Borescopes 101: Everything You Need to Know

A borescope is an inspection device.

What is A Borescope?

The right tool can make all the difference. When inspectors, technicians, and other professionals need to see into tight corners and spaces typically impossible to view otherwise, they turn to borescopes to get the job done. The term borescope describes a variety of remote visual inspection products used for internal inspections. A borescope camera can be used across a wide range of industries, including aviation, automotive, power generation, and sanitation, among others. 

Borescopes leverage the latest technologies to inspect the inside of a structure through a tiny hole. Similar to the endoscopes used to take images inside the human body, a borescope can provide high-quality views of spaces usually obstructed from view. 

The very first borescopes were used to inspect the internal workings of large guns. Now, they are commonly used in various applications – virtually any industry that requires inspections of small, internal spaces can benefit from the use of a borescope. 

What Are The Types of Borescopes?

Borescope inspection cameras come in a few different varieties: 

A rigid borescope is often used in applications that require straight-line access to the targeted viewing area. These are the simplest type of borescope, as the long, thin tubes can be easily inserted into the space in need of inspection. They use a lens system to send images to a relay lens to be viewed in real-time. An eyepiece and angled mirror make it easy to get a close-up look at what’s going on inside a piece of machinery or piping. 

Articulating inspection cameras, on the other hand, are built for flexibility. Joystick-controlled articulation allows operators to inspect the internal components of a system. Lightweight and ultra-portable, these types of borescopes are available in 2.8mm, 3.9mm, and 6.00mm diameters, giving you access to even the smallest of spaces. LED lights help you adjust the brightness and capture clear images.

Portable borescopes take all the technology and versatility of a traditional model and make it easy to pack up and take on the road. Whether you’re traveling across the street or across the globe, portable models are ideal for the job. These flexible style inspection cameras feature insertion tubes made of either poly/vinyl, stainless steel or tungsten sheathing. With diameters ranging from 2.1mm through 8mm, there’s a portable borescope for virtually every job.

When you’ve got an especially small space to inspect, a small borescope can do the trick. Micro borescopes are frequently used in both industrial and aviation settings. Sometimes called mini borescopes, these tools are often as small as .37mm. They’re manufactured with flexible probes, which make it easy to snake through small bends and corners. High intensity LED light sources help illuminate the space.

Flexible borescopes are designed to navigate small, challenging areas. They allow users to conduct a thorough visual inspection of small diameter structures. Unlike rigid borescopes which hold their shape as they are inserted into a space, flexible borescopes can be maneuvered around corners and through tight nooks. Easy to use and control, flexible borescopes are one of the most popular options for professionals across industries.

Articulating borescopes are also ideal for navigating small spaces. With options to turn the scope up, down, and to the left or right, articulating borescopes make it easy to conduct safe, accurate inspections. Some models include 360 degree articulation, giving the user complete control over what they see.

Videoscopes are borescopes with video cameras attached to the end of the probe. A monitor plays footage in real time. The tip of the scope will also generally include an LED light source to illuminate the space being inspected. The flexible optical tube can then be inserted into holes, pipes and cavities for visual inspection. Common sizes for videoscopes include 3mm, 4mm, 6mm and 8mm videoscopes.

Different makes and models will offer various features, so it’s important to understand the full scope of the task at hand before investing in one type of borescope over another. Some include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, while others focus mainly on portability. 

Aside from their different applications, the main difference between borescopes is the type of tube they use for access. Rigid, semi-rigid, and flexible options all have their advantages and disadvantages. Consider these specifications, along with the job requirements and total cost, when deciding which type of borescope to purchase.

Borescope Features You Need in A Inspection System

Some inspection jobs only require a glimpse inside hard-to-reach spaces. Others demand advanced video recording to be referenced and shared time and time again. Given the expensive and time-consuming regulations involved in the inspection of equipment, it’s worth doing right the first time. 

Thankfully, borescope technology has advanced considerably over the years. It’s never been easier to capture clear images to save and share with colleagues thanks to features like memory storage, wifi and LAN ports. Rechargeable lithium batteries make it easy to use these devices for hours on end. Some borescopes even come with zoom features, allowing you to zero in on particularly tiny nooks and crannies. 

Not sure where your pipe is located? Pipe locator features make it easy to spot your target. Experienced professionals and first-time users alike can quickly locate pipes, power lines and utility lines in moments. 

Some borescopes even include light sources to illuminate the pipe or piece of machinery you’re inspecting. Simple LED lights at the end of the scope can provide all the light you’ll need to get the full picture. Portable light solutions can be added to a variety of different types of borescopes, too.

Borescopes Designed With Your Industry in Mind

No matter which industry you work in, there is likely a borescope right for the job. Aviation technicians know how critical such tools are for their line of work. Regardless of whether you work on avionics or airframes, engines or turbines, a videoscope can help make inspections easier. A joystick-controlled articulating borescope can transform the way you perform daily duties. 

Those in the oil and gas industry may find videoscopes helpful, too. When working with valves, pumps, and compressors, you’ll find that a video borescope can make inspections quick and easy. Imagine checking the internal components of your machinery without costly and time-consuming disassembly.

Plumbing professionals also rely heavily on borescope technology for inspection work. Should a client call about a clogged pipe, plumbers can quickly and easily insert borescopes for a peek into hard to reach spaces with a pipe video push camera. Diagnosing issues is a snap with a borescope on hand – they provide clarity with virtually no extra mess, effort or stress.

The manufacturing world also turns to borescope technology for diagnosing problems and inspecting equipment. Rather than take a complicated piece of machinery apart completely to inspect and diagnose issues, workers can simply insert a borescope for a peek inside. This saves tremendous amounts of time and effort.

Similarly, HVAC technicians frequently use borescopes to look inside the systems of their clients. Where these technicians might have once had to disassemble HVAC units to understand why a problem has arisen, they can now insert a borescope into the machinery for insight into the issue. Long length borescopes with articulation make traversing pipes and ductwork a snap.

Professionals in the chemical processing and power generation industries also rely on borescope technology each day. No matter your need, there’s a borescope camera that’s right for the job. 

Borescope Maintenance

Proper usage, care, and maintenance can help extend the life of a borescope. Fingerprints and dirt can quickly degrade the surface of the device, so it’s vital to clean the borescope after every use. Use isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab to sanitize optical surfaces, then store the equipment in its case when not in use. This helps protect it from unnecessary heat and dust. 

You should never use a borescope in extreme heat, or environments above 175 degrees. In addition, most borescopes are also not waterproof, so consult your users manual before using it in or near water. Use protective lens caps on lenses when not in use. Should you require any maintenance or repair work, be sure to turn to trusted experts for the job.

How To Get A Borescope?

USABorescopes is a leader in the remote visual inspection space. No matter what kind of borescope you require, we can help find you the perfect tool for the job. We offer borescopes for sale, borescope rentals, as well as borescope repair services. Contact us today for more information.


Check out USABorescopes Recent Posts For More Borescope News & Resources