Need advice on choice of Tig machine

Two or three years ago, I planned to buy a Miller 180SD to weld thin-wall 4130 tubing, plus light aluminum--gas tanks and the like. Not
sure anymore why I went with that model instead of the Squarewave equivalent. Circumstances intervened--an unexpected move, settling-in issues, too much work (for too little money), and so on. Now, finally, I'm getting ready to go shopping, and there should be one or two new models out. What is the sweet spot in the market for that size Tig these days? Ernie? Anyone?
Many thanks.
Owen Davies
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Thermal Arc Prowave 185TSW. Inverter based, 185 amp, AC/DC Stick TIG with pulser/sloper/sequencer. Uses 30 amps of 220v single phase. Comes complete for about $1750.
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Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:

Thanks, Ernie. You are an amazing resource, and your willingness to help always is much appreciated.
Owen
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I am also looking to buy a TIG welder in the next few months. I have started with OA, and would like to do hobby work in aluminum and stainless. During my initial excitement I felt that life is too short to buy anything less than a Miller Dynasty 300DX with a water cooled torch and foot control. Then I have backtracked, thinking that I can save $2000 by backing off 100 amps to the Dynasty 200DX. Now I wonder if the Thermal Arc Prowave 185TSW is all I really need. I didn't see how you could adjust the frequency of the AC wave during TIG welding of aluminum on the Prowave.
I have waited in the last four years to buy any expensive shop equipment, trying to be prudent. And I have practiced diligently with OA on mild steel to learn the basics. But dammit if I don't find some way to start TIG welding soon life is going to slip by and I will be a bitter old man.
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MSU Spartan wrote:

maybe you can get one of those smaller MIG machines to work on aluminum & stainless (before you get too old)....
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It is adjustable.

The Dynasty 200DX is the best of the 200 amp AC/DC inverters, but the Thermal Arc Prowave 185TSW is $1000 less.
It costs a little more than the Miller Syncrowave 180SD and the Lincoln Precisiontig 185, but gives you more features while drawing half the power, and weighing under 60 lbs.
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I had the same dilema awhile back. I've got the Dynasty 200DX in my garage right now, With the water cooler, bottle, etc, the money adds up fast. I was caught up in the excitement of learning something new an splurged a bit, I take comfort in knowing that as a professional piece of euqipment, its not really depreciating while it sits there. I haven't struck an arc on it since December. I would probably do something different if I had to do it over again. Renting a machine for a couple of months would have been a good idea.
A friend taught me to use it, and he has the 300DX. He'd show me stuff on his at his shop and then I'd go home and practice. On the thin material I was using, the machines behave identically.
MHill
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Thanks for your advice! In this show-me-the-money world it's refreshing to see people freely offering their advice simply out of their enthusiasm for a subject.
With regards to MHill's comments, I agree, the total cost of ownership is much more than just the power unit. I was disappointed to learn that the argon becomes a significant cost at 20 cf/hr. And stainless and aluminum aren't cheap, either. However, some money can be saved. I have seen posts about using water pumps and 5 gallon buckets of water in place of a $500 Coolmate. I have also thought of renting, but here in St. Louis the only available TIG units from CK Gases (www.ceekay.com) are Synchrowave Tigrunners for $83 a day, $193 a week or $441 a month. That is a much better option if you have accomplished skills already, and just need the unit occasionally on a few projects. I will be moving to Sacramento, CA in July, and will try to enroll in courses at American River College. They have a course with 36 hours of lecture and 54 hours of lab on GTAW for only $78 dollars tuition. But like playing an instrument, I imagine lessons are best complimented by additional practice at home. It sounds like the Thermal Arc Prowave is the best choice. Unless someone has a used unit in their garage that they might like to sell ;).
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The welding classes are ARC fill up fast so don't delay submitting your registration while getting settled in or your may have to wait a year. Many of the classes are only offered once a year, then the next term is the next level up: ie Welding 101 in Fall, Weld 102 in the Spring (101 is a prerequisite).
MSU Spartan wrote:

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Do you mean squarewave or advanced squarewave.I just picked up a new 180 and it is a squarewave.Correct me if I missed what you were saying,this being my first tig.
Owen Davies wrote:

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MK1 wrote:

I meant the Lincoln Squarewave 175. It sounds like "advanced squarewave" may be a model that has come on the market since I last looked into this.
Owen
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: MK1 wrote: :> Do you mean squarewave or advanced squarewave.     --Silly me; what's the difference? How can something be more square than square? :-)
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : The other night I
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : dreamed about wasabi...
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