Stuart wrote about the Milwaukee M-Spector with the Pivot View head back in 2015. It’s been on the market for a while and I’ve had a test sample for about a year.
The first time I tried it at NPS16 last year, I thought it was a pretty neat idea to be able to move the head by turning a knob on the handle, but after I got my test sample I never really followed up on a review because there were other tools I was more interested in.
I’m still not really ready to review this tool, I don’t feel I’ve used it enough to give it a fair shake. Once every few months I’ll run into a task where it’s handy to have an inspection camera, so I’ll pull out the M-Spector Flex when I need to look down some drain tile in my sump basket, or I want to see whats down a drain before I start talking it apart. It worked fine until a few days ago when I wanted to look into my garbage disposal.
I couldn’t figure out why the head wasn’t pivoting in the disposal like it should and discovered it had lost the ability to swing a full 180° from right to straight to left. It was only pivoting from left (or right depending on your orientation) to straight.
I thought this would be a good opportunity to take the Pivot View cable apart to see how it works. I imagined it was pretty simple: there’d be two cables that wrapped clockwise and counterclockwise around the knob that would pull the head in the direction of the tight cable. I was pretty much right.
The Pivot View cable has two inner cables that pull the head to the left of right depending on which direction you turn the handle. At the end of each cable there is a spring that is supposed to prevent the cable from snapping if you bend the camera end without turning the knob. Evidently the spring wasn’t enough to save one of my cables from snapping.
The cables are soldered onto a brass double pulley. My cable snapped right at the solder joint. I tried to remelt the solder to reattach the cable, but I couldn’t get it to melt. I didn’t want to heat it too much otherwise I could damage the plastic insert inside the brass pulley. The plastic bit is removable via a spring clip, but I didn’t have the right size tool available.
Rather than try to resolder the cable I decided to super glue it in place. I dabbed some super glue in the channel, placed the cable inside, then hit it with some accelerator. For good measure I dropped a bit more super glue on top of the cable and hit it with accelerator again.
After reassembling the mechanism I tried it out and the head pivots to both sides again. I shot some video of it below. (Click to play.)
I’l try to be pretty careful with this cable from now on and not crank the dial fully side to side, but more likely I’ll probably forget about the repair. Then I’ll see if the repair was really successful.
The M-Spector Flex with the Pivot View head isn’t cheap, you can pick it up at Home Depot for $700. If you have the M-Spector Flex and don’t have the pivoting head, you can purchase the Pivot Head cable separately for $390.
After looking inside, I’m a little disappointed in the quality of the pivoting mechanism. Since you can buy a new M-Spector Flex non-pivoting head inspection cable for $170, the pivoting mechanism costs you $220 extra. I would have expected a little more robust mechanism for that kind of money.
I think there’s room for thicker inner cables. I also think that rather than soldering the inner cables to the brass pulley, creating one point of stress on the cable, there should be a way to attach the cable to the pulley that distributes the stress on the cable.
It would be interesting to see if anybody else has had this issue.