How to own a Night Vision Device

How should you use a Night Vision Device without destroying it?  People are overly cautious and don’t get the full potential out of their device. After all, for many, buying a NVD, is investing in a NVD. And when you invest you want a return. That return can be maximized by knowing the limits of the device. Note: This “How to” is going to apply to military grade Gen 2+ and Gen 3 Devices such as the PVS-14 or DTNVG.

You can basically divide it in to 3 categories: Use, Maintenance and Storage

So let’s start with how to use your device properly.

First of all, don’t turn it on during daylight, meaning direct or indirect sunlight. Without a pinhole cap (rubber protection cap with a small pinhole), turning on your night vision device during daytime is going to significantly decrease the lifetime of your image intensifier tube installed in your device. When exposed to direct sunlight, permanent damage can occur. Note that this only applies when your device is turned on. When its turned off, you can let your device sit in direct sunlight exposure without the objective cap for as long as you want to, noting is going to happen.

Rule of thumb is as soon as the sun sets you are ready to go. Autogated tubes are able to handle even more light. So if you are going to mostly use your device in well-lit urban environments, autogated tubes are highly recommended. Not only does it preserve the tubes lifetime when used in highlight environments, but also increases resolution. Non-autogated tubes suffer a slight resolution loss under highlight conditions such as well-lit urban areas.

Avoid direct exposure to bright light-sources, such as car lights, lasers, explosions, fires…
If you do happen to get exposed, simply turning the device away out of exposure, like a reflex, is going to keep it safe during its entire lifespan. Very short exposure times are by far not as dangerous as long ones.

Make sure you get that ocular diopter focus right, many people seem to struggle with that. If you don’t get it correctly focused, it is going to be like wearing a strangers glasses. To get a good focus, its good to look for a small light source far in the distance, I always use the stars. Then you adjust your objective lens on that light source. After that, go back to your ocular lens and turn it all the way counterclockwise, the image should now be extremely blurry. Then slowly turn clockwise until the light source is perfectly in focus again, immediately stop there! Now it’s well adjusted to your eyes.

Use your device when it’s raining, they are waterproof! Rain is no excuse to not use your NVD. You don’t have to handle it like a raw egg, the fiber filled nylon plastic is extremely robust, just don’t forcefully smash it on a concrete ground and you should be fine.

Now, let’s move to the basic maintenance.

Keep your lenses clean! Both objective and ocular. Use a Q-tip to get rid of any dirt or fingerprints.
Don’t use cloth or even your shirt, that is going to scratch and damage the anti-reflective coating on your lenses. Use a brush to get rid of any dirt on the housing, you can also use water. Don’t open your device! It’s filled with nitrogen gas to prevent corrosion and internal fogging on the lenses. It preserves the electronics by preventing oxidation. The military usually refills its devices every 6 months with Nitrogen, that is not really needed for civilian users.

Storage

Light-condition does not matter as long as device is turned off.
Very important is to store it without a battery installed. We all know that when batteries get older, they leak. Triple-check and make sure your device is turned off after usage, else when left on and exposed to light, the image is going to get burned in to your tube and permanently damage it.