How to Choose the Right Borescope

by | Jun 29, 2022 | News

If you find yourself in the market to purchase a borescope, then its very important to consider not only the specifications and price of the borescope also the quality of the system and optional features. Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fit’s all’ borescope. The borescope that will perform an inspection in ½ inch entry point will not perform well in a 12-inch diameter entry point.

Here are some things to consider when purchasing your borescope:

  1. Do I need a rigid borescope or a flexible borescope probe?
  2. What diameter probe do I require?
  3. Do I need a straight view for the inspection or do I need to see the side of the inspection area?
  4. How long of a borescope probe or sometimes called borescope wand do I require?

What is the difference between a rigid borescope and a flexible borescope?

Basically, most borescope can be categorized into two categories of either having a rigid or flexible probe. The rigid borescope is just like it sounds, it offers a stiff probe that is straight and offers viewing at different angles. A flexible borescope probe is malleable and allows for free movement similar to a rope. Although the flexibility is beneficial for bending and manipulating the probe, it is not conducive for pushing. However, many of these flexible borescopes offer articulation at the tip. This articulation in most flexible borescope systems is controlled by steel cables that run from the tip of the probe up into the handle body where the articulation controls are located. This advanced feature allows you to manipulate or steer the tip of the probe inside your inspection area.

What sizes are borescope available in?

I know this is going to sound like a broken record but, there is no ‘one size fits all’ borescope. When you logically think about the design of a borescope the diameter of the probe is what will dictate what inspection areas you can enter. For example, if you have a 6mm diameter entry point you will require a borescope with a diameter smaller than 6mm. There is no way of getting around that. As you examine the design of the borescope you will see the lighting that will illuminate the inspection area comes out the tip of the probe. An 8mm diameter borescope will offer greater light output than a 4mm borescope or a 6mm borescope simply because there is more room to install micro LED’s at the tip or more fiberoptic fibers to provide lighting.

With advanced technology borescopes are now available with fiber optic bundles as small as .37mm. This mini borescope or micro borescopes are very delicate and precise devices but prove invaluable for many manufacturing and medical environments. 3mm borescope with micro cameras at the tip entered the market in 2015 and now a videoscope with a diameter as small as 2mm with articulation are available.

Even the best cheap sewer camera gets thrown into the category of being a ‘borescope’ simply because these push cameras provide a digital camera at the tip and allow the inspector to view the image on a color screen. The snake camera is available with diameters from ¼ inch up to 2.7 inches in diameter with the larger diameter camera heads providing greater light output.

What does Borescope DOV and Borescope AOV mean?

Whether you are using a fiberscope or videoscope the system will offer a specification for the view. This specification is usually called out as DOV – Direction of View or AOV – Angle of View. These acronyms and terms are used similarly. Whether it is a fiberscope or borescope camera it is referring to what you see when you enter the inspection area. Are you seeing the ‘straight’ view or 0-degree view or are you seeing the ‘side’ view or 90-degree view?

In most configurations the borescope will be viewing in the straight or 0 degree viewing angle. If you have room inside your inspection area this is not an issue if your borescope provides articulation that will allow you to view the side or 90-degree area. If the area that you are inspecting does not offer enough room for you to steer the borescope in different directions than you will require a borescope that offers a side view.

A recent advancement in the borescope industry is the introduction of a dual camera borescope. These borescopes that are designed and built with two different micro cameras, a straight view, and a side view, which offers the inspector the ability to quickly alternate between the views with the touch of a button. The dual lens inspection camera or 2 camera borescope is available in various diameters such as 3.9mm, 4.9mm and 6.0mm diameter.

Of course, there are a number of video borescope systems that offer a interchangeable side view tip. These tips are threaded onto the tip of the borescope probe and many of which will offer a mirror tip. The downfall of the mirror tip is that the borescope mirror tip utilizes the mirror to not only reflect the image into the borescope camera but to also reflect the borescope light to the inspection area. This causes a wash out of cloudy effect with the viewing. Many customers can satisfactorily complete their borescope inspection with this interchangeable borescope tip but other cannot accept this drop in image quality. Many of the advanced borescope systems will offer tips that have directional lighting that will not interfere with the image quality that the borescope inspector will observe on the screen. These borescope systems offer lighting that are designed to point in the direction of the viewing camera to not hinder or adversely affect the image that is being seen.

Is Borescope length really a factor?

A significant point to make when talking about the borescope probe length is that longer is not necessarily better. If your inspection requires that you have a borescope wand that is 3 feet in length and as you shop around for a borescope you may find one that offer similar features with a much longer length. You may reason to yourself, “Hmmm, let’s get the longest borescope probe I can get so no matter what comes up, I’ll have something that will work.” In some applications this may seem reasonable however, if you only require a borescope camera with 3 feet to complete your inspections and you purchase what you feel is the best borescope camera with 20 feet, you now have 17 feet of borescope probe that you are going to have to work with. In most cases this makes the borescope inspection much more cumbersome and difficult. In addition, the longer length will most likely be laying on the ground which creates an opportunity for you to damage the probe and possibly create a workplace hazard for others around you.

To summarize, to buy a borescope of good quality and reliability, it is important to consider the flexibility, diameter, and length of your borescope camera. The purchase of a borescope is a significant investment for any organization. With any financial investment you want a return on the funds that you spent. The same is true for the borescope.