Tech Tips: Endoscopes

May 4, 2020

Most locksmiths acquire a large collection of tools over the course of their career. If they have had more than one career or been involved in a variety of pursuits, disciplines, interests, etc., there might be different collections for each.

Of course, my goal is to walk into a project with a smile and the tools I require for that job.

With some projects, climbing ladders and transgressing attics and crawl spaces might be required, and I really don’t want to add to my own weight with additional items. The items get caught on obstructions; they get dropped and lost forever; or they get left behind.

Certain tools stand the test of time, because they remain relevant and hold up to lots of use. I still use tools that I purchased decades ago.

Endoscopes, sometimes referred to as borescopes, can be valuable tools for the locksmith. Briefly, an endoscope is a camera at the end of a semirigid cable. Many have built-in LEDs to illuminate where the endoscope is aimed.

Endoscopes were developed for medical procedures. Locksmiths use endoscopes to inspect (read) wafer locks, the inside of safe locks and tight cavities in a car or truck.

I use my endoscope for seeing above ceilings, behind walls and inside storefront door and frame extrusions. It’s great for peering under a vehicle dashboard or in a door panel.

If you’re on a lockout call, you can use an endoscope to look at the interior side of the door and help you to maneuver an opening tool to bypass the lock.

The diameter of the camera is a variable that might be important depending on your primary application. The smaller the diameter is, the more places the endoscope will be able to fit in and view.

Accessories and connectivity depend on which model you select and your requirements.

The differences in connectivity are whether the camera plugs into:

  • the USB port on a computer
  • a mobile device, such as a smartphone
  • a Wi-Fi hub / power supply that can be viewed on a mobile device
  • all of the above.

If you're familiar with USB, you know there are several types of USB connectors.

My cellphone is a Samsung S7 (Android). I use a Qi wireless charger system, which is composed of a Qi receiver connected to the phone’s USB / charging port. That means my phone doesn’t have an available USB port. So, I have to use a Wi-Fi interface for tools, such as an endoscope.


Locksmith Ledger Editor-In-Chief Gale Johnson met a vendor at a trade show who offers a device called an EndoSnake. We interviewed EndoSnake CEO Greg Potapenko to get more info on the product:

Which model is best-suited for locksmiths?
The current 3.9mm model is the best-suited for the locksmithing industry, since it is the smallest diameter available on the market and probably can fit into a lot of places other larger borescopes can't. All of our borescopes include a standard set of accessories, such as 90-degree side-view mirror, a hook and a magnet. 

What's unique about EndoSnake?

The main differentiator is the smallest diameter. Most other products are at least a couple millimeters thicker. And the price is very competitive, at least when compared with professional rifle borescopes that can run hundreds of dollars in price.

Will locksmiths have problems deploying your product?

it is very easy to install and use the product. We have a few short videos at, but in general, you would plug it into a mobile device, download an app and start using it. There are a few phone models that are a bit more tricky, but it's in about 10 percent of the cases.

For iOS devices, due to the way Apple designed their software, our borescopes can only connect wirelessly through a $25 "Wi-Fi box" module.


  • 3.9mm camera diameter
  • Cable lengths 1–5 millimeters
  • IP67 waterproof
  • 6xLED illuminated with dimmable brightness controls
  • Capability to snap images and take videos
  • Connects to most computers and mobile devices
  • Handy case, which helps to keep all the wires and accessories under one roof
  • Connects wired or wirelessly through the Wi-Fi interface.

I was able to connect the camera using Wi-Fi with my Android phone after installing the EndoSnake app, along with an additional viewer app, also a free download.

Your experience will vary from previous experiences with cameras on your mobile device and the type of mobile device that you use. There is plenty of tech support from EndoSnake.

The products are available at:

Tim O’Leary is an experienced security consultant and a regular contributor to Locksmith Ledger.

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.