So, You Have a Borescope

by | Apr 4, 2022 | Blog, Knowledge Center

Borescopes are a necessary piece of equipment for your Quality or Inspection processes. A borescope provides you with the ability to examine those hard to see places within your specific application. A borescope will assist in identifying cracks, rust, debris, signs of overheating, and other nonconformities. Of course, the borescope is considered non-destructive test equipment as you do not have to dismantle or ‘destroy’ the inspection area to take a look inside. Borescopes offer a wide range of pricing and features. Those who invested a significant amount of money in their borescope inspection camera want to protect it but as well as the person that only required a low-cost borescope.

While some damage to your borescope can’t be prevented, there are steps you can take to avoid damage or further damaging your borescope. Early detection of performance issues with your borescope is critical as small problems can rapidly lead to major issues that will take more effort and expense to repair a borescope. Addressing the minor issues with your borescope in a timely fashion usually translates into lower borescope repair costs and faster turnaround times to get the system back in your hands.

Here are some steps you can take to evaluate your borescope before and after use to confirm proper functions or identify damage to your borescope:

  1. Check the image of the borescope. A fiberscope is commonly called a borescope. These inspection devices are exactly what they sound to be, an inspection device that utilizes either glass or plastic fibers to transmit the image to the eyepiece. When viewing through the eyepiece over a white and clean surface. If you see black spots or it looks like someone shook some pepper inside, those are broken fibers. Having a few broken fibers or half tones shouldn’t prevent you from continuing to use your system. However, it does mean that at some point the probe suffered hard contact to the probe, a severe bend beyond the recommended bending radius and you should examine your inspection processes to identify countermeasures. If the fiberscope has too many broken fibers it can prevent you from performing an acceptable borescope inspection. This is true of the mini borescope as well. If you have a videoscope, that is a borescope that offers a micro camera at that tip you can still confirm image quality. The major concern for videoscope is, image quality is paramount when and if the system is being used in higher than ambient air temperatures. The borescope camera in most cases is designed for use in temperatures up to 176 F. If the image appears to be a bit blurry this could be a sign of use in high-temperature exposure. You must allow the inspection item to cool down before introducing the inspection camera. This is extremely important for aviation borescope inspections as the engine may have just been running.
  2. Check the Insertion probe. The borescope probe, also known as borescope wand or borescope insertion tube varies in length and diameter. The most common diameters are 4mm and 6mm diameters. Borescope probe lengths can be as long as 100 feet with pneumatic articulation. The most popular length for an articulating borescope is usually between 2 and 3 meters. For most industrial applications the borescope will offer either a stainless steel or tungsten braided sheathing. Inspect the probe to confirm the absence of any frayed wires or kinks in the probe. The frayed wires have the potential to hang up as you are introducing the borescope into the inspection area. This could cause you to have to use more force as you enter and exit the probe. In addition, the exterior sheathing is designed to protect not only the communication ribbon that travels down the length of the probe to the tip from the control station but in some cases the fiber optic lighting. Replacing sheathing on a borescope is not an expensive repair but if the ribbon is damaged the cost is much more significant. It is highly recommended that you repair any minor damage to the probe sheathing before it becomes a much more costly issue.
  3. Check the bending section. The bending section or the borescope articulation section is the most sensitive part of your borescope. A lot is going on in that small area at the distal tip of the borescope probe. The last couple of inches of the probe contains a mechanical vertebra that allows the probe to be manipulated with the articulation cables as well as protect the communication ribbon and lighting conduit. Since this part of the borescope will be actuated repeatedly, the best articulating borescope protect this section of the probe with tungsten as it is a harder metal. Under the metal sheathing there is a rubber sheathing or sometimes called a rubber boot which is designed to aid in providing protection against liquid migration entering into the borescope probe or the camera housing. If you identify signs of wear, the rubber tips being exposed or if there are ripples in the bending section that provide resistance when entering or removing the probe from the inspection area, it is wise to address this early instead of later.
  4. Check the probe tip. At the tip of the probe, there is a metal can or housing that not only protects the micro camera at the tip but in some models holds the mini-LED lights at the tip. In addition, at the tip of the probe, there is an external lens that is usually made of glass or polished plastic. Any noticeable dents in the camera housing could compromise the seal around the precision fitting of the external lens and the housing. If this happens it becomes easy for liquid or other debris to enter behind the external lens and compromise the image quality. In some cases, liquid migration can cause the borescope image camera or borescope micro camera to fail. Issues with the borescope should be addressed before a catastrophic failure occurs. In addition, some borescopes will provide interchangeable tips. Some of these borescope tips offer a different depth of view or a side view. These tips usually are threaded on and in some cases offer a double-threaded tip so that the tip will not accidentally fall off during the borescope inspection. Periodically check the threads of the borescope where it will receive the tip. Make sure that the tip is free of debris and the threads are clean. Also, check the threads of the tip itself to make sure that they are clean and free of debris. These borescope tips should only be manually attached and do not use pliers to adhere or any adhesives to attach the borescope tip to the probe. Always take your time installing these tips to ensure that you are not cross-threading the tip. It is also recommended that you attached and remove the borescope tips over a clean and level work area. Never install or remove the borescope tip while on an elevated surface or any open pit that would allow you to lose the borescope tip if your drop it.
  5. Check the articulation. Most borescopes offer high tensile cables to control the borescope articulation. At the handle of the borescope, the controls will either be manual or electronically assisted. Some customers prefer the manual borescope articulation as they state that they can feel when the probe tip has resistance inside the inspection area. While the electronically assisted borescope articulating systems may continue to try to move the tip when there isn’t enough room to complete the operation. Periodically check your articulation angles or sometimes called borescope articulating deviation. Most systems will offer at least 90 degrees of articulation. The articulation cables can be stretched over time and not provide the desired borescope articulation performance. If you find this to be the case with your borescope system, in most cases the borescope cables can be tightened. You should also identify the specific task that is creating the issue and change your inspection standard. If the cable breaks you will lose borescope articulation in the angulation. It is possible that a solder point could break up in the handle and this is a relatively easy borescope repair to perform. But usually, the cable will break at the probe tip where the borescope tip is actuated. This will require the borescope probe to have a complete breakdown because the borescope articulation cable will have to be replaced from the handle down to the tip. For most of our borescope repair customers, if this happens, we recommended replacing all the cables. Most of the labor is tied up with breaking down the probe and putting it back together. Changing out the other or other 2 articulation cables does not add that much more cost to the repair.
  6. Proper Storage. If you have a cheap borescope or the best borescope camera, your borescope arrived in a storage case and this should be used every time the system is not in use. Even in the system is stored in the case, the borescope should be stored in a room with ambient temperature. Never leave your borescope out in the open where someone or something could strike the system and cause damage. Never store the borescope when it is exposed to sunlight for long periods. You should not leave your borescope attached to the charger longer than the recommended charging times.

These are just a few recommendations that will help prolong the life of your borescope or sometimes referred to as an endoscope.

If you find that your borescope needs a minor repair or a major repair, USA Borescopes is a proven and reliable source for your borescope repair needs. At USA Borescopes our certified borescope repair service is performed by trained Technicians that will address your borescope repair down to the component level.

Let us show you how much time and money you can save with your next borescope repair! Send in your borescope today! Our evaluations are no charge and repair estimates are without obligation. We invite you to test our quality work on competitive pricing.