Using a borescope properly requires care and precautions to prevent damage or injuries. Use this guide for proper care of your borescope.
Borescopes (also known as videoscopes) are designed to be used in industrial and aerospace environments. However, although they are built to be pretty hardy, they aren’t indestructible. Multiple components in a borescope can be easily damaged if not treated with care. Therefore, it’s essential to take the proper precautions when using a borescope camera system and ensure the borescope receives the correct maintenance. In addition, components such as articulation cables, communication ribbons, and fiber optic fibers could be damaged easily if the borescope isn’t handled with care.
Whether you are considering purchasing a video borescope to improve your inspection and maintenance capabilities or want to know how to better care for a borescope system you already own, there are many different ways to care for them properly.
Getting the Right Borescope System for Your Purpose
The first thing to start with is ensuring you have the correct borescope for the purpose you need it for. Not all borescopes are equal, and some could be inappropriate for the application you intend to employ them for. Average “off-the-shelf” borescope systems are adequate for various uses, but they’re not built to handle everything. In particular, if you are looking for an explosion-proof borescope designed to perform in explosive or electrically charged environments, you will need something specially designed for that purpose.
If you are looking for borescopes that meet the certified ratings for use in such environments, you need Class 1 Div 1-certified borescopes. These are certified for use in hazardous inspections to be used in high-risk environments. You will need to specifically request this when looking for the right borescope inspection system.
There are several factors to consider when choosing a borescope. Here are some of the things to take into account before making your purchase:
● Application – The application and the environment in which you will use your borescope will affect your needed features.
● Probe diameter – Small diameters can get into small, tighter spaces but can also be more expensive and less bright.
● Probe length – An essential thing to consider for using your borescope. The standard length for the average borescope is 1.5 m, but there are much longer lengths available too.
● Articulation – Do you require an articulating tip to get the camera into position? Some can bend one way or two ways, with multidirectional borescopes and swiveling borescopes available.
● Camera – You can choose to have a dual camera, which provides both front and side cameras for different views. The camera resolution is another factor to consider and can be affected by the size of the borescope. Additionally, the focus range is vital if you need to look at objects up close or far away.
● Screen display – You can generally choose between USB, LCD screen, or wireless screen display options to view images in real-time. USB and wireless borescopes need a device to display the images, while LCD screens have their display capabilities.
● Capturing images – Borescopes can offer digital photo capabilities, as well as video capturing and removable media cards.
● Ingress protection – If you need your borescope to be water-resistant or waterproof, this is something to look for when choosing the best system.
Choosing the right borescope for the correct application is the first thing you should do if you want to take care of its use and maintenance. A borescope that doesn’t work for the application could quickly be damaged, in addition to not getting the job done.
Proper Usage of Your Borescope
Once you have chosen the right borescope for your needs, the next step is to ensure your borescope system is being used properly. There are various steps to take when using your borescope to ensure you don’t damage it and you get the images that you want while using it.
Here are some of the ways you should take good care of your borescope when using it:
● Always use the articulation control to move the tip, don’t bend or twist it to get it into position.
● Put the articulation controls into the neutral position to ensure the tip is straightened before you either insert or withdraw the borescope. The articulation lock should be disengaged to allow the tip to bend as you insert or withdraw it.
● Always be careful when inserting or withdrawing the borescope, avoiding putting too much force or pressure on it.
● Extend the insertion tube thoroughly before inserting it to avoid internal damage to the tube. Insert the tube slowly to make sure no damage is sustained, as well as ensure a thorough inspection.
● Pay attention to the mechanical stops on articulation knobs, and don’t try to push past them.
● Use protective caps over lenses to prevent damage when they are not in use or in storage.
● Avoid using your borescope in high temperatures and extremely low temperatures. The acceptable range is usually around -20℃ and 60℃.
● Don’t leave your borescope alone when it’s connected to an operating light source or leave it connected to an operating light source for extended periods when the borescope isn’t in use.
● Only use accessories designed or recommended for your borescope.
● Make sure you check if your borescope is waterproof or water-resistant before using it in any high-moisture environments. Although the insertion tube may be waterproof, the display screen and other elements are not. The insertion tube is also vulnerable to damage from corrosive fluids
● Mount your borescope to prevent drops or falls that could damage it.
● Avoid dropping your borescope or knocking it off any surfaces.
● Charge the battery of your video inspection tool fully before using it. This both allows you to perform inspections more easily, without fear of running out of battery, and helps to expand the lifespan of the battery.
● Don’t insert your borescope into any electrical areas or moving machinery.
Some rules for using your borescope might seem like common sense, but it’s always helpful to make sure you have read the manual and know how to use and care for it. Before you start to use it regularly, anyone who will be using it can benefit from some brief training. With better training, you can ensure it’s used safely, and that damage to the borescope can be prevented too. Additionally, when you know how to use it effectively, you can get better results during inspections.
On purchasing a new borescope, get familiar with the different components and how everything works. Read the manual for advice on how to use and care for the system so that it can be protected and will last longer. The manual should include instructions on how to get the system set up, including focusing the eyepiece, plugging in a light source, and checking the operation of the borescope. You will need to learn how to hold the borescope, insert it, operate the articulation, and how to remove it safely too.
Product manuals also often have information about the warranty. It’s useful to become familiar with this information so that you know when you can have your borescope repaired or even replaced under warranty.
Essential Borescope Maintenance
In addition to making sure that you use your borescope properly, there are also multiple things you can do to maintain your borescope properly. Cleaning, maintenance, and storage will all make a difference to the condition of your borescope and help to prevent damage, extending its lifespan and saving you money too.
Cleaning your borescope
Cleaning any piece of equipment will help it to last longer and remain functional. Borescopes are no different and need to be kept clean to prevent corrosion or any problems that might impair their functionality. Keeping them clean will also help to prevent introducing dirt and debris into any areas that you inspect. There are various ways to keep your borescope clean and functional with regular maintenance.
Clean optical surfaces
The first thing you can do is keep optical surfaces clean to ensure good performance at all times. Fingerprints and dirt can cause problems and mean you won’t get a clear picture. You should clean the probe’s optical surface regularly, using a 70% mix of alcohol to water or isopropyl alcohol and a clean and soft wipe or cloth or a cotton swab. To prevent it from getting too dirty, store your device in a case and put caps over the lenses.
Clean the insertion tube
You can also clean the rest of your borescope, including the insertion tube and fiber-optic connector. To do this, use a soft cloth with glass cleaner or a 70% alcohol-to-water solution. Abrasive chemicals should not be used or any solvents that are acidic in nature. You should also not soak the borescope probe in cleaning solutions for long periods of time. Most borescopes are water-resistant and not waterproof.
Clean your borescope mirror
If you use a borescope mirror, keeping it clean is essential for visibility. Borescope mirrors are generally similar to other glass mirrors but usually have special coatings, so you need to be careful when cleaning them. This means you need to avoid the use of any harsh solvents that could remove these coatings. Fortunately, there are easy ways to clean borescope mirrors without damaging them. A simple window cleaner product or a quick blast from a compressed air duster will get rid of dust and dirt.
How to store your borescope
Regularly cleaning your borescope is smart, but you can also help to prevent it from collecting dust and dirt in the first place. Storing it properly will keep it clean so that it needs less regular cleaning and will also protect it from damage. Borescopes should be stored in protective cases and placed somewhere out of the way where they won’t get too hot or too cold. Giving your borescope a quick clean when you take it out and put it away will ensure you keep up a good routine of cleaning it regularly. Borescopes are usually supplied with a custom-fitted storage case, so you can easily put your borescope away in a case that’s a perfect fit.
Inspecting Your Borescope
Good borescope maintenance also requires you to be able to spot any potential problems. Inspecting your borescope regularly will enable you to pick up on potential problems before they can get too bad and more expensive to repair.
Check for liquid migration
It’s always important to be very careful about liquid when you’re dealing with any electronics or technical equipment. Inspecting your borescope for any signs of liquid migration is one of the most important things you can do. If your borescope is exposed to higher levels of moisture or the camera is ever submerged in liquid, it’s even more essential to check that liquid hasn’t got into any areas where it shouldn’t be. While your borescope might have some level of resistance to water, not all of them are waterproof.
There are some signs that there could be liquid inside your borescope. If the image is distorted, blurry, too bright or dark, or there is static, this could indicate that there is liquid causing a problem. This can cause big problems and permanent damage to your borescope and could be caused by the tip lenses, tip housing, or bending section letting in water or other liquids. Fibre optic bundles could also be damaged by liquid and cause a blurry picture. With a videoscope, you might notice that there is color saturation or image distortion.
If you spot any of these problems, it’s important to look into a repair as soon as possible so that you can get your borescope functioning again.
Check the borescope insertion tube sheathing
No matter what type of borescope you use, it will probably have a steel or tungsten braid that runs down the length of the insertion tube. Made from cables or wire woven together, they create a hardwearing exterior to protect the internal elements of the borescope. Although it is durable, it can still start to show signs of wear over time. The articulation section, in particular, can show signs of wear as it’s the part that moves the most and bears the most stress. Every time you use your borescope, this part is moved when you insert and remove it into the area you’re inspecting. If you spot any fraying or other wear and tear, it’s important to take care of it as soon as you can before it turns into a more significant problem.
It might not look like a serious issue, but further damage could be caused to internal components if you don’t address it. The image bundle or light bundle could end up damaged by the external sheathing at the bending section. Getting the braiding repaired can be inexpensive, but having to repair these internal components can be a lot more costly. You might need to pay for an entire replacement of essential components. In videoscopes, the communication ribbon could be damaged and could create another costly repair for you to take care of. The ribbon will need to be replaced, which means that the probe has to be disassembled first.
The borescope insertion tube is an important part of your borescope too. As the flexible wand or cord that you need to insert into any area that you want to inspect, it needs to be in good condition if you want to carry out regular inspections. There are several things you can do to check if it’s in good condition.
Start by running your hands slowly down the insertion tube to see if you can feel any problems. You might notice ridges, kinks, or dents that have appeared since the last time you checked. Anything that you can feel on the outside may be an indication of a problem on the inside that could become worse. Any dents or kinks could put pressure on the internal parts, which might lead to restriction and further strain or damage to parts like the articulation systems and fiber optic bundles or communication ribbons. Leaks and problems with fluid could also be a consequence of this happening.
Run your hands along the insertion while gently flexing it to see if you can identify any problems. If you find anything, it could be an indication that the tube needs to be repaired or possibly replaced. To help prevent any damage, remember to keep the tube straight when in use. Avoid any coiling or wrapping of the probe so that unnecessary pressure won’t be put on the internal parts, such as the articulation cable and guides.
Check the optic fibers
Fiberscopes use fiber optic image bundles to deliver the image, and these can become broken or damaged. Fortunately, you can check for problems, and the signs can be obvious. You can inspect the output image for any grey tones, blurriness, or black dots that might indicate problems with the fiber optics. Broken fibers might cause the image to look like it has tiny dots or specks all over it, but each dot is a broken fiber that isn’t picking up and transmitting the image. Even new fiberscopes will have a few broken fibers, although not in a noticeable way. More fibers can break over time and eventually start to make a difference in the clarity of the image.
Check the articulation range
No matter what type of articulation your borescope has, you need to get the expected range of motion from it. Most of the time, the articulation of the borescope is controlled by steel cables that connect the articulation section to the handle. The cables manipulate the tip of the probe to move it around so that you can direct it into different positions. You might have manual articulation or electronically-assisted articulation. Manual articulation can make it easier to feel if the probe is under stress and prevent any problems from occurring.
If you want to confirm the articulation range of your borescope, start by stretching the cable as straight as it will go. By running your fingers down the length of the probe, you can straighten out the articulation cables and guides to start from a neutral position. As you articulate the borescope tip, you can observe whether it is able to move across the full range that you expect it to offer. If it isn’t moving as much as it should, it could be due to stretch articulation cables. These can be tightened again by a trained technician to help restore the full range of articulation so that a full repair isn’t necessary.
While physically and visually inspecting the borescope articulation, examine the borescope collars and bending section. Look for signs of separation at the borescope camera head as well as at the collars.
It is much easier and least costly to repair this minor separation than if you wait until the problem becomes severe and the repair cost is higher.
Make Repairs as Needed
One of the most important ways to care for your borescope is to repair it when necessary. The longer you leave a problem that might require repair, the worse the problem could become. If an issue develops further, it can become even more costly and time-consuming to rectify, and it could cause further issues too. Making repairs or replacing parts as needed will help to extend the overall lifespan of your borescope. Lenses can be changed if scratched or have any other damage that could affect their performance.
Borescope repair service should be performed by a trained Technician.
Small mistakes by an inexperienced Technician could result in additional damage and repair needs.
How Often Should You Inspect Your Borescope?
Regular borescope inspections will help to ensure your borescope is functioning as it should be. A quick inspection and cleaning can be performed each time you take out the borescope, although it depends on how often it’s used. You may only need to inspect it sometimes if you’re using it daily, although it’s a good idea to consider that with more frequent use comes more wear and tear.
Another factor to consider is the storage of your borescope. A borescope represents a significant investment for most organizations.
The borescope is provided with a custom-fitted storage case. This case is not only cosmetic but serves a valuable purpose. It keeps the probe in a position that will not kink or stretch the articulation guides of the borescope probe. In addition, it keeps the borescope camera out of direct sunlight and protects it from moisture or other contaminants. When storing your borescope after use, don’t rush. Make sure that the borescope probe is secure inside the pre-cut probe path, and do not shut the case or pinch the probe when closing it.
When using a borescope, there are multiple precautions and steps to take to care for the whole system. Start by making sure that you have the right borescope for the job and that you are using it in an appropriate environment. Simple precautions, for example, being careful when you are handling your borescope, can make a big difference if you want to avoid expensive repairs. Preventive maintenance and cleaning will also help to keep your borescope in good condition, and storing it properly will protect it when not in use. Always make sure to read the manual so that you are familiar with the borescope and how to take care of it.
If you have any Borescope Sales and Service questions, please feel free to reach out to us at 931-362-3304