Selecting the Proper Telescoping Pole Camera Design

An integral part of all ZistosHD portable video systems is the telescoping pole on which our cameras are fastened.  Our poles are offered in two styles  – manual positioning and motorized positioning:

Manual Positioning:

Our “Friction Hinge” design provides for the end of the pole to be positioned manually at an angle of +/- 120 degrees. While easily bent, the hinge maintains the desired angle with a holding force that is strong enough to maintain the camera position, but it still allows the position of the camera to be adjusted by “nudging” the assembly against a stationary object or structure. The entire pole can be rotated to allow the camera to pan 360 degrees around an area. The friction hinge is protected with a rubber boot that prevents dirt and debris from entering the assembly. This design is best suited for an open environment, or when the access / entry point of the area to be inspected is large enough to accommodate the size of the camera assembly. It is also best used where the camera tilt position does not need to be continually adjusted. The advantages of this pole design are that it is usually lower in cost, uses less battery power, and is lighter in weight than the motorized poles.

Motorized Positioning:

The camera angle of our motorized pole is controlled remotely using the keypad on the pole handle or using the touchscreen display on the included tablet. The camera can be positioned at an angle of +/- 120 degrees at a speed of articulation controlled by the user.  The gearhead motor is designed with a special slip-clutch that protects the motor against mechanical shock, if the motor is back driven by a camera head being pushed back when mounted to the motorized assembly. Like the above friction hinge pole, the motorized pole can be rotated to allow the camera to pan 360 degrees. The advantages of this design are that it allows inspection of areas with narrow openings that only allow the camera to be inserted in its smallest footprint orientation (usually 0 degrees, positioned straight); or when the application requires inspection of a broad area and constant adjustments to the camera position are required.

Problems with 360 Degree Video Pole Cameras:

There are some systems that are available from other manufacturers, which use poles that offer no articulation. The reason for this is that they use cameras that provide 360-degree imaging and claim that no panning of the camera is required. This in practice is problematic because of several issues that impact image quality to a significant extent. One of the main problems is that generating even illumination in a dark area is not easily achieved. This creates dark areas in the inspection location and limits the image details that can be observed by the inspector. The ZistosHD product line uses traditional camera optics on their cameras. The traditional video cameras used in the ZistosHD system produce a bright beam of light that is bore-sighted with the field of view of the camera and will always produce a usable image regardless of orientation. The other issue has to do with image resolution and zoom capabilities. The 360-degree cameras are limited to using only digital zoom using software processing. Digital zoom reduces the resolution of an image when you zoom in. This means that the bigger the image gets on your screen; the less detail is observable. The ZistosHD systems have optical zoom cameras available that allow the user to zoom into image details without losing any image resolution. In addition, ZistosHD offers thermal imaging options, which are not available with 360 degree systems.

ZistosHD poles are lightweight, carbon fiber and are available in lengths from 2’ to 30’. The sections that telescope in and out can be locked into position with collars that are turned by hand. All ZistosHD camera heads and pole are interchangeable, so a system can be equipped with different add-ons and attachments to address varied application needs.

Whatever your application – tactical surveillance, urban search and rescue, vehicle/cargo search, or industrial inspection – please call us for more information or to set up a no-obligation in-person or virtual product demonstration.

ZistosHD Battery Technology Evolution

Portable Video Systems rely on batteries for power and are an integral part of any system design. Batteries are also a frequent cause for system failure, unreliable field performance, and cause for end-user complaint. The most common battery problems and complaints include;

  • Not having enough power to last for an entire operation
  • Recharge time for a battery can be excessive
  • It is difficult to tell if a battery is properly charged
  • It is difficult to know what the remaining charge that is left on a battery after partial use
  • One-time use batteries are expensive and inconvenient to constantly purchase and properly dispose of

The new ZistosHD systems are designed to address these issues of battery power. The new ZistosHD batteries (BAT-15XL) are lithium-ion, rechargeable batteries that have significant advantages over many of the batteries that are supplied with other battery powered systems.

These BAT-15XL batteries have a significant period of time they can power our ZistosHD system. They provide power for 6 – 12 hours of continuous operation. The exact time depends on the camera in-use and the user-controlled illumination levels. They also have a quick recharge time of 3 and a half hours if fully depleted. Our batteries can be charged using our system battery charger, that itself can be powered using standard AC power, or using a vehicle power source. All ZistosHD systems come standard with two BAT-15XL batteries. This allows for one battery to be charged to full capacity while the other battery is in use.

Another one of the big issues for battery life in portable video systems is knowing how much battery life is left on any given battery, at any given time. The BAT-15XL battery solves this problem by providing a power/charge meter on the base of the battery. This battery meter has an LCD screen that displays 5 segments that represent the battery life remaining on the battery. This window is visible whether the system is on or off, and is visible even if the battery isn’t connected to the system at all. An operator can tell how much power is left on the battery at a glance. This is especially important in those instances when a system is deployed that was previously used on a recent job and the batteries may not have been recharged.

The BAT-15XL batteries help keep ZistosHD systems powered and operating without having to worry about constantly maintaining a supply of disposable batteries, such as the CR123s. There is also no need to constantly deal with the nuisance of proper disposal of one-time use batteries.   All in all, our new ZistosHD Systems have been engineered to remove the inconvenience and problems associated with many of the other battery-powered video systems that are on the market. They help ensure that the ZistosHD system remains operational in times of crisis, when reliable system performance is essential.

ZistosHD Vehicle Search System

Zistos introduces the new ZistosHD Vehicle Search System. A single vehicle inspection camera system that can be used to inspect all external areas of a commercial or passenger vehicle. The ZistosHD Vehicle Search System offers the user visual access into many areas of a vehicle that are typically used to smuggle weapons, explosives, illegal currency, narcotics, or any contraband. Using a single multi-purpose high resolution video inspection tool that can be used in a wired or wireless mode. The system can be configured to transmit video images, in real time to remote observers not at the location. Vehicle locations such as areas under the vehicle, the engine compartment and trunk, under the seats and dash, around the wheels and inside bumper voids, and the cargo areas of a commercial vehicle can be inspected safely and effectively with a single camera tool.

Looking under the seats and dash of a vehicle can also be difficult. They require an inspector to lean into the vehicle in order to perform a visual search using a flashlight. It is often difficult to see well in these areas. Inspecting these locations orients the inspector in a position that compromises his situational awareness of surrounding people and conditions. In addition, it also places the inspectors head and face on or near the floor of the vehicle. These locations can be unsanitary and unpleasant and they can pose health risks. Climbing into cargo areas of a trailer or looking into the bed of a construction vehicle can also present physical challenges to an inspector.

The system consists of a telescoping pole camera and separate display unit. The pole camera is held by the operator by the systems control handle. The handle holds the rechargeable battery and the systems electronics and controls. The other end of the pole connects to a self-illuminating camera. The camera is mounted in a sled assembly that can be inserted under the vehicle. The hardened steel sled assembly is designed to glide on any surface.  The sled mounted camera can peer up into the void spaces in the under vehicle. The sled assembly is designed so it can be replaced in the field when worn.

The same lightweight carbon fiber pole camera can then be elevated to look high or inserted into other areas. The camera can be used to inspect for clues of vehicle tampering or other suspicious indicators in other locations of the vehicle that may be of interest.

The high definition video images are viewed on a wireless battery powered video display. The display can be viewed while mounted on the pole, worn on the operator’s wrist, worn on a vest, or positioned for viewing on the operator’s chest with a hands-free neck mount. The system allows the operator to capture still images of the video or video clips. These still images and video clips are stored locally on a removable SD memory card in the display. When the camera WiFi network is shut off, after the pole camera is powered down, the display can be configured to link to a different, secondary, local WiFi network, one that has internet access. The system can then be programmed to automatically push all of the previously stored images and video clips onto a secure cloud storage resource on the internet. Once this information is stored in the cloud, it can be viewed by anyone, anywhere.

If required, the system can also be configured for wired operation, without the need to use the internal WiFi transmitter in the pole camera. The pole camera and the display utilize long-life rechargeable batteries. These batteries can power the system from 6 to 12 hours depending on use. Each system comes equipped with 2 batteries for the camera and 2 batteries for the display, as well as their charging stations.

If you operate a secure facility and thorough vehicle screening is an important part of your security protocol then the new ZistosHD Vehicle Search System may be the right tool for you. Please email or call us today if you have and questions or if you would like to set up an on-site or a virtual product demonstration of the new ZistosHD Vehicle Search System.

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ZistosHD Tanker Inspection System Accessory – The Valve Inspection Camera

The Valve Inspection Camera (VIC-2-HD) is the ideal tool for searching drop valves of tanker trucks and rail tankers. This accessory is the perfect complement to the ZistosHD Tanker Inspection System (HDTI-5AR-TIP6-3.5Z)

The ZistosHD Tanker Inspection System has been designed to perform a safe visual inspection of the interior of a tanker trailer or rail tanker car for hygienic conditions, residual heel, foreign objects, cracks, and corrosion. This uniquely configured video pole camera inspection system is inserted into the tanker hatch. It allows an inspector to visually assess interior conditions inside of a tank, without the need to enter into the confined space. The ZistosHD Tanker Inspection System features a self-illuminating, 30X optical zoom camera mounted on a telescoping pole that can be positioned in any orientation for a thorough tank inspection.

The Valve Inspection Camera is a self-illuminating, high resolution, color camera on a 2-foot, semi-rigid gooseneck that attaches directly to the ZistosHD System handle. It can be manually manipulated to any desired position and can be interchanged with the pole camera portion of this system to visually inspect the drop valve and piping for hygienic conditions, missing gaskets, and other issues, from the back end of the tanker. This area is not usually visually accessible for an inspection and can be a source of contamination.  

The images produced by the system are displayed locally on a 5” or 10” display. Still images and video clips can be recorded for later review. The wireless display has a removable SD card for easy image archiving, but images can also be uploaded to cloud storage, if desired. The wireless video produced by the system can be viewed locally by the inspector, or over a network to others who can be situated in a remote location.

The ZistosHD Tanker Inspection System with the Valve Inspection Camera accessory, allows an operator to conduct a thorough inspection in critical areas of a bulk transportation or storage vessel, in a safe and efficient manner.

ZistosHD Under Door Camera System

The ZistosHD Under Door Camera System (HDTS-5AR-ZDV) is designed to help operators conduct both visual and audio (which can be disabled) surveillance into a room, through the space under a door, during a tactical mission. The system includes a specially designed, hand held pole mounted camera that is approximately .25” thick and can be inserted into the space between the floor and a closed door. The pole camera transmits encrypted, low-latency (delay), Wi-Fi video images that are viewed on a rugged 5” display. The system also supports wired operation in situations where wireless operation is not feasible.

This special dual view camera has 2 cameras recessed within its tongue. One looks forward into the room for a subject and the other looks up to check for booby traps or barricades on the back of the door. The two images generated by the forward and upward looking cameras can be toggled on the display with the push of a button. This camera has IR illumination to covertly light up a room without being visible to the human eye. If the door doesn’t have the necessary quarter inch of door to floor clearance, an air jack is provided in the system to lift the door enough to slip the camera underneath.

The specially designed, dedicated 8’ telescoping pole with universal joint for this system facilitates horizontal panning of a room while the operator remains out of the fatal funnel of the doorway. For long term surveillance operations a drop cable can be used, allowing the operator to set the camera and view the image from a safer location.

The 5” display included in this system features a rugged, industrial design, excellent screen brightness and resolution. The tablet features a removable battery that is hot-swappable. This negates the need to take the display out of service if its battery gets low. The display can be worn on the wrist, chest, neck or can be pole mounted at the user’s preference.  It also has a removable SD card that can be removed to archive captured images and video clips.

This tool is excellent to support jobs that involve a barricaded subject, hostage situations or to help minimize collateral damage when explosive breaching techniques are utilized.