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Highburymark

Better value night vision

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At the end of this week I will be taking delivery of a new (Act in Black) PVS-14 night vision monocular with a Photonis 4G intens tube (FOM just under 2150, gain 11150, SNR 32). From my central London location - where I struggle to see all but the brightest few stars on clear nights - I hope to see nebulae, galaxies and  clusters. Frankly the prospect is surreal. 

As others have posted on this forum, night vision technology is not cheap. But by shopping around, I was able to achieve a saving of over €1000 on the manufacturer's price - I bought through a German dealer (nighttec.net). I also got quotes on cheaper Photonis tubes. Basically, a PVS-14 monocular with white phosphor Photonis 4G tubes can be bought for around €4000 (with FOM around 1600, and a few small 'spots', which occur during the manufacturing process - but shouldn't prevent these tubes working very effectively for astronomy). Green phosphor tubes can be found slightly cheaper. I know these are still very expensive pieces of kit, but for the price of a top quality 5" apo, or a case of Ethos EPs, they offer a revolution in stargazing, particularly for people like me who live under appalling light pollution, and don't have a car. I've been enviously reading reports on SGL from dob owners with dark skies for years - now I won't feel so left out.....

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I'm intrigued by night vision optics but has anyone done a direct comparison between it and video with integrating cameras?. I've had a fair bit of experience using a Watec 120n+, a very sensitive camera that integrates 512 images during around 10 seconds exposure and then displays a stacked image, the image decay is slow so the next image replaces it before it has noticeably faded giving the impression of real time. I used this in conjunction with a 12" SCT fitted with a .33 focal reducer and it produced DSO images superior to visual ones in my 30" Dob. This system of course cannot duplicate the wide fields of NV devices but the image scale shows great detail in globulars and spiral galaxies. I can appreciate that modern technology can augment signal strength significantly but I can't see how either systems can increase ultimate resolution as this is a function of aperture. Integrating video is also expensive but cheap compared to NV. I would need to be convinced of considerable upgrade before investing in NV.l   ?

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Good luck Mark, NV tech an interesting development.  As you say €4K a lot of money, but if it gives you views that you otherwise would not get.

Chris

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6 hours ago, estwing said:

Can you see the Aurora with them?

Don't think so. Not great for reflection nebulae, planets or coloured doubles either. 

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6 hours ago, Peter Drew said:

I'm intrigued by night vision optics but has anyone done a direct comparison between it and video with integrating cameras?. I've had a fair bit of experience using a Watec 120n+, a very sensitive camera that integrates 512 images during around 10 seconds exposure and then displays a stacked image, the image decay is slow so the next image replaces it before it has noticeably faded giving the impression of real time. I used this in conjunction with a 12" SCT fitted with a .33 focal reducer and it produced DSO images superior to visual ones in my 30" Dob. This system of course cannot duplicate the wide fields of NV devices but the image scale shows great detail in globulars and spiral galaxies. I can appreciate that modern technology can augment signal strength significantly but I can't see how either systems can increase ultimate resolution as this is a function of aperture. Integrating video is also expensive but cheap compared to NV. I would need to be convinced of considerable upgrade before investing in NV.l   ?

I haven't seen such a comparison Peter. Have a look at Gavstar's mobile phone pics to gauge resolution - many just single frames. The thing that has driven the recent growth of night vision among astronomers is the availability of military spec technology, offering near-glass quality views.

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Well done on your new purchase, looking forward to some reports! :)

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47 minutes ago, Highburymark said:

I haven't seen such a comparison Peter. Have a look at Gavstar's mobile phone pics to gauge resolution - many just single frames. The thing that has driven the recent growth of night vision among astronomers is the availability of military spec technology, offering near-glass quality views.

I've seen Gavstar's and others amazing NV images, there seems to be a clear distinction between NV and the video that I've been used to, very similar to the distinction between wide field CCD imaging and high res lunar and planetary performance. In the end I suppose it all depends on what results you want. Both would be nice.     ?

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Be interesting to see what a video/stacking short exposure ccd camera would do with a narrow hydrogen alpha filter on the front. My gut feeling is that it would take some time (ie much longer than “instant”) to get comparable views.

Welcome to the club @Highburymark have to meet up some time. Hope you’re getting the TNVC adapter and a 3x lens (need to hunt for one) and both a suitable hydrogen alpha filter and 685nm (or similar) long pass filter... under your skies you need all the help you can. A copy of Brackens Astrophotography Sky Atlas wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

I had some epic wide angle views of the Scutum Starcloud  and the lumpy bits of nebulosity up the Aquila rift at the weekend, better than just seeing the eridanus loop.

PeterW

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Lovely tube specs Mark. And good find with the cheaper supplier. I’m really looking forward to reading your results from your London location. That makes 4 of us in the UK ?

Like PeterW I’m interested to hear what filters you have decided to use as they are such a critical part of the system.

As you are well aware, NV is an addition, not a replacement for your existing glass eyepieces, the tech sits easily alongside each other.

And as you say, for many objects NV can’t replicate the views you can get from a big dob at a dark site (Stu’s 14 inch Sumerian was very impressive from Bignor the other week). But on emission nebulae and globs NV really rocks! From what I’ve read about how difficult it is to see objects such as the horsehead and cone with big dobs from dark sites, NV offers some rather unique views.

Just scanning the skies at 1x or 3x you can get astounding views of nebulae and starfields from light polluted skies and only takes 30 seconds to setup up.

I really like that the NV experience is extremely similar to the glass eyepiece experience especially with the gain control and tight stars given by the photonis 4g.

NV has added a major extra dimension to this hobby for me given that it’s difficult for me to get to a dark site due to my family responsibilities. 

 I hope you have lots of fun with your new NV system!

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24 minutes ago, PeterW said:

Be interesting to see what a video/stacking short exposure ccd camera would do with a narrow hydrogen alpha filter on the front. My gut feeling is that it would take some time (ie much longer than “instant”) to get comparable views.

Welcome to the club @Highburymark have to meet up some time. Hope you’re getting the TNVC adapter and a 3x lens (need to hunt for one) and both a suitable hydrogen alpha filter and 685nm (or similar) long pass filter... under your skies you need all the help you can. A copy of Brackens Astrophotography Sky Atlas wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

I had some epic wide angle views of the Scutum Starcloud  and the lumpy bits of nebulosity up the Aquila rift at the weekend, better than just seeing the eridanus loop.

PeterW

TNVC adapter on its way Peter and planning 7nm Ha and 685nm filters with TV55 and 32mm Plossls. Might stretch to an 18.2mm Delite too. Couple of other possibilities - I have a 9x50 RACI finder that can take 1.25" eyepieces - could be a nice low power NV option with the 32mm plossl. Thanks for the support and advice you and Gavin have provided on this. 

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5 minutes ago, Highburymark said:

TNVC adapter on its way Peter and planning 7nm Ha and 685nm filters with TV55 and 32mm Plossls. Might stretch to an 18.2mm Delite too. Couple of other possibilities - I have a 9x50 RACI finder that can take 1.25" eyepieces - could be a nice low power NV option with the 32mm plossl. Thanks for the support and advice you and Gavin have provided on this. 

Mark,

In my view, I’d leave the 18.2 delite and spend more on the Ha filter. I think the Astronomik 6nm works better than the 7nm Baader (I sold the Baader once I’d tried the Astronomik. I think the chroma 5nm is even better but it’s pricey)

685 filter is the best from LP sites - you will love it ? 

Oh and maybe only get the 2 inch filter since Ive just found out today that there are adapters to fit the 2 inch to the NV monocular direct thus meaning you don’t need the 1.25 filter at all and you reduce any vignetting...

Edited by GavStar
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5 minutes ago, GavStar said:

Lovely tube specs Mark. And good find with the cheaper supplier. I’m really looking forward to reading your results from your London location. That makes 4 of us in the UK ?

Like PeterW I’m interested to hear what filters you have decided to use as they are such a critical part of the system.

As you are well aware, NV is an addition, not a replacement for your existing glass eyepieces, the tech sits easily alongside each other.

And as you say, for many objects NV can’t replicate the views you can get from a big dob at a dark site (Stu’s 14 inch Sumerian was very impressive from Bignor the other week). But on emission nebulae and globs NV really rocks! From what I’ve read about how difficult it is to see objects such as the horsehead and cone with big dobs from dark sites, NV offers some rather unique views.

Just scanning the skies at 1x or 3x you can get astounding views of nebulae and starfields from light polluted skies and only takes 30 seconds to setup up.

I really like that the NV experience is extremely similar to the glass eyepiece experience especially with the gain control and tight stars given by the photonis 4g.

NV has added a major extra dimension to this hobby for me given that it’s difficult for me to get to a dark site due to my family responsibilities. 

 I hope you have lots of fun with your new NV system!

Thanks Gavin - stunning the progress you have made with your night vision gear over the past ten months.

 

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3 minutes ago, GavStar said:

Mark,

In my view, I’d leave the 18.2 delite and spend more on the Ha filter. I think the Astronomik 6nm works better than the 7nm Baader (I sold the Baader once I’d tried the Astronomik. I think the chroma 5nm is even better but it’s pricey)

685 filter is the best from LP sites - you will love it ? 

ok - good advice. Will I need a 2" 685 filter as well as a 1.25"? Considering the 55mm plossl will be my only 2" EP, and will only deliver 13x in the Tak? I'm thinking that most targets for the 685 will require higher magnification - with the 1.25" 32mm?

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Just now, Highburymark said:

ok - good advice. Will I need a 2" 685 filter as well as a 1.25"? Considering the 55mm plossl will be my only 2" EP, and will only deliver 13x in the Tak? I'm thinking that most targets for the 685 will require higher magnification - with the 1.25" 32mm?

Could the 2 inch just screw into your diagonal? Then you don’t need the 1.25 at all?

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14 minutes ago, GavStar said:

Could the 2 inch just screw into your diagonal? Then you don’t need the 1.25 at all?

Thing is that I'm planning to use (Tak 4" and faster Equinox 80ED) scopes with Baader T2 prism diagonal, and 1.25" and 2" dielectric diagonals. So I was thinking I'd screw filters into the eyepieces for easy adjustment. But maybe I need to give this a bit more thought.

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Sounds like you may be seeing well for a change, really looking forward to hearing about the progress going ahead...I will likely be doing this within the new year but for being severely disabled, I have the dark skies but the right arm does little more weight than a coffee cup and the left is good for about ten pounds. I plan to use a small ed refractor on an ultralight heavy duty photo tripod, when I get the new gear then all the scopes I had for years have to be sold off...NV is the only option remaining to keep me in the hobby.

I just hope I find something with good specs and for a fair price as you have, best of luck with the new kit ?

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6 hours ago, SIDO said:

Sounds like you may be seeing well for a change, really looking forward to hearing about the progress going ahead...I will likely be doing this within the new year but for being severely disabled, I have the dark skies but the right arm does little more weight than a coffee cup and the left is good for about ten pounds. I plan to use a small ed refractor on an ultralight heavy duty photo tripod, when I get the new gear then all the scopes I had for years have to be sold off...NV is the only option remaining to keep me in the hobby.

I just hope I find something with good specs and for a fair price as you have, best of luck with the new kit ?

Best of luck with your plans too Sido - despite the challenges you have it's great that night vision will keep you observing. I'll keep you posted about progress - but I also look forward to hearing how you get on

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On 09/10/2018 at 22:35, GavStar said:

Mark,

In my view, I’d leave the 18.2 delite and spend more on the Ha filter. I think the Astronomik 6nm works better than the 7nm Baader (I sold the Baader once I’d tried the Astronomik. I think the chroma 5nm is even better but it’s pricey)

685 filter is the best from LP sites - you will love it ? 

Oh and maybe only get the 2 inch filter since Ive just found out today that there are adapters to fit the 2 inch to the NV monocular direct thus meaning you don’t need the 1.25 filter at all and you reduce any vignetting...

I agree. You will rarely use 18.2 with a small frac as the image will be too dark. Stay above 27mm. In the 107mm Borg I use the 55mm and the 35mm most. Lower is too dark.

i can use the 18.2 with the 20” but that has much brighter image to start with.

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17 hours ago, alanjgreen said:

I agree. You will rarely use 18.2 with a small frac as the image will be too dark. Stay above 27mm. In the 107mm Borg I use the 55mm and the 35mm most. Lower is too dark.

i can use the 18.2 with the 20” but that has much brighter image to start with.

Ended up with these three EPs Alan - have gone 2" only with 2" Baader 7nm and 685 filters. 

IMG_1027.JPG

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On 09/10/2018 at 14:10, Highburymark said:

At the end of this week I will be taking delivery of a new (Act in Black) PVS-14 night vision monocular with a Photonis 4G intens tube (FOM just under 2150, gain 11150, SNR 32). From my central London location - where I struggle to see all but the brightest few stars on clear nights - I hope to see nebulae, galaxies and  clusters. Frankly the prospect is surreal. 

As others have posted on this forum, night vision technology is not cheap. But by shopping around, I was able to achieve a saving of over €1000 on the manufacturer's price - I bought through a German dealer (nighttec.net). I also got quotes on cheaper Photonis tubes. Basically, a PVS-14 monocular with white phosphor Photonis 4G tubes can be bought for around €4000 (with FOM around 1600, and a few small 'spots', which occur during the manufacturing process - but shouldn't prevent these tubes working very effectively for astronomy). Green phosphor tubes can be found slightly cheaper. I know these are still very expensive pieces of kit, but for the price of a top quality 5" apo, or a case of Ethos EPs, they offer a revolution in stargazing, particularly for people like me who live under appalling light pollution, and don't have a car. I've been enviously reading reports on SGL from dob owners with dark skies for years - now I won't feel so left out.....

Sorry mate, one question: Do you still need to get the adapter from TeleVue TNVC (afocal astronomy adapter)  from the U.S.? Does it fit on the nighttec PVS-14?

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54 minutes ago, ginandtonic said:

Sorry mate, one question: Do you still need to get the adapter from TeleVue TNVC (afocal astronomy adapter)  from the U.S.? Does it fit on the nighttec PVS-14?

Yes you do. It's a bit of a pain as they've been out of stock for a few weeks, but I just heard yesterday that mine is now on its way from the States. I'm sure that within a year or two there will be other adapters on the market which will broaden the EP options for afocal night vision, but at the moment we're limited to the TNVC adapter and eyepieces compatible with TeleVue dioptrx. Will post some reports once I've been able to test the new monocular with my telescopes - will be a real challenge for the technology to see how it performs from a central London location - already I've had some nice views of the Cygnus nebulae by waving a Ha filter in front of the device at 1x magnification. 

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1 hour ago, Highburymark said:

Yes you do. It's a bit of a pain as they've been out of stock for a few weeks, but I just heard yesterday that mine is now on its way from the States. I'm sure that within a year or two there will be other adapters on the market which will broaden the EP options for afocal night vision, but at the moment we're limited to the TNVC adapter and eyepieces compatible with TeleVue dioptrx. Will post some reports once I've been able to test the new monocular with my telescopes - will be a real challenge for the technology to see how it performs from a central London location - already I've had some nice views of the Cygnus nebulae by waving a Ha filter in front of the device at 1x magnification. 

Right, Ok... I am thinking of getting the PVS-14 PHOTONIS 4G ECHO+ ~2000FOM WHITE PHOSPHOR AUTOGATED

http://nighttec.net/produkt/pvs-14-photonis-4g-echo-2000fom-white-phosphor-autogated-sale-copy/

Is this the one that you have?

There's no indication of the resolution in the description. It's just that I saw a video on youtube with amazing sharpness (supposedly 81 lp/mm).

Although I'm not sure such resolution is necessary for astronomical use...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW4rpxuFYgE&list=WL&index=10&t=0s

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Also, does the TNVC adapter screw straight onto the front of the PVS-14 without any modification? I seem to have read on some forum that some people had problems fitting the adapter.

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Have any of you guys put a sensitive mono sensor cam, like the 290 variants, combined with sharpcap behind that nv tube, like gavstar does with the phone camera?

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