Disclaimer

This blog is for entertainment purposes only, and is not meant to teach you how to build anything. The author is not responsible for any accident, injury, or loss that occurs as a result of reading this blog. Read this blog at your own risk.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Tooling up" - AC/DC TIG welder


Last time Wade came over to visit, I sadly had to return my... I mean his TIG welding machine.


Good old Chinese TIG/Stick/Plasma unit


I enjoyed very much using it to build the roll-bar, and overall has been a great little machine to learn on. For a cheap Chinese unit ($400 on eBay), I have grown very accustomed to its reliability and ease of use, and it has earned 2 thumbs up from me.

While I was never able to get its plasma cutter side completely dialed in, since I never really had the need for it, that didn't hinder the usefulness of the machine, and thus the score it earned as a welder. I suppose I could have spent more time trying to figure things out, but as I just mentioned, I never had the need for it, so I mostly left it alone.

One thing worth mentioning is that Wade spent some additional money upgrading a few of the components after his initial purchase, like the ground clamp, gas regulator, etc., so the final price might have ended up closer to $500.

Although I hadn’t been welding in quite sometime, with the small Simadre gone, the loss of capabilities to the shop quickly became unbearable, and everywhere I turned I saw things I could have been welding. 

I decided to go look online for a welder I had seen featured on Weld.com and Kevin Caron’s YouTube channel, and when I found the last of these $850 welders (delivered) for $719 on Amazon.com with free shipping and no taxes, well... that just took the money right out of my wallet.

These units are literally flying out of the manufacturer’s door, so much so that when I contacted them, they told me they didn’t have any left, and to check on eBay!

One of the reasons I liked this welding machine is that it can weld using AC, as well as DC polarities, meaning that it is able to TIG weld steel and Titanium when set on DC negative, stick weld on DC positive, and TIG weld aluminum and Magnesium on AC.

Less than a week later a huge box showed up at my door...


I love coming back from a trip and finding a big box waiting for me


... containing my new welder.


"Man, this thing's huge!"

Rear fans are pretty quiet


All that came in the box


Upon unboxing it, I was delighted to realize how “heavy duty” everything was. The cables are thick, yet long and supple, and the plugs are humongous! The stick welder is massive, and the TIG hose is super flexible.

All cables and hoses are long enough I can probably weld all over my garage without moving the machine.

Also impressive is the completeness of this package, everything you need to get started is there (minus the gas bottle of course).  There is no need to go hunting down hoses and hose clamps, and everything fits right as it should the first time, no surprises.


Lots of good quality components


The unit comes already wired for 220 volts in order to deliver the full 200 amps, but an adapter plug allows you to connect to a 110 volts circuit which should yield around 150 amps at the torch, enough for 99% of the things I need to weld.


110v or 220v? You can make this choice on the fly, no rewiring necessary.


I like the round style regulator supplied with the unit, as opposed to the vertical column with the floating ball bearing inside, because I can tilt it to where it is easily readable from my welding table, instead of having to crouch down beside my cart to look at it.


Argon bottle pressure on the right, and pressure at the torch on the left.

Long gas hose connecting the Argon bottle to the back of machine 


The ground clamp is very important as it completes the circuit, and allows the arc to flow. In this case once again, it is solidly built, of generous dimensions, and with a much longer cable than I used to have. 


Sturdy ground clamp


The TIG torch looks adequate for most of the jobs I do, however I already own a torch with a flexible neck and a gas lens, so I plan on replacing this right away.


Fairly small torch (nice!)

Torch finger trigger

3/16" Tungsten, extra ceramic cups, 1/16" and 3/16" collects, and long stinger.


The pedal is all metal, feels very sturdy, and also has a lot of cable allowing me to travel around the shop to weld with ease.


Long cable and full metal pedal control


Standing on my welding cart it dwarfs it.


Did I mention this welder is huge?


The front panel is much busier that the “green machine”, this welder has enough buttons and dials to keep any pilot happy.


Mmmm, which one goes to the the flux capacitor?


All and all a great package. 





Back to basic - DC welding with the Alpha TIG 200X






Introduction to the 2013 Alpha TIG 200X






More on setting up the Alpha TIG 200X






Welding aluminum with the 2013 Alpha TIG 200X





Introduction to the 2014 Alpha TIG 200X





Tig and stick welding with the Alpha TIG 200X



Use of pulse while welding aluminum.





More pulse action while welding aluminum with the Alpha TIG 200X






Alpha TIG 200X maintenance






Mr Tig review #1: DC steel welding with the Alpha TIG 200X







Mr Tig review #2: AC aluminum welding with the Alpha TIG 200X





ChuckE2009 review of 2015 model






ChuckE2009 2015 welders comparison




UPDATE


I have had this machine for a couple of months now, and I have done some small jobs, and some custom fabrication with it.

I have to say that I am very happy with this unit. 

I have had a few issues with the foot pedal in the beginning, but company who sells them has been great to work with. They replaced the pedal for free the first time, and helped me adjust it the second time.

My first issue was that I could only start an arc occasionally when using the pedal, while it always worked well with the torch trigger. I discovered that an electrical connection in the plug was broken.



The metal cap screws onto the plastic terminal, space is limited, and one lug paid the price for all that twisting.

They put a new pedal in the mail right away at no cost to me. When I received it, I found that now I could never stop the arc!

A quick call with the engineers at Alpha TIG revealed that the pedal has a tab that depresses (or not) a switch in the pedal assembly. It is crucial that his tab is bent properly in order to engage the switch. 

I could now see that the tab was not making full contact with the switch, and they instructed me to bend it down slightly by hand. This worked, and I have had no other issues with it since.



Bending the tab was easy as pie


While it is true that this is something I shouldn't have had to deal with, in all fairness to Alpha TIG, this is a standard pedal that sells with a lot of other machines, and they are not the ones who make it. 


Pedal issues aside, this TIG has performed flawlessly, and there are no chances I will outgrow it anytime soon. 

I would definitely buy it again.



2 comments:

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the great details about welding, i really appreciate your research & knowledge in this domain.

    We are leading stainless steel welding company engaged in MIG Welding, TIG Welding,
    Stainless Steel Welding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome. More than a year into the purchase I still love it. It is even a better buy now, since the new units also come with frequency control (AC TIG mode).

      Delete