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Old 04-03-2015, 09:48   #1
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Night vision glasses

Anyone have an opinion/experience with gen one night vision monocles? There are some inexpensive models typically sold for hunting, security, spying reasons that are water resistant. However, I'm a firm believer that you get what you pay for and you can spend thousands on quality night vision instruments. Anyone tried gen one models in the one to two hundred dollar range?


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Old 04-03-2015, 10:02   #2
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Re: Night vision glasses

I have two different pairs of Soviet Army surplus night vision glasses which I suppose must be something like your "gen one".

They are fun to play around with in the dark, but have never found any actual useful purpose for them. They are no substitute for a high mounted FLIR.

You can use them for seeing ahead at night unless you are under sail and using a tricolor -- they are completely blinded by nav lights. And it would not be feasible to hold them to your eyes for hours at an end anyway.

For night watch, far superior is careful adaptation to the dark and keep your eyes open. Even a thin crescent moon behind clouds will look like daylight if you adapt well enough; it's rarely really pitch black at night at sea. And/or use your radar.

If someone has found actual useful purposes for them, I'd love to hear about it.
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:48   #3
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Re: Night vision glasses

Quite a few years ago we purchased a Gen 1 Nightvision Monocular thinking/hoping it would be useful for night sailing. It was not inexpensive, something over $1,000 USD at the time. Fortunately there was a 30 day return window, which we took advantage of after trying to use the device during the course of a 10 day cruise. In a word, the device was all but worthless. Not even as good as our Fujinon Polaris binoculars in the conditions. FWIW...
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:58   #4
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Re: Night vision glasses

Can be useful occasional for finding mooring buoys but a really bright LED torch is cheaper and better! I got a good one for less than $200 (surplus stock sale, list was over $1000) definitely would not pay much for one.
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Old 04-03-2015, 11:04   #5
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Re: Night vision glasses

Some of these posts give the impression that they don't work -- not my experience. Mine will let you see remarkable things. At anchor in a dark place on a dark night, you can see incredible detail on land.

My experience is simply that there's nothing to see at sea which is worth using them on. You can't look at other vessels because they will have nav lights on, which will blind them. Maybe some unlit land features would be visible. Crab pots, if you don't have your own nav lights on, and are patient enough to keep them held to your eyes.

I think they are far more useful for creeping around in the dark, on land, which is what they were designed for.
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Old 04-03-2015, 15:05   #6
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Re: Night vision glasses

Actual Gen 1 goggles / scopes were Korean war era, pretty much took an IR illuminator to make them work, or of course a red light, neat toys, but can't see much actual use for one.
By the time I retired, Gen III was out, and they are phenominal, but even if you could get one, it would be expensive.
Having used FLIR for a couple of thousand hours flying I can tell you if your looking for a man overboard, nothing beats FLIR, FLIR obviously works off of temperature differential and of course there is a minimum resolvable temperature, and twice a day on land you get IR crossover, where essentially most everything is about the same temp and you can't see squat, having flown a bunch of over water flying in Korea with FLIR, it doesn't work real well over water as of course water is about all the same temp, but something like a boat really sticks out, person in the water maybe moreso.
FLIR I flew with was cooled, I think most civilian systems aren't, but I bet they are pretty good by now. I do not have experience with civilian marine FLIR


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Old 05-03-2015, 15:04   #7
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Re: Night vision glasses

Thanks all. After many more hours researching, I would agree that gen 1 is useless. Two alternatives that seem to have merit are gen 2 ($1000) and a really cool (my opinion) unit from Vector. They make a powerful hand held unit that has a 2 mile range and a 5 inch screen for $950. So good that they're sold out of the hand held until late April. No brainer here.

To answer the why. To get around SW Florida, attention must be paid to channels and markers. Being a belt and suspenders guy, I want to see ahead of me in the dark without affecting my (or others) night vision. Between radar and help with night vision, my plan is to keep my keel above the hard stuff.

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Old 06-03-2015, 11:18   #8
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Re: Night vision glasses

I have spent A LOT of seasick hours staring through gen 1 night vision monocles. Given the technology available today whether it be light enhancement technology infrared or thermal imaging technology you do not want a gen 1 monocle.

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Old 07-03-2015, 13:40   #9
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Re: Night vision glasses

I used to have a Gen 1 monocular I picked up on eBay for about $150. I got it mostly for wildlife viewing back home in Guatemala. It was fun for that, but got damaged. Having used it ashore I suspect they would be of limited usefulness on the water except in very specific situations with no extraneous light.

These had IR illumination you could push button on or off...made a big difference in the right conditions.
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Old 07-03-2015, 15:58   #10
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Re: Night vision glasses

Quote:
Originally Posted by mserafi1 View Post
...
To answer the why. To get around SW Florida, attention must be paid to channels and markers. Being a belt and suspenders guy, I want to see ahead of me in the dark without affecting my (or others) night vision. Between radar and help with night vision, my plan is to keep my keel above the hard stuff.

Mike.
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Something to consider: Newer generations of reflective material on markers is amazing. I remember transiting the ICW at night near Pensacola just after Ivan wiped much of it clean. The Coasties had installed all new nav aides and you could light 'em up for 100 yards with a pen light.
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