Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-22-2002, 07:25 PM
WSLer WSLer is offline
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Currently Bath, ME,
Posts: 1,463
Any good, fairly cheap "night-vision" scopes, binoculars out there?

My firend is interested in getting one for his birthday, but before I go out & blow $250+ on something that's gonna suck, I figured that at least one of my fellow Dopers could give me some ideas or at least some links.

Old 06-22-2002, 08:07 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 18,621
well what does he need it for? For boating in tight channels it is great, wildlife observation an night also very good. If it's just a toy it will be used at first then collect dust.
Old 06-22-2002, 08:23 PM
Monty Monty is online now
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Beijing, China
Posts: 21,480
Check out DiscoveryChannelStore and do a search on goggles. You'll find one set of night vision goggles for $22 and another for $279.
Old 06-22-2002, 08:43 PM
Brutus Brutus is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 5,175
Make sure that you get ones that have a good tube replacement plan. At ~300 bucks, you will be getting a Gen I set. Tube damage can (and often does) occur from any bright light. And tubes cost about 75% of the original NVD, so it pays to pay for a warranty that covers it, of possible.
Old 06-22-2002, 08:49 PM
Brutus Brutus is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 5,175
Make sure that you get ones that have a good tube replacement plan. At ~300 bucks, you will be getting a Gen I set. Tube damage can (and often does) occur from any bright light. And tubes cost about 75% of the original NVD, so it pays to pay for a warranty that covers it, of possible.
Old 06-23-2002, 01:53 AM
Tranquilis Tranquilis is offline
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Lurking nearby...
Posts: 6,447
You could also try:
They speciallize in surplus and discontinued stuff, including militaria. They've often got older military NVGs in stock.

A quick search using the keywords "Night Vision" turned up 18 hits, from US$150 to US$2000.

Here's a sample.
Old 06-23-2002, 09:25 AM
UWmite UWmite is offline
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Atlanta, GA USA
Posts: 215
Be sure that you're not just buying regular binoculars with a flashlight attatched to them. It sounds stupid, but a number of toys like this (I believe the $22 pair above is one of them) are sold as "Night Vision Goggles."
Old 06-23-2002, 09:57 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is online now
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: NoWA
Posts: 58,595
UWmite beat me to it, but since I've already looked it up: The $22 "night vision" goggles are a pair of flashlights with a green goggle lens to simulate NVD. Fun for the kids, but not a light-intensification unit.

I bought a Gen. 1 NV monocular sold under the Bushnell name last year for $150 (on sale, reduced from about $250 I think) at Big 5 Sporting Goods. It works well and came with an infrered illuminator that can be switched on or off. The lens is by Zenit, so it's probably made in Russia. There is no off-switch, so when you're done with it you have to let it time out. I'd prefer a single-power lens, but this one has a 3x. I haven't had a chance to see how well it works at night because you can't find a dark place in L.A. There is a pinhole in the lens cap so that you can use it in daylight. (But as has been mentioned, don't use it in light without the lens cap on!).

What I'd really like to get is a pair of ANVIS-6 or better two-lens, single-power goggles that I can put on my helicopter helmet so that I can try some night flying with them (with a safety pilot, of course). But they're well into the four-figure range.

Anecdote: A co-worker was paying her Sears bill at a register in the sporting goods dept. As I stood nearby, a Sears lady asked if she could help me. I said, "Well I was going to buy a chainsaw, but I noticed you don't sell night vision goggles." She said, "You're scaring me!" My co-worker was appalled. I can't help it. Sometimes I think things and they just come out before I can stop them.
'Never say "no" to adventure. Always say "yes". Otherwise you'll lead a very dull life.' -- Commander Caractacus Pott, R.N. (Retired)

'Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man.' -- Lu-Tze
Old 06-23-2002, 02:22 PM
buckgully buckgully is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 815
Another possible option, since you're going the budget route, would be a camcorder with infrared ability, like many of the Sony camcorders. I've seen some of those going around $250.

It's active night vision, not passive, so it's limited in range by how far you can light up with infrared light. I'd suggest an external light. I have a hand-made array of infared LEDS that can light up out to about 100' in good conditions. I also have a Sony made hot shoe combo light that can light up infrared to about 50'.

However, when in infared mode, it can see things that emit themselves at much longer distances. Things like campfires, even when there's no visible flame, light up the people around them very brightly even at long range.

But of course it probably depends on the use. What is the friend going to be using it for?
Old 06-24-2002, 06:24 AM
bbeaty bbeaty is offline
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Seattle WA USA
Posts: 888

Harbor Freight Tools recently had a very low price. Yep, still there:

Battery-powered Russian gen-1 goggles, $90

I haven't tried the above device myself.

I picked up a "Famous Trails" FT-300 scope for $100 during a christmas sale. This is the kind with the piezo-plunger power supply (you'll never use up batteries.) It's an interesting toy. In my experience it is just slightly better than dark-adapted human eyes. After a party if you try to find your car in an unlit parking lot, a night vision scope makes it easy. But you could save the $100 and just wait for 10 minutes for your eyes to adapt. Also, it can see infra-red light. Stick an IR filter on the front, and you create an IR converter scope.

PS, I've seen the FT-300 for under $100 many times on eBay. Those who like to tear things apart can see the result:

FT-300 innards exposed!

PPS, many "night vision binocs" just use red filters, perhaps to protect your dark-adaptation. No actual amplification.
(((((((((((((((((((((( ( (O) ) ))))))))))))))))))))))
BILL BEATY _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ billb, _ _ _ SCIENCE HOBBYIST
beaty, _ Seattle, WA USA


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:09 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017