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Thread: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* Carpe Diem's Avatar
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    Default Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    I have a couple of ITT Gen II monoculars (Mariner 150 and an earlier model), but I have a chance to get an ITT Gen III NightQuest 160 at a reasonable price.

    I like the two Gen II monoculars I have, and I`m wondering if the step up from Gen II to Gen III is worth the extra money.

    Any insight from those of you who have used both Gen II and Gen III would be much appreciated.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* Carpe Diem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    BTTT [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    Just the life expectancy difference is enought to have me saving quarters until I can go from Gen1 to Gen3

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    Enlightened rdwilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    I have owned the 160 for about three years and find it to be far superior to Gen II devices. Much less bloom and a better AGC response. Not to mention superior sensitivity to light. People accustomed to the consumer grade Gen IIs were literally amazed.

    I originally purchased it for police patrol duty but found it unsuitable in an urban setting due to other light sources being visible in the 1 to 1 magnification field of view. It was used for camping and other activities until I got the add-on magnification kit and SureFire IR illuminator.

    The accessories proved to be very useful allowing me to peer into dark alleyways without kicking in the AGC. The greatest improvement was the ability to "cut through" auto glass and see if a vehicle was occupied.

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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    Hi Rdwilson and Artful...

    Based on your comments and the other research I did on the internet, I`ve purchased a GenIII ITT Mariner 160 on Ebay.

    I`m aware of the the risks involved in buying used night vision equipment, but the price of $900.00, along with the fact that it was advertised by a good seller as being in a perfect and little used condition put me over the top.

    I`ll share my thoughts about it once I get it in a few days.

    Best wishes.

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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    RW - I have a 160. How well does the mag kit work? I've found urban light clutter a problem with the native 160, too, but that's an expensive set of optics just for an add on. Does it attach securely?

    Sorry to be a pest, just never ran into anyone that had any experience with that setup.

  7. #7
    Enlightened rdwilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    The threading is similar to most camera lenses so it's quite secure. A thread size adapter sits on my unit at all times. I got the DX Classic Kit which included the IR illuminator that works OK but the SureFire beam is much smoother.

    The kit's URL is here

  8. #8

    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    Actually, you can go 2 steps up. The Gen.3 would be a big improvement over the Gen. 2.
    But there is a significant difference between the NightQuest 160, and a mil-spec PVS-14D or
    mil-spec PVS-7D. The PVS-7Ds I own, have a Litton tube, which the spec sheet shows, is WELL ABOVE the minimal requirements set to be mil-spec. A high signal to noise ration is very important is quality night vision. I took my mountain bike out on some asphalt-paved hiking trails recently, on a clould, moonless night, and had a major blast. Remember, that without 2 sets of separate tubes and eyepieces (aka PVS-5s or AN-PVS 6s), you do lose real sense of depth perception....

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    Flashaholic* Carpe Diem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    Hi AC Doctor...

    Thanks for the information.

    I like the GenIII ITT Mariner 160 that I just bought. The two ITT GenII 150`s are also very nice...but don`t have, of course, the better definition that the GenIII can provide, especially on darker nights.

    And now, of course, you`re whetting my appetite even more! Thanks a lot! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

    I think I`ll take an extended financial breather in the world of night vision...BUT if I find one of your newer suggested units at a good price, I`ll try to grab it.

    Thanks again!

    [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  10. #10

    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    Night vision (gen 3) is not a cheap hobby, especially if you go with a Delta (mil-spec) models. The Litton AN/PVS -7Ds I have list for
    $4300. I fortunately got them a lot cheaper, because the seller needed money quickly....
    Like they say, you get what you pay for in the optics dept.... The resolution, 64Lpm, coupled with a 28.0 signal to noise ratio, and a way over spec. light amplification magnification, let me see the smallest details in very low light situations. I really like to watch the sky for satellites, asteroids, and who knows what ever is flying around in the night.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    Originally posted by AC Doctor:
    Night vision (gen 3) is not a cheap hobby, especially if you go with a Delta (mil-spec) models. The Litton AN/PVS -7Ds I have list for
    $4300.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial">Hi AC Doctor...

    I suspect that the only way I`ll end up getting one of the units you`re talking about is if it falls out of a UPS truck while travelling along the road in front of my home.

    Oops...just saw UPS go by. I`ve gotta go out now and check!

    [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img] [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* Carpe Diem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    Hi Pkkrusty...

    Welcome to the CPF! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    There are other CPF`ers who know alot more about night vision devices (NVD`s) than I do, but from the research I`ve done on the internet, the NVD`s amplify both visible light and IR light.

    As I understand it, IR light sources are popular to use with NVD`s because the beam cannot be seen by anyone with the naked eye...only by those persons using their NVD`s.

    The advantage of the GenIII NVD`s (and also to some degree even the GenII`s), though, is that if there is at least some ambient light (like starlight), you`ll be able to see pretty well even without an IR light source.

    As far as UV light, I haven`t tried that yet, and have not read anything about its use with NVD`s.

    Now that I`ve posted this response, let`s see if anyone more knowledgeable can either confirm or correct what I just said, and give both of us more information.

    Best wishes to you!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    All of the technologies of night vision can see in visible and IR. By IR, I mean what's often called "near-IR", it's very close in wavelength to visible light, not the long wave IR that thermal vision systems use to view heat signatures. I don't know about UV, except that short wave UV would be blocked by the glass lenses of the night vision. I don't have access to a UV source that doesn't also put out some visible light.

    Night vision amplifies the light, then projects that image on a phosphor screen. The phosphor is sensitive to a wider range of wavelength of light than our eyes are, so we can "see" IR and visible light with night vision. Thinking about how this is working, I'd be willing to bet the units have a range into the UV side that our eyes don't too, as well as IR.

    The early gen 0 devices were so poor in gain and resolution that they were useless or pretty much useless without an IR source. They didn't see in low light any better than our eyes do, the only advantage was the wider spectrum they could see. For military use this can be a huge disadvantage, because all somebody needs is a gen 0 viewer, without the IR searchlight, to see you with your viewer/searchlight combination.

    Gen 3 is so good that many viewers come with no IR illuminator at all. They turn an overcast no moon night into daylight. They let you see indoors, illuminated by that same light filtering through the windows. In a completely dark room, with no lights, of course they can't see, and they you need an illuminator. I built a small 1 LED illuminator for that purpose.

    I haven't used Gen1 or Gen2, so the following is based on what I've read, speculation, and discussion with a friend who used Gen1 in Vietnam and has tried my Gen3 unit. With Gen1 you can see outdoors, but if your eyes are adjusted to the darkness there's not much advantage. The advantage is that gen1 night vision adjusts instantly and lets you see in "the dark", while your eyes take up to 30 minutes to adapt to very low light levels, and lose that ability quickly if exposed to bright light. Gen1 resolution is poor enough that on a moonless night, a slow moving camouflaged person can sneak pretty close to you without being seen. Some US troops that found Russian gen1 equipment in Desert Storm desribed it as "useless." (We're spoiled.) The reaction of my friend after trying my ITT 160 gen 3 was "holy cr&*". He had used the original starlight scope back in Vietnam.

    I know less about the difference between gen 2 and 3. I believe gen 3 stuff is only available to civilians in the US, and is only made by ITT and Litton, but there could be others. I believe the main differences between 2 and 3 are the gen 3 tubes last a few times longer, and the resolution of 3 is higher.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    Couple of questions for you all. There are different types of night vision devices, correct? One type uses visible light and amplifies it, while the other absorbs IR and displays an image from that. Are there some that use both?

    Are there such things as UV night vision devices? Or does that wavelenth not reflect well enough?

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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    Hi Albany Tom...

    Thanks for your post.

    I just recently entered the world of NVD`s, and have bought two ITT 150 GenII monoculars and one ITT Mariner 160 GenIII monocular, all on Ebay at what I would consider to be "good" prices.

    From what I can tell, the GenII devices work extremely well, and are not at all very far behind the GenIII in quality and picture. The GenIII devices do have a noticeable edge in lower light conditions, though, and give you a crisper and more defined image.

    For the money, IMHO, you won`t go wrong buying either GenII or GenIII devices made by ITT.

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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    I've used a pair of military PVS-7 and a PVS-14 monocle. Is the 7 genII and the 14 gen III? The 14 was real sharp, and although it wasn't real dark where I was, it seemed like it'd do pretty well.

    The PVS-7s were old junkers that they used for training. We were out in the woods with 5-10% lum, and while they let you see the trees out to about 20 feet ahead, the contrast wasn't too good. All in all, they weren't that helpful aside from keeping you from smacking your head against branches.

    Anyone know of a website that explains how the nvg's amplify the light before directing it onto the phosphor screen? I was noticing how UV light makes TV phosphors light up and Iwas going to rig a UV led to shine in a dark room, and put a lens in front of the screen and see if an image formed.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    sorry, one more question for Albany Tom. When you say near and far IR, what specific wavelengths are you talking about?

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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    Well, I don't know how far night vision goes into IR, but it's probably around 1000nm. You can't see warm objects with it at all. Thermal systems see warm objects, these are the images you see of little white people running away from bombs on TV from the aircraft FLIR systems. That's in the micron range, probably around 10-20, or 10000 to 20000nm. "far IR" probably isn't a valid term.

    So the wavelength thermal systems see is about 10x longer, and the price is also about 10x higher.

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* Unicorn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Step up from Gen II to Gen III...your thoughts?

    I think that if you have the money to spare, it's definately worth it. I've used Army issue PVS-5's and PVS7's, both Gen II, and when I first used a set of PVS-7B (the first of the Gen III NVG's), I was amazed at the difference. They were much clearer, and had a better resolution. The life of the tubes is also so much longer. The only possible advantage that the Gen II's have is that when the tube fail, they tend to die gradually. The quality of your image gets a little bit worse over time, the GenIII's go die pretty quickly without as much warning.
    I haven't noticed much difference in the latest PVS/7 or PVS/14's that I've used in the last couple of years.

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