Industrial Borescope

An industrial borescope camera is used to see in walls, inspect pipes and see inside engines. A borescope inspection is performed in automotive, HVAC, plumbing and machine maintenance and repair, because an industrial borescope camera allows for the nondestructive inspection of hard-to-reach places such as drains, sewer pipes, heating vents, air ducts, furnaces, motors, pistons, gears, valves, compressors, boilers and condenser tubes. Thanks to flexible cables and lightweight enclosures, borescope cameras are extremely agile and mobile. An industrial borescope inspection camera helps you locate potential problems quickly and easily without the need to dismantle a system or machine, allowing corrective measures to be taken before costly downtime occurs.

All About Borescopes – Video

Tips on Buying an Industrial Borescope Camera

Borescopes are devices that allow the viewing of otherwise difficult-to-access areas. Even simple optical devices with lenses, mirrors and external light sources allow insights that are otherwise not possible. A modern borescope camera is equipped with a digital camera so that the images of the observed area can also be stored and processed. Because of the various possible applications for the borescope camera, there are devices with very different equipment. In general, however, the borescope camera consists of the display and control unit and the probe at the tip of which the camera is located.

Due to the simple placement of the probe of the borescope camera at the points to be examined and the immediate imaging of the targeted areas, the weak points and defects can be quickly detected both during the current inspection cycle and in the case of damage. As a result, much more targeted repairs can be initiated and preventive measures taken. The borescope camera enables quick analyses of areas that are difficult to access without time-consuming disassembly and component openings.

The operation of the borescope camera is easily mastered even by untrained technicians. Electricians, safety specialists, experts in all industries, mechatronics engineers, precision mechanics, car mechanics use the borescope camera for inspections and troubleshooting.

The borescope camera can also be used for training and further education at technical colleges and universities and in the trade as an excellent tool for demonstration and visualization of technical facts or problems. In industry and plant construction, inspections and quality controls can be carried out much faster, more precisely and more cost-effectively with the borescope camera.

Criteria for the selection of a borescope camera
Before a preselection is made from the huge range of devices, it should first be clarified which minimum requirements the borescope camera must meet. Often the following characteristics can be defined in advance:
– Flexibility of the probe
– Diameter of the camera head
– Angularity of the camera head
– IP protection degree of the camera probe
– Viewing angle, viewing direction, focus and image resolution of the camera
– Memory for images and videos
– Interfaces for data transmission, video output
– Possibility to connect different probes
– Accessories

Rigid, semi-rigid or flexible probes for the borescope camera
The probe of the borescope camera can be either a rigid rod or a flexible cable. At the tip there is the camera and inside there are data, light and, if necessary, control lines. Rigid borescopes are often operated without the possibility to take and process images. However, rigid borescopes are also available with a digital camera and this makes it possible to capture, process and store the images shown.

The borescope camera with a rigid probe can be used well for quick inspection, for example under motor vehicles or of higher situated components or installations. For this purpose, the rigid probes are angled at 90 degrees in the upper area or a movable camera head protrudes from the rigid probe rod. The rod length can be up to 3 meters for telescopic versions. The borescope camera thus enables fast and safe visual inspections in difficult-to-access facilities. If a problem area is detected, the necessary equipment for the repair can be set up exactly there.

Flexible and semi-rigid probes allow the borescope camera to be used to inspect pipes and cavities with restricted access. The flexible probes are available in lengths from 1m up to 120m. Lengths of 10 meters and more are usually rolled up on a kind of cable drum. In order to move the long lengths safely through the examined area, there are additional elements that protect the camera head and facilitate the movement. For the places that are difficult to reach with a flexible probe, an borescope cable holder can be used. This borescope cable holder consists of a stable sheath tube in which the flexible cable is guided and fixed.

Diameter of the camera head of the borescope camera
If the borescope camera has to be inserted into cavities through narrow existing openings for quality control or in the search for error causes, the diameter of the camera head is important. 

Fittings quality check with an industrial boroscope.

On the one hand, the camera head and probe cable must fit through the opening and on the other hand, the probe must be able to be moved within the cavity to the areas to be examined. The dimensions of the camera head are also important for the bending radius of angled cameras.

Borescope camera with multiple articulation – bendability of the camera head
There are applications where it is completely sufficient to work with the fixed, frontally placed camera. However, side cameras are generally better suited for the interior inspection of pipe walls and similarly shaped components. A probe can also contain two fixed cameras for front and side views. For the monitor it is then possible to switch between the current image of the front and the side camera on the control panel.

For some inspections it is advantageous if the camera head can be angled in different directions independent of the current orientation of the probe rod or probe cable. A distinction is made between the four directions of movement: up, down, right, left. For example, an borescope camera can be equipped with a 2-way or 4-way angulation. This means that the borescope camera can be controlled in two or four directions using a rotary switch, buttons or joystick. This multiple mobility is also called multiple articulation. In addition, the camera head can be rotated up to 360 degrees around the axis of the probe. In each case it is indicated whether the probe of the borescope camera can be controlled in 2 directions or 4 directions and whether it can additionally be rotated around the probe axis. Some manufacturers also indicate the maximum angle of the angulation.

IP degree of protection for the probe of the borescope camera
Since the probes, unlike the monitor, come into contact with moisture, dust and foreign matter more often, the probes are often manufactured with high IP protection degrees. The IP degree of protection is an international classification for the protection of electrical devices by the housing.

The first of the two digits stands for the protection of the electrical components against dust and foreign bodies, the second – for protection against water. The higher the number is, the better the internal components are protected. The IP 67 rating for the probe of the borescope camera, for example, means that the camera probe is completely protected against the penetration of dust and can be immersed in water for up to 30 minutes. The borescope camera can therefore be used with this probe to examine filled but not pressurized pipelines, components and containers.

Viewing direction, angle of view, focus and image resolution of the borescope camera
Depending on the area of application, there are different requirements for the level of detail and sharpness of the images. The following specifications of the camera should be taken into account when selecting a device:

Direction of view of the borescope camera without multiple articulation
The camera placed at the tip of the probe can directly display the area perpendicular to the axis with orientation 0 degrees. With orientations between 0 and 170 degree, the imaged area is inclined to the axis at the specified degree. Instead of specifying the direction of view in degrees, sometimes the term side camera or site view camera is used for the 90 degree. In an borescope camera with multiple articulation the camera tip is movable and the direction of view can be controlled via the control panel.

Viewing angle of the borescope camera
The viewing angle or aperture angle of the camera determines the size of the image section. A high viewing angle of the camera provides a better overview and faster orientation. Relatively small angles of view are particularly suitable for details and spatially very narrow inspections. For example, an borescope camera for inspections can be equipped with an aperture angle of 60, 67, 90, 105, 120, 135 or 150 degrees.

Focus and depth of field of view
Optical devices can produce a particularly sharp image of the captured objects for a certain distance. Objects closer or further away appear less detailed. With focusable devices, the sharpness can be adjusted within certain limits. For inspections in very narrow cavities, a probe with a suitable depth of viewing field should be used. Examples are:
Depth of field of view front camera: 5 mm … 50 mm, 15 mm … 100 mm / 10 mm …infinite / 30 mm … 60 mm
Depth of field of view side camera: 3 mm … 50 mm

Image resolution
The image resolution is one of the decisive factors for the detail sharpness of the display, especially for the stored images and videos. For some devices, the resolution of the camera itself is higher than the resolution for the stored images and stored videos.

Storage for images and videos in the borescope camera
In many areas it is useful to save the images or video sequences of an inspection in order to create documentation. Many of the digital borescope cameras today offer the possibility to take pictures and videos and store them on an SD card in the device. These images and videos can be provided with a time and date stamp during the recording for better identification. Common formats for storage are JPEG for pictures and MP4 or ASF for videos. These data can later be transferred to a PC or laptop for further processing if required.

Interfaces for data transfer in the borescope camera
The borescope camera can be connected to a PC via the USB interface on the control unit. In most cases two different modes can be selected, one for the transmission of the stored data and one for the transmission of the current image data. Almost every borescope camera with video recording function also has an interface for direct transmission of the video signal to a separate monitor, e.g. a TV screen. Common video output formats are NTSC and PAL. The videos of the inspection can then be shown directly on an external larger screen instead of on the display of the borescope camera.

Borescope camera with various connectable probes
There are model series to which various flexible probes can be connected. This offers the advantage that only one control unit has to be purchased and that the user is already familiar with the handling and operation when changing the probe. The probes may differ not only in the above mentioned characteristics. For example, there are also differences in the illumination of the inspection point, for example with special UV light.

Accessories for the borescope camera
For many applications there are special accessories available to better reach and depict the areas to be examined. It is essential to ensure that the accessories match the model series used.
The following items are used for easier positioning of the probe cable and for protection of the camera:
– Borescope cable holders
– Guide balls
– Camera Carriage
– Centering Brushes

Screw-on magnetic attachments with hooks can be used with the borescope camera to remove magnetic and non-magnetic parts.
Mirror attachments allow other viewing directions for the probes with a fixed camera.
Receivers for locating the damaged areas can be used to find the position of the damaged area in the hidden channels the exact location of which is unknown (for example, sewers on private property). Once the position has been determined, the excavation has to be carried out only at this point.

Additional software can be purchased for some models of the borescope camera. This special software offers e.g. a measurement function to measure and document the cracks or fractures. The documents created in this way can be saved and forwarded by email.sed on the images, a decision can be made immediately as to whether the part is good, needs to be reworked or is unusable.

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