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#176190 - 07/13/09 09:44 AM Re: Night vision gear [Re: Tom_L]
PureSurvival Offline
Member

Registered: 02/21/09
Posts: 149
Loc: UK
I will agree that NV equipment has it uses for nature watching. I wish i owned some of the NV kit we used in Ireland for watching, photographing and filming suspect just for capturing images of the creatures of the night but that kit is limited by price.

Maybe i have been spoilt by the high quality NV kit i have used in the operational role. The fact is that most of the NV kit you can buy of the shelf nowadays although uses gen1 technology does not match the quality of vision the gen1 military kit offered.


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#176201 - 07/13/09 11:15 AM Re: Night vision gear [Re: Tom_L]
hazeywolf Offline
Newbie

Registered: 02/09/06
Posts: 31
Gen 1 is really scrappy and the Viper provides very restricted field-of view. You're probably better off getting a Gen2/3 hand-held monocular at the same price. The head-mount on the viper makes sense, but is over-kill for the Gen1 Viper.

I own the ATN Viper Gen1 monocular w/head-mount. I purchased it refurbished/on sale for $120 US four years ago. Since then, I've had to have the tube replaced once under warranty - Service from ATN was excellent!

Gen1 Sux! Its just a fun toy - the kids enjoy playing hide and seek with it when camping or in the house with the lights turned off.

Its fun to spy on the 'coons, 'possums, black bears that prowel around some campgrounds w/insecure garbage bins at night.

It was nice to have when a bob-cat once visited my Mariposa County wilderness camp - I wouldn't have been able to enjoy watching him stalk otherwise.

The headgear function makes it a hands-free tool, but (IMO) a hand-held monocular is probably a better option if you buy gen1/2 as a toy.

IMO - The Viper Gen1 w/head-gear is not useful as military type night-vision tool for use w/firearms: its far too crude and limited in that capacity, or for night photography/astro-photography.

Its a light-weight device, but takes ups space and does add weight to a pack - so I usually forgo packing it on backpacking/hiking excursions. Its more suited to family camping/car camping.

That said - its still a well thought-out system on the cheap. You can add magnification lenses, mount it to cameras, wear it hands-free, it has a built in IR LED and clumsy but functional head-gear mount for "hands-free" operation.... except you have to manually refocus the optics all the time in order to focus and various distances...

It may be useful for some night-trecking (I've tried it in that in the woods; it felt very claustraphopic) - but its extremely limited "field-of-view" (like viewing though a pin-hole)IR range (unless you carry a secondary IR lamp), and C123A battery consumption truly hamper field ops, especially in dense wilderness environments or durations of 4+hrs...

On the plus side, one can adjust to using both eyes (one with the LI monocular) at night, and even learn to co-ordinate with a firearm, but again - its an extremely shabby and uncomfortable system compared to contemporary military high-end LI systems.

Its a fun toy. I take it camping sometimes, but never use the head-gear. Its not part of my BOB. If the lights went out in my town and things got creepy in my hood, or volunteer urban SAR ops were taking place in a lights out situation - it might be handy, but I doubt that prospect.


Edited by hazeywolf (07/13/09 11:27 AM)

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#176216 - 07/13/09 01:59 PM Re: Night vision gear [Re: NightHiker]
CAP613 Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 06/22/05
Posts: 87
Loc: W. PA
I have a Gen 1 unit and found the field of view is to narrow. It also lacks much depth of field on the focuse and that makes it hard to use.
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Ward

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#176227 - 07/13/09 02:52 PM Re: Night vision gear [Re: CAP613]
Tom_L Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
Wow, I'm glad I started this thread, good to hear different opinions. In particular, thanks to Hazeywolf! Looks like you've just confirmed what I've been suspecting all along.

I can't quite understand the following, though:

Quote:
Gen 1 is really scrappy and the Viper provides very restricted field-of view. You're probably better off getting a Gen2/3 hand-held monocular at the same price.


From what I've seen, the cheapest gen 2 monoculars run well over $1000. Which is about twice as much as the best gen 1 devices in a similar configuration. Am I missing something? Are there actually better deals on gen 2/3 out there?

The more I look around the more options I can find. Some of the gen 1+ goggles apparently run a long time on a single battery, I've seen battery life up to 20 or 36 hrs, which is good enough in my book... I've even found some guys from Finland that are selling mint condition Dragunov night scopes, basically cascade mounted gen 1 (three tubes one after another) and it seems the performance is really good for the price ($200-400). Unfortunately, it's not quite what I'm looking for and getting Eastern Bloc surplus electronics sounds a bit risky to me.

Anyway, it's also interesting to compare different people's experience. Some of the online reviews on gen 1 goggles are really enthusiastic whereas reading your posts I ask myself if night vision equipment is worth the trouble at all... That's why I really appreciate your thoughts, especially from folks who've been there, done that and have first-hand experience with different night vision gear in the field.

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#176554 - 07/16/09 09:50 AM Re: Night vision gear [Re: Tom_L]
hazeywolf Offline
Newbie

Registered: 02/09/06
Posts: 31
Thanks Tom_L -

You're right - good 2nd Gen LI does cost over 1k. There are some gen2 LI devices that can be had (refurbished) for $3200US +: http://www.scopecity.com/detail.cfm?ProductID=6224

While I own the Viper monocular/headgear and my report does reflect my personal experience, I'm not an expert on the topic of LI tech - just a geek.

Thanks for introducing the cascade mounted gen1 LI tubes - those might be great!

The limited field of view and frequent manual refocusing of the Viper Gen1 optics (depending on distance of objects viewed) coupled with the unyeildy headgear mount were a disappointment. One can move the monocular right or left by manually unscrewing its bar mount and re-adjusting, but not flip it up and down easily over one's eye like contemporary helmet-mounted military LI devices, and so the Viper product can become a visual obstruction when using the headgear.

A more powerful, secondary hand-held IR Light does improve the performance of the device a lot.

Supposedly, it can be mounted to other optics (standardized camera lenses, and even some rifle scopes), but I've not used it in that capacity.

You might find some more reviews of the Viper on the web interesting: Cabelas: http://www.cabelas.com/p-0040344712641a.shtml

Again; ATN customer service was very good at servicing my refurbished model (2 year warrenty).


Edited by hazeywolf (07/16/09 10:05 AM)

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#176597 - 07/16/09 04:05 PM Re: Night vision gear [Re: PureSurvival]
Todd W Offline
Product Tester
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/14/04
Posts: 1928
Loc: Mountains of CA
Originally Posted By: PureSurvival
I will agree that NV equipment has it uses for nature watching. I wish i owned some of the NV kit we used in Ireland for watching, photographing and filming suspect just for capturing images of the creatures of the night but that kit is limited by price.

Maybe i have been spoilt by the high quality NV kit i have used in the operational role. The fact is that most of the NV kit you can buy of the shelf nowadays although uses gen1 technology does not match the quality of vision the gen1 military kit offered.



Would be nice to look out back and see who's robbing your garden at night too wink
_________________________
Self Sufficient Home - Our journey to self sufficiency.

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#176603 - 07/16/09 04:46 PM Re: Night vision gear [Re: Todd W]
Tom_L Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
Hazeywolf, interesting notes re: head mount. Like I said, I could probably come up with a better homemade headgear at a fraction of the price so getting just a plain monocular might do the trick.

The more I look around the more I see gen 2 is the way to go for any remotely serious job. The Night Optics D300 might be a great choice but we're talking $1500 and that's a bit too much for my liking.

Incidentally, I noticed the prices went up last couple of years. Could have something to do with the exchange rate since a lot of gen 1 & 2 is imported from Russia, then either resold as is (under a US brand) or modified to some extent.

Hell, I *want* a gen 2 NV unit... But I don't think I'm going to be shelling out $1500 any time soon. lol

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