Suitcase Welder

    I know, I know, it's not exactly a Miller but what the hey. It's "ho-made". I'd say it's better than a Chinese welder but every part in a Microwave Oven says "Made in China". It's putting out 42 volts, a little better than I hoped for. I don't have a way to measure the amps. Started with 6013 1/16th rods because I figured that would be about all it would do but it burns 'em right up so I'm going to try 3/32 today. The weld pic is it's first run and the first stick weld my son has ever done. We'll get better at it. Main thing is we had fun doing this and it cost just about nothing thanks to our throw away society. Thanks for the idea Llamafur.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    He-he, that's VERY KEWL!

    I'm glad to see the magnetron tube is not around. You wouldn't last long yourself if it was. Maybe you should add a statement like, "Do not try this at home, we are professionals."

    Steve
    Last edited by rookie_steve; 05-21-2009 at 10:23 AM.

  3. #3
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Ha ha ha... I'd like to see that get passed airport security as a carry-on!
    That's a good one!

    Congratulations on your build, thanks for posting it.

    Good Luck

  4. #4
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Very cool!

    A REAL "Suitcase" welder!
    Clueless and perfectly satisfied with it....

  5. #5
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    "Yes, Officer, I weld for a living. No, all those wires and transformers in my suitcase are NOT a bomb - it's my welding machine. Why do I have to come along with you? .......... Could you get this dog to stop sniffing at my crotch?"

    Great work. Llamafur, your Instructables homemade welder strikes again!

  6. #6
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    nice job

  7. #7
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    thats cooool, bout how much does it weigh?

  8. #8
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Tried 3/32 rods with the suitcase this afternoon and I think I found it's sweet spot. The 1/16 were just too small. But now on to the next problem. The damn thing really lays down a nice bead.

    Someone gave me one of those Matco made in Italy mig only welders some time ago. The gun is no good and the plastic drive mechanism is broken. It's not worth repairing. On the other hand it has a transformer about five times bigger than a microwave. I'm thinking this might make a pretty good DC stick welder. If it is DC. I guess that's my first question.
    My little Miller Sidekick Mig is DC so I assume this one would be too.

    Looking at it, it seems that if I disconnect the mig electrical parts what I'm left with is an on/off switch, a four position tap and a transformer. Nothing much else in there. I thought about just connecting my electrode holder and ground clamp to the secondary winding and go. That's about all that is involved with the suitcase deal. I'm a little reluctant though because I don't want to tear up the transformer. I figure you guys will know if this welder is DC or not, and if I'm just being stupid. I know you can buy a tombstone AC cheap enough but this is good father and son stuff. Feel free to make fun of me.

  9. #9
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Wonderful, 42 volts is also great too. whats going to be your first project?
    I'm a Hoss, and a Boss.

  10. #10
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Thanks Llamafur. We don't have a thing to do with it right now. Something will come up though. What do you think about the Matco transformer idea? I read on the Instructibles page that there was nothing wrong with using a bigger transformer if you had one.

  11. #11
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    the output from the transformer is AC, it gets rectified to DC by a full wave bridge then smoothed out by a big capacitor.
    I'm a Hoss, and a Boss.

  12. #12
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Quote Originally Posted by hvw View Post
    I'm thinking this might make a pretty good DC stick welder. If it is DC. I guess that's my first question.
    My little Miller Sidekick Mig is DC so I assume this one would be too.
    I haven't seen a schematic but.... it sounds to me that you are tapped into the secondary of the transformer, meaning that it is an AC welder. If you add some diodes and capacitors from the transformer secondary winding before going to the electrode then you would likely have a DC welder.

    And again, nice project.

    Steve

  13. #13
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    lets see some pic of the weld with the 3/32 rod

  14. #14
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Quote Originally Posted by rookie_steve View Post
    I haven't seen a schematic but.... it sounds to me that you are tapped into the secondary of the transformer, meaning that it is an AC welder. If you add some diodes and capacitors from the transformer secondary winding before going to the electrode then you would likely have a DC welder.

    And again, nice project.

    Steve
    here is a rectifier, it just needs a capacitor across the dc output.
    I'm a Hoss, and a Boss.

  15. #15
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Most MIG process I'm aware of is DC. There may very well be a rectifyer in the little MIG case. Lots of the self shielding MIG wire run DC- as opposed to DC+. Doesn't matter for a DC stick machine just wire out to a couple lugs so you can switch the work & stinger leads around for either.

    Be really nice if you can incorporate the amperage adjustment in the works.

    If the Matco will still fire up really all you should need to do is connect a stinger to where the mig gun hooked up. Jumper the MIG gun trigger wires together inside the case & go welding. You might also want to unhook, remove entirely, to lighten the unit, the feed motor.
    IF IT WORKS, DON'T FIX IT

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  16. #16
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    This is a photo of the Matco. I've removed the mig gun and wire feed control. The windings on this machine are aluminum rather than copper like the suitcase. Even though the Matco transformer is much larger it gets much hotter. Suitcase really doesn't heat up.

    The welds in pic 2 are from the suitcase. I'd like to make the Matco a DC if it isn't already since I really don't need two homemade AC welders. We undid the two large secondary wires and wired the stinger and ground directly to them. I don't know if the gizmo they're attached to in the photo is some kind of DC deal or not. I guarantee you everyone on this board knows more about welding than me so any thoughts will be appreciated.
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  17. #17
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Quote Originally Posted by llamafur View Post
    here is a rectifier, it just needs a capacitor across the dc output.
    Yup, that would be a DC welder then. KEWL

    Steve

  18. #18
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Quote Originally Posted by hvw View Post
    We undid the two large secondary wires and wired the stinger and ground directly to them. I don't know if the gizmo they're attached to in the photo is some kind of DC deal or not. I guarantee you everyone on this board knows more about welding than me so any thoughts will be appreciated.
    Hmmmm,... Llamafur has the right schematic to change this from AC to DC BUT you will need to get hold of 4 diodes (or a bridge rectifier) and oil filled tin-can capacitors that can handle the current. I would suggest something along the line of 50 to 100 ampere capacity (shoot for the high side), otherwise they will burn or worse, explode! And pay attention to polarity (+ and -). Voltage ratings (go high) and polarity should be marked on the rectifier and capacitors. They aren't cheap unless you can salvage something.

    Steve
    Last edited by rookie_steve; 05-21-2009 at 10:10 PM.

  19. #19
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Yikes! All that is probably going to mean it'll just stay AC. Way beyond my grasp.

  20. #20
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Those aluminum plates sure look like heat sinks for diodes. post a picture showing the stuff bolted to the plates better
    -- fred

    Lincoln 180C MIG

  21. #21
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    MIG is DC, so somewhere 'downstream' of the transformer in the Matco should be the rectifier part of the machine.

    I'll guess that the rectifier (diodes) are probably on the large flat aluminum plates above the air vent in your picture.

    But unless you rewind the Matco transformer, the output voltage is probably going to be too low for stick welding.

    Also, please be safe with all the experimenting and such. Your totally open machine does have potentially lethal electrical levels out in the open there, and having a cloth suitcase next to a sparking/spattering stick weld is possibly a way to have a flaming suitcase.

    There's a reason why welding machines are typically made with metal cases. It protects the machine and the user.

    Have fun, but be safe.
    The best laid schemes ... Gang oft agley ...

  22. #22
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    Quote Originally Posted by MoonRise View Post
    I'll guess that the rectifier (diodes) are probably on the large flat aluminum plates above the air vent in your picture.
    That could be the case where the high current diodes are available in the MATCO, however, he still needs the high current capacitors that are obviously NOT in the photo. The high-current capacitors I am referring to would each be about the size and shape of a beer can. And maybe two or three of them. The diodes only roughly change the AC to DC but do not SMOOTH out the output current as it should be in actual DC current. In other words, you would have a DC voltage with a rising and falling AC current riding it, without using the capacitors. I don't know why anyone would design it without the capacitors unless it was to save money, because IMHO it would be very erratic at best. Maybe that's what they did and now doesn't work - no surprise. But it's the capacitors that cost a lot and are subject to exploding if not the correct design.

    And this all needs to be BETWEEN (in series with) the transformer and electrode. It cannot be somehow "attached" to the circuit.

    Steve
    Last edited by rookie_steve; 05-22-2009 at 12:59 AM.

  23. #23
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    what about caps for a stereo system? they are big and handle lots of current. Don't know on the voltage though 20-24v or higher maybe? I guess I don't know what voltage is needed for stick.

  24. #24
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    I love it!

    "Do you have a suitcase welder I can borrow?"

    "Of course, here!" *hands over suitcase*

    "The hell?!"

  25. #25
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    Re: Suitcase Welder

    THAT

    IS........

    SPARTAAAAAAAHHHH



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