Video camera probes are one of the wonders of our age, but the cheap ones we always seem to borrow make us wish the resolution was better.
And so we were intrigued when coming across the VA-980 probe at the Oasis Scientific booth at AirVenture. At $400 it’s not exactly at the bottom of the price scale, but it recently was updated to 720p and was putting up sufficiently high-fidelity images on a laptop screen that got us to stop and take a second look. For once the resolution was sufficient to make us think we knew what we were looking at, plus the depth of field was workably deep. Not that you’d reshoot Citizen Kane with this near-macro lens, but you get the idea.
With an easily articulated head the VA-980 was also demonstrating admirable in-the-cylinder gymnastics. By squeezing the single-lever control the view would curl from straight down the bore, to what remained of the cylinder crosshatch (entertainingly interrupted by honking goobers of rust on the demonstration cylinder), to the valves, valve seats and right around to looking back at itself penetrating the spark plug hole. All of this easily accomplished with the control stick and rotating one’s wrist.
The probe is a useful but not awkward 32.5 inches long and is semi-rigid so you can form it into a dogleg and it will hold its shape if that’s useful. The bright led lighting is dimmable and the tool is native to Android phones. Adding the $100 Airbus WiFi adapter gets iPhone and Apple users into the game wirelessly. Otherwise laptop connectivity is via USB cable.