No matter how hard I try, I don’t seem to be able to stop the aging process. In my mind, I’m still 18 and can do anything; unfortunately I’m stuck in a 57-year-old body that has more limitations every day. One of the most aggravating limitations that I’m coping with is my vision. When I...
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No matter how hard I try, I don’t seem to be able to stop the aging process. In my mind, I’m still 18 and can do anything; unfortunately I’m stuck in a 57-year-old body that has more limitations every day. One of the most aggravating limitations that I’m coping with is my vision. When I was in my 20s, I had perfect vision and I could make keys by impression all day long without having to use anything to help my eyesight. Now I need contact lenses, a magnifying visor, and a lot of light. Even reading code numbers is getting more difficult. Of course, the dot-matrix codes don’t help any either.
Wafer lock reading is an aspect of automotive locksmithing that I didn’t really appreciate until I was in my 40s. As the impressioning marks got more difficult to see, I realized that I could often get the same information by using a scope to read the wafers inside the lock. Soon, I was carrying a fairly pricey medical scope around with me to decode door locks. In the mid-1990s, Strattec started stamping the depths on the wafers of VATS ignition locks and some of the Ford 8-cut locks, and I soon found another use for my scope.
At first, the biggest problem I had with the scopes was the price, but LED technology has reduced the price of the hand-held scopes while improving the light output at the same time. Now I own two hand-held scopes, (photo 1) one that stays in the shop and one that lives in the truck. The more I use the scopes, the more I love them.
About a year ago, Lockmasters started carrying a relatively inexpensive (as borescopes go) electronic scope, the V4 scope, (photo 2) that piqued my curiosity. My first thoughts were that I might be able to use it in my annual car opening research to check out the inside of doors without having to pull the door panel. As it turned out, the tool did give me a better understanding of what was in the door, but I soon discovered that there was no substitute for getting my hands inside the door.
Please understand that I am not talking about using this scope for actual car opening. Trying to get this scope inside a door with the window up would be hard enough, but aiming it where you want it to go with the window up is virtually impossible. When I use this scope on a car door, I’m doing it with the window down and the weatherstripping pulled aside so that I have the maximum amount of room in which to work.
The V4 scope incorporates a flexible camera probe with an integrated light source into what is essentially a digital camera. You can see the full-color output of the probe in real-time on the built-in screen, and you can also capture the image or a video on a removable SD (Secure Digital) card, just as on most digital cameras. I can essentially “freeze” the image and then move the scope to where I may have better lighting, or be more comfortable to examine the image.
If I need to, I can even transfer the image to my computer and blow up or enhance the image by using various imaging software packages. With a little fiddling, I’ve even mounted a probe on the end of the scope with cable ties (photo 3) so that I can manipulate the tumblers inside the lock while watching the image on the screen. Unfortunately, this usually requires three hands: one to hold the handle portion of the scope, one to manipulate the probe and another to hold the end of the probe in place against the lock. An assistant is a huge help.
I’ve also used this scope for odd jobs around the house, the boat and the office, usually while running wires through tight spaces. Once I took the scope to the top of a sailboat mast, 60 feet in the air and used it to help snag a wire that had slipped out of reach inside the mast. Having the mast “stepped” (removed and replaced) would have cost a lot more than the cost of the scope, and the owner was extremely pleased.