IPI-Eclipse Corona

IPI-Eclipse Corona Camera
For many years ultraviolet technology and corona cameras have received relatively minor attention and as a result their development has been rather slow. Only a small handful of companies manufacture Corona Cameras, and most of the modern equipment looks like what thermal imagers did 20 years ago (think post cold war Russian hardware!). That said, in recent years the technology has evolved more rapidly and the IPI-Eclipse is one of the latest developments to indicate that this technology will now finally get the attention it deserves as it earns it’s place in the electrical predictive maintenance market.

The IPI-Eclipse weighs in at 2.5kg. To a thermographer that may seem somewhat portly, however in the traditional Corona Camera category this can be seen as an improvement on units that push the 4kg limit. The IPI-Eclipse by contrast in neat and compact, and the large 5.7” VGA screen folds neatly into the body.

IPI-Eclipse Corona Camera

IPI Eclipse Corona Camera

For anyone familiar with inspecting overhead networks (or anything at elevated levels) you will understand the discomfort that comes with traditional camera ergonomics. The unique ergonomics of the IPI-Eclipse Corona Camera means an operator can work for hours with little stress on the eyes, neck, back or arms. The camera is supported via the neck strap, sits comfortably at waste height and the large 5.7 inch screen is angled back to the operators natural viewing position. It works perfectly.

When I first saw the external screen (and no internal viewfinder) I was concerned about the operation in daylight. I needn’t have worried as the colour transflective sunlight readable LCD screen is one of the best I have ever used. I have had no problem seeing this outdoors in bright sunlight. It’s a pity that more thermal imagers aren’t equipped with screens of equal quality. The touch screen is magnificently responsive, and unlike many thermal camera screens, it responds immediately and accurately to touch. The menus are well spaced allowing big fingers like mine to connect with their intended target. A full keypad interface is also available beneath the touch screen. The keypad buttons are intuitively laid out and the major functions are well described. Brightness control icons indicate the gain settings, focus +/-, a movie camera indicates video recording, a regular camera indicates stills. Up/down/left/right keys indicate the navigational keys, but also double up as quick keys for functions such as pause, zoom and toggle auto and manual focus. A multi windowed button allows to rapidly switch between the 3 view modes: UV, Visual, and the combined overlay noted as UV+.

The onscreen commands are simple and easy to understand. To be fair, these are nowhere near the complexity of a thermal imager, so the user interface has much less to achieve and is much less cluttered. That said the IPI-Eclipse is well laid out in terms of what the operator needs.

Date, time and GPS co-ordinates are all featured top left of screen and imbedded with every image for quick and easy reference. The top right of the image shows the photon count and gain or sensitivity adjustment.

A common feature of nearly all Corona Cameras is to overlay the visual and UV image on top of one another. The IPI-Eclipse achieves this with great precision, better than 1 milliradian in accuracy. Corona can be displayed in Blue, Red or White. A clever integration function allows

The visual camera has a whopping 26x optical zoom as well as 12x digital. Combine this with the narrow 5.5° FOV lens and you have a phenomenal distance capability. The powerful visual zoom capability allows you to see even the tiniest detail on emitting components to verify the source of corona.

IPI-Eclipse Corona Camera

IPI Eclipse Corona Camera

The IPI-Eclipse Corona Camera is powered by a Sony Lithium Ion battery that is readily available in aftermarket form. This compact battery keeps the unit light and respectfully powered for more than 2 hours.

Corona cameras have traditionally been very expensive, however with the wider adoption of this technology the price is being pushed further down. The IPI-Eclipse Corona Camera is no exception, and represents one of the lowest costs of ownership in the market today and provides outstanding value for money. Although a relative newcomer to the marketplace, IPI have had decades of experience in HV inspections and corona detection. Having performed thousands of inspections themselves, they understand the environment and circumstances that operators find themselves in the real world. As such the core attribute of this unit have focused on ease of use, high levels of automation, intuitive operation resulting in a minimal learning curve, and easy data collection and location recording.

Infrared vs Ultraviolet inspection
For those not familiar with Ultraviolet measurement and wondering what this camera is doing on a thermal imager website, corona and the detection of electrical discharges is an extremely valuable non-destructive testing (NDT) technique for high voltage electrical systems. It is highly complementary to infrared (thermal) and often achieves what thermography alone cannot.

The IPI Eclipse Corona Camera is an advanced Ultraviolet inspection technology that is used in the condition assessment of operating electrical inspections. While infrared cameras or thermal imagers need no introduction in this space, the IPI-Eclipse corona camera achieves something quite different as a condition assessment tool.

IPI-Eclipse Corona Camera

Corona Discharge

Thermography has several significant challenges in electrical inspections:

1. It does not work well on low emissivity objects, often precluding accurate inspection on newly installed or recently refurbished (clean) components.
2. Thermography is greatly influenced by environmental factors such as wind, rain, solar loading and solar reflections.
3. A thermal imager only measures heat and heat is only produced under load… so electrical systems must be under sufficient load for inspection.
4. Due to the relatively low resolution and spot measurement size of thermal imagers, measuring over distances can pose a significant challenge.

Ultraviolet inspection on the other hand is not affected in the same way. Corona Camera’s will work in daylight, under any load, weather or surface conditions. The IPI-Eclipse Corona camera will detect ultraviolet emissions associated with electrical discharges such as corona, tracking, arcing and partial discharges. The emissions are easily detected allowing operators to perform effective predictive maintenance inspections of medium and high voltage equipment such as transmission lines, switchgear, substations, insulators and bushings and similarly affected systems.