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Hawkeye Borescope & Accessory FAQs

If you have a question not listed below, please give us a call.

Borescope Lightning Questions

Digital Camera Questions

Video Capture Questions

Borescope Measurements

Video Microscope Measurements

Miscellaneous Questions



BORESCOPE LIGHTING
Q: Which Light Sources are for which products?

A:

All of our Luxxor and NOVA light sources will work with any of our borescopes. Which one you should choose depends upon your application. If you are looking into a large cavity (building wall, diesel cylinder, etc.) then you will need more light than if you are looking into a small cavity in a machined part. The finish of the cavity will also have some effect. You will need less light if the cavity walls are white and/or shiny than if they are dull and/or black. Video and digital image capture requires more light than viewing by eye.

Keeping all this in mind, here are some general recommendations, but remember your specific application may be different.

Mini-Maglite - portable operation
  • Small bores (< 1" dia.) such as rifle barrels, fuel injector cavities, small valves, manifolds.
  • Viewing by eye in most small cavities.
  • Not very effective for use on flexible borescopes even in small cavities.
  • Use with any Rigid Hawkeye Borescope.
Super NOVA Light - portable operation / rechargeable
  • Medium bores (< 4" dia.) such as engine cylinders, wall cavities by eye.
  • Small bores by turning down light output.
  • Portable digital image capture in small bores
  • Use with HBF flexible borescope for portable applications.
  • Use with any rigid Hawkeye borescope or the HBF flexible borescope.
Luxxor 24- line power or portable operation with optional battery
  • Large cavities (< 8" dia.) such as engine blocks / cylinders, tubes and pipes.
  • Small and medium bores by turning down light output.
  • Works well in most video applications.
  • Works well with Hawkeye Blue Flexible borescopes.
  • Use with any rigid Hawkeye borescope for video and with Hawkeye flexible borescopes by eye.
Luxxor 50- line power
  • Very larger cavities such as walls, pipes, large diesel cylinders, pressure vessels, tanks.
  • Small and medium bores by turning down light output.
  • Often required with HBF and Hawkeye Blue flexible borescopes for video.
  • Use with any Hawkeye borescope in large cavities or with Hawkeye flexible borescopes for video.
Q: What are Run Times and Battery Life for various lighting options?

A:

SUPERNOVA
Run time:  70 minutes
Charging time:  2-2 ½ hours
Battery life:  2-4 years with proper care, this means keeping it charged when not in use
Shelf life:

NOVA
Run time:  Up to 1 hour continuous use before recharging
Charging time: 
Battery life:  3 years average
Shelf life:  2 months without being charged

LXX24
Lamp run time:  500 hours

**Turning the LXX24 on and off quickly makes the lamp life shorten as well as runs the risk of blowing the bulb.  Once you turn the unit off, it must be kept off for a full minute before turning it back on. 

LXX-BATT-PAK
Run time:  Lasts 2 hours

** If the battery sits idle on the shelf, then to preserve the ability to deliver full power, it should be “top-charged” every 3 months. To top-charge, place the battery on the charger for at least 3 hours.

MINI-NOVA
Run time:  1 hour at full intensity
Battery life:  30 hours


DIGITAL CAMERAS
Q: Why don't you offer a digital camera?
A:

We have tried many digital cameras with our borescopes and found a great deal of variation in the image quality of the captured photos. We started with the Sony Mavica FD-73 and later switched to the Sony FD-200. Both had a number key features which make them well suited for use for borescope photography and both have now been discontinued. We then found that the Sony DSC-H1 worked well, once you got all the settings correct. Sony discontinued the H1 and replaced it with the H5, then the H9 and now the H50. Quite frankly, we have not found a digital camera that takes better pictures through a borescope than the old Mavica FD-73. Because digital cameras change so quickly and we could not offer the cameras at a price competitive with what you can find on-line, we decided to discontinue our digital camera offering. We still offer digital camera couplers, so you can attach most digital cameras with a filter thread adapter.  {If you want to choose another camera, read below and the next Q/A item.}

In addition to the obvious criteria of "How does the resulting image look?", there are 5 key features you should consider.

  • How solidly are the filter threads designed into the camera?
  • What is the longest zoom lens focal length?
  • Does the camera have a manual focus setting?
  • Is the exposure sensitivity at least ISO 400 with low noise?
  • Is the LCD display large and clear enough to let you focus?

Many digital cameras mount the filter threads directly on the lens or use a long adapter sleeve. Filter threads on the lens work OK when attaching a filter, but would quickly lead to a destroyed camera lens if a heavy borescope were attached. The long adapter sleeve can work well if the threads both at the camera body and end of the adapter are sturdy and well designed. Many are not, but at least only threads are stripped and the lens is not damaged.

For the borescope image to be magnified enough in the photo, a long focal length objective lens is needed. Many digital cameras have a relatively modest 3X optical zoom range and then use digital zoom to achieve their advertised 10X. The digital zoom portion of the range results in lower resolution and should not be used unless it is 4 megapixel or greater. Our offerings give enough magnification without sacrificing resolution.

Manual focus is needed in most cases when taking photos through a borescope. Under most conditions viewing through the borescope, the auto-focus will hunt. This results in out-of-focus images most of the time. Being able to set the camera to a fixed infinity focus is very important to successful digital photography though a borescope.

Limited light is a given when using a borescope, especially in larger cavities. Digital cameras, like film measure their sensitivity to light using an ISO rating. Some digital cameras have a fixed ISO rating of 200. Others have a variable ISO rating ranging from 100 to 800 or more that can be set manually or automatically. There is a wide variation between digital cameras in the noise level in the photographs at larger (more sensitive) ISO ratings.

Finally, the size and clarity of the LCD display on the back of the camera will be a limitation on your ability to focus the borescope and get good pictures of your parts. The Sony cameras have a large clear LCD.

We are always on the lookout for a digital camera that will do a better job than what we currently offer. When we find it, we will pass the offering along to our customers.

Q: Can I use the digital camera I already own to capture borescope images?

A:

Maybe! There are many different digital cameras with widely ranging features and we cannot guarantee a particular digital camera will work satisfactorily. We can provide a list of key features that will give you a pretty good idea. A good resource for finding the features of a particular digital camera is dpreview.com.

ZOOM: For the borescope image to fill a reasonable portion of the screen, a long focal length lens is needed. Make sure that the optical zoom range on your camera goes out to a 350mm or longer telephoto (equivalent 35mm focal length). If your camera is 3 or more megapixel, then using up to 3x digital zoom to achieve this might be OK.

Filter Threads: The Digital Camera Coupler (DCC) attaches to the camera using the filter threads on the camera lens. We sell the DCC in 4 filter thread diameters and stock adapters to convert these to 6 more filter thread diameters. See the description of the DCC at our on-line store for the specific filter thread sizes available. Please NOTE: Some digital cameras require you to purchase an adapter before they can accept filters. If that is the case, you will have to purchase the adapter from the camera manufacturer or through a local camera store.

FOCUS and EXPOSURE: The auto focus and exposure features of your digital camera may not work correctly when attached to the borescope. Some cameras sense the focus and light level thru-the-lens, while others use external sensing. Be sure that your camera has a manual setting for both focus and exposure! The digital camera should have an ISO of at least 200 and 400 or more is preferred. A low light or moon light exposure setting may give you the best results. Some digital cameras take very noisy images in low light conditions.

WARNING: The weight of the borescope (or conversely the camera if the borescope is mounted) is much more than the camera lens was designed to support and it may break. Be sure both the borescope and camera are well supported, so that strain on the lens is kept very low and you do not damage your camera lens.


VIDEO CAPTURE
Q: Which video coupler should I choose?
A:

Which video coupler to choose depends upon both the particular borescope and the size of the video camera chip you will be using it with. A chart (as a pdf file) showing various scope / video chip combinations gives a clear idea of how this works. For Hawkeye borescopes, the following guidelines will be helpful.

Rules of Thumb

    1. Use VC-35 with Sony XC-555 camera (1/2" CCD)

    2. Use VC-25 with Luxxor camera (1/4" CCD)

exceptions:

    a. HBR 5.4mm and 8.0mm ==> Use Sony XC-555 with VC-25

    b. HBF & HFB2 flexibles ==> Use Sony XC-555 with VC-25

    c. Very High Magnification requirements ==> use VC-75 with
        narrowest FOV scope which meets customer's diameter and length constraints.


BORESCOPE MEASUREMENTS
Q: What measurement resolution can I achieve using a borescope?
A:

The resolution/accuracy depends upon the object distance and how accurately the object distance can be repeated between measurements. The capture resolution is 640 x 480 pixels, but because the scope has a round field of view, the useful pixels across the image is something closer to 450. As an example, if the object distance is such that a 1 inch diameter target fills the field of view, then each pixel represents 1" / 450 pixels = 0.0022". In principal then you could measure something to +/- 0.0022". If next time you placed the scope in front of the object, the object distance was such that a 0.9" diameter target filled the field, then each pixel would be 0.9"/450 = 0.0020". Let's say the first time you measured a feature it was 100 pixels wide, so you would say it was 100 x 0.0022" = 0.220" wide. With the scope closer, so you had the smaller 0.9" field, this same object feature would appear to be 110 pixels wide (since each pixel is now 0.002" instead of 0.0022"). If you didn't know you were closer, then you would assume the original pixel value and say that the feature was 110 * 0.0022" = 0.242" wide. You would be off by 0.022". This is an extreme case and you should be able to do much better than this with reasonable fixturing.

Our Hawkeye rigid borescopes have a Field of View of about 42 degrees, so the object distance ("L") for the first 1 inch field would be L = 0.5 / tan( 42 / 2) = 1.30". In the 2nd case, where the field was 0.9", the object distance would have been L = 0.45 / tan( 42 / 2) = 1.17". This is a change in object distance of 0.13". To get an accuracy of 0.01" for this example, the object distance would need to be repeatable from part to part to about half of this value or 0.065".

This sort of calculation needs to be done based on each specific overall field size to determine how accurately the object distance needs to be repeated to get a particular measurement accuracy. If you are dealing with small objects / features, then getting to 0.01" or better should be very achievable. For larger objects / features, then it becomes harder. In either case, accurate measurement using a borescope requires some sort of fixture/jig to help with repeatable object distances. Accurate measurement is not something that can be done by hand holding unless the part has an internal feature (such as a lip) that the borescope can touch each time to provide a built in fixture.


VIDEO MICROSCOPE MEASUREMENTS
Q: What measurement resolution can I achieve using a Luxxor Video Microscope?
A:

The resolution depends upon working distance and magnification. The Luxxor Video Microscope ships with a zoom lens that allows you to vary the magnification depending upon the part you are trying to view. Because of this, it is important to use the lock knob to "fix" the magnification before you begin the calibration procedure and leave it fixed as long as you want to continue measuring with that calibration. Complete instructions for calibrating the video microscope using the Video Toolbox software is found in the Luxxor Video Microscope User Guide, which can be downloaded from the User Guide section of this web site. The table below shows the range of resolutions which can be achieved with the supplied zoom lens. Measurement repeatability is +/- 1 pixel.

The accuracy will depend upon how well you perform the calibration procedure and what you have available as a reference standard. The reticle supplied with the video microscope for this purpose has a line to line tolerance of +/- 2 microns and line width tolerance of +/- 13 microns on 25 micron nominal line widths. This should provide a standard with accuracy of +/- 0.0005" at room temperature to use in the calibration procedure.

Experience shows that for most measurements, an accuracy a little better than 0.001" can be achieved in most situations.


MISCELLANEOUS
Q: What is the longest borescope you sell?

A:

The longest borescope we sell is 70.8" (1.8 meters) long and is a flexible borescope. The longest rigid borescope we sell is 37" (940mm) long.
Q: What is the smallest diameter borescope you sell?

A:

The smallest rigid borescope we sell is 1.0 mm in diameter. We also have a 0.9mm diameter semi-rigid borescope and a 0.9mm flexible borescope.
Q: What is the magnification?
A: Magnification of a borescope is a measure of how large and object appears when viewed through the borescope as compared to its actual size when viewed from the same location without the borescope. Magnification of a borescope is not constant! The magnification changes as the object distance changes, with larger magnification when the object is nearer the tip of the borescope. A graph showing how magnification changes with object distance reveals that the magnification does not grow linearly with object distance.
Q: What is the difference between a rigid and flexible borescope?
A: A rigid borescope uses a series of individual lenses or a long gradient index relay lens to relay the image of the objective lens to an image plane where the eye lens can magnify it and present it to the eye for viewing. A flexible borescope uses a coherent fiber bundle with thousands of individual fibers to relay the image from the objective to the eyepiece. Due to the "pixelated" nature of the fiberscope image relay device, the image from a fiberscope is never as good as a similar diameter rigid borescope. There is also much less ability to focus a flexible borescope because the two end faces of the coherent fiber bundle are well defined planes. Pictures of both types of borescopes and comparison images from each can be viewed here.