GeoSight Technologies


Ultra-rugged 3D wireless cavity monitoring system


Video: How GeoSight Cavity Monitoring System Works

The Challenge

Design the first-ever gearbox for wireless camera control viewing in a bore hole using small diameter 2.5-inch tubular housing.

The Solution

Develop and integrate a watertight custom gearbox module into an existing remote-operated 3D scanner for operation in extreme conditions.


Impact on Client

Successful deployment of the first truly wireless underground bore hole 3D mapping system with a 360 x300 degree field of view.


Military Grade Protection:

Ensure product design provided adequate protection from water, dust, rock debris, impacts, pressure, hot temperatures, and severe abrasion.


Rapid Turnaround

Design 1st created a fully functional prototype in under sixteen weeks to integrate into the existing product to enable design validation in real-world conditions.


Supplier Selection

The Design 1st manufacturing set-up team helped GeoSight select a reliable volume-production partner to ensure tolerance and reliability.


Video: 3D CAD Animation of GeoSight concept


3D CAD Concept



Bowmanville-based company Geosight is known for having the toughest 3D mapping scanner in the mining industry. Since 2011, Geosight has been helping scan for dangerous cavities in global mining operations across six continents.
In 2017, Geosight began working on a new remote-operated 3D scanner that would a 360-degree view of underground mining conditions. The device would be placed down a three-inch vertical bore hole of up to 330m deep. Customer demand was high for this device and GeoSight’s goal was to accelerate its development, reducing project churn and delivering a reliable product to customers by 2020.

GeoSight chose Design 1st as a partner based on previous geotechnical probe experience and a multi-disciplined senior engineering and product management team. During concept design, Design 1st took GeoSight’s initial thinking and quickly identified risk areas. Design 1st was able to deliver several mechanical design concepts with a high probability of meeting the functions and delivering the reliability and robustness for the conditions of use.

"Design 1st’s experience in Geotechnical probes made the learning curve quick"
exploded view

3D CAD Detailed Engineering

"To ensure watertight sealing, a custom gearbox was designed and prototyped"


Working with GeoSight’s existing product design team, Design 1st identified how to best integrate the mechanical, operational, and production options and risks into a solution capable of a fast turn, low-volume production run.

The scanner’s limited space required a creative approach to the high-risk gearbox design. It would need to fit in a 2.5 inch diameter cylinder, allowing wires to pass through to other parts of the 3D scanner while still being 100% watertight. Standard ‘off-the-shelf’ gearboxes would not fit this design envelope, so a fully custom gearbox design was required, which allowed cables to pass through specific locations.

One of the toughest operational risks was abrasion from rocks during use. To mitigate this risk, Design 1st worked with GeoSight to choose the right balance of material, surface coating and geometry while balancing production costs, weight, and in-use operation rel


Fully Functional Prototype Testing


GeoSight Prototype Parts


Prototype & Test

Working with GeoSight, Design 1st began prototyping a fully functional unit to test function, robustness and tolerance for the high volume manufacturing process. This step included testing a variety of industrial surface coatings including PVD, PVO and several aluminum alloy coating options. The goal was to minimize the impact of abrasion over time and maintain GeoSight’s competitive position as the ‘toughest scanner’ in the mining industry.

The prototyping testing revealed some issues with sensor feedback, material abrasion, and challenges when the equipment was coming up the bore hole versus travelling down the hole. To remedy these issues, Design 1st updated the original design and worked with GeoSight to conduct a second round of testing, which included drop tests, thermal simulations and tough abrasion experiments using a variety of surface coatings.

The result was a production release manufacturable design that both the development groups and end-users were happy with. The next step is a volume manufacturing run.

"Wear and abrasion-resistant surface coatings are critical to GeoSights success"

GeoSight Prototype Testing

"Tap into Design 1st's global supply chain."


GeoSight is now working with Design 1st to move towards a low-volume production run in the summer of 2020. This activity involves working with Design 1st’s global supply chain network to find the right mix of suppliers and manufacturers to produce high-tolerance, repeatable production, as well as a stringent quality assurance process to maintain product operation consistency in this extreme environment.

During the manufacturing support process, Design 1st also helped GeoSight build a ‘product file’ that includes the full release-controlled documentation blueprints to manufacture the device and maintain quality. The result is a volume production process that GeoSight can ramp up as orders from customers come in.

“Design 1st experience in outdoor product and Geotechnical probes made for a quick learning curve understanding the specific use situation environment. They were up to speed on the key mechanical challenges in a few hours of discussion and identified plausible low-risk solutions quickly, to guide the choice of engineering direction to focus on.”
- John Lipton , Director, GeoSight.

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