Review EWM Picomig 180 Puls - Single Phase

  1. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,018
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    Had an early Friday finish today and it's nearly Christmas so I picked up a EWM Picomig 180 Puls.

    20181222_083543.jpg

    I will do a bit of a write-up on why I went for this machine and some things I have found out when researching it.

    If you just want to get into the actual review & pics then it will start a couple of posts down!

    1st note if you are looking for info on these, is that EWM spell it Puls not Pulse and you will get more results on a google search if you look for both spellings!


    Background:

    I would class myself as a hobby welder, I am self employed and although I use welding a few times a month for my 'day' job the majority of the welding is done in the workshop in evenings or at the weekend. Tig, Mig and Stick, Anything from 0.5mm Saucepan Handles to 50mm digger bucket teeth.

    My reasons for getting this machine are below and please bear in mind that my review is based against those reasons only. Also, I have never MIG welded alloy before so I would like to point out that this is my experience with how I get on with the first few uses.

    Also, I will only really be reviewing my impressions of the machine, and its use on MIG welding alloy. I expect I will try steel and stainless MIG at some stage but I am not planing to use the Tig or Stick parts of it. If anybody wants me to try something let me know as it takes me a while to get round to it!

    The official EWM promotional video:

    says the machine is ideal for car work or hobby welders so I am expecting it to be fairly simple to set up and use and have good parts support and service available as required.

    Personally, I think the price of this machine puts it outside of the hobby zone. There are a few functions (will go into later) that could justify this machine to the car repair industry. The main advantage I can see is that it is single phase. To be honest, If I had 3-phase power at the moment I would not even be looking at it but, as it is, I am working with what I have. I know there are plenty of other options at various other price points. I also know that a single-phase machine from a well regarded brand will sell easier and for more money than a no-name and I know it will be easy to part-ex it for a bigger machine with any welding dealer if I do get 3ph in the future.

    If I do encounter problems with anything I will post it up and make it known just how easy or hard it is to sort out.


    Although I do own and have used other welders and I have also compared various other machines before choosing this one I am only going to talk about this machine as it is or compared to a generic mig/tig welder rather than any direct comparisons against another branded machine to make sure I don't upset anybody by claiming my welder is better than yours because...

    Also, The only prices I am going to use are the prices on the EMW web store as they stand today. I presume these are the official retail prices. Any I quote will be £GB Including vat. Any other discounted prices I quote will be online published prices from official UK dealers.

    Please don't bother sending me pm's telling me I could have bought it for half the price from eastern Europe or from your mate who imports them directly..



    So, Why did I want it?

    There are a few items I make to order every now and again that I sell, These are the main justification for the purchase as I will make bit of the cost back with these.

    I have been using an A/C Tig with pulse to weld up boxes from 2-3mm thick 5251 sheet. Normally the Tig takes me 3-4hrs or so to weld one up.

    Clamping everything in place is a mission as I can't tack one-handed with the Tig. The welds also need to be cosmetically pleasing as well as functional. For this reason I would normally only attempt to weld one or 2 a day at a weekend. I am hoping that I can save an hour by being able to just hold the parts in place and tack it up quickly, then weld the whole thing in maybe another hour.

    If I can do a couple in 2 evenings in the week and get a day back at the weekend I will consider this a good investment!!

    I also get asked to do alloy welding odd jobs on a fairly regular basis. I expect currently I turn more than half of those down as I know they are going to take me hours to Tig and either I don't have the time or they would not want to pay me for the amount of time it would take.

    I do have some potential automotive jobs for this machine that, if I can operate it correctly, would make a reasonable amount of return on it.

    There are also plenty of things I would just like to make for myself which I might get round to if I can do them a bit quicker!

    A lot of my projects have been made from steel when I would have preferred to use alloy, mainly because they are 1-offs, and the ability to hold them in place with one hand and give them a quick tack means it actually gets finished on the day I started!



    So, to sum it up,

    I want to be able to tack weld alloy with one hand & make pretty looking welds on 3mm sheet!

    This should also be a substantial upgrade to my 15yr+ old transformer MIG (although that is a 280a machine so I wont be selling it just yet!

    Like most of my tools, once I know what it and the operator are capable of I can find jobs for it afterwards!
     
    Hood likes this.
  2. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,018
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    The Research:

    So, after looking up most of the details I can find on the Picomig I came up with the following (anybody can feel free to correct me if any of this info is wrong), Starting off with what I could find out before purchase and now, with the machine on site..

    There are currently 4 versions of the Picomig 180.
    It is available in 2 form factors, 180 and 185. Both machines are electrically identical (both 180a max). The 180 will take a 200mm wire spool and the 185 is larger and will accept a 300mm spool. Bare weights are 16kg and 23.8kg respectively.

    A 2kg alloy spool in the 180 plus the gas hose and torch etc. will take the weight to somewhere around 20kg. I don't know how much a 300mm spool weighs but I would expect the 185 to be around the 30kg mark when loaded.

    Both the 180 and 185 are available with a choice of 2 panels with the following designations:

    M 1.83-A, This is the panel with the pulse functionality

    M 1.83-B, This is the Non-Pulse Version

    The A Version has MIG/MAG , MIG/MAG pulse , TIG , MMA , forceArc puls® , rootArc® , rootArc puls®
    The B Version has MIG/MAG , TIG , MMA , rootArc®

    There is also an untitled row in the descriptions chart on the EWM site that list a number of '73' for the non-pulse and '122' for the puls panels. I am presuming this may be the number of settings or adjustments available on each panel but that's just a guess?

    Further details about the forceArc & rootArc Processes here:

    https://www.ewm-group.com/en/innovation-research/mig-mag-welding-procedure.html

    Prices are:
    180 Non-Pulse £1920
    180 Pulse £2454
    185 Non-Pulse £2304
    185 Pulse £2838

    EWM Call the Non-Pulse version 'Synergic', The Pulse version has both Synergic and pulse but is only referred to as the 'puls'
    These prices are for BARE machines. They have the suffix 'TKG'. The kits have the suffix 'SET'
    After talking to a few dealers it sounds like they all stock bare machines and add any extra bits in during the sale. If you already have welding kit then it would make sense to buy only what you need. If you want the whole kit then talk to a dealer about that as ewm do provide part numbers on the website for packages at discounted rates.

    The various puls functions adds £534 to the price of the Synergic.

    There are some noticeable variations in the 'descriptions' of each spec machine on the ewm site. For example,
    The 180 versions says it has a 4-roll Swissfeed feeder for 0.8 & 1mm wire
    The 185 versions says it is equipped with a EWM e-feed Feeder and rollers for 1.0 & 1.2mm wire.
    The extra/spare part rollers for both machines are different although I could not find any other information on the roller systems fitted to the 180 vs the 185. The rollers for the 185 are about 10% more expensive than the 180's (*more on that below*)


    Initial talks with dealers and reps pretty much told me the only differences between the 180 and the 185 was the spool size. I did not notice the difference in the roller specs until after I got the machine home but more on that later..

    Out of the 4, only the 180 Synergic states it has “High mains voltage tolerance +15%/-40% and therefore fully generator-compatible“ although the 'tech-specs' lists minimum generator requirements for each one suggesting they are all safe to use with a suitable (min 8kva) generator.

    It's also worth noting that at this time, there are a further 2 versions available for purchase from UK dealers. These are a 180 and a 185 but both fitted with a M 1.81-A Panel. This has both Synergic and Puls.
    I could not find this panel on the EWM website nor could I find a manual to download. Dealers have told me it is an older version of the M1.83-A Panel. Looking at the specs where this version is for sale it seems to have exactly the same specs as the current machines.
    The obvious visual difference is there is only 1 led display (current version has 3 displays) and panel layout is slightly different.

    I have not found a list price for this version or any local stock. It is available online at a decent discount over the 1.83-A version which would suggest that it's discontinued.
    I obviously wanted the latest and greatest and presumed 3 displays would be 3 times better. Read more later on as I will explain why I now think it might possibly be a decent saving...


    In Summery, I selected the 180, rather than the 185 for the following reasons:

    Portability - It's under 20kg with an alloy spool in it, I can carry that for a fair distance in one hand, That means I can hold the power/gas/torch leads in the other. It's small enough that I can use my elbow to open a door and walk through without bashing it on the door frame.

    I don't do enough welding to need to buy the big spools. Although I will pay a bit more per kg of wire for the 200mm ones the initial cost of each spool is lower.

    If I wanted to use every type of wire supported by the programs in this machine I would need 9 spools. At the moment I have bought 2 grades of alloy wire and need to get a roll of steel and I expect I will want to try it on stainless as well. So that's 4 spools and it's going to save me a few quid buying the 200's rather than the 300's.
    *One note on that, I think the 180 will only take 200mm drums (internally at least, more later) It does not look like you can fit the tiny little hobby size reels although I might look into this at some stage. The manual says “Spools Up to 200mm”

    I do not know about the 185. Thinking about it I expect it would take either 200 or 300 rolls so the cost saving on the wire outlay may be a moot point.*

    Another factor is the alloy wire needs to be kept clean. I have a vacuum packing machine that I can fit the 200 in but not the 300.

    Cost, The 180 is £384 less than the 185.

    Also, The 180 has an entrance round the back for an external spool. So you can have a 300mm roll and feed it into the machine.

    Ewm sell a trolley with a enclosed holder for 300mm drums. This is £387.60.

    So, If you wanted to use 300mm rolls you could buy the 180 and the trolley/holder and only pay £4 more than buying the 185. This would get you trolley base and the wheels as well! You would then have the advantage of both the bigger spools and the portability once removed from the trolley.

    Also worth pointing out, the 185 can take a wire guide for an external drum feed which is not offered for the 180. I would think that if you do enough welding to need 200kg+ of wire you might be looking at a bigger welder anyway?

    Finally, As the 185 shares the same panel as the 180 but has a bigger case, there is a dead area around the panel. The 180 looks like it should do. The 185 looks like it's got the wrong size panel in it. I know this makes no practical difference but I like things that look nice. I just don't like the look of the 185. It looks like ewm designed the 180 as a nice looking welder. They then realised they couldn't fit a 300 spool in so added some extra bits of casework to make it big enough for the 185.


    Warranty:
    This is 3yr with 5yrs for the Transformer and Rectifier. I don't know if this thing even has a transformer in it but if it does it's covered!

    Having said that. The Actual warranty on it as supplied is only one year.
    You need to register it online within 30 days of purchase to get the 3 year warranty.
    You also need to have it 'serviced and inspected by an authorised ewm dealer' once a year for the warranty to remain valid. I did not find out the price of the service but I will update this info later.

    After reading through the terms I noticed that “automation and mechanisation components” are only covered for one year along with “inverter power units”
    I would like to think that the wire feed etc. is not classed as a mechanisation component and also the main PCB of this thing is not an 'inverter power unit' but hopefully one of the ewm guys on here will chip in and clarify that?

    First 3 years cover parts and labour, years 4&5 are parts only.
    You need the original invoice for a claim in yr1 and the warranty certificate (that you will be sent after registration) and original invoice for claims in yr2 onwards.

    There is no mention in the booklet regarding the transferring of the warranty. It does not state that it applies to the original purchaser only so I would think that supplying the original invoice etc. should be enough to make a claim if needed.

    Various sources (forums mostly) have said that the ewm warranty is a 24/7 warranty, they warranty a machine that is used 24hrs a day for 3yrs.

    I can not find any reference to this from an official source though! I don't know how they would keep track of how many hours you used it for if it only had a 12/5 warranty on it? Unless it's got an hours counter that can be accessed by service techs?
    If it does have such a thing then rather than have a 26k hrs / 3yr warranty, I would be happier with 5k hrs / 10yrs!!
     
  3. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,018
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    Anyway, Lets play with it!!

    So, What do you get if you just buy the bare unit?
    Just the bare unit, The instructions/warranty booklet and that's it.

    It does have a pair of steel rollers for 0.8 & 1mm Fitted along with a pair of plain followers.

    I was expecting to see a dust cap over the euro connector and maybe even the open dinse sockets. The manual does state that the dust covers must be fitted at any time when the socket is not being used so I presume they are supposed to be supplied, but have not been fitted . They are on the emw site as accessories for a couple of quid so I might get 2 just to cover up the open dinse sockets on the front of the machine.

    If you buy this machine bare, be aware that the dinse sockets are the smaller size and you need to plug your earth/return into one of them. Stick Holder would need to be the same.

    First Impressions:
    So, first impressions are good.
    When you first pick it up it feels like a quality machine.

    The handle is a smooth hard plastic with a contoured grip. There are no soft-grips to perish or get filthy after a few uses. There is enough room to get your hand in with a welding glove on. The handle is fitted onto a steel bracket with a slot for a carry strap (not supplied).

    With a 2kg spool of alloy wire fitted the balance of the machine is near on perfect. If you ever have to carry a 20kg welder any distance this is something that you will appreciate more than you realise.

    When carrying, the dimensions put the bottom of the machine just above my knees so its easy to walk around without bashing yourself in the legs.

    The outer casing is a tough rubber/plastic over all edges so the metal panels should be nicely protected from any bumps or scrapes on the edges.

    4 protection strips are fitted to the sides held on by stainless fastenings which look like they have some threads in and may be prefect for mounting a torch or cable tidy into.

    The whole base of the unit is plastic, 2 rubber feet are fitted to the front of the unit and there are 2 small rollers/wheels on the back. I am not really sure what use the wheels are. If you had it on a shelf under a bench then it might make it easier to pull it forward but there are no handles or grab points on the front of the unit to pull it with?

    The metal side panels are finished in a stippled powder coat or baked paint finish. This has been applied very well and appears to be a nice thick coating.

    Not counting the ewm badges there are 5 stickers on the outside of the machine. Non of them are useful.

    Bit of a pet hate of mine, I don't like taking them off as you never know if they are going to come off cleanly. I don't want to waste an hour trying to remove adhesive residue. I don't want to rip them off quickly and leave the residue to attract dirt instantly. I don't want to leave them on there as in 5 years time they will be falling off and the paint will have fade marks. Anal problem I know, but it irks me. On the upside, they have all been applied nice and straight. I know, I checked.

    There are 2 laminated cards on a dog tag chain attached to the handle. I was expecting these to be a quick-start or settings guide but they are information on setting up the rollers and torch liner etc.

    This information is not included in the manual so it's possible that it's a bit of an after-thought. It would be nice to have those cards as a guide to the JOBS or front panel buttons or something.

    Serial Number is on another tag wrapped around the handle as well as one of the stickers on the side of the machine. It would be nicer to see the serial number stamped or engraved somewhere on a machine of this value.

    Back panel is the same tough plastic, The power switch, gas feed and power cable are the only things on the back of the machine.

    All of these protrude slightly, The power cable is fitted via a skin-top with strain boot, this is a good quality H07 cable 2.5mm. Specs said it should have a 3.5m power lead, mine only measures in at 2.8m so maybe they got to the end of the roll when building my one?

    The power switch has a brittle plastic looking face and a fairly flimsy dust boot and is a bit loose in its hole. Gas inlet is via G1/4 Male Threaded.


    Front panel is where all the interesting bits are,
    The Control panel is mounted at a nice angle and well recessed and protected by the plastic edging. There is no cover supplied for the panel and it does not look like there is any provision for fitting one.

    Below the panel is the euro torch connector,
    Polarity is selected via dinse plug coming from a skin top fitting on a short length of cable and 3 dinse sockets marked +, - and O

    This is a bit of an odd set-up in my opinion.
    Firstly, it looks a bit cheap and tacky. Whilst I appreciate it may add substantially to the cost to do this electronically inside the unit it just looks a bit odd with the random cable sticking out the front. To be fair, once the torch and earth lead are fitted it is not really going to be an obvious issue.

    The socket marked 'O' seems to be a 'parking' position for the lead when not in use. Why you would ever put it there is beyond me. It has come from the factory with the plug in the + already and I would presume it is going to live in what ever socket it was in last until you need to change it. I am not a welder designer but I can't see why the 'O' socket could not be wired up and then the short length of cable could have a plug on each end. That way it could be removed completely when not in use and would be user replaceable if it got damaged. Which it might do as it sticks out the front by 120mm.
     
  4. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,018
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    20181222_085140.jpg

    Side Panel has a handy viewing window, this looks like a tough polycarbonate and is fitted with an o-ring seal to keep dust out.
    There is a single ¼ turn plastic fastener to open the side door, this is recessed nicely into the side panel and well protected by the lower bump strip on the lower edge. Feels very nice to use although you would not be able to open it with gloves on. There is adjustment in the lock plate so in a few years when there is slack or the door is dented you should be able to keep it shutting firmly.

    The hinges are very nice alloy, door opens upwards and they have an indent that holds the door. When it gets horizontal, you can push past this and they hold it in the upright position firmly. You are not going to get any problems with the door blowing around if you are using it outside.

    There is a rubber seal fitted to keep dust out of the wire compartment. Slightly strange is that the recess for this seal runs all the way around the door but rubber seal is only fitted into the top half of it. I don't know if it's meant to be like that, or if that was the end of a roll as well?

    All of the inside is plastic, nice and smooth so should be easy to keep clean.

    And there are more stickers, These ones are actually useful, The power rating plate that you would normally expect to find on the outside of the back panel is on the inside of the back panel, on a sticker which also contains the serial number again! That's 4 times I have found it so far.

    I was expecting the hole for the rear wire feed to have a blank or grommet in it. As supplied, it is moulded into the panel but not opened out. You would have to drill this out yourself to use the 300mm spools. Unfortunately the power rating plate sticker is mounted over the hole location so you are going to end up drilling through that at the same time!

    Stickers are mounted, the right way up, on the inside of the door for JOB numbers / processes and one with all the part numbers of the feed rollers.

    There is a button to activate the wire feed which is a nice feature, spool holder feels very rigid and seems to have just the right amount of drag preset.

    The wire feeder is plastic with a single metal panel over the outer side. I was expecting to see a metal feeder mechanism. I did not see any photos of the insides of either the 180 or 185 when researching. I have seen various other reviews of ewm units that have metal feeders however after reading the specs again it appears that the 180's come with a Swissfeed feeder and the 185's come with an ewm feeder.

    This is relevant when considering the purchase prices of the 180 vs 185 and I will explain more about that later (ie. What I know now..)

    You don't need any tools to change the rollers which is a nice touch. Thumb screws are a nice size and everything comes apart and goes together nicely. Once the 2 bottom screws are removed the metal panel folds down and the bottom rollers just slide out. The thumb screws don't have any retaining washers on them. I presume the metal plate is to provide some stiffness for the drive train but the slots are quite a bit bigger than the screw threads so I am not sure how effective it would be at that.

    At this price bracket I was expecting a metal roller set-up. Having said that the plastic does feel pretty tough. I am not going to be running miles of wire but I am likely to be changing the wire type fairly regularly so I will see how it holds up and I will do a bit of research into the price of replacement parts for it!

    Overall, I am impressed with the quality. If I was being picky I would point out the following,

    The front panel screws are a bit iffy, One does not cover the hole properly, all 4 of them look like the heads are too big as they have distorted the rubber edging strip where they have interfered with it, and one of them has not been done all the way up so the top corner of the panel is a bit loose.

    The outer plastics have a bit of casting flash on the mold lines but nothing unsightly.
    One of the dinse sockets has a chip out of the back edge of it. It was obviously damaged before it was fitted but it's only a cosmetic amount.

    The side door fits nice and tightly on the back but is a bit loose on the front, I can slide an envelope into the machine with the door closed, this might be something to do with the missing rubber strip?

    Another little thing is that the euro connector socket is only held in with 2 screws (I noticed the 185 has 3) These look like they might just be self tapping screws into the plastic casework. Having said that everything seems perfectly firm when mounted so I will see what it's like once I have tripped over the lance a few times!

    Finally, for some reason there are a load of little metal shavings/wire trimmings on a little ledge behind the feed rollers? I don't want anything like that going into my brand new liner so I will take the feeder out before use and have a clean out behind it.

    Do I need to read the instructions?
    Instruction manual is written in plain English. It does not read like it has been badly translated. It is also a dedicated manual for the 180 puls TKG which is nice as it only refers to this machine rather than having to skip through sections on a slightly different model.

    The first 12 pages are warnings. There are then 3 pages showing you where the handle and side door are.

    There are 2 pages on the controls, Basically it gives you a list of names of all the switches and lights. There are no explanations for any of these at this stage.

    For example, There is a Soft-Hard Light. I do not know what this is for. The manual tells me it's Choke Effect/Dynamics. As I have no idea what that is either I am no wiser.

    The instructions seem to cover the things I would probably know if I was into spending this sort of money on a machine, How to connect the gas and what not, Basics such as how to select a JOB are provided but nothing much more than that. The Pulse button that represents 20% of the cost of this machine is described as follows:

    “Welding Type Push-Button” - Options: Standard Arc Welding / Pulsed Arc Welding

    There is nothing to explain how to adjust any of the settings or enter the forceArc mode etc.. Hopefully this will become clear when I get it running..

    The instruction manual also states that the circuit diagrams are enclosed with the unit but I can not find these anywhere?
     
  5. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,018
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    So, What can you do with it and what else do you need to buy?

    Well. As Supplied the machine has a pair of 'V' rollers and flat followers for 0.8 & 1mm steel wire. This should give you access to 8 of the JOBS plus manual MIG

    I want to weld alloy so I needed to get the correct 'U' Rollers for that.
    Now, The 4 roller drive as supplied from the factory is actually only a 2 roller drive. The bottom 2 rollers are driven and the top 2 are just followers.

    So, For alloy you need to buy what ewm call a conversion set. This consists of 2 extra gears that transfer the drive to the top rollers, 2 nasty washers that sit behind the gears and a set of 4 rollers. £170.40.

    All the rollers have 2 sets of groves for 2 wire sizes. You can buy extra sets of rollers without the gears for £84.

    Adding the one conversion set gives me another 6 available JOBS (providing obviously, I get the correct wire and other accessories as required)

    Be aware there is an overlap on the roller sizes. They supply them to suit the following sizes of wire:

    0.8 & 1mm, 1.0 & 1.2mm, 1.2 & 1.6mm, 2.4 & 3.2mm

    I got the 1.0 & 1.2 Set as that's all the dealer had in stock. As far as I know I may never need any other sizes. If you do need all the sizes then don't buy the set I did because you will then have to buy all 4 sets to get the full range.

    Again, The manual is unclear on if I can even weld with 3.2 alloy wire. It gives me the part numbers for the rollers at 3.2mm but there are no JOBS for anything above 1.2mm. I presume I can just run it in manual mode if I ever want to go above 1.2mm?


    Same thing with the overlaps on the other sets, check the list first, I have the 0.8 & 1.mm for steel. If I want to add a 0.6mm then the only roller available is a 0.6 & 0.8mm so I will be duplicating up on one size.



    I initially mentioned above that the 185 is £384 more than the 180.

    Having looked again at the roller system and the listed accessories, I now think the 185 is supplied with 4 x driven rollers so you do not need to purchase the conversion set. The set of 4 alloy 'U' rollers is £91.80. Obviously it depends what you intend to set this machine up for, so that information might not be any use to you.

    In my case It would have reduced the price difference between the 180 & 185 a little to £305.40.

    If the 185 does have a better spec roller drive then this may also have a value worth considering.


    TIG
    I have not looked into the Tig welding part of it much,

    Basic details are: Lift Tig, 5a-180a. The only features listed in the manual are Pre/Post Flow, Ignition Current, Up/Down Slope Time and End Current, Looks like it's 2t/4t, although there is no mention of being able to use the pulse on the Tig.

    One advantage(?) is the Tig torch connects into the euro torch socket. That means that you will use the gas solonide inside the welder rather than having to have a torch with a manual gas valve.

    The main downside to this is that you will have to take the MIG torch off and pull the wire out before swapping to Tig and there is no option to add a foot pedal or custom switch as the switching is done via the euro connector pins.

    There is also only one gas connector into the machine but that's not really an issue if you have quick-connects on your gas bottles. There is a gas test/purge button on the front of the unit to pull it through.

    The ewm Tig torch is a 150A (60% D/C) 4m version is £267.60, 8m version is £321.60


    MMA
    MMA welding seems to be as simple as connecting the leads to the dinse sockets. Up to 150a available and 20.2v-26v. Various options/settings are available. If anybody wants to know how it welds with a random type of rod then ask me and I will see what I can find out.
     
  6. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,018
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    Initial Setup:

    Just a quick note on the 'Synergic' settings on this unit, I have heard all sorts of comments about Synergic, ranging from “it's rubbish and not worth paying for” through to “it's a fully automatic process, just tell it the metal thickness and everything is set-up and dynamically adjusted on the fly”

    My understanding of it is as follows: (Mentioning in case I have got this completely wrong!)

    On a traditional MIG you would have a page in the handbook with a big table, rows for wire sizes, wire speed, amps, volts, gas flow, These would cross reference to material types, thickness's, travel speeds and so on. You would look up your material type and thickness and use the table to choose the power and wire speed etc. You would then adjust all the various dials on the machine and start welding. Adjust as required, and carry on welding.

    With Synergic, the tables are programmed into the memory of the welder.

    When you open the door and change the wire there is a printed table on a sticker,

    You look for the row with the wire you are fitting. (This obviously needs to be correct for the material you are welding) You then read across this row and find the column for the wire size you have fitted. This will then give you a JOB number.

    You simply enter this job number into the machine and it loads up the data for the amps and wire speeds that would be required for various thickness's of this material.


    You can then simply adjust one dial to tell the machine what thickness you are welding and it will set the correct amps and wire speed for you. It also looks like it selects pulse, or not for you. There is also a note in the manual that pulse is not available on all JOBs.

    In a Synergic JOB, wire speed, amps and material thickness are all linked. You can choose to display & adjust any one of those 3. As you do the other 2 will be automatically adjusted to suit. The default display/setting is Thickness.


    Once you have loaded the recommended settings you can manually make adjustments on these. The left hand dial sets the job number, once set you use this one to enter the material thickness etc. The right hand dial is labelled V (Volts?) and the manual describes it's MIG function as arc length correction.

    One thing to note, I am not sure if I understand it correctly but it sounds like any adjustments you make, once you have loaded a JOB, will be saved when you change that JOB. It looks like you have to perform a factory re-set to get all the default settings back. I am mentioning this so if I start complaining that it was working fine and now it's welding all wonky, somebody can remind me that it might not be set how it should be!


    Manual Mig, Tig and Mma are used by entering a dedicated job number for each of these processes. It would be nice to have the JOB numbers for these on one of the stickers on the outside of the casing or maybe as letters in the JOB list rather than numbers that I have got no chance of remembering.

    The manual does not give any details of how to adjust any of the settings in manual MIG mode so I will have to have a little fiddle around when I start welding.

    It does give details on how to calculate the required gas flow so this must be something that needs doing manually and the Synergic can't do that for you!


    Basically, Synergic seems to a fancy marketing word for a quick way of dialling in some get-you-started settings.

    As I said, I have never MIG welded alloy before so I will find out just how easy it makes it!

    That's about all I have worked out so far.



    A final thing to mention regarding the Synergic. I have heard various mentions of new JOB's being introduced and released. I have not yet managed to find out if this machine can be updated in any way. I can't see any obvious way of the end user updating the programs list. Maybe it is something the dealer could do at a service or maybe it's a case of buying a new panel and sticker set? Maybe it is what it is, and no updates are possible?
     
  7. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,018
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    So, Lets get it powered up..

    First thing, As supplied the power lead is terminated with a 2-prong Schuko plug. This is moulded to the cable. My one came with a clip-over cover adaptor to a standard UK 13a plug. This is a cheap and nasty bit of kit and I presume it is only on there to meet the legal requirements of having to sell it with a plug fitted.

    On the up-side this did mean I could drag it into the shed as soon as I got home and plug it in!

    When turned on the machine runs calibration / self-test for a few seconds, spins the fan up for a few seconds then displays the “Fuse-Rating” for a few more seconds.

    Boot time is about 20secs, then the displays change to Thickness, Volts and JOB number.

    Now, The first thing to impress me is the fact that the fan is off and the machine is completely silent. My Tig is fan-on-demand but still runs all the time. The Picomig fan does not seem to run at all (or at least can't be heard) Not only does this create a much nicer working environment but it's better for the unit as it's not pulling dust through unnecessary.



    However, I have also got confused by this machine for the first time.

    The “Fuse Rating” is referred to in the manual as “Dynamic Power Adjustment”

    The Caution reads “This requires the use of the appropriate mains fuse” The spec listed for this is a 16a Slow Blow or a 'C' Type breaker.


    There are about 3 lines of text. The most helpful one of these says “<adjusts the welding performance to an uncritical level for the fuse”
    There are 2 settings for the fuse rating, 16a or 20a.
    As expected, If I set it to 20a then the machine will output more power.
    So, Basically, It needs to be set to 20a to be run at full power.
    Selecting 16a limits the max power of the machine to prevent you blowing a 16a fuse.



    As luck would have it, my electrician is on site. Unluckily, he does not know what to do with it either.
    Presumably, Whatever setting it is on, I am going to blow the fuse in the supplied 13a adaptor.
    Sparky looked at the mains rating plate and the max pull listed on there is 25.6a.
    His theory, is that a 20a plug may be a common thing in Germany?

    The options I have are: fit a 16a plug and not be able to use the full power, or, fit a 32a plug and protect the outlet with a C20 breaker. This is a bit annoying as I currently only have 32a rated 32a outlets in my workshop!

    Until I can get some sort of answer from ewm on how to run this correctly I will leave the 13a plug on it!


    Next thing to note, The machine has a stand-by mode. Default time for this is 20mins. (Can be adjusted or turned off) When in standby the displays don't turn off but just show dotted lines.

    Pressing anything on the panel brings it back on instantly. I don't have the torch connected yet so I don't know if pulling the trigger will wake it up. If it won't then I expect I will deactivate the stand-by function.

    As mentioned the fan is not running so I don't know how much power it saves. If I remember I will stick an amp clamp on and see if it's worth using or not. You can enter standby from the front panel by holding down the left display button for 2 seconds. If this still works with the timed standby turned off then that might be the way to run it.


    The LED displays are nice and clear, They are bright enough. I expect you would be able to see them outside on a nice day but it looks like it's going to be a while before I can test that!
    The top left one shows Amps/Thickness/Wire Speed. It's easy to change between these just by pressing the button to the left of it.
    The top right one shows volts, which you change using the dial beneath it. The button to the right of the right display is gas test.
    The bottom display shows the JOB number. That seems to be the only thing it does.
    As the only time you need to change this is when you change the wire or switch to Tig mode etc. then I don't really see why you need it to be on all the time. There is a dedicated JOB button so really a quick press of that could display the JOB on one of the other screens.

    If you are looking for one I would be tempted to do a bit more research on the1.81-A panel version and see if there are any functions missing as the extra 2 displays may not be worth paying for.

    Having said that I am still struggling to access all of the settings so I will update this if any of the displays do more than I currently think!


    The panel buttons seem fine to use with MIG gloves on. The rotary knobs are a bit trickier but I am trying with a brand new pair of gloves which are still a bit stiff!. I think they would be fine with Tig gloves. They seem the same sort as the Textrix Tig and that's all fine to use.

    One little thing, The left hand button is a click-around type. If changing thickness, 1 click = 0.1mm and so on for all the other settings.
    When you try to enter the JOB number it just skips through the Jobs list. So, to change from 1mm AlMg wire to 1mm AlSi wire requires you to go from JOB 75 to JOB 83.
    Instinct would tell you to give the knob a twiddle 8 clicks to the right. In fact there are only 2 jobs in between these on the list, so it's 3 clicks to the right. It's not a major issue, you just need to watch the display as you change (or memorise the whole job list)


    Anyway, all this waffle is time I could be spending setting this thing up to weld so I will get going on that next...
     
  8. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,018
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    I don't have any steel wire on a 200mm spool, so first job is to fit the alloy roller conversion.
    Removing the Steel rollers is pretty simple, no tools required.

    There is a noticeable amount of, what I presume is, production residue in the wire feeder

    20181221_211725.jpg

    Looks like bits of brass filings and maybe a few little strands of fine cable?
    I have managed to get a cloth in and wipe most of it out but I will give it a puff with the airline when I get to the workshop.



    The conversion kit basically consists of 2 gear drives for the top 2 rollers. Then there is a new set of 4 'U' groove alloy rollers.

    20181221_211952.jpg

    These come with some thin steel shims/washers that have some nasty burrs on one side from stamping. I will give them a wizz over with a scotch brush later.
    Size of them is 11.5mm x 24.1mm x 0.85mm. (I am noting the size as they are a bit fiddly to get into place and I know I am going to loose one at some stage!!)

    The size stamp on each roller is on the opposite side to that size groove.
    They fit with the stamp of the size you want to use facing outwards.

    There is not any sign of any lubrication on any of the gears or bearing surfaces or any of the roller drive system.
    The manual does not mention anything about lubricating any parts so I will leave that as it is.

    Top rollers are slightly tricky to fit due to the shim washers. Mainly due to the fact that they have to be feed up from underneath with nothing much holding the washer in place.
    If only one top roller carrier is released at a time you can swing them up a bit further which gives you a little bit ore room to get your fingers in there.

    There is no guidance regarding the tensioning of the rollers. Scale goes up to 5. I have started about 1 and will see how I get on with that.


    When removing the steel rollers there is a steel guide tube that also needs to be removed.
    The cards attached to the top of the unit say that this tube should be left out and the torch liner fitted right up to the rollers.

    I have just noticed EWM list a replacement for this steel guide that is suitable for soft wires. I did not know about this before, so I have not got one. I will use the liner-to-the-roller method instead.


    Torch is a MB25, 3m Long. 1.0 - 1.2mm (red) Teflon Liner, 1.0mmA Contact Tip. All parts are new so I am expecting it to run as smooth as it's ever going too!


    To the workshop....after breakfast...
     
    skotl likes this.
  9. skotl

    skotl Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    6,279
    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
    That's an extremely detailed review so far! Interesting to see the difference between a £500 welder and one at five times the price :D

    Look forward to the workshop episode!
     
  10. Hood

    Hood Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    8,413
    Location:
    Carnoustie, Scotland
    Should be stated on the front of the manual, see image below of mine. Think also when you register it mentions it but not 100% sure.

    ScreenHunter_2173 Dec. 22 21.47.jpg


    They will be inside the machine in a plastic bag taped to the side panel, you will only see them when you remove the side panel to dust it out.
     
  11. Hood

    Hood Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    8,413
    Location:
    Carnoustie, Scotland
    Just replying as I read through so that I don't forget.
    Re the synergic lines/job numbers. Yes you choose a job and then adjust the wire feed to suit the thickness and the volts etc will change to suit. The wire feed will probably be capable of being displayed as material thickness, current or wire feed, it is all the same thing, just different ways of showing it and different people prefer different ones, me I prefer the material thickness. That is usually pretty close but it will vary for positions so is just a ball park, the beauty however is as you turn up/down all other settings are adjusted for you.

    The Dynamic you mentioned earlier basically gives you a soft, wider less penetrating arc when in the minus side and a harsher narrower and more penetrating arc in the positive numbers. I tend to prefer the +ve side with my Phoenix.

    Voltage trim will allow you to increase or decrease the voltage from the set synergic line and thus adjust the arc length to suit your welding style, again I tend to be plus on that setting.
     
  12. Hood

    Hood Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    8,413
    Location:
    Carnoustie, Scotland
    Yes, it will resume from Standby with a trigger press, you will then have to repress to start welding.

    Displays are normally visible in daylight but very strong sunlight can make them a bit hard to see from a distance. I have a push-pull though so am often 5m or more away from the wire feeder.

    The lower screen will also likely show your dynamic setting as you adjust that, it does on the Phoenix 355 anyway.
     
  13. Hood

    Hood Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    8,413
    Location:
    Carnoustie, Scotland
    The guide tube you mention should really be used, it slips over the teflon liner and supports the liner right to just before the rollers.

    Pic of mine.

    ScreenHunter_2146 Dec. 04 23.29.jpg
     
  14. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,018
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    Quick Note,
    The Dinse Plugs for the Earth/Return Clamp (or MMA) are 9mm on the 180 and 13mm on the 185.
    The dust covers on the ewm website are listed under accessories for the 185 only so it looks like the rererence to them in the 180 manual is an error.
     
  15. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,018
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    I did notice the 24/7 bit on the warranty stickers but I preumed that was a reference to the fact that you needed to register the warranty on-line and you can do this anytime 24/7!

    Ref. The wiring diagrams, That makes sense, Thanks!

    I have tracked down the part number for the guide tube for soft or alloyed wire (094-018316-00000) Retail £4.69
    Would have been nice if this was supplied in the Conversion kit!
     
  16. Hood

    Hood Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    8,413
    Location:
    Carnoustie, Scotland

    The guide tube was supplied with my Phoenix but not sure if that was standard with the welder or whether @Jim Davey put it in with the purchase.

    Regarding the warranty, this is from the certificate I got when I registered.

    ScreenHunter_2177 Dec. 23 14.44.jpg



    Now all we need is for you do do some welding and let us see how you like it :D
     
  17. Jim Davey

    Jim Davey RH Davey Welding Supplies

    Messages:
    5,286
    Location:
    Southampton
    It was something I add yes. Makes the liner last a bit longer, although I do hook out the o-ring in the Drive 4x feeder Euro socket as it makes the guide tube very hard to fit or remove.
     
  18. Hood

    Hood Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    8,413
    Location:
    Carnoustie, Scotland
    Don't recall the guide being hard to remove on mine, maybe a bit stiffer than the 330 but will have a look and see if it is still present in my feeder. Only way it would be removed from mine is if EWM themselves did it as it came direct if I recall.
     
  19. Jim Davey

    Jim Davey RH Davey Welding Supplies

    Messages:
    5,286
    Location:
    Southampton
    If the end of the guide sleeve is cut square it shears off a chunk of the o-ring as it gets fitted and then it comes in/out easily. If they get de-burred after cutting like I do then the o-ring stays intact and can really hinder fitting and removal.
     
    Brad93 and gordon stephenson like this.
  20. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,018
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    So, loaded up a spool of EWM 1.0mm 4043.

    Easy enough to load, turns out the wire feed button inside the welder is more than a nice feature.

    If you pull the trigger then the wire stops feeding after 5 seconds if no arc is detected. So, it does mean you can't keep the torch pulled out straight when feeding but I led it out on the table and it fed through with no issues.

    Gas is 100% argon set to 13.5lpm at the torch. 0.5sec post flow.
    Pressing the gas test button once starts the gas flowing, pressing it again stops it.

    Set to JOB 83.
    Pulse is on.
    This is letting me select a thickness between 0.8mm and 4.0mm.

    I have found a bit of 2mm sheet so set the welder to 2mm. This is giving me default settings of 64a / 4.7 on the wire, 17.6v.

    Runs are from left to right, #1 First
    15456562603361462332217211739521.jpg

    The first blob on number one is where the pre flow caught me by surprise as I didn't think anything was happening when I pulled the trigger. It took me a few cm until I started speeding up the travel speed.

    Row 2, I tried holding the torch at a bit less feed angle than I had at number 1.

    The sheet is resting on a inch thick sheet of steel. By #4 it had warped and was in the air and I blew a hole in it.
    5 went ok (I think) but looked a little narrow, I turned the voltage up to 18.5 and no. 6 came out a bit wider.

    I put the volts back to 17.6 and tried a butt on the 2mm.
    Tack on each end, one-handed so easier than the tig!
    15456569634546635850947329282980.jpg
     
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