AN/PVS-7 gen 3 SA I am no longer envious of the cat!

Customer Reviews of Night Vision Equipment

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AN/PVS-7 gen 3 SA I am no longer envious of the cat!

Postby Sleepy » Tue Oct 20, 2009 1:31 am

I ordered the AN/PVS-7 gen 3 biocular with ITT select A tubes from My intention was to use them for night hiking, since I have been placed on a night shift and there is no end of the night shift in sight. I do not want a life without walking in the woods, so night hiking is what I'll do. I tried hiking with flashlights and headlamps, and they have their attractions: as in attracting millions of mosquitoes and the interest of game wardens and other law enforcement or generally suspicious local residents, sometimes armed . While I haven't been detained, one encounter of that type just ruins the recreation. While the areas in which I am hiking are not explicitly off limits after dark, there's no harm in not being seen and some advantage to stealth.

I was sleeping when the package was delivered and I gladly ran to the door to sign for it. Delivery took only about ten business days. I went directly back to bed, resisting the strong urge to open the package, but I really need sleep. That night at work, however, saw me reading the included military operator's manual and poking at the headset and switch during slack time.

The next morning the sun was rising when I got home, but I couldn't resist trying it out in several rooms of my house which were too dark to read the digital display on a clock or even license plates hanging on the wall. With the nvg turned on, I could easily read text on a page, and clearly identify every object in the room, but couldn't read the liquid crystal display on my clock radio. More on that later. In the darkest room, only vague shapes could be made out and the scintillation was pronounced, but when I turned on the IR illuminator, I could see as well as in bright daylight.

I took it out into the yard very early one morning, and where the trees are only dark shapes to the naked eye, with the nvg I can see the surfaces of the trees and the shapes of them. I can see a distant glow of lights against the trees from houselights a half mile away that is not visible at all with the naked eye. The reflection of lights two lots down which is visible dimly to the naked eye seems like movie style floodlights through the nvg. My house casts a very noticeable shadow from the outdoor lights of my neighbor to the north, which I had never noticed before.

I can also see the cat sneaking up on me to pounce on my feet as she does when I go out to look at the stars. Now I can see her better than she can see me. I also watch the neighbor's horses which were not visible before, and her dogs prowling the fenceline.

Two days passed before I could take it to the woods, but I was out there before sunset, and had walked several miles into the forest when the sun set. There were only three days until the full moon, so the moonlight was very bright and the moon came up shortly after sunset. These conditions were no challenge at all for the nvg. It was like hiking in the middle of the day. I could clearly see individual blades of grass and the bark patterns of trees. I could see as far into the woods as the thickness of the shrub leaves would allow. I saw a wild pig for the first time ever in that area, having previously only seen their tracks.

I found walking a little difficult at first due to the lack of depth perception, but it only took a couple of walks to adjust to that. I don't walk normally with the nvg on, but my gait is no more clumsy than it is when walking in darkness. The lack of depth perception also makes it much more common to not clear small obstacles and to kick them or to bring my foot down a little too hard. Also, climbing down into or up out of ravines or hillsides is a little more clumsy, but not by very much.

I had to fool with the adjustments of the headgear for a while before I figured out which straps to tighten/loosen to change the tilt of the headgear and set the height of the nvg on my face. Again, though, this did not take more than a couple of hikes and some experiments. The weight of the unit did cause me some fatigue at first, but I became accustomed to that within three hikes.

There was a second kind of fatigue I noticed the first time out. It seemed that my eyes got strained from, I surmise, focusing at the same close distance for a long time. This only lasted for my first hike, and has not returned.

One thing that takes getting used to is the fact that the unit has to be manually focused as you look at things at different distances. You can focus on the ground, if you want to be careful what you step in, but then you have to refocus as soon as you look up. At first this seems a bother, but I have learned to focus at a distance about eight feet (2 and a half meters) in front of me. I find that I don't have to have the ground in sharp focus all the time, and can walk fine without staring at my feet. I have also become adept at changing focus easily when needed.

The field of vision is sharply reduced when seeing through night vision goggles. Imagine walking around with one eye closed and the other looking through a low power telescope. That is about the area that you can see. You can look all around to take in the whole scene, but it does make your perceptions different.

One unexpected but delightful thing I have found is that there are perhaps twenty times as many stars visible through the nvg than can be seen with the naked eye. I find the experience of seeing the stars clearly in the sky while I appear to be walking in near daylight to be an otherworldly and very pleasant experience. I cannot resist stopping at nearly every clearing to look long at all those stars I knew were there, but never saw for myself.

The image quality of this instrument is nearly flawless. I have looked at a white sheet in a dimly lighted room and think I can see some very small dark spots, but they are so small as to be unnoticeable in a night scene, and could easily only be dust on the lens.

This unit can run on either a CR123 lithium battery or 2 AA cells. It comes with 2 alkaline AAs, and I was happy to find that it runs fine on two rechargeable nickel metal hydride cells. I have run it for five hours almost continuously on two 1800 mAh NiMh cells, and it never displayed the low battery indicator.

I have tried to take pictures through this thing and did successfully take a few, but it is quite difficult. I have to mount the camera on a tripod, and hold the nvg in my hand. I have to set the camera to a mode which allows me to manually focus while the camera sets the apertue automatically. In order for the images to appear as bright as the scene appears through the nvg, I have to use manual shutter settings of as long as six seconds. If you want to do nv photography, it can be done with these, but with considerable difficulty.

Since I am not interested in hunting, I can't report anything useful about sighting or firing a rifle with nvg on, but plenty of people on this forum can help with that.

There are several features of night vision that are of importance to the hiker. One is that, if you're following a trail which is marked with painted blazes, you will find light colored blazes easy enough to see, but dark colors will be seen only with difficulty and it is necessary to look carefully for them. Also, you will be unable to determine the color of the blaze. If you need to tell a red blaze from a blue one, you must carry a small white light source and take off your nvg to see the color. I carry a small white led powered by two button type batteries with a resistor that keeps the brightness low. This allows me to check the color of a blaze, but not be easily seen as I might be if I were to use a flashlight.

I found that I could not read my gps liquid crystal display except in bright moonlight. In any by the brightest of condiditon, I have to turn on the gps screen backlight, and it is very, very bright seen through nvg. It is bright enough to seen the honeycomb pattern inherent in nv systems under bright light condidions. My other choice is to take off the nvg and look at the gps, but that is a pain and the backlight might make me too visible.

I tried to use the IR illuminator, but that is way too bright at close range and, in fact, will even be bright enough to "wash out" painted blazes on trees, making them even harder to see. The IR illuminator is good for trying to see large features, but I find that it is too bright for reading a map with. It is helpful in trying to find a woods road under heavy tree cover when there is no moon.

I thought about making a small, dim ir illumator with an led, but my experiments with tv remote controllers seemed to show that liquid crystal displays do not reflect in the infrared. I ended up using a 3 mm amber led, also driven by two button batteries through a 1.5k resistor. This only glows dimly to the naked eye, but it will illuminate my gps receiver when held close to it and seen through the nvg without making me visible to anyone without their own night vision device. I am now in the process of making a small device which will contain both the amber and white leds. This will be small enough to hang from a lanyard on my gps.

I have since gone out with my nvg on nights just before the new moon, when the sliver of moon did not rise until 05:30. I find that, with clear skies, the stars alone provide plenty of light to get around in fields. Under heavy tree cover, you still can see well enough to get around, although it seems that you can't focus as sharply. There is not as much detail visible under low light conditions, but it is still possible to navigate a trail, even if it is necessary to fire up the IR illuminator from time to time.

If there is any moon at all, there is plenty of light, even with moderate cloud cover. I haven't been out under heavy cloud cover or in rain yet. I have been out in fog, and find that it does cut down the distance over which you can see and reduce the detail of the image.

I would counsel being very careful to keep track of where you are while hiking with night vision, since things do look different. I first hiked in an area with which I am very familiar, but made a wrong turn and it took a while and study of my gps to figure out what I'd done. I have made this same mistake in daylight, but its much easier to sort out in the daytime. I have also missed turns in places where a trail leaves a road and goes off into the woods. It takes constant care to hike with nvg, and it is not a casual walk in the woods.

I also advise using a gps, and setting the track logging feature to on, so that you can always at least walk out the way you came in. If you can get maps with longitude/latitude grid marked on them, more the better. My hobby is making maps like that, and they help immensely when I'm hiking in the dark in those areas.

All told, the AN/PVS-7-SA is a spectacular technology that amazes me all over again every time I turn it on. I can see much more of an area with it than I could with any but the most ridiculously powerful flashlight, and see a lot more wildlife with it than I could with visible lights. It is well worth having, if you can afford it, and makes possible hikes that would just be difficult exercises in navigation without it.

Hiking with night vision is not as easy as daylight hiking, but I think it is well worth the extra effort. And, you just can't beat the view of the sky through nvg on a moonless night.
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:21 am
Location: Gainesville, Florida

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