Borescopes are viewing instruments that allow professionals or DIY enthusiasts to get a detailed look at small and enclosed spaces that would otherwise be difficult to inspect. A borescope can help you diagnose a problem, or it may simply enable you to ascertain that your working area is in tip-top condition.
While industrial borescopes used in industries such as the aerospace sector or the servicing of manufacturing equipment are highly advanced and cost thousands of dollars, most people will get by with a basic and inexpensive borescope.
Car mechanics, HVAC technicians, plumbers, pest control professionals, and home inspectors, for instance, can usually meet their needs with one of the many inexpensive borescope models that have flooded the market in more recent times.
Although some borescopes are shipped with built-in LCD screens (and many have removable media cards), there are many compelling reasons to opt for a USB borescope or wireless borescope.
These borescopes do not feature their own LCD screens. Because of that, they are both more portable and cheaper. Instead, to view the images the borescope captures, you’d make use of a screen you already have. Laptops are often used for this purpose, but the fact that most people own Android smartphones that they carry with them wherever they go makes connecting a USB or wireless borescope to an Android phone especially appealing.
How can you use a borescope with your regular Android phone? Here’s what to watch out for as you shop around for a new borescope, and what to do when you receive your new tool.
1. Check if the Borescope Is Android-Compatible
As you shop for a borescope that can connect to your Android phone, it is crucial to play close attention to the borescope’s compatibility. Some USB borescopes (which will sometimes be advertised as endoscopes, by the way) are designed specifically for use with Android phones. The manufacturer will state what version of Android you need to have to be able to use the device, and may also specify which specific phones can work with the borescope.
Note that some USB borescopes or wireless borescopes will work with practically any device — meaning laptops, iPhones, and Android phones. Other borescopes are exclusively designed to be used with iPhones, and you will not be able to connect these with your Android phone. Read the fine print before you buy a new borescope.
2. Check if Your Android Phone Is Compatible with the Borescope
Android phones need to have an OTG function to be able to work with USB-connected borescopes. Short for USB on the go, OTG means that you can connect your phone to other devices — like flash drives, keyboards, cameras, and of course borescopes or endoscopes. If your Android phone doesn’t feature an OTG function, you’ll need a WiFi adapter to get your borescope to work with your phone.
It is also good to know that most borescopes designed for use with Android phones have USB B ports as well as USB C ports. Don’t assume, though — look through the borescope’s specifications to check that the borescope can connect to your Android phone without any problems.
Not sure where to get started? Some of the most popular Android-compatible borescopes on the market today include:
The best thing? All of these borescopes can be yours for under $40. If you want to spend more for a borescope with additional features, such as an articulating borescope or a dual-camera borescope, you certainly can. However, even these more basic models will meet many professionals’ everyday needs — and save them a lot of headaches.
3. What’s Next Before You Can Start Using Your Borescope?
Many borescopes designed to be used with an Android phone are incredibly simple to use. You may only need to plug the borescope into the appropriate USB port on your smartphone and launch the phone’s camera application to get started.
Instead of using your phone’s own camera, the application will automatically show you the footage from the borescope. (This means that the resolution you get is the resolution the borescope’s camera offers, so pay attention to this as you shop, as well.) In most cases, the borescope will have a set of controls that allows the user to dim and brighten the light at the tip of the probe to get an optimal view.
Other borescopes either require apps to work with your Android phone or offer optional apps that make the borescope easier to use. This is especially true for wireless borescopes. These apps are user-friendly and intuitive, but you can still benefit from reading the instruction manual to get the most of your borescope.
With the app, you’ll usually be able to record the footage your borescope captures — allowing you to share it with clients as required.
What Else Do You Need to Consider?
Of course, it’s important to make sure that the borescope you buy has the features you are looking for. Consider the following factors, for instance:
Once the borescope of your choice arrives, give the manual a good read, and you’ll be good to go. Simply insert the probe into the target work space gently and slowly, making sure that the diameter of the probe is appropriate, and keep an eye on the camera the entire time.