Friday Night Lights: Lion’s Gear MACHOS – Modular SiOnyx Aurora Bridge

    Friday Night Lights: Lion's Gear MACHOS - Modular SiOnyx Aurora Bridge

    When the SiOnyx Aurora came out late 2018, Lucian of Romania started making some of the first accessories for the Aurora camera. Right away people saw a need to mount the Aurora camera to a helmet and use it like night vision goggles. His Hyperion bridge was a simple design. It was a fixed bridge and you had to tell him what your pupillary distance is so he could 3D print the Hyperion to match the spacing between your pupils. Well, he has since moved on and for a while now he has been making and successfully selling his MACHOS (Mission Adaptive Combat Helmet Optics System). It is a much better bridge design and it is modular for use with other devices, not just the SiOnyx Aurora.

    Macho, MACHOS, Man

    Friday Night Lights: Lion's Gear MACHOS - Modular SiOnyx Aurora Bridge

    MACHOS bridge allows for articulation.

    Unlike his previous Aurora bridge, the MACHOS is modular. It starts with the center block and dovetail. It has holes for the guide rods and a central threaded hole for the adjustment screw of each arm.

    You can see the knurled thumbwheel inside of the Aurora adapters. Outside you can see the threaded bolt and black guide rods.  At the back of the rear guide rod, is a channel for the IPD (Inter Pupillary Distance) stop that is threaded into the central dovetail block.

    See the two thumbscrews below? Those are the set screws to lock each respective adapter into place once you set the PD to your eyes.

    The MACHOS is an articulating bridge design. The adapters have a hinge designed into them so you can pivot the device on each side. Lucian also offers a simpler and slightly cheaper alternative. His FAST Aurora adapters do not articulate but they still utilize the same IPD adjustment design as the MACHOS adapters.

    MACHOS on the left, FAST on the right.

    MACHOS adapter can pivot, FAST cannot.

    The FAST adapter looks beefier but it is hollowed out to reduce weight.

    The MACHOS Aurora adapters have a lot of adjustments for dialing in bridged Auroras. Other bridges, like the Kiloohmcom bridge, only allow you to adjust PD. The MACHOS has a slot for the Aurora mounting screw and since there is an anti-rotation pin that interfaces into the Aurora body, you can pan the Aurora a little bit left or right.

    With dual bridged Auroras on a MACHOS bridge, you can have the Auroras angled outwards or inwards.

    Why would you want this level of adjustability? It has to do with collimation. Bridging two SiOnyx Auroras is not always perfect. While adjusting for PD is important, sometimes the two images still do not line up perfectly. Being able to pan the cameras a bit helps with that last little bit in overlapping the coalescing the two images so you see one image.

    Modularity Of The MACHOS

    Since the MACHOS has a central dovetail block, you can attach any style adapter you want to mix and match devices. See the photo above? Those are the variety of adapters for the MACHOS system.

    For the Aurora camera adapter, Lucian made an adapter for use with the AGM Micro TM384 thermal monocular. He made a simple 3D printed adapter that utilizes the factory tripod screw hole and creates an anti-rotation pocket for the pin in the Aurora adapter.

    Look at the lens cap and how I stored it under the bridge.

    Due to the long length of the AGM and short eye relief, the setup below is less than ideal. The Aurora is positioned too far forward so your eye will have problems seeing the whole image. It is like looking through a keyhole 4 inches from your eye. If Lucian redesigned his adapter for the AGM so it moves the eyepiece forward to match the Aurora eyepiece position, then it could work better.

    Another problem is that there is nothing to help hold the tethered lens cap in place. Since the AGM TM384 is suspended, the lens cap has a tendency to fall back down over the objective lens. You can store it under the MACHOS bridge but it is not secure. Of course, you could remove the lens cap entirely as well however I wish Lucian designed the AGM adapter to include a lens cap holder like the Kiloohmcom AGM bridge seen below.

    Kiloohmcom AGM bridge has an integrated lens cap holder.

    Night Vision And MACHOS

    The MACHOS is not exclusively an Aurora camera bridge. Since it is modular, you can get adapters for PVS-14s and a FLIR Breach.

    The one downside to the PVS-14 adapter is the mounting ring is a little too thick for this CARSON housing. The battery cap knurling is too aggressive and proud so it sticks out more than other PVS-14 battery caps.

    The knurling scratches the MACHOS PVS-14 adapter ring.

    There are other mounts that use a similar attachment method. Below is a comparison between my LARUE PVS-14 rail mount, TNVC non powered bridge and the Lion’s Gear Solutions PVS-14 adapter. There is plenty of material that can be removed to make it more compatible with variant PVS-14s. It is a simple change and should not cost much to do it for future production runs.

    Remember how I said the AGM and Aurora is not an ideal setup? That is because the eye relief for the Aurora is so short and due to the position of the tripod screw, you cannot line up an Aurora with the AGM. But when you pair the AGM with a PVS-14, the 14 has a generous eye relief that you can still see the whole image it produces even though it is farther away from your eye.

    The FLIR Breach adapter is actually compatible with the MUM-14 rail system.

    While the FLIR Breach adapter will fit a MUM-14 rail, the position of the rail with respect to the eyepiece is offset. On a FLIR Breach, the top rail is centered with the eyepiece. Since the MUM-14 is offset, you need to position the PD stop all the way to the farthest lockable position to get the MUM-14 in position of your eye. I have told Lucian to make the black rods longer for this setup, otherwise, he would have to make an offset arm for the adapter just to position MUM-14 optics directly under the MACHOS arm pivot position.

    Since the MACHOS was designed first and foremost as a SiOnyx Aurora bridge, the dovetail and bridge are not where you typically would find them on a bridged night vision device. This is in part due to the shallow eye relief of the Aurora cameras. You have to position them far back so your eyes can see the full image. This is not the case with most analog night vision. PVS-14s have a very generous eye relief.

    For this reason, Lucian designed different position adapters for the dovetail. He 3D prints three different adapter plates.

    These plates are unidirectional. There is an indexing tab for the dovetail so it doesn’t spin around. You can see below how each plate would move the dovetail further or closer to your face.

    With the PVS-14 adapter you can mount one of my favorite handheld night vision Monoculars, the ENVIS. I have managed to bridge ENVIS goggles before but they were like a set of binoculars. There is some articulation but mainly for pupillary distance reasons. They did not fully articulate. With the MACHOS and PVS-14 adapter, I can helmet mount the ENVIS and it can articulate up and out of the way as well as sit more comfortable closer to the helmet when stored upwards.

    MACHOS Wrap Up

    I like the MACHOS for its modularity. The articulating arms offer the best features like you see in an articulating night vision goggle. With its many different adapters, you can mix and match a variety of devices to suit your needs. Want a digital night vision camera to film POV? Sure thing. Want night vision for your other eye? Sure thing. Want to switch out the night vision camera for a thermal monocular? It can do that too.

    The MACHOS retails for €247. You can get the non-articulating FAST version for just €129 then upgrade to MACHOS arms down the road if you want articulation. You can also order the FLIR Breach adapter for €86 or the PVS-14 adapter for €117. Check out Lion’s Gear Solutions for more information.

    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]