Night Vision for the Rest of Us

by Erich

Night-vision devices have come quite a long way since the Vietnam 1st-Generation optics. And as technology has improved and production costs have come down, demand continues to grow in the civilian market.

One of the premier night-vision technologies that the military and law enforcement use on regular basis is forward-looking infrared. This technology allows the viewer to see differences in thermal radiation that objects give off, clearly contrasting an individual or animal from its background. Since most night-vision devices (Gen I – Gen III) require some amount of ambient light to work (and will not work in the day), flir devices have a clear advantage (no pun intended :)).

Despite the obvious benefits for preparedness-minded people such as yourselves, this technology has been too expensive to make it worth while.  However times are changing. FLIR, the company which has pioneered this technology, is trying to increase its position in the civilian market. And along with this they will soon be releasing a FLIR monocular/camera called the “Scout”.

Here’s a video showing off some real time images/video produced by the Scout:

Aside from the TEOTWAWKI applications (personal security, poach hunting etc) there are quite a number of other applications (taken from the FLIR website);

  • See people: Keep track of the rest of your hiking or camping party – in the darkest nights, and even when they’re obscured by light foliage.
  • See animals: everything gives off heat, so animals can’t use their natural camouflage to hide from Scout. Discover those hard-to-spot animals that you’ve always wanted to see, day and night.
  • Track game: – sportsmen can use Scout to track wounded animals by following their heat signatures directly, or by detecting signs they leave behind like blood trails and foot prints.
  • Stay safe: – Scout’s thermal night vision technology lets you see clearly through smoke, dust, and light fog so you can stay safe in the outdoors when conditions deteriorate.
  • Lightweight and rugged – Scout is rugged, fully submersible, and built to last. Weighing less than a pound-and-a-half, it won’t drag you down.
  • Easy to use – direct, push-button access to all camera controls make Scout easy to use, even with gloves on
  • See more, and see farther, than with other night-vision technologies because Scout sees clearly without any light whatsoever, it can see farther at night than other imaging technologies that need ambient light to work, and can see heat sources that these other cameras could never find.
  • There are dozens of at-home uses for Scout as well including home security, location of heat leaks, and detection of water damage. Its ¼ x 20 tripod mounting hole and video output make it easy to mount on an ATV, pickup, or SUV.

Another interesting video explaining some of the uses for this product with some more detail in law-enforcement applications:

Conclusion

Without officially testing this, I can in no way provide a strong argument either way. But this looks like a great piece of equipment and the capabilities look amazing!

So how much for this bad-boy? For the Scout the company is quoting around $3000. Not cheap, but it beats the prices a few years back of around $10,000+. Still, I’d like to give it a bit more time to let the idea percolate inside my head.

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5 Comments»

Comment by DaveyBoy
2010-08-15 05:04:38

Thanks again for the great post.

I’ve been thinking about getting Night Vision for a few years not, but didn’t want to lay down the $500 or so, without having a good use of it. This technology, at $3,000, even so, is far superior to Light Amplification Night Vision. Do you know if this gadget employs both types, or just Infrared?

Perhaps most stunning, is knowing that someone else might have the tech and be watching. It reminds me of the book, “Light’s Out” (EMP), and when someone was spying on the community using night vision. This would prove to be a nifty gadget, and quite possibly a life saver. By the way, I heard the mylar space blankets damped iinfrared night vision, does anyone know if that’s true?

Thanks again, for the excellent post.

 
Comment by DaveyBoy
2010-08-15 05:06:32

As a side note, one SERIOUS disadvantage to light amplification Night Vision technology is that if you’re straining to see something in the relative dark, and you’re hit with any kind of light in you field of view, unless your set has a dampener, you’ll be blinded. Another plus for this gadget!

 
Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2010-08-16 10:42:26

Davey,

This device is purely thermal imaging. In the purest definition it’s actually not true “night vision” as it is equally effective in both day and night time. Also it doesn’t enhance the available visible light but instead converts part of the infrared spectrum to the visible light spectrum. As you said, this has clear advantages over typical “visible light enhancers” such as Gen III optics that much of the military uses since it’s not dependent upon ambient light nor does it get washed out if too much light is present (or an operator gets flashed).

 
Comment by cody
2010-12-07 07:39:26

Here’s a link to a product made by Aimshot called the Heatseaker. . Its a thermal unit that uses a laser to detect thermal patterns and movement up to 300 yards, Instead of being able to see the source, it increases a digital bar graph or can transmit through a ear piece. It looks like a monocular, and they also make a mount so you can put it on a picatinny rail. Not near as cool as FLIR, but with prices on Ebay for around 125.00, its a pretty cool alternative for us who are “financially challenged”. I haven’t personally seen or used one myself, but Im hoping Santa might leave one in my stocking, http://www.shopwiki.com/Aimshot+HeatSeeker

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2010-12-10 06:29:28

Cody,

Thanks for the great link. This type of thermal unit would definitely have some good applications in an extended grid down situation. Personal security and hunting come to mind.

 
 
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