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Having a hard time selecting a Night Vision scope, goggle or monocular from our huge selection? Need to know the difference between Gen 1, 2, 3 and 4? Just ask!

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Postby Sean on Mon Sep 17, 2007 10:00 pm

I am new to the whole concept of night vision.
What should I look for as far as a night vision system?
Particularly I am really interested in mountain biking in the middle of the night. I have tried using different lighting systems, but ultimately the short comings of all these methods is greater than the desirability to bike at night.

Like I said I know nothing so if I am repeating a common question I apologize in advance.
Sean
 

Postby Ryan_W on Tue Sep 18, 2007 9:13 am

Hi,

This is a recipe for disaster and an express ticket to the emergency room... possibly even before you leave the parking lot. There are several things about night vision that you need to know to understand why.

Field of view:
Night vision units have a very narrow field of view. With no peripheral vision, you will not be able to distinguish terrain very easily.

Resolution/Image Quality:
Any affordable night vision unit (gen 1) has very low resolution, and has lots of distortion. Basically, it looks like you are viewing through an algea covered round fishbowl.

Range:
These Gen 1 units might be able to distinguish the difference between a man and a cow at 100 yards on a full moon. In the cover of a singletrack mountain bike trail, you will be lucky to be able to see anything at 20 yards.

Focus:
Night vision units must be manually focused. You cannot take your hands off the handlebars to keep focusing the goggles for every distance you look at.

These are just a few of the big ones. In all honesty, you would be MUCH better off going with a high end bike light that can be mounted to your helmet. You will always have light pointed where you are looking, and it will be much brighter than a night vision goggle.

For example, take a look at the Nite-Rider Moab bike light. This light is as bright as it gets with an HID bulb (with backup LED) and a long life 11 hour Lithium Ion recargeable battery (Charges in 4.5 hours). This is about the cost of a better gen 1 night vision goggle and is MUCH safer by a long shot.
Best regards,

Ryan W.


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Postby Sean on Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:58 pm

Thanks.
That is exactly what I was afraid of. Also I am particularly worried about getting a stable mounting on my heltmet. I was considering a gen 3, after I did some reading through the forums. The FOV is a real issue though.

There aren't any wide field of view ones?
Sean
 

Postby Ryan_W on Wed Sep 19, 2007 4:09 pm

Hi Sean,

The helmet mount lights are only as secure as you make them, and you can make them pretty snug with the velcro straps. There is more of a concern with securing a night vision goggle in front of your face while off-roading. The bouncing that you will encounter will jiggle the night vision goggle all over the place and you will not have an steady image without a really high end full suspension bike. This is also the case if you are riding slowly on a path, not just zipping down a singletrack trail.

To be honest, your idea of night biking with night vision is not as crazy as some might think. I just don't think it's safe enough on a real trail. If you're cruising slowly down a horse path or a paved trail, it could be fun but risky. After all, the military drives trucks while wearing night vision. Just beware, it will be a similar feel to riding your bike after several stiff drinks, and more expensive repairs when you fall.
Best regards,

Ryan W.


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Blog: http://blog.opticsplanet.com/
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Ryan_W
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