Yeah, this ArcOne IDF81 Dragon/Speedway model is a good value, I think, at the price I paid, which was $214, delivered, and no State extortion imposed.
There doesn’t seem to be much feedback on this one yet, besides an interview I saw with Mr. TIG doing with an ArcOne rep at a Fabtech show, or something similar, about a year ago. And I think the hinted at MSRP was $399 at that time. I got mine at a place called WelderSource, which only had one “Dragon” model in stock, but the “Speedway” model is an identical 4-sensor IDF81 model, except for the graphics. But, be aware, if you consider one of the IDF81 models, that some of them are reportedly 3-sensor ones, but the Dragon and Speedway are 4-sensor.
I was also considering an Optrel e684, which is the only other variable-shade lid that I know of, but it can only be gotten for as low as $325 retail, I believe.
I’ve been using an Antra auto-darkening lid with a large viewing area that I like pretty well. It was only $99, and had Auto-On/Off as a feature, which I really like. So, it has been a set-it-and-forget-it lid. But I did change the headgear to a more classic Jackson 370. Before that, I used a Jackson BOSS auto-darkening lens, which was expensive several years ago, but the newer, cheaper Antra was an improvement over it in many areas, if I recall. And before that I’ve used only a passive lens for a lot of Stick welding I did years ago, and I liked the gold tinted ones, usually a shade 9 or 10.
But I only I do a small amount of TIG welding now. And I suppose TIG welding is the most challenging for an auto-darkening hood, since the amptrol device and AC/DC machine that I use can have an arc start at 5 amps and proceed up to an arc intensity of 210 amps, so the 5-14 shade range of this ArcOne IDF81 is nice and wide.
So, when I heard of the variable-shade innovation, it seemed to make a lot of sense with TIG. And, the prices have come down enough that I decided to try the ArcOne IDF81, at $214.
I’ve only used it for some basic testing on this first day of use, but I do like it. The color of the lens is a straw/yellow tint, rather than the typical green tint. I think I like the yellow better than the green. The clarity is great. It’s an AUTO-ON/OFF unit, which is kind of big for me, as I don’t like to fumble around with a lid before using it. It has 4-sensors that are placed near the four corners of the lens, rather than in a line across the top or bottom of the lens, which is undoubtedly helpful in preventing flashes that other lids may get while welding if their single row of sensors get obstructed briefly by something. There’s a Delay setting under the hood, as is usual with auto-darkening lids.
There are two basic Intelligent “modes”: AUTO and TIG. I tried them both. They seem similar, except with Auto, you can lighten or darken the auto-variable shade on-the-fly while welding via the Up/Down knob on the outside of the helmet. It’s kind of cool that way, and could be easily used for TIG too. But, the TIG mode has you preset a high and low shade beforehand. I set them to 7 and 9.5, which gave that degree of shade variation as the amps and arc were raised and lowered. So, I don’t know which of these two modes I’ll ultimately like better. They both seem good at this early stage.
Just as a comparison, everything I did with the ArcOne, I did with my Antra. It was just some DC TIG in a small space, but I used some mild overhead lighting and also without the overhead light, as the ArcOne has a low light state of only a shade 3, which was nice, and may help me break my old habit of raising the lid so often, as was needed with a passive welding lid.
The mode settings are done inside the lid, but after that, I think this ArcOne will be no further maintenance, much like the Antra is. And, interestingly, I did gain an added appreciation for the Antra, as I compared it with the fancier ArcOne.
But, in the same way as the original Antra headgear, the ArcOne headgear is something I’m not liking very well. It has a lot of different adjustments and is touted a “comfort” innovation, but no matter how much adjusting that I did, it just didn’t seem to be a tight, secure fit. However, I’ll leave it on a bit longer, as it may get better after a “break-in”. Otherwise, I’ll probably put another Jackson 370 headgear on it for under $20.
And, one last thing, there’s a GRIND mode feature that can be invoked from the second of the two outer lid knobs, which is also a Sensitivity knob, I believe, but the knob “clicks” at the Grind mode as a stop. My Antra has a Grind mode too, but you have to fumble inside the lid to invoke it, which I’ve never bothered to do.
So, yeah, this is some early and rare feedback on this ArcOne lid. At around $200 it seems to be a pretty good value, I suppose, and I'll probably like it for quite a while.
Last edited by C. Livingstone
on Mon Jan 02, 2017 3:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.