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Q-talk 148 - Mike's New Toy

by Mike Evans

I was reading one of my flying magazines when this article jumped out at me. You see, my plane, like many others, has been passed around quite a bit. I was curious about the areas I could not see, like the inside of the header tank.

I had removed the ancient float fuel gauge some time ago, so I had a nice-sized hole. However, no matter how I tried, I could not see inside the tank. Gee, if only I had one of those cameras they use to view sewers or cylinder valves. The magazine article was about just that kind of camera - and it was cheap! Would you believe about $35? Shipping from China took it up to about $45 + 2 weeks.

The magazine was the June, 2011 AOPA Pilot. The article was called "Will Medicare cover this" on page 87. The website mentioned in the article turned out to be a techie's toyland. (http://www.chinavasion.com/).

Now, I did get two "unsolicited" emails from China as a direct result of my order. I don't remember what the first one was, but the second one was trying to sell me a plant. No, not house plants, but a shoe factory or a cosmetic factory, etc. Kind of interesting! I have not received anything else and it's been nearly a month, so I guess that's not too bad for spam.

I would have liked to include an AVI movie, but they run up to 10MB per second. There may be a way to make them smaller or compressed, but I don't think it's necessary for this purpose. The photos are not HD, only 800x600 as I recall, but still very adequate, considering the alternative. Besides taking a movie, you can just move it around (while viewing the image on your laptop - full screen) and when you see something interesting, just click a button on the cable to save it to your desktop. Then you may continue without interrupton.

I'm sure I will also be using this to check out my main fuel tank when I get it put together.

Drain to carb.

The white "stick" in the Drain picture is actually a piece of thin nylon line which I inserted from the bottom through a right-angle fitting. In the video, you can see it wiggling.

Looking up at overflow tube to main tank.

In the Overflow tube picture, I stuck a drill bit through another fitting. Maybe someone can tell me the purpose of the aluminum tube which goes from the inside of the overflow tube to a fitting on the aft side of the header?

I have included the user file from the CD. If anyone is interested, it makes a pretty good read.

There are some limitations, however. If I had paid over $200, I would be unhappy about them. At this price, however, I can live with them.

  1. You have to twist the lens to focus. Virtually impossible when the lens is stuck inside "something". So, you need to focus before putting it in and then move the lens closer or farther to get a sharp picture. At first, this was very difficult, but then I took off the accessory, which gave me a much better depth of field and it was much better. For this particular application, I was able to get a depth of field of about 1.5 - 4.5 inches (the distance that is acceptably in focus).
  2. If you use the attachments Like the right-angle mirror required to see valves in a cylinder, be very careful that it doesn't fall off inside the. They are plastic, so they can't be picked up with a magnet.
  3. We are all used to holding a camera horizontal, the way we view our world. However, this camera is more like a pencil, so it's a constant effort to get it oriented so that "up" is "up". I thought about putting a ridge along the top of the pencil so that I would have a finger reference when probing.

By the way, in spite of what my wife says, I'm not sticking this new toy down the sewer!