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Old 06-10-2008, 11:03   #1
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Night vision devices

A while back I was on the ICW from Ft. Pierce inlet to Melbourne at night. I had one of the kids on the bow spotting with a flashlight to verify marker (and crab pot) placement. That was a very long night.

Has anybody tried using the various night vision products available? I've seen a large range of devices from a cheapy at Harbour Freight tools to the ultra expensive Military units. What are the pros and cons? What price range is reasonable?
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:48   #2
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That depends on which generation scope interests you. There is a big difference between the first and third generation scopes.

If there is any light at all, I find it better to give your eyes a half hour to adjust to darkness instead of turning on a light. Hopefully your side lights are shaded in such a way that they do not affect your night vision.
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:00   #3
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i have and use a gen 2 + monocular. its night and day compared to the gen 1 stuff you see at wally world. cost is also much higher but worth it just for the fun factor. gen 1 stuff is a waste of money and goes for as low as 100 bucks, gen 2 is pretty good unless its completely over cast and no light spill from cities cost can be around 1000 and up. gen 3 while great starts at 3k for decent stuff its also does not work in completely dark areas but if there is any light it can see.

almost all night vision has built in infra lights, while they give light when completely dark they are limited range. there are makers of infra flash lights that depending on which can let you see great anywhere from 50 feet to 600 yards, all again on cost. surefire makes one that is pretty good for cost, its around a 100 bucks and will give a range of 100 yards.

if i really wanted to go nuts i would just build a infra red led light and mount it right below the bow of the boat, this would allow crap post to show up but also make them cast a shadow that might make em stand out more.This guy is great to deal with, no connections etc etc. Tactical Night Vision Home Page now to save some time searching his sight here is the monocular page. it does have actual pics thru the stuff Tactical Night Vision Monocular Page

ps if you are seriously looking stay away from atn stuff, they take what are considered junk tubes by everyone else and sell em for the same price
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:25   #4
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I have used gen 1 - 3 .

If you have a serious pot problem in your area, a gen 2 system with an additional IR source is worth considering.

But it will blind your night vision, and will flare horribly if there are other lights in the area. after 30 mins or so you will curse it.

If you get a hand held version you will wonder about your sanity

if you get a head mounted one, make sure that the batteries are mounted behind the head in order to provide a counterbalance, and dont wear it ashore while wearing combats and carrying a rifle!

A gen 1 is a toy and a decent pair of 7x50s is nearly as good
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:30   #5
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so something like this:
NEW! Ranger Digital Day/Night Vision Scope 5x42 gen 2 - eBay (item 350106141401 end time Nov-04-08 22:01:42 PST)

is worthless?
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:34   #6
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talbot mine is attached to a bike helmet, no real counter balance issues as i bought a helmet that fit me real well. as for the night blindness yes the eye that the scope is over does get blinded, but the other is fine. i keep it over my non dominate eye so my dominate eye stays adjusted.

and i have carried a rifle and been wearing camo with the NVD on its rather fun
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:37   #7
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yukon is probably the better gen 1 stuff, but unless you will depend 100 % on infra light sources your eyes will adjust better that it can see. that one says image brightness comparable, that means they are just bumping up the back end of the optics somehow. its still a gen 1 tube

scratch everything i just wrote i read the ebay post better

that is basically just 2 ccd cameras, with lcd screens, they are not very good, they are similar to gen 2 in ability with infra red but the resolution on them sucks

i can post a link to a firearm site that has a great night vision forum but some might not like it, due the guns part. the site has a review of some digital NVD

double edit they also eat batteries, mine runs 40 hours on 1 123 lithium
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:43   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty View Post
talbot mine is attached to a bike helmet, no real counter balance issues as i bought a helmet that fit me real well. as for the night blindness yes the eye that the scope is over does get blinded, but the other is fine. i keep it over my non dominate eye so my dominate eye stays adjusted.
a system that only uses a single eye does have advantages in weight and night blindness - although it will affect the other eye, just not as badly as on both eyes. However, you do lose depth perception.
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:53   #9
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PVS-14 Night Vision Goggles GEN 3 (USED) Mint Condition - eBay (item 160288367288 end time Oct-06-08 17:50:51 PDT)

this one might be worth it. but before you buy it make him send a custom pic ie one with the nvd on a piece of paper with your name written, and also you want a 3 day return, minus shipping. there is a lot of scams on ebay with night vision cover your ass.
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Old 06-10-2008, 13:13   #10
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Looks like my idea of a "neat to have on board" item is priced out of the "reasonable to spend for the benefit" catagory. I have a few years before I can sail off into the sunset, maybe the price will drop in the meantime.
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Old 06-10-2008, 13:20   #11
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price drop.... your funny. the one i bought in the last year has gone up 500 bucks

the gen 2 tubes ( not the shp ones ) are all new as in never used but are 20 years old. the stock is slowing drying up. heck ITT did not even release new gen 3 out to the public for about 9 months. gens 3 4 years ago where 1500, used ones where 700, now used ones start around 3 k, normally
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Old 06-10-2008, 13:21   #12
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Tom, you might look into some of the bettter quality home security products, which include a b&w video camera with IR illumination built into the same "dome" housing. Clip it onto the bow, run a cable to a monitor aft (or get a wireless one)...and you've got "better than nothing" for a fairly reasonable price. Since the camera is at the bow, you are getting better range than you would have with NV goggles at the helm.

Personally I find that getting a good night's sleep, and wearing dark glasses during the day, both help my night vision greatly.
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Old 06-10-2008, 18:03   #13
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I agree that the Gen I scopes are almost worthless. But not quite. I use mine (a Russian scope bought many years ago for $170) in the Intracoastal. In a large bay, it really helps picking out markers and dimly lit boats. But in smaller waters with too many lights, it's gets useless fast.
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Old 06-10-2008, 18:57   #14
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You can get a FLIR camera installed on your boat and hooked into your chartplotter, they're not cheap, but they are pretty cool. I really like thermal cameras, they work even in zero light.
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Old 06-10-2008, 20:42   #15
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I spent 30 years traveling over the water by boat and I have transited the ICW at night on boats making 50 knots and as slow as 7 knots.
Our night vision was always the best our government could provide. Whatever Gen was current and always aviation grade.

My opinion is the human eye and preserved night vision will out perform electro optics any day of the week when you have the back light issues that exist on the ICW.

The next best thing at night would be the best binoculars you can afford.

Night vision, like equipment available at a more or less reasonable price is ok for maneuvering around an anchorage at slow speeds or those few long dark stretches on the ICW but that's about it.
On an overcast night however or any place where artificial light is abundant, forget it. And street lights or home security lights they will blind you when viewed through night vision equipment.
FLIR can be a wonderful tool but but both FLIR and Night Vision gear are hard on the eyes and make it difficult to see clearly for a short period when you try to look around with out it. They need a dedicated watch other than the helmsman.
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