It’s hard to diagnose, at a glance, just why the air conditioner isn’t working, which component of a car’s engine is malfunctioning, or what, if anything, is stuck inside the ventilation system. Given the complexity of a lot of these structures, especially when it comes to electronics and their maintenance, painstakingly taking the whole thing apart for inspection or repair is not exactly practical.
This is where endoscopes can come in handy. Not to be confused with medical endoscopes – fibre optic pipes used for non-surgical procedures by doctors – these gadgets are, technically, borescopes. Mounted with a camera, these wires can be fed into narrow pipes or tubes and transmit images from within dark and enclosed spaces difficult to get at without dismantling the whole thing. Here are a couple of iPhone-compatible endoscopes you could choose to add to your regular collection of tools for the household.
Depstech WiFi Borescope Inspection Camera
Highly recommended for HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) inspection, these endoscopes are equipped with Hi-Vision 2 Megapixel HD cameras with multiple resolution options. Images and recordings are wirelessly transmitted to your handheld device via an easy-to-establish WiFi connection, and can be stored for later use.
Compatible with both Android and iOS 8+ smartphones, this endoscope lets you record and inspect confined spaces in difficult to access conditions, such as dark, damp or narrow areas, at close range. The cable is semi-flexible, ideal for bending and holding its shape when fed through holes or pipes, and can transmit images wirelessly over up to 15 meters. The device comes with an in-built lithium battery with an operating life of an hour, and can be charged easily using your phone, power-bank or computer.
Useful not only for pinpointing internal issues in anything from engines, machinery, assembly parts, turbines and so on, these are also convenient tools to have to run routine maintenance checks and inspections to catch a problem before it occurs.
STAR BUDGET PICK
LifeJournal Wifi Wireless Endoscope Camera
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This 2 megapixel CMOS camera comes with a 2 meter cable and a transmission range of 30 meters, recording snapshots and videos available to upload on your handheld device once you have downloaded the “WiFi View” app. The endoscope has its own WiFi signal to which your smartphone – including iPhones 6 and above – can connect.
With two available resolutions and an Ingress Protection rating of IP67 – one of the highest degrees of waterproof protection available for consumer electronics – this endoscope is suitable for use underwater as well as in dark, confined spaces. With 6 in-built LED lights to capture images in sharp resolution even in the dark, and an in-built battery which can be charged using a power-bank or computer, this is a handy, budget-friendly contraption to use for inspecting vehicles, pipes, ventilation systems and so on.
Sherosa USB Waterproof Endoscope
With 5 meters of cable available to bend and feed into complex structures, this endoscope comes equipped with 6 adjustable LED lights to throw dark areas into sharp relief when inspecting or performing repairs. A powerful camera of 2 megapixels with a focal distance of 4-6 centimeters captures images in one of two resolution options to allow for sharp, in-focus pictures.
The length and resilience of the cables makes this an ideal option to use when performing maintenance checks on the internal structures of machinery, engines, construction sites and so on, accompanied with a WiFi box to transmit images to your phone. With a maximum transmission distance of up to 30 meters, this endoscope can be used to look around difficult corners or to improve precision when performing complex repair jobs.
Attopro Wireless Digital Endoscope
With a 3.5 meter length cable and a viewable angle of 62 degrees, this endoscope can capture images in three available resolutions with 6 built-in, adjustable LED lights to capture high-definition images even in the dark. Installing the accompanying app to your phone allows you to sync into a live-feed transmitted by the endoscope straight to your phone, over a transmission range of 15 meters.
While this has a slightly lower waterproof level than the other picks on this list, it is still quite durable in moderate degrees of moisture or for use in damp spaces like pipes and sewerage systems. The endoscope can transmit to up to four devices at a time, and is compatible with most iPhone models. The cable is also available in lengths of 1 meter and 5 meters, depending on your preference.
Choosing the Best Endoscope for iPhone
Since the point is to be able to view, record or inspect hard to reach or inaccessible places, it is important to choose endoscopes which have a flexible, adjustable cable of considerable length, especially when used to inspect air vents, car engines and pipe-networks. While there are plenty of wireless endoscopes, we recommend choosing an option which has a broader transmission range, with the standard being up to 30 meters.
An ideal endoscope should also come with a decent camera – 2 megapixels is the standard – which renders images of sharp resolution and decent frame-rate, so recordings and live-feeds do not lag when being transmitted. Since they are intended for use in potentially difficult to see places, it is also important that the endoscope be equipped with functions such as adjustable lighting to illuminate exactly what you are looking at.
Another useful quality to look for is a high Ingress Protection rating. The higher the IP, the more durable the endoscope is for use in damp or waterlogged places, with IP67 and IP68 being the highest for many electronic devices, including smartphones.
Wireless endoscopes, especially, are handy to project these feeds to a phone or tablet screen, letting you figure out just which component of your car engine or air conditioner isn’t working and conducting careful repairs without the risk of damaging the whole structure. Oftentimes used by mechanics or maintenance workers handling aircraft or automobile maintenance, wireless endoscopes are useful to have around at home as well.