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Vivax Vcam mini...initial review

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  • Vivax Vcam mini...initial review

    Well, I've got it, and done a few jobs with it. Comments are as compared to the SeeSnake color mini, as that is the only other system I have used. My comments will tend to focus on things I don't like, so at the outset let me say that it is a camera, works well enough, appears well constructed, and in general I like it, though as it is new the jury is still out on durability.

    I've paid extra to get the current model digital controller (yellow lunch bucket looking one) instead of the discontinued one w/o recording you've probably seen on e-bay, and to get 200' of pushrod instead of the standard 100'.

    Reel (I have the mini) is very nicely made. Layout of controls on monitor, general ease of use of unit, etc, all seems well thought out. Keyboard seems a little flimsy. Cords are stored in a cubby under the keyboard so I am often popping it out to get to them and I feel like I need to be a little careful with it.

    Image quality is good, maybe not quite what I get with the ridgid, but maybe that is just what I am used to... certainly in the same ballpark. Has two modes, camera and mpeg. in mpeg mode, for recording, image is degraded a bit. Oddest thing is that the dimmer switch for the lights doesn't really let you adjust the image much as the camera seems to automatically adjust image for light level.

    mpeg video is a little jerky compared to vhs, but recordings are in digital and download easily for viewing on pc. download is via usb cable; leave controller turned off, plug it into pc, pc sees it as an external drive, copy files to your heart's content. no provision for burning a disk on site. There is an sd slot so concievably you could put vid on an sd card for customer on site, but I've not tried this.

    Audio recording is a little bit of a pain; it has an internal mic, but you have to have your mouth so close to it it is basically unusable. an external mic is included, a shirt collar clip on deal. this too you pretty much have to hold an inch from your mouth so you will need a free hand to record audio.

    The screen is thoughtfully sunk deep into the box which affords some glare protection, but I've still had some glare issues outside on bright days.

    The pushrod (I have the 10mil) is floppier than Ridgid's in the same diameter. Maybe better for small lines with a lot of bends, worse for long straight runs. My reel came in with the pushrod installed backward, so that the reel spun the wrong way and counted footage backward. It's gone back to get fixed, and I've asked to have the 12 mil pushrod put in at that time. Kudo's to customer service on this one... they sent a call tag for the reel, and sent a loner 100 footer for me to use while it's being repaired.

    I was sent the self leveling camera, not what I wanted or asked for. I'd asked for the non-leveling camera as it is smaller diameter, and for my purpoes that makes it more versatile. non-leveling camera was apparently not available as they were putting mine together, so they 'upgraded' me.... i've asked for that to be changed too... we'll see.

    What passes for a ball guide is really very nicely constucted, but basically pointless for any purpose other than protecting the camera from abrasion. It only raises the camera about 1/4". Not very helpful if you are in a 2" puddle and want to raise up out of it so you can see.

    Overall, it seems a good unit, does the digital recording I wanted, and we'll find out if it holds up. My biggest concern other than durabilty is the floppy pushrod. Hopefully the 12 mil pushrod will be a solution to this, but I'm not sure they can put this on the mini reel I like with the smaller camera I want... these are not standard options... if Vivax can and will put it together that way for me, it will be a nice comment on their service. At this point, I'd declare it a viable alternative, especially if you want digital recording w/o a separate unit plugged into the video outs.
    This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

  • #2
    Re: Vivax Vcam mini...initial review

    Now for the bad news. Got my 200' reel back from vivax and went to re-record a final on some roots I had jetted. Wanted to show the whole line to the main as there is a pvc repair at about 125' that has a fernco starting to let go. Need to document this for customer as the repair is clearly from a lampost installation at sidewalk and the town should pay to fix it.

    Had great difficulty jumping a lip in the clay at about 80' due to the weak pushrod. Had previously done this with the ridgid mini with no problem at all. Kinked the pushrod trying to shove it past, then the picture got funny and when I pulled it out I had moisture inside the camera lens. Literally the first time I put this camera in a line other than a brief test in a loose piece of pipe at the shop. If I can't push over a simple lip in clay at 80' in a straight shot, this thing is pointless. I am to demo the 12 mil rod next week.... will report on that. This is trending towards having to pay about the same as ridgid or pearpoint (the other system I was considering) to get a useable system, so the only benefit over ridgid may turn out to be digital recording.
    This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

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