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Old 18-10-2009, 17:15   #1
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Night Vision Equipment

An earlier post (didn't want to hijack the gentleman's thread) concerning cameras got me to thinking about my days in the army and night vision binoculars. I was thinking that a good pair of binoculars would be useful for confirming radar etc. Does anyone make use of night vision technology?

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Old 18-10-2009, 18:31   #2
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I assume you are looking at image intesification (II) binoculars or similar, rather than the $10,000 infra red (FLIR) systems which are in another league entirely. I used commercial II binoculars on rescue craft with good results. They are quite useful in 'starlight' conditions, but nowhere near as sensitive as the military spec versions.

Not particularly expensive, but not top of my list of priorities. You will find plenty of sources online.

Used with torch or search lights, you can see objects quite clearly that you cannot see using low-spec II alone. For instance, I navigated the lifeboat through a field of lobster pot buoys picking up the light thrown out by nav lights. I could pick the buoys up at 100-200 metres.

Some things to consider include:

[1] Need to protect night vision, e.g. only one person to use them at a time. Best not the helmsperson or skipper.
[2] Look for the highest spec version you can. Commercially available 'Western' products are typically labelled Gen 1, Gen 1+ (sometimes Gen 2?). This is the 'Generation' of device; get later generations for MUCH better low light performance.
[3] Poor depth perception & restricted field of view. You often need to confirm distance by secondary means (OK - just good practice). Easy to look at something or check sector for hazards; harder to maintain 360 deg situational awareness.
[4] People get seasick just looking through them!

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Old 18-10-2009, 18:41   #3
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A good pair of normal binoculars really enhances what you can see at night.

Night vision would be good
Notes on a Circumnavigation.

Somalia Pirates and our Convoy
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Old 18-10-2009, 20:05   #4
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Powerboats use FLIR but Idid see on on the 70 ft Hylas at the Boat Show. I have a set of light multiplier monoculars on the boat but havn't used it in years. My Steiners work almost as well.
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Old 18-10-2009, 20:28   #5
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Yeah. And you will never get your hands on the good stuff!

The idea of high quality night vision devices in terrorist etc hands make governments rightly nervous. You might like to try using the monocular in conjunction with strong torchlight, e.g. picking rocks, entrances & hazards in reasonably close proximety.
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Old 18-10-2009, 22:09   #6
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We used night vision binoculars during our circumnavigation. I found them usedful for several things:

1. Detecting the loom of lights of distant ships while they were still over the horizon on a dark night and in nasty weather.
2. Better recognition of cloud types on the nights where there was little moon.
3. Enhanced security in anchorages to see what is happening onshore or in small local boats.
4. Checking sails and rigging on dark nights with the aid of a weak flashlight directed toward the top of the mast and sails.

I didn't use them regularly, but I was glad to have them on board when I needed them.

Sometimes I used them in conjunction with a small flashlight which greatly enhanced my ability to see what was going on in conditions of darkess in anchorages.
Dave -Sailing Vessel Exit Only
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Old 21-10-2009, 02:04   #7
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I use them quite often

Scaning new anchorages before entering at night ( to pick up fish traps, moorings, rocks etc)

Detecting lights of ships over the horizon

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