What are borescopes?

Computerized diagnostics have limited the use of borescopes in modern automotive repairs.

Borescopes are rigid or flexible tubes that provide visual access to hard-to-see areas. A borescope has a viewing lens at the top of the tube and an eyepiece lens, which mirrors light and instantly sends it back to the eyepiece. Borescopes can be equipped with cameras to capture visual data for review.

Automotive and aircraft mechanics often use borescopes to observe small parts of cars or aircraft that are not otherwise visible without taking them apart. Since disassembling a part from an airplane or car can create more problems, using a borescope eliminates this step and diagnoses problems or determines the solidity of a specific part. The use of borescopes is particularly important for aircraft mechanics, because there are many safety and soundness rules and requirements that must be met before a plane can leave the ground.

Automotive mechanics often use borescopes.

Boroscopes equipped with cameras are used in search and rescue operations. Without having to enter a dangerous area, such as a collapsed mine or a pit of unknown depth, rescuers can use a borescope to obtain information about survivors, as well as data that determines how a rescue operation should proceed. The oscilloscope provides accurate measurements and can pinpoint any potential hazards when entering an area to retrieve someone or something.

In an unfamiliar environment, the borescope hoses are useful for negotiating any turns or changes in direction. The flexibility of the tubes can sometimes reduce the quality of the images obtained. In familiar areas, like the inside of an engine, mechanics prefer rigid tubes because the images are better, making diagnosis easier.

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When choosing a borescope, size and pixilation are important considerations. Anything below 10,000 pixels should not be considered. The norm for flexible borescopes is 15,000 to 24,000 pixels.

Size is a special consideration when selecting rigid borescopes. Objective lenses are classified by type. There are three types: achromatic doublets, Hopkins rods, and gradient index lenses. If a borescope needs to have an especially small circumference, gradient index lenses are the best choice. Hopkins temples work well for medium spaces and achromatic lenses are generally chosen for larger spaces.

Small, medium and large are relative terms. A large space, for example, would be over 0.18 inches (4 mm) in diameter – so it’s easy to see that borescopes are actually quite small. Flexible search and rescue borescopes can have a diameter of about 2.54 cm.

Borescopes in their various applications can provide us with information that is mundane or of paramount importance. When borescopes detect a problem with an automobile or plane, they are critical to saving lives. Used in search and rescue operations, borescopes can significantly improve the chance of helping trapped and possibly injured people. This little invention, then, exponentially increases the quality of our lives.

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