Thought I'd pass along my informal review of a truly useful tool!

A recent issue of Kitplanes magazine reviewed the "ViVidia VA-400 Borescope" from Oasis Scientific. I saw another positive recommendation for the scope on the Jabiru/Camit Engine Owners Forum  This is a rigid USB 8.5 mm diameter borescope with an 180 degree articulating head. For only $150 and a 1 yr. warranty, it was too good to resist, so I ordered one through Amazon.

Having spent years performing surgery through scopes costing thousands of dollars, I  was impressed with the clarity and lighting of this inexpensive scope. Although it looks somewhat delicate or lightweight, I think it does present the best bang for the buck and should provide good service if handled with care. I’ve got two flexible “snake” scopes – one costing less and one costing far more – and neither has the image quality this scope has.  Of course, you’re providing your own display with this basic scope and I use a Toshiba  Android Tablet. I had seen some reports of difficulty with various computers and apps, but I downloaded the free “CameraFi” app from Google Play. When I plugged the scope into the tablet (a mini-USB to USB adapter cable was included!), the app automatically launched and worked perfectly.

The essential feature of this scope is the articulating head is – there is a push rod on the end of the scope’s handle – as you push the rod in, the end of the scope flexes up to 180 degrees, locking into position at any angle simply by releasing pressure on the push rod. At the base of the pushrod there is a catch you can depress with your thumb to release it. Makes for very easy one-hand operation! The 180 degree articulation allows you to look directly back up the scope at the valves in the cylinder heads. I've never seen a scope in this price range with an articulating head.

I also noticed the USB cable enters the handle of the scope in alignment with the lens of the articulating head – should be easy to keep your orientation. The USB cord has a rheostat in-line to control the LED illumination.

I plan to routinely ‘scope and photograph all my Jab 3300’s cylinders and valves at the annual condition inspection so hopefully I’ll learn what “normal” looks like and will have a baseline comparison if a problem came up.

John

N750A

(Not affiliated with Oasis Scientific)

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UPDATE!

There have been some significant updates/improvements to this scope and my experience with it.  The original scope worked great and I not only used it for annual cylinder/valve inspections, but also to look into other hard to access areas on the 750 STOL.  I had to replace it, however, due to an accident that was totally my fault - I thought it might be a good idea to protect the lens in storage with a soft plastic cap.  I found one that I "thought" fit OK and one day, it seemed stuck on the lens/camera. I gave a good tug to get it off and ripped-out the lens and camera! ARGGGGH!

The good news was that when I inquired about a repair, I was offered an option to simply get a new scope for $130, which by that time had escalated to a regular price of about $200.  So, I opted for that and it worked great.

Now, 2-3 years later, I was just performing the annual and borescope inspection and although I could see well enough to see the valves had a symmetrical pattern, etc., the resolution was a bit fuzzy and dim - I couldn't really tell much about the cylinder walls - whereas I always had been able to see the tiniest imperfections previously. I cleaned the lens several times to no avail.

I contacted Oasis and they said it was likely the lens or camera had somehow become internally contaminated.  They offered a repair for $99 and again, an option to just get a new scope for $180 (total including shipping).  The regular price of the new Ablescope VA-400 v5 is now $300.

I opted for the new scope as the camera resolution has been doubled and the articulating head has a permanent tungsten mesh protective sleeve vs the old scopes that used a replaceable rubber sleeve that was a nuisance to have to change periodically.  The ergonomics have been improved in that a button on the scope handle now controls the LED lighting and snaps pictures whereas the old scopes had this on the USB cable and it required two hands to hold the scope and adjust the lighting.

So, just a follow-up to update my experience and again, I highly recommend this scope.  Unfortunately, it's double the price I paid 7 years ago, but that's inflation for you! Ha!  I see there is a VA-400 listed on Amazon for $240, but I don't think it has all the features of the newly upgraded v5.

John

(not affiliated with Oasis Scientific, just a happy customer!)

This is the one I bought recently.  I like that the display is built in so I don't have to worry about updates to my phone OS not playing nicely with the camera.  The down side is that I can't position the display to a more convenient spot.  Overall, I'm hppy with it.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B28HRSBP?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_p...

Certainly has a good price, Doug!  FWIW, I've had no issues at all with the "Depstech" app (one of the apps recommended for my scope) having problems when the Android OS on my Samsung Galaxy S22+ is updated.  Used the same app for years with a variety of Android phones and tablets!  I agree it is an advantage in that the cord on my scope lets you set the display wherever is convenient.  Of course, since it has the USB cord, you can also use an Android tablet if you want a bigger display.  For iPhone users, I do think some sort of interface box accessory is required, so the VA-400 is a bit simpler when used with an Android system.

John

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