Hi, this is Chase from OpticsPlanet and I'm here to tell you a little bit about night vision.
Night vision can be one of those complicated subjects.
We have devices that range from $100 all the up into $10,000.
Whether you are a hunter, a backpacker, law enforcement, military,no matter what your application is, if you're doing something at night andyou know you need night vision but you might not necessarily know what type of night visionyou need or what will get you there in your budget that you have.
A good place tostart is with generations and when I'm talking about generations I'm talking about the imageintensifier tube because that's what night vision really is.
It's image intensificationand more so is light amplification.
Most of these night vision devices, here, would havesome sort of image intensifying tube and those are broken up by generations.
Night vision technology is actually much older than most of you probably think.
It first started in the 1920s, right around there, and really morphed into somethingthat was more usable in the WWII era.
The first man portable unit was a T3 Carbine which was ashort Carbine that was used, for the first time, on Okanawa in WWII.
In some of the after actionreports that have read it was "an extremely successful system" and that'swhat we, kind of, consider generation zero.
It was an active unit, so you had touse infrared illumination source so that it wouldn't take in ambient light.
So, it sent outan infrared light source and then the image that came back is what they use to engage theirtargets.
Shortly after WWII and more so in the Vietnam era, is where generation 1 comes inand that's the baseline in which we sell, is generation 1 technology and that wasthe first type of night vision that used a passive system, so it took ambient lightand intensified it into a usable image.
What you have with Gen 1 is a photocathode whichconverts photons, which we see, into electrons.
There's a little bit of amplificationthat goes inside there and it takes those electrons and produces them into photonswith, what's called a, phosphorous screen.
It's a green phosphorous screen.
That's why we seeit as green.
With Gen 1 technology you only have about 1000x light amplification.
That sounds like a lot but when I get into the next generations, it's much more than that.
They come in all shapes and sizes.
Pretty much everything that you see here.
There's aGen 1 equivalent.
I'll get more into these exact items in a little bit.
Between Gen 1 and Gen 2,image intensifier tubes is the biggest jump and that is because of the microchannel plate.
The microchannel plate sits in between the photocathode and the phosphorous screen.
So, it sits right in the middle and it amplifies the electrons by 10's of 1000's.
So, it is a huge increase in performance, an increase in resolution, signal to noise.
It's an overall, muchbetter image than what you would see with the Gen 1 device.
Furthermore, with Gen 2 somemanufacturers have even further stratified the Gen 2 technology.
They call them all kinds of differentthings: commercial grade tubes, high performance plus and all these are are slight differences, very slight in tube construction or higher specifications.
So, one might have a slightlyhigher resolution or signal to noise ratio than the other and that's so the user can pick a slightlybetter tube but not quite a Gen 3 tube.
Light amplification in Gen 2 is about 2000xSo, it is a huge increase from Gen 1 which is 1000x.
Gen 3 there is only a small increase in performanceand that's because they just changed up the photocathode.
They use a slightlydifferent material and it's a little more efficient so you get a little higher resolution, a little highersignal to noise, overall better image and this, kind of, brings me to Gen 4.
There is and there isn'ta Gen 4.
Part of a Gen 3 tube is an ion barrier on a microchannel plate and this helps to protect thephotocathode from damage.
As the electrons are being amplified in a microchannel plate.
Someof them come come back and hit that photocathode and can damage it so they put thatscreen on there, a little film.
Many times thinner than a human hair, it's extremely thin.
What they did for Gen 4 was that they ITT removed that film and what they found was that they gotmuch higher performance, much higher resolution, brighter image, higher gain buton the downside, it damages that photocathode so the tube life is significantly lower.
The military didn't want that because it didn't meet their tube specifications so what they didwas made the film extremely thin.
So, they took the standard Gen 3 film, made it thinner, and theycalled that Gen 3 Pinnacle.
It's a proprietary system by ITT.
It is the standard for which the military usesright now.
Our PVS14, or OPMOD PVS14, has a Gen 3 Pinnacle image intensifier tube.
Now, on top of all these generations: 1, 2, and 3, there's another technology calledwhite phospher.
A couple of manufacturers have different names for it but essentially what it isis, instead of a green phosphorous screen, it's a white phosphorous screen.
So the image is ingrey-scale and some people have told me that they feel like it has higher contrast.
You can moreeasily distinguish between items or objects that you're looking at.
That might be the case.
I'm former military and I've got a few thousand hours with green PVS14, you know, green nightvision.
So, that's what I'm used to.
So, with the white phospher technology, it's kind of a personal preference.
You know, if you don't like the green or if it gives you headaches or something, you know, try thewhite-out.
There's two generations.
It's in Gen 2 and 3.
Last but not least is digital technology.
This is, kind of, newer.
It uses CCD chips, much like a regular video recorder has anight vision device, if you have one.
It's a same type of technology.
It's not quite Gen 2 but it's betterthan Gen if I were to rank them.
The downside's that they eat up batteries and they're heavilyreliant on infrared.
Infrared illumination, if I didn't cover it yet, is kind of like a flashlightfor night vision.
You can only see it with night vision and it's not in the visible spectrum.
At most, if you're looking at an infrared illuminator, such as this one, you'll see a faint, faint red glowbut the picture is pretty nice and one of the benefits of digital night vision, such as this iGen,you can take pictures with it.
On the back here, there's a SD card and you can snap picturesWith traditional night vision devices, when I say traditional I mean Gen 1, 2, and 3, it's hardto take pictures.
You have to attach a camera to the ocular of the device to get a picture.
Most of themdon't have internal systems for capturing images.
With digital night vision, it's a lot easier becauseit's all digital.
One of the cool things about digital night vision is that it can't be damagedby light.
With the other generations: Gen 1, 2, and 3, excessive light will hurt the image intensifier tube.
With digital, that's not a problem.
So, you can have day/night systems together.
It's, kind of, a nicefeature.
It's also very budget friendly.
So, if you're operating on a tight budget like myself,digital is a good option if you can't quite afford Gen 2, digital is a good area to look at.
I get a lot of questions on "How far am I going to be able to see with this device?".
That's verysubjective for a couple of reasons.
First, as I kind of discussed earlier, it uses ambient light.
Imageintensification uses ambient light so it depends on how much light there is outside.
On a full moon, with a Gen 3 device, you might be able to see 5, 6, 7, 800 yards.
Then, with no moonpitch black, or in a basement, you might only be able to see 25 yards without an infraredilluminator.
Same thing with Gen 1, you know, with no moon, no light you're only going to be able tosee a few feet.
A little bit of light, you know, 25, 30, 45 yards and then, if you have a full moon, you'regoing to be able to see 100, 150 yards with a Gen 1 night vision device.
It is largely dependent onambient light and also your vision: user's vision.
Some people, like myself, we just have terriblevision and what I see through a night vision device isn't the same as what a guy with 20/10 vision sees.
So, it is very conditional on your operational environment and the user.
Next up, I'm going tocover the types of devices.
First up, I'm going to cover the monocular.
This, what you see here,is a PVS14 monocular.
It is the most highly adaptable night vision device there is.
As you can see, right now, it's in a helmet mounted configuration so I can run around hands-free.
This leaves my hands to manipulate a weapon, to navigate obstacles.
You can also see that I have itup here, mounted behind a night vision compatible red dot sight.
There's a ton of different mounts,GG&G, Summit, AimPoint, almost everybody makes one that'll attach to a rail behind a red dot sight.
Another benefit of a monocular, more of a general benefit, is that you only have one eye behindnight vision and the other eye is conditioned to the ambient lighting conditions and the benefit ofthat is, when you switch up or to an area where you don't want to be looking through that device,you have one eye that can be used for that close-end stuff.
Whenever you've used a night visiondevice.
If you have, you'll notice that when you flip up or take it away from your eye, your eye is adjustedto that brighter light through the view screen.
So you really, it takes some time for your eyeto adjust and it really is unusable.
There'll be a big purplish haze right in your field of view.
So, the benefit is you have one eye that's always ready to go, one eye that is always attuned to thenight vision.
A lot of the other monoculars use proprietary systems and then others usethe MUM mounting interface like you see here, kind of like a little dove tail system that clamps on tothis rail.
So, the two major players are the military spec PVS14 style mounting system and then theMUM, which you see here, on our OPMOD Gen 1 monocular.
Next, I'm going to cover a biocular.
What you see here is a PVS7.
There are two eyepieces to one objective and the benefit to that isboth of your eyes, if you are in a stationary position and you don't have to move, you're not going to begoing in and out of various lighting conditions, it's very easy on your eyes.
With the PVS14,with the monocular, it can get kind of distracting.
It takes some time to get used to.
With this, it's alittle easier.
Your field of view is a little more restricted because you're going through oneobjective but it's a great device if you're in those stationary positions.
Next is a binocular, so,two eyepieces, two objectives.
These are, again, great for stationary positions so if you're luckyenough to be in a rural area, on your porch, you can go out every night and scan for critters ifyou're looking for coyotes, if you're a hunter.
It usually has some kind of magnification,which is nice.
The PVS14 and the PVS7, here, and a lot of the monoculars don't have any magnification.
They can but a lot of them don't.
This one, this binocular, does.
A riflescope and what I'm talkingabout a night vision riflescope.
I'm talking about something that's dedicated to that weapon system.
So, if you have an AR15, you have multiple upper receivers, you can dedicate one of thoseupper receivers to a night vision device.
Most of these, 99%, are only night vision.
There's not very many day/night systems out there.
So, let's say you have a day scope sight zeroedin, you only have one, you don't have to switch it out with a dedicated night scope.
So, what you can dois you can purchase a clip-on device and what that'll do is attach to the objective of yourday scope and it essentially turns it into a night vision riflescope.
You don't have to adjust thezero on your scope.
There's no parallax shift located here.
There's quite a few waysto attach this.
What you see here is, attached to the quadrail forend, or a picatinny rail forend.
You canalso use various adapters to attach it directly to the objective.
So if you have a Remington 700 orsomething without a rail, in front of your scope, you can attach this guy to it and there's different shimsthat'll fit inside here and wrap around the objective so you can quickly clip it on to your day scopeand you have a night vision riflescope.
Now I'm going to cover a few of the termsthat you might hear regarding night vision.
First is gain.
Gain is, essentially, the amount of timeslight is amplified inside the unit.
So, the higher the gain, the more light amplification.
Most deviceswill have a gain control and how this looks to the user is a brightness control.
So, you turn the gainup, the brightness will increase, turn it down, it'll decrease.
A side effect is that you'll see morenoise inside the unit.
Next is resolution.
This is probably the most salient specification that yousee with night vision.
Resolution is measured in line pairs/mm.
The more line pairs there are, the higherthe resolution in the unit.
So, ideally, you want a higher resolution unit, as high as what fits insideyour budget.
Next up and probably the most important is signal to noise ratio and thatit can be described as the efficiency in which it produces or sends an image to the output.
So, we see this as the fuzziness inside of the unit.
So, the better the signal to noise ratio, the higherthe ratio, the lower that static, that fuzziness that you'll see.
The lower, the more fuzzier it'll be.
So, this is an extremely important measure.
Last thing I want to cover is auto-gated.
What doesauto-gated mean? It's in reference to the power supply.
With Gen 3 units, in particular Gen 3 Pinnacle,they have, most of them will have, all the Pinnacles, most Gen 3 will have an auto-gated power supplyand this directly effects the microchannel plate and it will regulate the power to that microchannelplate.
Where this benefits you is when you're in an operational environment with dynamiclighting conditions.
You're going to see a halo without an auto-gated power supply.
What that does is reduces that halo so you can use that device in a whole range of operationalenvironments.
It won't, if you have an auto-gated power supply, it won't damage your imageintensifier tube, a really nice feature especially for the military.
I can't tell you how many timesI went from pitch darkness to an urban area.
An auto-gated power supply really helpedwith staying on target and reducing those blooms.
So, there you have it.
I hope night vision is a littlemore understandable to you now.
If you have any more questions or comments, shoot us an email,call us, put something in the comment section.
All these products are available at opticsplanet.
This is Chase.
Thanks for watching.