Tool Review: General Tools & Instruments THE SEEKER 400 Series Video Inspection Scope

THE SEEKER 400 Series of Wireless, Recording Video Inspection Systems from General Tools & Instruments (General) includes three models that feature multiple, interchangeable camera-tipped probes and the ability to stream live video over the Internet.

All three models in THE SEEKER 400 Series (Nos. DCS400, DCS400-09, DCS400-05) Video Inspection Systems feature a standard base unit with a detachable, 3.5” LCD color monitor enabling remote viewing from as far away as 32’. The monitor features a 4X zoom and 180-degree image flip. All three systems include a 1m (3.28’) close-focus camera probe that is water-, oil- and dust-proof. The DCS400 features a 12mm diameter probe; the DCS400-09 has a 9mm probe, and the DCS400-05 has a 5.5mm probe. All of the probes are interchangeable and are available for any of the three units, and they’re available in longer lengths too.

Another optional product—the RCV100 Wireless USB Video Receiver—wirelessly connects THE SEEKER 400 Series models to a Windows computer, enabling video to be viewed directly on the computer or streamed live over the Internet via Skype for team-based diagnostics and remote training.

The review

The tool was reviewed by Lou Fort, lead tech at K.A.R.S. Inc. in Huntingburg, IN. He considers video inspection scopes “a time saver” and said THE SEEKER 400 is “a bit handier than some other scopes I’ve used.”

He thinks the RCV100 wireless receiver would have “limited practical application for most users, (but) could prove a huge time/money saver” when used in some circumstances.

Lou had to study the owner’s manuals carefully to get the tools working properly, and he had trouble loading the software that came with the tool. However when he downloaded the drivers directly from the company’s Website, everything worked properly.

“The DCS400-05 is pretty easy to use once you take the time to read the manual. Adjusting the settings in the display only took a few minutes. Trying to switch the wireless frequency was frustrating, until I re-read the manual. Switching the different camera probes and their respective tip accessories is a snap.”

The tool comes in a heavy duty plastic case that contains the base unit, camera probe, battery charger, USB cable, a 2GB SD card, a mirror, a pick-up hook and a pick-up magnet. There’s also a protective lens cap that screws into the camera tip. The wireless USB video receiver is packaged separately.

Lou found much to like about this tool, particularly the threaded tips that securely attach the accessories. “I stopped using tip accessories on my own scope because they kept coming off.”

He also appreciated the bright image provided by the multiple LEDs surrounding the camera tip. He called the removable wireless display a nice feature, and “the ability to take both still photos and video has proven to be very handy.”

He liked the 4X image zoom and image rotation, and he said the “real-time video sharing via the USB cable or with the wireless receiver allows for some interesting possibilities.”

One thing Lou didn’t like was the charger for the display unit’s two lithium-ion batteries. “It would be so much nicer if the display would charge through the camera body when attached. Having to piggyback the charger to both the display and the body just doesn’t make sense to me.”

He also noted that the 5.5mm probe didn’t hold a pre-bent shape as well as the 9mm probe.

Lou used the DSC400 to check for blocked HVAC drain tubes and to read casting numbers on the back of an engine “that no mirror could have ever shown me.” He also repaired the wiring on top of a fuel tank without dropping the tank.

“This is the first video inspection scope by General Tools that I have seen or used. I own a couple other video inspection tools, both high-end and entry level. I must say that General Tools did a fantastic job with both the lighting and threaded camera tips.”

Lou rated the DCS400 a 9 out of 10. “My first thought was an 8, but having the threaded camera tips bumps it up. If the 5.5mm camera had more resolution, more stiffness to it and recharging was simpler, it might be a 10.”