As part of our continued Milwaukee 2015 & 2016 new product preview coverage, today we’re going to talk a little bit about their new M12 M-Spector Flex inspection camera system.
Milwaukee already offers a couple of M-Spector inspection camera solutions (current line via Home Depot), but this new one is very different.
The first demo unit I saw had an unusually long camera cable attachment box. Hmm… what does this knob do?
Ah, it adjusts the PivotView flex-head camera module! I was asked to be gentle with the test unit, and so it’s probably just a prototype.
Before I thought about how useful this will be for peering around obstacles and scanning inspection spaces for whatever I’m looking for, I thought about how this looks to be taken straight out of an action movie scene. You know the type, where there’s a SWAT guy peeking through an air vent or under a doorknob to gain an advantage on the bad guys.
Oh, and did I mention – it’s got a removable wireless display as well! This is a great feature for 2-person teams where one person holds the camera in awkward angles, and the other watches the display.
Dewalt offers a similar 12V Max inspection camera with removable wireless display ($250 via Amazon), but it lacks some of the benefits of Milwaukee’s system, not to mention the PivotView camera cable option.
Unlike the Dewalt model, you can charge the Milwaukee M-Spector Flex’s wireless display and control module through the handset, OR through the built-in USB port.
The standard M-Spector Flex unit is more compact and a little more lightweight, as it doesn’t have the large PivotView control module pushing forward.
You can swap in PivotView or standard cables whenever you’d like, as the interface features a standard connection port.
I forgot to ask whether you can use these new M-Spector Flex inspection cameras with Milwaukee’s previous generation of cables. The poster I saw showed a 3ft cable, 9ft cable, and PivotView cable.
The second demo unit had a 3ft standard cable attached.
Milwaukee’s product manager said something about how bright the LED lighting is on the camera cable modules, and it lit up the inside of a concrete tube form in a simulated demo. Brighter and wider LED lighting sounds great to me, as this is one area where a lot of inspection cameras fall short.
ETA: Oct 2015
ETA: Spring/Summer 2016
Check out more of our Milwaukee NPS15 new tool coverage here!
I’m pleased to see Milwaukee pushing forward with their inspection camera offerings, and the new M12 M-Spector Flex system definitely features some new innovations.
A wireless display is something that competitors, such as Dewalt and Extech, have offered for a while. It’s also something that won’t necessarily benefit all users. Milwaukee’s demo unit (prototype?) was suffering from wireless interference issues, and I believe I was told that the production unit might use different protocols. Or something about how what I was seeing isn’t indicative of how the production units will perform. I’ll need to get my hands on one to do some proper testing once they’re released.
The PivotView flex-head feature is definitely appealing. On more than one occasion I have struggled to get an inspection camera cable positioned just right. Either I can’t get enough of an angle, the rotation is off, or the bend is wrong. Tweak, tweak, tweak, and I eventually accept the almost there picture that I get. I think that the flexible camera head will allow for quicker and easier work, which for pros could mean saved time and money.
While I wish that Milwaukee could have built a 2-dimensional flexible camera cable that can be adjusted with joystick to move in X and Y axes, I can’t imagine that this would be easy to do. Being able to move back and forth in one dimension is a big enough feat, for now. Yes, Milwaukee engineers, I’m challenging you to start work on the PivotView 2.0 module, which should be smaller and cable of adjustment in both directions!
On the X+Y axis comment- while from what I see and what I read it only pivots on one axis, which shouldn’t be a big deal. Just rotate the handle grip 90 degrees and the camera should also rotate right? then pivot the camera head.
Looks really cool I want one lol.
Rotating the handle grip isn’t always possible, and won’t always translate to a 90° turn of the camera head – it depends on the torsional rigidity of the cable.
Torsional rigidity describes flexible cable’s resistance to being twisted.
mike aka Fazzman
Man,that thing is cool.
This is a whole category of ‘tool” that keeps getting better and cheaper all the time. When we bought our first See Snake for sewer inspection – we thought it was the “bee knees” – but the original was soon traded in for one with more capability.
The latest has a much nicer monitor, a better (sapphire) lens that resists scratching, better battery life, better recording and ability to externally locate (not just measure how many feet are played out) where the end is actually at from above the ground. While this Milwaukee is likely to sell at a small fraction of what a CS10 system costs – I’m betting many will be buying this and selling their old ones.
I don’t think it was your intent to do so, but it sounds like you’re comparing this inspection camera to the Ridgid CS10 system. The CS10 is a much more sophisticated monitor and recording system, with a 12″ screen, and it pairs with 200′ SeeSnakes reels.
This unit will no doubt prompt a lot of handheld inspection camera users to upgrade, but I don’t think Milwaukee aims for it to compete with much more sophisticated and higher scaled systems.
What I would eventually like to see are affordably wireless self-propelled camera modules that can transverse horizontal and vertical pipes without requiring a cable or other physical connection. But I think this would be too challenging to design for different pipe materials and irregularly size cavities.
It wasn’t my intent to compare apples and magoes.
What I wanted to convey was the thought that continuing innovation and improvement in sewer inspection camera systems enticed us to upgrade several times. This Milwaukee camera – also representing a step-up in its class of system and will also likely entice owners of earlier variants to want to upgrade.
BTW – tethered and autonomous articulated pipe crawler robotic inspection systems seem to be making progress in the utility arena. After some past gas pipeline explosions around the country – I can certainly appreciate the need for such equipment – especially for what are sometimes called “unpiggable” lines – where short radius bends and complex geometries make using inspection pigs (so called smart pigs) impossible. ULC Robotics is one company working in this area. Most of what’s out there or being developed is way beyond what us mere mortals can afford (or need) – but like you I can wish.
I was pretty sure about that, but figured some background info and clarification would be helpful for other readers.
I’ve seen a few examples of large diameter robotic pipe crawlers, but was thinking more along the lines of smaller ones, maybe the size of a thumb.
Yeah – something lkie in the movies where a miniaturized submarine and its crew can be swallowed or injected and then inspect your alimentary canal , blood vessels and internal organs from the inside.
The big pipe crawlers – of course – are designed to do more than just visual inspection – and some have mag flux, eddy current and other NDT capabilities.
I own the Inspector MAA camera. Its OK. The real draw back is the long head of the camera. It’s very difficult to get around bends and corners.
Was the diameter of the head mentioned? Lighting is adjustable in brightness I assume (most Milwaukees are)?
Yes, LED brightness is going to be adjustable. This wasn’t stated outright, but I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be.
I’m not sure about the size of the camera head, but it’s definitely not sized for automotive applications. Might be 15-17mm. Maybe there will be a 9mm size down the road?
It looks like a great concept . I see the possibility for two man operation as useful .
Any hint of release date . Dose Milwaukee need Beta testers ?
ATM , I have two a little 360 guy in 9mm who spots a permenant hook , an one with 11″ of extensions semi permanently mounted , which can take video or stills . Model numbers escape me .
As mentioned in the post, ETA is October 2015.
I remember when these were called “borescopes”. Is that an evil term now, or just too esoteric? Because a bore doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with a gun. The concrete tube mentioned in the article is considered a bore in that nomenclature.
I’ve been on the fence about picking up a borescope, but this one looks like it will give me the function not to regret the purchase down the road. It all depends on how much they inflate the price, and how good the quality is, which are tough metrics to judge because they affect each other. I’d rather pay money for something good, but I’d at least like to know that I’m getting something good, not a piece of crap for a quality tool price.
I think Borescope was used back with it was just optical light with lenses. When they added the video camera to the mix it became an inspection camera. I don’t think the correlation of bore to gun was ever an issue .
As Jason mentioned, borescopes are different. They still make them, and some simpler inspection tools are still called borescopes when they lack photo or video capture capabilities.
Has anyone seen an update on availability? Thanks.
where can I get one? Oct. 2016, sure?
The release has been pushed back to Spring/Summer 2016. So, maybe June.
Milwaukee wasn’t able to give details about the launch delay, but the new inspection cameras are definitely still on the way.
Also, all I can find is videos about how good it can be, none from anyone who has one. Thx …Dave
Can you use the 9′ or 12′ cord with the pivot view camera?
No. But you can use a different camera module/cord with the same M-Spector Flex.