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The Milwaukee M-Spector AV M12 Cordless Multimedia Camera is a rugged, digital inspection scope that helps you see things you’d otherwise need x-ray vision to espy. Take, for example, the wand of my vacuum cleaner:

I’ve had a strong suspicion there was a doll head lodged in there, but the M-Spector proved me wrong. Analog, optical borescopes have long been used to see inside of tubes. The M-Spector adds quite a few features, such as the ability to snap photos and shoot video (and audio) of your inspections.

Here’s another neat trick, I used the M-Spector to help me fix the ice machine in our freezer, letting me see deep into a corner without disassembling it:

A laptop with a webcam and flashlight would do in a bind, but the M-Spector is purpose-built for the job, sporting a bright LED at the business end of the cable, and a heavily ruggedized construction.

The provided 17mm diameter cable is small enough to snake into tight places — I fished it into a conduit to see which CAT-5 cable was binding on the others. The cable can be detached from the unit for compact storage, and there are eight- and three-foot extension cables available. I’ve seen other manufacturers offer a small hook or magnetic tip accessory, which Milwaukee does not. Might not be too hard to improvise, and could be useful for grabbing lost parts.

The M-Spector stores images and video on an included 2GB SD card, so you can later view media on a computer. You can also hook a USB cable directly to the device. The images weigh in at 1280 x 960 pixels, and while they aren’t as clear as I’m used to from my cell phone, they are just fine considering they’re being taken in a small, dark place 40″ away from the sensor.

The controls are simple; the primary adjustments you can make are to increase/decrease the LED brightness and camera zoom. You can also flip the image 180 degrees, in case things start to go upside down on you. I would like more granular control on image rotation, since it can get disorienting when you’re snaking the cable into position.

The large center button is used to snap a picture or start and stop recording in video mode.

Running off of the M12 series 12V lithium-ion battery pack (with included charger), the M-Spector has an estimated 12 hours of active run-time. If you’re already using other tools in the series you can swap batteries among them.

I think the M-Spector will find most of its use when I’m doing wiring work, but it’s also incredibly handy for other household repairs and project work. Plus, it sure is fun poking around under furniture and inside machines. This is the kind of tool to let your friends know you’ve got, so they can borrow it before they go ripping open an entire wall.

Milwaukee M-Spector AV M12 Cordless Multimedia Camera MSRP is $399 but I found it on Amazon for around $236 to $299.

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Comments

  1. Harbor Freight sells one for about $100 with a coupon.  It has no moving parts, so might last awhile.  Probably “good enough” for random occasional use.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Edit: taken 40″ away from the screen, the camera/sensor is actually in the tip. 

    Nice review, I would like to see a comparison against others, but realize that’s probably a budget buster.  I’m going to have to get one sooner or later, will post my own review if I get something else. 

  3. Timothy Gray says:

    Harbor freight has a china knockoff that is just like it for $99.00  works great

  4. Review the Ryobi; it is half the cost with the same resolution and cable length.

  5. Review the Ryobi; it is half the cost with the same resolution and cable length.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ditto on the Harbor Freight Cen-Tech version.  I used a coupon and got the older model (66550) for $64, which is an absolute steal.  That camera has more than paid for itself many times over.  It helped me diagnose several wiring and plumbing issues that previously would’ve required a lot of trial and error cuts into walls. You can remove the monitor from the one I have and set it some place stationary while you twist the camera unit in all sorts of angles to see.  I think it’s a superior design myself, you can get a bit disoriented when you are trying to keep your eyes on the screen and adjust the camera at the same time.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ditto on the Harbor Freight Cen-Tech version.  I used a coupon and got the older model (66550) for $64, which is an absolute steal.  That camera has more than paid for itself many times over.  It helped me diagnose several wiring and plumbing issues that previously would’ve required a lot of trial and error cuts into walls. You can remove the monitor from the one I have and set it some place stationary while you twist the camera unit in all sorts of angles to see.  I think it’s a superior design myself, you can get a bit disoriented when you are trying to keep your eyes on the screen and adjust the camera at the same time.

  8. Dave Brunker says:

    You forgot to mention it’s water-proof and also has a 9mm analog cable for smaller holes with shorter distances.  

  9. perfect I like so much.

     howmuch money

    http://www.meltemcilingir.com

  10. Anonymous says:

    It looks a lot like this one for $199, but it it has a wireless link to the removable screen. 

    http://www.circuitspecialists.com/inspection-camera-aardvark.html

    Lots of cool points.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It looks a lot like this one for $199, but it it has a wireless link to the removable screen. 

    http://www.circuitspecialists.com/inspection-camera-aardvark.html

    Lots of cool points.

  12. Miki says:

    This product is killing me. I LOOOOOVE MILWAUKEE. 1. Camera High Quality, Auto focus as close as 3mm (ca era to surface) and still in sharp focus to 100feet away and still in auto focus. Compared to harbor freight it’s a earth and heaven. Plus universal fast charge and long run time Battery. Just an awesome product.