If you’re just getting into underground asset CCTV inspection, or are simply looking to broaden your services with some new equipment investment, you may be finding the range and type of pole cameras somewhat confusing. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. That’s why this post is something of a pole camera primer.
What’s The Difference?
Mainline and lateral cameras are carried on tractors or crawlers, and used primarily for horizontal applications, viewing down long stretches of pipe that run from manhole to manhole. They are launched from access points that allow man entry to set up and operate the equipment.
Types of Pole Cameras
Pole cameras, on the other hand, are lowered from the top of a manhole on a handheld pole. There are two types: manhole and zoom cameras.
The manhole camera doesn’t require a long depth of field, since its job is confined primarily to televising the vertical stack of the manhole. It examines the walls for defects such as loose or missing bricks and mortar, cracks, evidence of water infiltration, and overall construction quality. Its main attributes are
- excellent close-up optics
- clear, variable lighting
- and light weight.
These cameras can also perform well in any enclosed environment, such as industrial plant stacks, chimneys and smaller tanks and vessels.
The zoom camera is also lowered down the vertical stack, but it rests on the bottom of the pipe and is used to look down the pipe horizontally. It’s a great tool for areas that won’t accommodate access for an inspection truck with a crawler. It’s good for a quick look around to identify blockages or a collapse, in preparation for a full crawler assessment, because it can’t see the condition or location of laterals.
Zoom cameras aren’t intended as a replacement for full assessments, but they’re good at justifying the costs of creating access for a full inspection by identifying whether or not one is needed.
Important Pole Camera Features
The important features of zoom cameras include:
- excellent analog and digital zoom quality
- flexibility and quality of the lighting (including the ability to intensify the light a focus as needed)
- light weight
- quick setup time
- wi-fi and battery operation, which provide operator flexibility in tight spots.
- An attractive option is a laser, to act as a distance measure while in the pipe.
Both types of cameras have the advantage of quick setup and the ability to do a fast inspection, which saves time and cost on any job. Good ones should mesh seamlessly with coding and reporting software. Powered tilt makes either one more versatile, and therefore more useful.