Zistos Large Gun Borescope Inspection System Selected by United States Army

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The inspection system is essentially a very large borescope that can extend dozens of feet into a bore. Our customers like it because it can be adapted to any large bore size, it packs into a single case and can be operated by a single individual without additional support, despite its maximum inspection length.

The Borescope Inspection system entering a bore.

...it can also reliably measure surface pitting and bore diameter to within 1 thousandth of an inch down a tube that can be up to 32 feet long.

Zistos Corporation has developed a specialty video inspection system that has been evaluated and approved for service by the United States Army for inspecting and measuring the internal wear characteristics of large cannons, mortars and artillery. The approval followed a long qualification path that included many redesigns. Following this process, the system has been selected as the inspection tool in the U.S. Army’s ARSS program. The Zistos system replaces the old M3 Borescope optical system.

Mike Sterflinger who is a Vice President at Zistos and also the project manager states that; “The system is essentially a very large borescope that can extend dozens of feet into a bore. Our customers like it because it can be adapted to any large bore size, it packs into a single case and can be operated by a single individual without additional support, despite its maximum inspection length.”

The development path for this project was somewhat unlikely. Zistos Corporation has long been a manufacturer of custom and uniquely form factored video camera systems that are used in applications such as tactical surveillance, urban search and rescue, contraband search and industrial inspection.

Some years ago a briefing on a video system designed to search vehicles at checkpoints was conducted at a military installation to security personnel. During the briefing a nearby tank mechanic was working on the cannon of a tank that was in for repair. He was curious and asked if he could try the camera system on the tank‘s cannon. He was impressed with the imaging capability and he relayed his observations to the engineering staff involved in the design and maintenance of cannon and artillery systems. Zistos was then contacted by the engineering staff and this was the start of the Gun Bore Camera System design.

Mr. Sterflinger commented that; “The initial system was designed only for visual inspection. It allowed digital video images to be viewed and stored on the wear characteristics inside of a large gun barrel. As time progressed, we had a request by another one of our customers to add a true measurement capability to the visual system. This was completed and now it will not only facilitate a visual inspection, but it can also reliably measure surface pitting and bore diameter to within 1 thousandth of an inch down a tube that can be up to 32 feet long. This makes the system even more attractive to our customers because this one tool can now replace 6 different tools that are currently in use for various bore sizes, thus making it not only far more versatile, but more efficient as well.”

The system has been evolving over time, but it still maintains elements of the original M3 Borescope that inspectors are familiar and comfortable using. One of its main advantages is that it blends some of the features/form factor of the old system that is accepted and familiar to the operators. Operators are not fundamentally changing what they are looking at, but can see it, faster, easier, in more detail, and record the observations for future comparison of share for consultation. Mr. Sterflinger states; “We tried to study how this job was performed in the past and to stay in the operators comfort zone. The new technology builds in accuracy, repeatability and makes it easier for a novice inspector to get good data.”

In addition, states Mr. Sterflinger, “The system can do things that could not be achieved in the old M3 system, such as; auto insertion depth measurement, auto data collection, angular position still image and video capture, along with a direct interface to secure encrypted disk drives.” The Zistos team expects big things from their new system and it is currently in use or being evaluated by all of the US armed services, as well as at least one foreign military allied with the US military.

It is the intent of Zistos to continue this process and continue to adapt and apply this system to others in industry that have similar requirements. There are other inspection applications where it is necessary to inspect and accurately measure large diameter bore’s over a long length beyond artillery and cannons. As an example; large hydraulic cylinders also have this as a requirement. This is a good example of how a design that started out serving a homeland security requirement could be adapted to serve a radically different military application and ultimately could end up having an application in the private-industrial sector.

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Vinny Banks
Zistos Corporation
+1 (631) 434-1370 Ext: 314
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Bob Levine
@ZistosCorp
since: 03/2015
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