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Night vision recommendations?

Discussion in 'Product reviews' started by angie_nrs, Jan 3, 2018.

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  1. Jan 3, 2018 #1

    angie_nrs

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    I have been considering buying a cheap night vision device. I've noticed most of them are monocles. I know absolutely NOTHING about them, except for what little I have read in forums such as this. I would just like to have one for fun sake. When I sleep with the windows open in the summer and hear twigs snapping, it'd be neat to see what critter is making the noises. It would also be a nice security measure to have to see if anyone is sneaking around at night. Although, thats not really a big concern where I live.

    Does anyone have something like this? Are there any good devices out there within a $150 range or less? I would prefer one with typical battery sizes so that rechargeable batteries could be utilized.

    For those of you that have one, how often do you use it? Do you consider is a worthwhile investment?
     
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  2. Jan 3, 2018 #2

    Sentry18

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    I have a few night vision optics, mostly because of work upgrading to FLIR (forward looking infrared) and just plain opportunity to buy. They are older units but they do what they are supposed to do. Night vision, like any tool, has a specific purpose. As long as you know it's limitations and real world applications they are useful. There are also different generations of night vision technology, but in the under $500 range you will pretty much be looking at Gen 1. If you shop around a bit $250-450 seems to be the zone for decent budget priced night vision. Brands like Armasight, Night Owl, Firefield, Bushnell, etc. all make NV optics in that price range.

    This one seems to be positively reviewed and in your price range.
     
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  3. Jan 3, 2018 #3

    SheepDog

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    Sentry18, at what point do the night vision optics use the "star light" function instead of infra-red?
    I don't like the idea that anyone looking through an IR device can see my viewing apparatus like a flood light in the dark.
     
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  4. Jan 3, 2018 #4

    Sentry18

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    There are essentially three kinds of night vision: passive, active and thermal. Passive uses ambient light and then magnifies it. Active provides and IR sources that makes it lighter and brighter but can also give away your position. Thermal uses radiation instead of light. The difference between generations of night vision is really range, clarity and battery life with Gen1 being the worst and Gen3 being the best. Some companies claim they have Gen4 but they don't. Whatever you select just make sure it does not have added IR illumination (active) and your position should be safe.
     
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  5. Jan 9, 2018 #5

    viking

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    Newer Generation NV prices can take your breath away. I have Gen 1 binoculars and a Armasight WWZ, both have IR illuminators that can be turned off while in use, depending on starlight or moonlight they both do pretty good, overcast or rain, not quite as well. The binocular was around $300 more than the NV scope and is a bit clearer, the NV scope has a variable power IR illuminator and when it's turned to its highest power it lights up the shade areas under trees where you wouldn't see anything without it being on.
     
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  6. Jan 9, 2018 #6

    Caribou

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    Having an IR light that you can turn off is a real benefit. If you are looking for critters you can turn it on. You can also hare IR flood lights around your house that will do the job without letting anyone know which window you see them from. If they don't have night vision they won't know about the lights and if they do have NV then they will know that you do as well.

    I have NV but I wish I had FLIR.
     
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  7. Jan 9, 2018 #7

    TMT Tactical

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    That was my question in another thread at another forum, not to be named, that seemed to cause a bit of debate. If you use IR flood lights, can you use a NV scope or NV camera without alerting others you are using your equipment to spot them? The question did not get a consensus on the answer. So, Yes or No?
     
  8. Jan 9, 2018 #8

    Caribou

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    Were I using NV and saw a bunch of IR lights I would assume that you had NV and were seeing me or trying to. If you had a spot light on your NV device and I used my NV in the passive mode I would know where you were.

    If all you do is to put up IR lights you can make someone think you have NV capability. If they don't have NV then your bluff will go unnoticed. Did this help?
     
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  9. Jan 9, 2018 #9

    buildit

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    I have a Bushnell 4X50 Gen 1. It is black and white image and makes motionless items hard to see over 150 ft away. Basically it's useless over 150 ft because of this. I'd love to have a powerful gen 3 scope for a rifle to take out coyotes in the back 40.
     
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  10. Jan 9, 2018 #10

    TMT Tactical

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    That was what was my thinking too but somebody did not think the floods would match the cameras or the NV scopes IR frequency? I like the idea of them not knowing my NV capabilities or even if knowing but NOT knowing where I am watching from. Caribou, have you used IR floods with a NV device? I have incorporated the floods into my "THH" project. It would be real helpful if you could confirm the plans viability. This inquiring mind wants to know. Thanks.
     
  11. Jan 9, 2018 #11

    AdmiralD7S

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    I suspect I was that "someone" you're referring to :)

    It all comes down to the wavelengths/bands in question, power distribution over that band pass, direction of energy dispersal, range, and atmospheric visibility. If I recall, I think my short answer was something like "IR isn't just IR, so we need to be more specific than that in our description." Then I think I promised to make an article explaining how optical sensors work, and that got bogged down in that other forum's issues. I guess I ought to revisit finishing that out (3 sections are already written) and posting here. @phideaux, do we have ability to out articles on the front page yet?

    @TMT Tactical In the meantime, do you have any specific questions?
     
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  12. Jan 10, 2018 #12

    TMT Tactical

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    Admiral, I did not want to"OUT" you but yes you were that someone. The concept I want to use is IR flood lights to illuminate an open area and not have to use a rifle mounted illumination to search for visitors (two legged or four legged). So the question is what type IR flood light would be compatible with rifle mounted NV scope (ATN 5 x 20 scope) and with cameras with NV capabilities. The scope uses 850 mW infra-red, I don't have cameras picked out, so I don't know if any are compatible or not or if an IR floods are compatible. This is way over my head (technically) but I do believe the concept is workable. I hate finger pointing at people that are trying to help my dumb butt, that was why the "Someone" verbiage. Thanks for any assistance in this area.
     
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  13. Jan 10, 2018 #13

    Caribou

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    No, I have no experience with IR. I don't even have an IR light on my NV. Admiral knows far more than I on this subject. If you are going to go for IR floods then I suspect it would be possible to match them up to your NV equipment.
     
  14. Jan 11, 2018 #14

    AdmiralD7S

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    Sorry for the slow reply! Spent the last few days tracking down oil leak in my car (camshaft seal popped out for some reason). And no worries about "OUTing" me; I'm happy to share what I know!

    To answer your question, we need to know the specific wavelengths that we're talking about. IR covers everything from around 1 um (1 micrometer = 0.000001 meters) to 1mm, although we generally know that you're probably talking either Near IR (NIR) or Shortwave IR (SWIR), which puts us in the 0.7um to around 3um. To understand why this is important, think about audible frequencies. Humans can hear something like 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, I think. What if I started talking to you at 30,000 Hz? Even though I'm speaking, you can't hear it! The same principle happens with light. Just because I put energy out there doesn't mean that it's a range that your scope/cameras/etc. can "see" it.

    So, do you have a particular scope or NV camera in mind? With that, we can start to figure out what external sources (your IR floodlights) will be needed for your physical setup.
     
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  15. Jan 12, 2018 #15

    TMT Tactical

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    The scope I am considering is a ATN 5 x 20 power NV scope and uses a 850mW illuminating light. I would like to remove / turn off the light and use flood lights to facilitate the use of the scope, without pin - pointing my position. So are there normal IR floods ( not laboratory grade) that would work with this scope? The next question is there security cameras that would work with the same flood lights? I have not selected any security cameras, as I want then cameras and the scope to work with the floods and I do not understand enough about the wave length to know if they are all compatible. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
     
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  16. Jan 12, 2018 #16

    viking

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    The conversation seem to be in an area I've been thinking about when it comes to IR illuminators, thing is both of the IR units I have put out a red light that could be seen, in otherwords, is there a higher frequency IR illuminator that will still work for NV? Even IR illuminators for camera's can be seen. Or am I just barking up a tree and all this will be answered eventually by Admiral? Thing is, I do understand there is visible and invisible IR, I just don't have all the answers and thank you for those that do.
     
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  17. Jan 12, 2018 #17

    AdmiralD7S

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    I've submitted a request for information to the manufacturer of the scope, specifically the spectral response of the focal plane and the transmissivity of the optics. When I hear back, we can select flood lights and other hardware to match the appropriate bandpass.
     
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  18. Jan 12, 2018 #18

    AdmiralD7S

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    In theory, I will have an article coming up here soon to help explain the phenomenology and clarify some inaccuracies. Waiting to hear back from @phideaux.
     
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  19. Jan 13, 2018 #19

    TMT Tactical

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    Thanks Admiral, sorry to have yo doing my homework but this is way far above my understanding. It is greatly appreciated.
     
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  20. Feb 24, 2018 #20

    AdmiralD7S

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    My apologies for the month+ hiatus! I was waiting to hear back from the manufacturer of your scope, and then got bogged down working on a public defense for my doctoral program.

    I haven't heard back from the company on the specs that I want, so we're going to have to make some assumptions. Let's assume that everyone playing with night vision is going to be in the 700-1000 nanometer (nm) band, commonly referred to as "near infrared" (NIR). So, @TMT Tactical, we are looking for floodlights that cover this spectrum. An easy way to do this is with an incandescent bulb because we can treat it as a "black body" source which emits light across all wavelengths. For a normal incandescent at 2400° K, we have fairly strong radiance in the NIR. The bad news is that, being a pseudo-blackbody, the bulb also puts out lots of oomph in the visible (VIS) band. Though you didn't say it explicitly, I'm pretty sure you don't want to be seen with the naked eye.

    So, how do we get the power in the NIR band but not any (significant) power in VIS? Well, rather than the continuum source, we need either a line source or a pseudo-line source. In plain English, we need a "NIR flood light." We can easily find examples such as https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004V9Z7ZY/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20 and https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01G6K407Q/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20. Both of these state they are 850nm sources. Since they don't give an exact band-pass, we can only hope that they spectral radiance falloff is sharp-enough to keep it out of the visible range. Reading some reviews, some folks claim they can see a dim red light (which would be around 700 nm) in certain areas. Not ideal for the spectral radiance, but it's enough to demonstrate that there are flood lights out there that we could use.

    The next question comes down to how much power to put out there. The more power that we need, the more/bigger lights we'll have to put up. So, what I need from @TMT Tactical is a description of the geometry of the area. How wide, how far out? Everything level or on a hill? Are there any objects out there? If so, need to know all about those. Also, what are you trying to see - anything in particular (e.g., human skin, clothes, weaponry, etc.) or just whatever it takes to determine that someone is out there? Once I know all of this, I can work out the math and make some recommendations on flood lights and cameras.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2018
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  21. Feb 24, 2018 #21

    TMT Tactical

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    Admiral, thanks for the reply and the continuous research on our (my) behalf. The NIR flood lights are to cover a 600 foot square. House in center and 300 feet from all four sides. I do want the NIR light range and no VIS light range around the house perimeter. Now I am not concerned with the little "Red " glow, as posts with lights and cameras are going to be an indicator the property has surveillance capability. My intention was not to pin point any of my weapons or the hidden cameras by having to use an NIR lights attached to the weapon or camera. A 300 foot sprint across an open field is along way to run. I would prefer even more light coverage but I don't know if that is financially reasonable. My purpose is --- 1) Conceal the use of a Night vision scope (no light on weapon), 2) Conceal the use of hidden cameras with night vision capabilities and no light projected from cameras, 3) Be able to identify whatever (bob cat or bigger) withing the 300 foot lighted area. 4) Level terrain -- cleared ground. Any out building will be located outside of the NIR lighting zone and will have regular VIS lighting on photocell and motion detectors. I figured it would take three rows of NIR light poles, with the center row to have back to back NIR flood lights mounted on th poles. Row 1 and 3 poles and flood lights would be off set to fill-in the light coverage gaps from row 2. (cone shaped lighting pattern).

    The main concept is to spot any intruders who might be using Night Vision equipment without giving away my cameras location or if I am using a Night Vision scope, I don't want to have any light projecting from my weapon. The idea is the intruder would be staring into the lights and I would be hidden behind the lights. Think of staring into a very bright flashlight in a very dark room, You can see the light but not the person holding it. I sure hope I have filled in the gaps and answered your questions Admiral. You have been exceptional about working on this project and I certainly appreciate your involvement. Information collected now will make this project more effective and save a bunch of time and money. Thanks again for your time and effort.
     
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  22. Feb 24, 2018 #22

    Bacpacker

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    TMT thank you for all the questions. It's kinda filling in some questions I have as well. Wife really wants a security system (cameras) around the place. I want some night vision capabilities for animals both 2 and 4 legged.
    Admiral thank you for the technical date you are providing. I understand some of it and with some study hopefully will understand ore and be able to implement more around here.
     
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  23. Feb 25, 2018 #23

    Flight

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  24. Feb 25, 2018 #24

    buildit

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  25. Feb 25, 2018 #25

    BlueZ

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    A year ago I wrote a lengthy and illustrated article on this general subject on the "other" site.
    I will look for it.
    Not sure if we are permitted to link here.. I may just copy/paste... but then there is the issue of the pics...
     
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  26. Feb 27, 2018 #26

    viking

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    When I first considered getting NV I bought a low cost unit from Big 5 Sporting Goods, turned out to have a tiny screen, took it back and ordered a high quality Gen I binocular from Optics Planet for about $700,though NV can be bought for less, you get what you pay for. FLIR is definitely a great upgrade, they are out of my price range, higher grade models in the Gen III area can be well over $10,000. Under the best night conditions my binocular is good for well over 100 yards and even when conditions aren't the best it's still good for up to 100 yards.
     
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  27. Feb 28, 2018 #27

    AdmiralD7S

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    @TMT Tactical, I haven't forgotten you. I've worked out the overall equations, and now I'm just writing everything out nicely. Hope to scan it tomorrow and upload the pictures w/ the final answer.
     
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  28. Feb 28, 2018 #28

    AdmiralD7S

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    Okay, I've worked out all the derivations. Tomorrow, I'll write this up pretty (with explanations of what's going on), go through my assumptions, and plug in all the numbers to see what we come up with.
     
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  29. Mar 1, 2018 #29

    TMT Tactical

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    Admiral, I have the patience of Jove when somebody else is doing all the hard lifting. I am just pleased as punch that you are being nice enough to help all us lay people figure out how to make this process work. Thanks again.

     
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  30. Mar 1, 2018 #30

    AdmiralD7S

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    Okay, folks...I've finished the write-up and it's attached to this post. If you enjoy the science, pour a glass of wine and enjoy! If you just want to see the final answer, grab a beer and go to Section 3. If you're super-impatient, the answer is that if you use common IR floodlights (in the 20 W range) and the ATN 5x20 X-Sight II scope (or probably any similar scope), you're not going to see squat at 100 meters.

    I've spent the last few nights working through it all, and there's a chance I've missed something...but if I did, it's an attenuation (i.e., less light ==> worse image). I need to let my mind wander, but let's revisit this over the next few days, and we can talk about what changes are both possible and practical to make a setup like this work.

    Take care, all!
     

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