Summary: Inspection cameras are becoming more accessible and affordable for pros and DIYers alike. Learn what these cameras can be used for and what they can do.
MIKE: ... and you get a little bit nicer camera. It's awkward sometimes to find that screen.
BARNABY: Hey, what's happening? Barnaby here, along with my compadre Mike Johnson, talking about the Inspection Tools, a relatively new development in the world of tools, right, Mike?
MIKE: Yeah, I think so. The technology is catching up, and the prices drop, and it's allowing them to come out and be accessible to people like me.
BARNABY: Better late than never. They're so great, because I plan on using one of these this weekend. Really, one of these, because they're right here for me to take. It's going to be at my house because my buddy came over to help me tear out the floor in the bathroom and, while I was on break, he decided to clean up some of the wiring. Thereby, now my porch light doesn't work, my foyer light doesn't work, and my wife's like ...
MIKE: The porch light comes on when you turn the water on?
BARNABY: No, but now I got to snake down the wall and find out where the wires are that I need to rectify, so this will be great for that.
MIKE: Absolutely. If you want to see what's back in the wall, you can drill a little hole now instead of having to guess or tear the whole wall apart.
BARNABY: For a leaky pipe, it would be great to find that.
MIKE: If you're looking for a specific wire that's running down the wall, maybe you've got a video feed or a network cable that's giving you fits, you can find it with one of these things.
BARNABY: You hear a little rustling in the wall. What is it in there? Is it the kitty cat or the chipmunk?
MIKE: In automotive, they'd like it, too.
BARNABY: You can do it with this sort of thing. Let's start with the lower price, working our way up to the more sophisticated tools. This one, it's got a power button, brightness of light and a couple of tools.
MIKE: You've got tools that clip on the end here on the camera. You've got a cable, you've got a camera head, and you've got a magnetic tool that will pick up your nut that dropped down in your engine bay …
BARNABY: That'll be the little grabber right there?
MIKE: ... and you've got the mirror there. The smaller, shorter camera heads here will bend in a more tight radius than a longer one will. It allows you to get into smaller places, but even that's got limitations. When that limits out, you can't get around a corner. It won't bend tight enough. Throw that mirror on there, and now you can see around the corner.
BARNABY: Bosch says this is currently the smallest head in the industry, so for that, you can get around the tightest corner. It also has a video out.
MIKE: Yeah, it does, so if you wanted to throw that video on a larger screen, or you wanted to record it, I guess, you can run it to a video recording unit.
BARNABY: This runs off of the Bosch Power Platform, which, in this case is 12 volts. Onto the world of Rigid. Got to wake this guy up right here, because they have a sleep mode sometimes.
MIKE: It's going up in price. You're getting a nicer screen and you're getting a little bit nicer camera, I think. You've got four LEDs on this one, so you're getting a little more balanced lighting in the camera.
BARNABY: With the monocular light, there's a little bit of shadow. This has the ability, too, to put electronics out. You can put it back into your computer or TV.
MIKE: You've got the same kind of attachments on this one. This one is not running on rechargeable batteries, although, if you've got the rechargeable AA's , you could be considered rechargeable, I guess. This is running on the AA's.
BARNABY: Check this out. I'm actually rotating the room. It's like I've got a case of the slow spins.
MIKE: When your one-meter cable is back in the wall, and you're sick of spinning this thing to try to make it make sense to you, you can just hit the Rotate button, it will spin the camera image around on it.
BARNABY: It, too, comes with a couple of the retrieving and sight-bending tools as well.
MIKE: You got it.
BARNABY: The Milwaukee, we enter into a whole different level of features.
MIKE: The multi-media Milwaukee. This is the most expensive of these four right now, unless you consider the General fully dressed with all of the options, but just camera for camera, this one's on top. This one's just slightly under, and then it goes less expensive.
When you get up into this league here, you've got on-board storage. You've got zoomability. We were talking to a guy earlier, and he says that he had one of these things up in his ceiling. He was trying to run some wires. He got to the end of his rope, end of the cable there. He needed to see just a little bit further, and they make extensions for these cables. He didn't have one, but he was able to get the job done by zooming in and seeing what he needed to see in the distance.
BARNABY: This will come in handy, too, if you're going to doing that, you're going to need all of the light possible. Keep hitting the plus and the light will get brighter and brighter.
MIKE: You can record video and pictures on this.
BARNABY: Check this out. It's got a little SD card right here, so I guess the word is, it's 12,000 pictures and 90 minutes of video. Think of all the fun you could have with that. It's waterproof, which all these heads would be.
MIKE: Ice fishing?
BARNABY: Sure, why not? Then the General, this one has a wireless capability to it?
MIKE: Once we get up into the General, for one thing, you're looking at a smaller diameter cable on this one. They make different sized cables for all these things. This one happens to be the smallest diameter. The nicer thing about the smaller diameter cable is that it can get into smaller spots …
BARNABY: Smaller hole to patch in the wall.
MIKE: ... so that's nice. There may be some trade-off in camera, but that's just what those look like.
Anyway, wireless-wise, what they've done is they said in some cases, when you've got this thing finagled around to get the camera down where you want it, it's awkward sometimes to find that screen. What they've done is they've made the screen removable. Now, you can … isn't that neat … you can pop the screen off, you can have this wherever it's convenient for you to look at. It's got magnets, so you can stick it up, if you're working with duct work or whatever, it helps you to hold it someplace.
The wireless capability doesn't stop there. If they're sending a signal wirelessly to a camera, they thought, "We're already doing the wireless thing. What else can we do with it?" They sent up this kit right here, where you can get a little software, put it on your laptop or your computer, you can pick this guy up and plug that into your USB, and what it will do is send the video signal onto your computer. Through your computer, and maybe the magic of Skype or something like that, you can send that thing right off to whoever you want.
Say, for instance, you're trouble-shooting a big machine, and you're not sure exactly what the problem is or how to identify the problem, and you want some expert eyes on it, in real time, while you're looking at it, you can send this video to someone that could be talking to you, telling you, "Wait, wait, back up. That's where your problem is," and they can see it right then.
BARNABY: "Run! She's going to blow!"
MIKE: "Cut the red wire!"
BARNABY: Now, this is going to be an additional buy?
MIKE: Yep, that's about $100 now, extra.
BARNABY: As far as charging it goes, this one is ...
MIKE: This one doesn't have removable batteries, but you can plug both, obviously, the camera and the screen are going to be running on their own battery supplies, but you can plug them both in at the same time and charge them both at the same time, and it's got onboard storage.
BARNABY: You can also upload it to the 2 gig disk right there if you don't want to be sending it off wirelessly.