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NV with only GEN 3?

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#26 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 11:13 AM

 

I read these threads and dream that someday it will be a simple task to go to Astronomics or other astronomy vendor web site and get a great NV devices with the accessories to attach it to the focuser.  I am willing to wait a few more years for the technology to become better, easier to buy and use. 

 

I also love to backpack and I think a handheld NV monocular with a small objective lens would be the lightest possible astronomy equipment that would be useful to carry on a backpacking trip. I currently carry a 8x42 monocular for day time navigation or very casual astronomy.

 

It takes one part to attach a device with C mount to a focuser and that part is available right now from Scopestuff.

 

http://www.ebay.com/...GsAAOxyOMdS6T62

 

If you wait for the major vendors to start stocking NV gear, you will likely be waiting for a very, very long time.  Most of them will see this as a specialty item that few amateurs will want to buy and they will not be able to add any value over what the NV dealers can already do.

 

Outstanding for back packing and camping!  I never go out in the dark without a piece of Night Vision gear.  

 

And a monocular with a 3x lens makes a jacket pocket system that I think is the ultimate grab and go astronomy tool.

 

attachicon.gifNVD with 3x afocal lens.jpg

 

While it might seem expensive, for most people, it has made a lot of seldom used gear look so unappealing that they wind up selling a lot of stuff that they know they will probably never use again.   I sold a load of expensive eyepieces.   Boring after using NV.

 

Indeed. Buying an NV tube is as easy as dialing a phone number and pulling out a credit card. The only part that takes work is doing a little due diligence on the technology and the NV vendors. And I'll give you a shortcut there: Rich at Ultimate Night Vision. An awesome vendor who is also an amateur astronomer. He knows that our needs are a little more stringent than the needs of the average hunter.

 

Once you get the tube, using it in a telescope is no more difficult (or time consuming) than threading on a nebular filter to a conventional eyepiece. The required adapter cost me $24 at ScopeStuff.

 

With respect to traditional eyepiece manufacturers and vendors getting into NV astronomy, it is very much in their interest NOT to do so. Their margins are small and the business model is based on people amassing large collections of individual eyepieces - a recurring revenue stream. With NV that model of buying behavior gets turned on it's head. I doubt there would be enough margin in that single sale to survive, so naturally they will not go there and talk down the potential of NV at every opportunity.



#27 Eddgie

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 01:40 PM

Actually I think there is a decent markup in the tubes and devices.

 

For example, I think that the NVD Micro ULT retails for somewhere around $3600, but I believe wholesale cost is may be in the range of  $2600 or so.   I know that some dealers will indeed offer quite good discounts over the MSRP if you ask for it.

 

Remember, they still have costs and they still have to make a profit.  This is not a car dealer situation where there are all kinds of secret to the public incentives for car dealers and the dealer wholesale price is not in any way a true refection of what the dealer actually pays. 

 

The point though is that the markup per unit is not bad, but these companies generally make money on volume.

 

Also they simply are not going to make the investment to get their people up to speed and set up the warranty system to deal with this kind of gear for the comparatively low volume of equipment they sell.

 

As a great example, go to a big box sporting goods store.  They stock big box NV gear from ATM and Armasight, but they really can't tell you anything about the gear rather than "Good," "Better," and "Best." and their prices are comparatively higher considering what you are getting.  

 

I would not buy my night vision gear from a telescope vendor just like I would not buy it from a big box sporting goods store.   They simply don't have a business model that will allow them to provide the expertise that a more specialized dealer can provide.  These outfits are mostly staffed by order takers and box/bag fillers.

 

Also, dealers like Night Vision Universe (Bruce) often have high quality used gear that they will sell and offer an in-house warranty.  You pay more for a used device this way, but the added piece of mind could be worth it when 85% of the value is in the tube and if anything goes wrong with it, they will have it repaired or replace it.

 

Not saying that a telescope dealer could not be successful doing this, but my guess is that they simply will find the market to small to want to do it. 


Edited by Eddgie, 21 October 2016 - 01:44 PM.

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#28 starman345

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 02:11 PM

I sent Mike a PM offering what I could to help him with his night vision questions but thought I would reply here too in case other Canadians are thinking of getting into the technology.
Some of the posts here reference American vendors which really is not very helpful to the OP who is in Canada. Judging from what I'm reading on this forum, Americans buying from US vendors is much different from my experience with Canadian dealers.
If you are looking to buy a new device here are a few Canadian dealers to check out:(I'm sure there are others)
http://www.tacticalimports.ca/
http://www.alphaopticsinc.com/
http://www.newcon-optik.com/
http://www.gsci-online.com/
I've found Mark at AlphaOptics to be helpful, more so than the others listed but that could be just me. I've found you will get a lot more information with a phone call than an email. Be prepared to dig deep when buying NV in Canada
These dealers offer mostly Photonis, Harder Digital, and Katod (Russian) tubed devices, some of them will sell just the tube . They sell FOM limited devices with a few exceptions and the AlphaOptics and Gsci tubes come with data sheets, I'm not sure about the others, you would have to ask to be sure.
On the subject of tube data sheets, you are only guaranteed the minimum FOM when you order, you don't get to see or in any way know the exact specs of the tube before you take delivery. As one dealer told me, apart from the FOM minimum it is sort of a lottery what you will actually get. If anyone knows of a dealer in Canada who will hand pick a tube I would be very interested to know.

There are also companies in Europe that will export to Canada:
http://www.actinblack.com/
http://www.alpha-pho...php?language=en
Before doing business with any of these European dealers I would advise contacting the CBSA and asking the rules regarding import and export (in case of warranty work) pertaining to night vision devices.

I have a Gen 1 Cascade scope that I built, a Gen 2 and Gen 3 monoculars. It has been my experience that you don't need Gen 3 to enjoy NV, I'm sure it would be nice to have the garbonzos to lay out for a top of the line device but I cringe when I see people saying you need this or that high end device to start, that just means a lot of people are going to look at the prices and never go any further. I enjoy all my devices and use them all, the Gen 3 gives the most pleasing views, but the others are nice too.
If you are handy the  Cascade tube scope is a worthwhile project, I have about $300 invested in mine. The view has distrotion around the edge and there is star tracing when moving the scope too fast across the sky, also it is big and heavy, mine is about 4 lbs but the image is bright and clear in the center....and, for $300 it will show a lot of what you will see in higher generation devices(much more money).
The Gen 2 is a step up from the Cascade but not much really, there is no distortion like the Cascade, no tracing, and one thing I like about the Gen 2 is there is no halo on bright objects like my Gen 3 has. I'm not sure if that is a Gen 2 characteristic or just mine in particular.
To answer your question about Gen 2+ being sufficient for night vision, I would have to say yes. I had a chance to look through a device with a Photonis XD-4 tube this past summer and I thought it was nicer than my Gen 3, but I have to say my Gen 3 isn't a very high end tube. Still, the XD-4 is on my radar for astronomy.

Just to add a different view from what is generally voiced in this forum, I seldom use filters, I have most of the ones mentioned here but prefer  un-filtered views, probably 90% of the time is unfiltered and likewise probably 99% of the time with the NV device alone, no telescope. NV stands very well on its own.
You can always add filters later making the original  purchase a bit more palatable.


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#29 jdbastro

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 03:51 PM

...

 

FWIW: The highest performing Gen 2 image intensifier I currently use for astronomy has a figure of merit of 2296 (SNR of 32.8 and Resolution of 70lp/mm). Metric wise, it beats most of my Gen 3 tubes and produces some pretty impressive views.

...

 

cnoct,  so then performance-wise, how well does your highest performing Gen 2 intensifier do against your best Gen 3 units(s) for astronomy?    Have you been able to make out the Pleiades reflection nebulae?  Is your best Gen 2 tube an 'Intens'?

 

Thanks much.



#30 PEterW

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 02:21 AM

There's always a better tube out there. There was S also the second hand market as well. Some other inter st groups like NV and they sometimes sell good stuff in their classifieds. Sometimes you'll find a person who has a couple and so you might get a choice, but specs are unknown. With the tube and light pollution spectra I always use filters (and a long lens shield too), both really improve the view a lot, but then my skies are rubbish. Get what you can, aim as high as you can and don't worry someone might have better. Same advice as for telescopes in general really.

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#31 cnoct

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 07:44 AM

I would not buy my night vision gear from a telescope vendor <snip>

 

 I'm 100% in agreement with you on this but for different reasons.  

 

Having experienced the inferiority of Astro centric NV systems such as the BiPH and CollinsI3, I would steer clear of any  astronomy specific NV systems until such systems are proven match the capabilities of commercial non-astro systems, mil. systems or combinations of commercial and mil. systems. 


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#32 cnoct

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 09:37 AM

 

...

 

FWIW: The highest performing Gen 2 image intensifier I currently use for astronomy has a figure of merit of 2296 (SNR of 32.8 and Resolution of 70lp/mm). Metric wise, it beats most of my Gen 3 tubes and produces some pretty impressive views.

...

 

cnoct,  so then performance-wise, how well does your highest performing Gen 2 intensifier do against your best Gen 3 units(s) for astronomy?    Have you been able to make out the Pleiades reflection nebulae?  Is your best Gen 2 tube an 'Intens'?

 

Thanks much.

 

 

 

 

To keep the performance attributes in the context of a comparison, here are the most basic "A" level metrics for my best multi alkali and GaAs image intensifier.

 

Photonis INTENS Multi Alkali (Gen II) Image Intensifier:
FOM 2296 (SNR 32.8 X Res 70lp/mm) *15% lower than best GaAs (Gen 3) tube
Luminance Gain @ 20µlx - 54353         *28% lower than best GaAs (Gen 3) tube

 

L3 Unfilmed GaAs (Gen III) Image Intensifier:
FOM 2642 (SNR 36.7 x 72lp/mm)  *15% greater than best (Gen 2) tube
Luminance Gain @ 20µlx - 69683  *28% greater than best (Gen 2) tube

 

--------------------

 

For narrowband viewing with a 12nm Astronomik H-a, 9nm schüler H-a and an Astrodon 5nm H-a, my best GaAs tube edges out the my best multi alkali tube by a small but notable margin. This is to be expected since the spectral response of this tube, in the bandwidth it is most responsive, is greater than the response of multi alkali tube within the same bandwidth.

 

For general non-narrowband viewing I find the views through the multi alkali tube to be richer and quite a bit calmer than the GaAs tube. The view is bit softer in the multi alkali tube, which it mostly attributable to the significantly wider bandwidth the tube is responsive to as well as the P22 phosphor vs the P43 of the GaAs tube.

 

The views of DSO's are largely dependent on the emission characteristics of the target DSO, but in general, I find the multi alkali tube tends to produce slightly dimmer view. Though dimmer, the view retains all the object detail rendered by the GaAs tube. In some cases, the rendered view presents more detail than the GaAs tube. The biggest difference has been in regard to contrast, the GaAs tube produces a view that appears to have sharper contrast gradient though this is likely attributable to the phosphor type than anything else.

 

--------------------

 

Regardless of tube architecture, photocathode chemistry or performance metrics, the Pleiades Reflection Nebula has remained elusive.  I have yet to find an image intensifier that will produce a direct real time view of this reflection nebula at least one that I can detect.


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