Inspection cameras and videoscopes are both latest generation remote visual inspection equipements with a camera sensor on board. Though they could be named one for the other, they are usually differentiated based on the following:
- Size : videoscopes are below 12mm diameter and inspection cameras usually above 20 mm diameter.
- Articulation / rotation : videoscopes tips move trough mechanical articulation systems triggered from the main control unit whereas remote visual inspection cameras heads embed pan and tilt motors
- Modularity : videoscopes heads or tips are built in a scope or probe with a defined length (2 meters, 3 meters, …) which can not be changed. Inspection camera heads are linked to the cable, push rod or crawler through connectors and can move from one system to the other. Their potential application scope is therefore higher.
What’s the difference between a videoscope and a remote inspection camera?
Other differences include lighting power, optics and maintenance :
- Lighting power can be higher with remote visual inspection cameras due to the diameter of the head; mutliple LEDs (6, 12 or 24) are positionned at the tip of the head and bring strong lighting. LEDs can also be positionned in order to prevent overexposure. On the other hand, videoscope light sources are included in the control unit. Their power has to be limited due to space and overheating. The light is brought through fiber optics to the tip of the videoscope.
- As far as optics are concerned, videoscopes usually work with interchangeable tips in order to manage various fields of views, focus ranges hence working distances. Industrial inspection cameras can include a variable focus system allowing to work at any distance for a given field of view.
- Finally, maintenance is the last but strong differentiating point between pan tilt inspection cameras and videoscopes. Videoscopes are highly complex systems with articulation mechanics, optics, sensors and electronics all tied into 4, 6 or 8mm diameter. The tip of a videoscope represents up to 70% of its value. It’s however its most exposed and difficult to maintain part. On the contrary, pan tilt visual inspection cameras are robust, with all sensitive elements protected by aluminium or stainless steel outer shell, and modular, with service performed element per element (sensor, motors, optics), driving maintenance costs down in a dramatic way.
Videoscopes and remote visual inspection cameras are two complementary tools. Videoscope unbeatable advantage is its diameter allowing for insertion into the smallest environments. However, inspection cameras should take over as soon as the insertion diameter is big enough. Modularity brings better access, focus means easier inspection and stronger lighting guarantees a better image.