Like the Antex XS25, the Antex CS18 has been around for quite a few years now and so it has the same advantages that I mentioned in that review here. It’s manufactured by a renowned in their field maker from England and it’s stood the test of time with replacement parts and tips still readily available. Carry on reading to find out why, in my opinion this is the best soldering iron for circuit boards.
As you can see from the picture comparing the two soldering irons the Antex CS18 is slightly smaller than the XS25. It’s also slightly lighter.
One of the things you may notice is that the tips look slightly different to how they used to be. They originally used to have a small slot down the end on both sides and have a sprung clip to retain the tip on the shaft. They have now done away with the slots and the tips are now smooth all-around. The retention now takes place internally to the tip with a thin metal shim that grips the shaft. The new improved tips are now claimed to be longer in life and with better heat transfer.
Strangely there doesn’t seem to be as much discussion among users about the cable. On the XS25 some people didn’t like the PVC cable version because they mentioned the rigidity of the material made the soldering iron difficult to handle. With the Antex CS18 being smaller and lighter this ought to be more of a problem. I did, however buy the silicon cable version on this because of the added flexibility on a smaller iron and I consider this to be worth the small extra cost.
As I’ve mentioned the bits are widely available and there are 9 different varieties. They are known as the 1100 range and they cover the numbers 1100-1109. The range is shared with the TCS and TC50 models. The 2.3 millimetre tip is supplied with the iron.
Although this is only an 18 watt soldering iron I have found it almost perfect for general soldering on electronic projects. It is great not only for soldering PCB’s but I’ve also used it for soldering wires onto terminals. I've also successfully used it for soldering cables onto sockets. It will even solder the shielded cables onto large plug terminals without any problems. I think this is to do with Antex knowing how over the years to design soldering irons that can transfer heat effectively and efficiently without having to just opt for a large powerful element like some lesser manufactures have.
It’s available in 12V, 24V and 230V versions and specifications say that it heats to a temperature of 390C.
This isn’t the cheapest iron you can buy but you’ll get years of reliable service and an excellent soldering iron. I think this is the best soldering iron for circuit boards that you can buy.