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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been looking at getting another welder for a while. I finally bit the bullet.

I got my new unit in today. It's a Thermal Arc 185 ACDC tig welder. Like the name says, 185 amps, a/c and d/c. It's an inverter type welder, and weighs only 37 pounds. It has adjustable frequency and balance on a/c, and it will go down to 5 amps output. It also has pulse, slope, and other programmable features.

It's replacing my Miller Econotig. It has served me well and still works like the day it was new. And it enabled me to learn and use tig welding. But it only goes down to 30 amps on the bottom side, and there's no adjustability on a/c, or for that matter much of anything else.

Things I've been frustrated with on the Econotig were that it didn't have an amperage adjustment on the panel for amperage - so the foot pedal is always 0 to max over its travel. That and the minimum amperage is 30 amps, so you have to weld pretty fast on sheet metal. And I think the frequency and balance adjustability will help me on thin aluminum.

So I'm looking forward to a test ride this weekend. I have to get a new electrical outlet that accepts the plug on the unit, and it's too late to do that and get it done tonight. So instead I'm talking about it here and reading the manual.

This welder is comparable in features to the Miller inverter welders that sell for about 50% more than the one I bought. Mine is made in Italy not China.

You can buy a Miller 200SD transformer type welder for about the same $$$ as this unit or even a bit less, with close to the same control and output features. I thought long and hard about buying that one. But the size, weight, and efficiency of the inverter unit is a plus.

Last thing, I bought a Miller Elite auto-darkening welding helmet to go with it. That may get a test drive tonight with the mig.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I just got done doing the first test drive on the new welder and helmet and I'm very pleased so far.

The Miller helmet is pretty awesome. I've only done a few welds and it works very well. I never had that "head nod" and helmet adjustment down pat - now I don't have to any more. :)

The Thermal Arc fired right up after I got power and everything else hooked up. I was able to set the controls with no problem, and do a couple of test welds on a thin piece. I have a LOT more control over the welding process, and I'm sure it only gets better.

Tomorrow I'm going to weld some sheet metal, maybe even try some aluminum. I may try some pulsing and other things too. This thing has so many settings and so much adjustability, where previously I had little. It's going to take a while to learn and use to its potential.

The only question I have now is why didn't I pop for this stuff 2 or 3 years ago or longer.

I do think these purchases will make me a better welder. Expert no. But on the road to doing better.
 

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I never had that "head nod" and helmet adjustment down pat - now I don't have to any more. :)
It took me a while to NOT do that. Even with the A/D helmet down, I'd do the "nod" before I'd start to weld. :redface:

Enjoy the welder, have fun! :smile:
 

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Rick,

I think that's the exact machine I learned to tig with. Is it a purple/maroon color? Anyway, the school I went to for tig had a bunch of the Thermal Arc
inverters and the instructor said that they were super reliable.

The instructor welded for NASA and did some amazing aluminum welding
with one of those machines.
I found it very easy to use and dial in.

Enjoy!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Geoff, yes it's the one you describe with the purple/maroon color. I think I did enough homework to know this was a good machine.

I got too wrapped up in football today to do another test drive. What small time I spend in the shop will be on the car. Maybe some more welder demo tomorrow.

One interesting thing I noticed yesterday. The HF start on DC is silent at the weld compared to the old welder, but it makes the junk fluorescent lights flicker! Fortunately I only have a couple of those left.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I finally did a little bit of aluminum welding. One nice thing about the inverter is that you can use a pointed tungsten instead of a balled one, and that enables a narrower weld bead on sheet metal.

Still practicing, maybe I can do something worthy of a photo before too long.
 
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