An interesting project that I was involved in for more than 20 years was remote control of cyclotrons. The use of video cameras was mandated, but high radiation resistant cameras and lenses were extraordinarily expensive in those days. Even with their immense expense, they were not guaranteed to work in the high flux fields we had to endure.
The solution was multiphased and took quite a long time to evolve.
At first we used standard vidicon tube based industrial cameras (this was way before CCDs), fine quality zoom lenses and Pelco pan-and-tilt motors.
After several cycles of operation, the cameras failed, and were replaced with fresh units. Being activated, each failed unit had to cool off in the hot box before I could handle it on the test bench and determine the failure mode. Telephone calls to the factory yielded no positive answers, but they did want me to report back to them when I discovered a fix, as they said they knew I would. Thanks for the kudos, but would have far preferred a quick-fix!
A problem arose in that in most cases, after the activation had decayed away (we think the main culprit was copper), the camera worked normally again. This was frustrating and not very efficient, since the cameras tended to fail just at the time they were needed most, during a cyclotron run.
The solution was to record the video and note the failure modes, then determine the individual chips that were being affected by activation. Fortunately there were radiation-rated chips (ceramic vs. plastic) available for the IC's involved. Swapping the chips out cured the problem, and then we had a truly inexpensive camera that would work for a long time in the high flux environment.
Next problem was that the glass in the lenses would slowly turn brown and eventually not be usable any more. Instead of replacing the whole motorized lens assembly (expensive), we opted to have on hand the individual lens elements, and just swap them out as needed, on a schedule. Once brown the glass stayed that way forever. I guess there might be some truth in the rumors of artificially created "desert glass".
For the most part, we then had a stable monitoring system, backed up with an identical second system in the same cell. Note that there never was a problem with passive components like resistors or capacitors, just the active semiconductors.
When another cell was being built for an additional cyclotron, we really looked into improving the monitoring capabilities. Based upon experience we knew there were many critical areas not visible from a camera mounted in a fixed location, even though it had had pan-tilt-zoom capabilities. What was really needed was a traveling rail system to augment the camera motions already provided. The traveling rail would extend the length of the machine and really allow for optimum inspection inside the closed off cell.
We had shop-built many large scale industrial traveling rail systems prior to this project for several clients, but this application was unique and required some out of the box thinking.
The solution was a pneumatic-over-magnet rail. Inside a sturdy sealed tube is located a cylindrical permanent magnet, sealed with O rings on either end. At each end of the tube is an air inlet. Through remote controls, the position of the magnet in the tube can be changed by air pressure on one side or the other, resulting of smooth positional control. On the outside of the tube rode a yoke, also equipped with permanent magnets. This yoke followed the internal magnet and rode smoothly back and forth on the tube. On this yoke we mounted up the camera system.
This unit worked impeccably, allowing remote viewing of the entire cell as needed. Still the radiation problem persisted, being more of a nuisance than a problem at this point, so a boron-block "doghouse" was constructed at the head end of the rail system, allowing a safe "parking place" for the optoelectronics package when not actually being used. The speed at which the camera can be deployed/parked was remarkable compared to conventional motorized rails.
NLNLNew London Nucleonics lab