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Hi-Spy Viewing Machines … Enhancing Your View Since 1991

Hi Spy Viewing Machines … Enhancing Your View Since 1991

Telephone Number

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Monday, March 27, 2023
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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you rent viewers?

Yes! We offer short term rentals of our viewers. We do rent units for photo shoots, movies and TV shows. All that is required is a short 1 page rental agreement, and pre-payment for the rental and shipping both ways. Prices are $400 / week for each per unit, with a minimum one a week rental plus shipping both ways.

Please email us your request for a short term rental a Hi-Spy Viewing Machine.

Where's the best spot for a viewer?

What do you need to know if you’re considering placing coin-operated viewers on your site:

First, find out the pedestrian traffic flow to the site. Then find out the pedestrian traffic past the place you want to put the viewer. These two numbers may be the same but they are often not the same and the latter is the one that matters. Secondly, do not assume the best view is where you’ll take in most revenue.

You’ll take in the most revenue where the most pedestrian traffic passes in close proximity to the viewer. You need a view but not necessarily the best view. As an example: if tour buses regularly unload unto a plaza with a view, but the passengers only stay at one close end of the plaza, then don’t put the viewer at the other end of the plaza just because you think it has a better view-not if maximizing revenue is your goal.

Viewers are impulse items and they need to be convenient. As an example: people may well walk out to the end of the pier but they do not walk there because a viewer is out at the end of the pier. Having a viewer there may be an added feature but viewers will not be the cause of the draw out to the end of the pier. Don’t make that mistake. If very few walk out to the pier just putting viewers out there will do little to increase that foot traffic.

Thirdly make sure the machine is relatively secure. If the site locks up at night you should be fine; but you should be concerned if viewers are left alone in the dark all night and vandals can spend unlimited time at them. I personally avoid any site-even ones that look like winners –if villains can drive up to the machine at night.

Lastly, be prepared to move the viewing machine. Placing viewfinders is a lot like fishing. You may have to try different spots and you’ll be surprised sometimes 20 feet can make a difference- because of pedestrian traffic flows.

Frequently Asked Questions

The frequently asked questions of Hi-Spy Viewing Machines are grouped by category.

Pinnacle Scopes

Q: How is Hi-Spy related to Pinnacle Scopes?
A: Pinnacle Scopes is the worldwide manufacturer and distributor of all Hi-Spy Viewing Machines product.


Q: How long has Hi-Spy Viewing Machines been in business?
A: We started in the business in 1991 because we saw a need. Existing equipment was antiquated and existing manufacturers had not then made, and still have not made, any attempt to innovate. We knew we could do better. Until September 2000 we only built machines for our own account- we did not sell to others. That’s changed now and the world-wide response has been terrific. We ship units world-wide.
Q: Are you registered with the (SAM)?
A: Yes, Pinnacle is registered with the SAM.


Q: How many products does Hi-Spy Viewing Machines make?
A: There are a lot of models. We make non-coin and coin viewfinders in both binocular and telescope models in different magnifications. We now make bill-acceptor models as well. We make coin and non-coin wheelchair-accessible (ADA compliant) models as well. In addition we make specialty models such as machines with “donation”(“Donated by…”) or “memorial” (“In memory of…”) features and we will customize machine heights on request. We have audio options and a bill-acceptor option available on any coin or non-coin binocular or telescope. And we now make wall-mounted units in coin and non-coin for those who do not want a base and have a wall or suitable railing. In 2011 we introduced a new dual model with two heads, one at wheel chair height.
Q: Do you customize machines?
A: Yes we do. We make customized heights. For childrens’ museums we have made 9″-14″ shorter tubes. We also make “donation” machines which have no shutter and therefore a free view but also have a donation slot and plaque to encourage donation. And we are happy to add a memorial plaque (brass) to any machine in honour of a person or sponsor.
Q: Will you consider special requests?
A: Yes. We have done special projects for people every year and we will not say we can do it unless we can.


Q: Do you use binocular optics?
A: Yes we do. We have nitrogen-purged 10X binocular optics, and nitrogen-purged waterproof 20X binocular optics.
Q: Do you use telescope-style optics?
A: Yes, we do. We have 20X and 35X waterproof telescope optics available. Many people prefer the wider field of view in a binocular since the field of view of binocular-optics is far wider at any distance and therefore binocular optics are better for the overall view. However, telescopes offer higher magnification options and some people specifically request them.
Q. How do I choose between the different magnifications?
A: Magnification ratings are in comparison to the human eye. Therefore, 10X magnification is bringing the image 10X closer and 20X is 20X closer, etc. Please see our magnification examples to view the difference. There is always a trade-off: the lower the magnification, the smaller the image but the wider the field of view. For example, if you want to see all the sailboats in the lake, use 10X – if you want to see just the people on one boat, use a higher magnification.
Q. What does 20X mean?
A: It means you see the image as if it is 20X closer. So a sailboat at 1000 yds looks like it is only 50 yds away.
Q. Auto-Focus or Manual Focus?
A: Hi-Spy viewers only use manual focus. It is clearly the better choice.
And for a very straightforward reason. Auto-focus binoculars use one less lens in the internal optics and substitute it, in effect, with the lens in your own eye. And everyone’s eyes are different. If everyone had 20/20 vision that would be one thing but everyone does not. In tests here, we found three out of four users could not get as clear an image using an auto-focus binocular as they could with a manual-focus binocular. In fact, some could not get a clear image at all.
A manual focus, though more costly, allows each user to fine-tune the focus to their own vision.

Coin Acceptance

Q: What coins can we specify?
A: It’s up to you. In mechanical acceptance, acceptors for over 60 countries are in stock and if your coin is not-in-stock it can be adapted for a small charge. If we need samples we always request six (6) of your coins for our engineers to produce a custom coin acceptor.
Q: Can an acceptor take two coins?
A: Yes if you specify. But not two different coins – they must be the same. Q: Is there an audit feature? A: Yes. Our new coin units are equipped with a digital audit for tracking.

Product Features

Q: How are your machines better than other viewing machines?
A: Our product speaks for itself. No one else makes a rugged, durable, heavy-duty product like ours. We consider most competitive product to be light-duty and not long-lasting. We know it cannot stand up like our product does. We build out of aluminum to make a durable, weather-resistant, vandal-resistant machine which lasts and lasts. Why? Because we operate hundreds of machines for ourselves and we want them to last and last. You get the same machine. And we innovate- other companies do not . We are not afraid to improve our product. For instance, if we had a past attempted break-in on a coin machine, we used that incident to redesign the product for the better- heavier bevelled doors with double security. If extended use in the field showed a problem, we used it as an opportunity to learn how to redesign the product for the better. We still do. Our exceptional focus system, overbuilt vertical movement and super smooth horizontal movement are just three examples of our commitment to innovate.
Q: How is the coin contained in the viewing machine?
A: In a coin bag. Take out the whole bag, empty it, and replace the bag. That is unlike competitor’s machines where you are expected to remove the coin by hand, taking too, too, long in front of prying eyes. Our bag can hold 1000 U.S. quarters while many competitive machines hold only 400 coins. One of the problems for machines that hold money in the head is that vandals only need to steal the head- and they do steal the heads. You cannot do that to a Hi-Spy machine.
Q: Are the aluminum heads powder coated?
A: Yes. The heads are powder coated. All uncoated aluminum turns duller over time.
Q: Do the heads swivel 360 degrees?
A: On the non-coin models they do swivel 360 degrees. On coin models they swivel 285 degrees because most sites do not have a 360 degree view. In coin models the presence of wiring rules out a larger degree of swivel.
Q: Can you limit or restrict the travel of the swivel?
A: Yes we can. We restrict it in accordance with your wishes at no extra cost. At a site next to a nude beach in Europe we restricted the view to a mere 90 degrees- on request of course.
Q: Do you use glass lenses?
A: Our 10x / 20x binoculars and all telescopes have glass lenses only.
Q: What about locks?
A: We provide you with a head lock and , on coin machines, a coin lock and their respective keys. We also provide the t-handle wrenches that open the head and tube door.
Q: What if we lose a key?
A: We keep records and can get you replacements.
Q: What about your base options?
A: Our standard base is contoured and 28 inches in diameter. Additionally if you wish we can provide a flat Aluminum plate base which can be buried in concrete or anchored with bolts -however this flat base is not meant to free-stand, unlike our other base options.


Q. How long is delivery?
A: Expect 2-3 weeks.
Q: What about payment?
A: We expect 50% down on ordering and the remainder prior to shipment. You can provide a check, pay by AMEX, VISA, MASTERCARD or we’ll give you the wire details by fax or e-mail.
Q: What about shipping?
A: In North America we ship by truck. Beyond North America we air ship unless otherwise requested. Shipping by air is to arrival airport only. You take it from there. You are responsible for all shipping fees, duties, insurance, customs, taxes etc.
Q: Is assembly required?
A: The base must be attached to the main viewer – three 3/4″ bolts only (if you have metric sockets the 13mm will do the job).
Q: Do you use metric bolts?
A: No we use imperial SAE, but we send the correct allen key wrenches (hex keys) with each machine.


Q: Do your machines use batteries?
A: Our non-coin machines have no batteries. Our coin models require batteries for the shutter servo motor only. These are 4 AA cells. Expect them to last 12-18 months at an average site. They are easier to change than flashlight batteries.


Q: What is your warranty?
A: Five years on all parts. See Warranty.