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Borescopes (or as they’re sometimes known – boroscopes) are visual inspection devices that allow users to see into areas where it might not otherwise be possible. They’re ideal tools for a huge amount of applications including aviation turbine and airframe inspections, land-based turbines, power generation, natural gas compressors, large diesel engines, heat exchangers and boilers, down-hole motors/ PC pumps, refineries, chemical process, nuclear power, wind turbines, paper mills, casting, HVAC and mechanical, military/EOD/law enforcement, mining and exploration and heavy equipment maintenance. In short, they’re an extremely practical tool that is perfect for any application where it simply isn’t possible for a human to see into without potentially costly dismantling of equipment.
A common borescope generally consists of three parts. First you have the borescope’s lens, which is used to see exactly into an application. This is then attached to either a rigid, semi-rigid or flexible piece of cabling that can be navigated into the target application. Naturally, flexible borescopes are much more adaptable to difficult-to-see applications, as the flexible cabling can be navigated precisely around corners, through holes and even occasionally submerged into substances. This cabling is then usually attached to a type of viewfinder – depending on the type of device, this may be a simple eyepiece viewfinder, but other devices are video borescopes, and feature large LCD screens for viewing and capturing whatever the viewfinder sees.
When in use, these tools are suitable for many different things. The first and most obvious use of the device it to simply check that things are installed correctly. Once inserted into the application users can begin to use the borescope to check for excessive corrosion, detect loose parts, spot potential leakages and more. Borescopes are also used quite commonly in the medical industry, but they’re generally called by their medical name – endoscopes. These allow doctors to perform intricate surgeries and analysis by passing the scope through the patient’s body, meaning there’s less damage done overall and internal problems can be spotted and rectified before they become a bigger problem.
Determining that you’re using the right type of borescope is an important part of considering which type of device to buy. Flexible versions of these devices, while handy for navigating into tricky areas, often suffer from pixilation and reduced image quality. This is because the flexible cabling used has integrated fibers – which leads to the product being also known as a fiberscope – relying on these fibers to construct an image. Depending on the make and model of fiberscope the results may be very different – generally the higher the price, the greater the overall quality of the image obtained. These type of scopes often also contain LED lights on the end, allowing the user to adjust the light as needed to obtain the best image possible (many also offer manual focus options).
In comparison rigid borescopes may sacrifice the overall ability to enter as many applications as flexible scopes do, but their image quality is generally greater and they generally cost less. This type of scope is best suited for tasks where it is impossible for humans to see well, but easy for a thinner application to enter. This can include looking inside automotive engines, inspecting aircraft turbines and other applications.
Video borescopes, or inspection cameras, are similar in design to their flexible counterparts. The only major difference between the two types of scope is that the video versions, naturally, can be used to capture video as tests are being performed. This is much more efficient than just using a standard scope, as problems that might be missed in real-time might be spotted at a later date once the video is viewed back. As before, the overall price of the device generally determines the overall video capture quality – cheap borescopes will produce a less crisp image, while more expensive options can be used to capture greater detail and detect more problems. Like flexible scopes, these devices also generally come with an integrated light and – depending on model – can sometimes be submerged into liquids.
It is also worth considering the overall pixel quality of the borescope you’re buying. Lower end devices generally are around 10,000 pixels, but it is recommended that devices with higher resolutions are purchased to maintain image quality (particularly if it is a fiberscope and the image might be more distorted).
Some types of these devices are also USB borescopes, allowing the capture video/images to be uploaded directly to PC via a USB connection. There’s even devices such as the Extech BR250, a wireless inspection camera that allows the user to actually detach the viewfinder from the probe and view it at a distance. This allows one user to navigate the flexible tubing throughout the targeted application while a second views the results, making life much easier when carrying out testing. This product also includes integrated 2GB microSD card, allowing users to capture images and video using the device.
At Tester.co.uk, we stock many different borescopes for sale. Many of our products are Extech devices – this manufacturer is well known for producing several quality devices, and there are flexible, rigid and video boroscope options available from this manufacturer. We also stock the Testo 319-1 Fiberscope Set, a flexible kit which includes magnet and mirror attachments as well as the standard Fiberscope.
Got any questions about the Tester.co.uk range of borescopes? Our team are on hand every weekday from 8:30 to 5:30 to answer any questions about our products, and you can get in touch by phone, email or by asking a question on the ‘Questions’ tab on any product.