How to Use a Video Borescope

Borescopes are specialized optical tools used in inspections and non-destructive testing of mechanical components.  Sometimes referred to as a boroscope, bore scope, fiberscope, borescope camera, video borescope, or videoscope. They are frequently used to recognize defects or imperfections in diesel engines, airplane engines, helicopter engines, pumps and valves, and HVAC systems.

Modern video borescopes come with a variety of different features such as image and video recording functions, image controls, annotations, and articulating capabilities. Manufacturers try to make operating these devices as simple as possible, but users should still familiarize themselves with the steps for setting up and operating one of these devices.

If you are inspecting environments that have potential explosive solvents, liquids or fumes you should consider a class 1 div 2 borescope or an explosion proof P374 camera.

Initial Setup

Before operating a borescope, users will need to set up their device.

Insert the batteries

The first step in the setup process is to insert the batteries into your borescope. Many borescopes come packaged with a rechargeable lithium battery. Other models require AA batteries that aren’t included with the borescope.

Remove the battery compartment cover and fit the battery into the device. Ensure that the battery is fitted in the correct orientation before placing the compartment cover back onto the device.

Charging the battery

If your borescope is new, you will need to charge the rechargeable battery before it can be used. Plug the charger provided with the borescope into the device and wait for the device to be fully charged. Charging times vary between manufacturers and models, but you generally need to charge these devices for several hours to get them fully charged.

You may be able to check the charge level on the device’s status indicator, or through the LCD display once the device is powered on.

Some borescopes can be powered by an external AC adapter. These may be packaged with the unit or sold separately. Adapters can be plugged into an electrical outlet, while others can be connected using a car battery cable or a cigarette lighter cable.

Insert the SD card

Many borescopes store their images and videos on SD memory cards. Users should insert the SD card into the device’s card slot before operating the borescope. Some borescopes feature built-in memory, and do not require this step.

Connect the Probe

Lastly, you should connect the probe and cable to the device. Check that the connection is fitted properly, as this will ensure an uninterrupted video feed from the probe to the device.

Operating the Borescope

Once the initial setup is complete, you can begin operating the borescope.

Turn on the Device

Switch on the device by pressing the power button. Some devices may feature a power switch that needs to be flipped from “O” to “-”.

Status Indicator

Your borescope display should show the battery status and the image setting it is currently in. The status of other features such as the LED light may also be displayed here.

Turning on the LED

Turn on the borescope’s LED pressing the “Light” button on the device. Some borescopes feature adjustable LEDs whose brightness can be controlled by pressing this button multiple times.

Set Your Language

If your borescope supports multiple languages, you may be able to change the language from English (default) to others. This can be done by navigating to the main menu, entering the system setting, and selecting your preferred language. Then exit the menu and continue to the next step.

Performing an Inspection

Here’s how to perform an inspection using the borescope.

Insert the Probe

Start your inspection by inserting the probe into space you wish to inspect. Ensure that the probe is the correct size, as it may not fit into spaces smaller than its diameter.

Adjust the Image

The initial image you see on the display may not be clear. You can adjust the image parameters in the image control menu in the settings. Depending on your borescope features, you may be able to adjust settings such as:

  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Color
  • Zoom
  • Image Flip

You can also adjust the LED brightness to improve visibility.

Adjusting the Articulation

Many borescopes possess an articulation section near the probe tip. You can bend and adjust this tip using levers on the device itself.

Maneuvering Through Bends

If you are attempting to fit the probe through a bend in a pipe or another type of confined space, you should insert the probe with the articulation in its neutral/home position. Once the tip is close to the bend, you can adjust the articulation using the levers.

Observe the image on the display as you are making the adjustments. This will ensure that the probe is fitting along the curve or corner, and isn’t hitting any walls.

Gradually insert the probe deeper and adjust the articulation as needed. You may need to alter the articulation multiple times to ensure that the length of the problem fits through the bend properly.

Retracting the Probe

Before retracting the probe, ensure that the articulation is in its neutral/home position. Check the display and see that the probe tip does not come into contact with the walls during the retraction process.  You should not pull the flexible borescope out of the inspection area too rapidly as this will ‘whip’ the borescope at the tip and possibly compromise the image sensor.

Saving Images or Recording Videos

Many borescopes feature dedicated buttons for capturing images and video. Push the button with the camera symbol to take a picture through the camera. The borescope may then ask for confirmation before saving the picture.

Similarly, users can press the button with the video camera symbol to start recording video. Press the button a second time to stop the recording process.

Annotating Images

You can add text annotations before saving your image. Navigate to the Annotation option in the main menu and use the arrow keys to add letters or numbers to your image caption. You can then save your image with the annotations included.

Playing Back Saved Media

Users can play back their saved images and videos on the device by accessing the browser mode, and navigating through the folders it contains. After opening an image, you should have some options such as Zoom or Flip.

For videos, you can use the arrow keys rewind or fast forward. The OK button can be used to start, stop, or pause the video.

The aforementioned operating instructions should be applicable for several different borescope models. Make sure to follow these instructions properly to get the best performance from your device.

Additional Inspection Camera Options

There are longer length inspection camera options if you are inspecting pipes with lengths over 20 feet in an industrial environment or perhaps you need a plumbers camera or a sewer camera. 

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