Most borescopes being sold today fall into one of two categories: they are either rigid borescopes or flexible borescopes. In situations where in the area to be inspected cannot be seen “straight on,” a flexible borescope is necessary in order to get around the bends or obstructions. In other situations, however rigid borescopes can be used — and in these situations rigid borescopes are actually preferable to the flexible type.
Why is this? Primarily it’s due to the fact that flexible borescopes must make use of a fiber optic technology which does not provide the same image quality as rigid borescopes. Rigid borescopes use other types of optical technology to deliver the image to the eyepiece. These are typically very small lenses. Another advantage of rigid borescopes is that they are usually less expensive than the flexible types.
Rigid Borescope Configurations
It is possible today to purchase rigid borescopes that have special configurations. For example, you can purchase rigid borescopes that have their end-lens at a 90° position relative to the tube. If you were going to inspect the walls of a narrow pipe, you could use one of these 90° rigid borescopes and move it up and down the inside of the pipe like a submarine periscope. Rigid borescopes with lenses placed at other angles can also be purchased: 70° and even 110° rigid borescopes are made today.
The best overall recommendation is this: unless you absolutely need to purchase a flexible borescope, choose a rigid borescope instead. This will give you the best quality image at the lowest possible price. Another important recommendation: when purchasing your rigid borescope, get one in the largest tube diameter that you can — the largest diameter that will comfortably fit inside the area that you need to inspect.
Here are some additional recommendations: when you purchase your rigid borescope consider possible accessories that you will need. For example, if you will be using your rigid borescope in the field rather than in a shop or factory floor, you will need to make sure that it has a portable light source — some sort of rechargeable battery, etc. On the other hand, if you will be using your borescope in one location indoors all the time, you can power your light source directly from a nearby AC outlet. And don’t forget to get the most powerful light source available for your particular model of borescope, as this will provide the greatest amount of illumination of the interior area during your inspections.
Another accessory that you may wish to purchase for your rigid borescope is a camera attachment. This will allow you to take pictures of what you discover during your inspections. You can also purchase an external viewing monitor for your borescope, to allow more than one person to view the inspection in process.
Finally, please be advised that newer-generation rigid borescopes can also be purchased with accompanying software applications, so that when your borescope is in use the viewed images can be displayed on your computer and saved as computer files for future reference or documentation. These saved video files can be extremely useful to have, if you need to share your findings with others across great distances — you can send these files as e-mail attachments, or even post them to a company website for viewing online.