In the world of night vision, almost everything is expensive. #becausenightvision is a common explanation why accessories are exorbitantly expensive. However, it is possible to have a cheap night vision upgrade. Some of them are affordable hacks and others are DIY solutions. Such examples are the LLI white phosphor filters and the DIY adjustable iris cap.
Cheap Night Vision Upgrade: LLI WP Filter
Claude Riccoboni has been dabbling in affordable protective lenses for use on night vision devices specifically geared to the airsoft night vision users. Having 6mm bbs crack a lens is not great. Claude’s sacrificial lenses help protect your investment. He recently created Low Light Innovations and has come out with a clever filter that filters out the green color of your green phosphor. It makes your green night vision look close to white phosphor.
LLI’s WP filter screws into the back of your night vision goggle eyepiece. It is a 30mm sized filter so it fits in PVS-14 eyepieces. Here are some photos by my friend Ted Colegrove.
The LLI WP filters are a very cheap night vision upgrade. If you recall, I wrote about other NVG filters. There is another filter that reminds me of the LLI WP Filter – the Sureshot Night Vision SNB filter. Sureshot was trying to achieve what LLI has done but ended up with a filter that cuts down scintillation. The downside to the SNB filter is that it reduces a lot of light. LLI’s WP filter only reduces light by about 5%. It is a decent compromise to fake having white phosphor. His “white” filter is only $25 per piece.
There is a minor issue with the LLI white filter as a cheap night vision upgrade. There are PVS-14 eyepieces that are not threaded or the thread pitch is off. This is a common issue with AGM PVS-14s, so-called “Israeli glass”, and Apache eyepieces. In those instances, the diameter of the inner threads for screwing in an eyecup retaining ring is too large and the LLI white filter falls onto the glass. Another minor issue is that the LLI filter replaces your eyecup retaining rings so mounting POV cameras is a little problematic like the BecauseOperator LPMR POV recorder which snaps onto the eyecup retaining ring. However, Claude has told me that you can unscrew the retaining ring that holds the white filter in place and replace it with a mil-spec eyecup retaining ring.
Check out LLI’s website for more information.
DIY Adjustable Iris (Tarsier Eclipse)
There is an upgrade for night vision called the Tarsier Eclipse. It is an adjustable iris filter for your objective lens on your night vision goggles. It is a photography foundation, make the aperture smaller and you increase the depth of field. For those not savvy with photography lingo, you get more range of focus. So things close and far will be in focus with a tight aperture. The problem with going too small of an aperture is you restrict the amount of light entering the image intensifier. Most other aperture filters are fixed apertures. There are some that have a two-position aperture but an adjustable aperture is the best. However, the best costs money. One Tarsier Eclipse retails for $240 and that is just for a single aperture.
Well a clever individual, Mike Schiano came up with this cheap night vision upgrade. It is a DIY adjustable iris. It is similar to a Tarsier Eclipse but it costs under $40 per piece.
You start off with the adjustable iris. There are plenty of cheap adjustable irises from China. Mike found some off Amazon.
The second component is a Butler Creek 9a scope cover. You need to Dremel a slot for the adjustable IRIS throw lever.
Here is what it looks like installed in the Butler Creek cap.
The Butler Creek 9a cap is a little bit big for the PVS-14 objective lens so you need to shim the lens a bit with some tape.
When done properly you can open and close the aperture however you see fit. Be careful the throw lever unscrews from the aperture itself.
Cheap night vision upgrade, the DIY adjustable iris. Below is a comparison of other aperture hacks for night vision.
Alex’s friend 3D printed a small tapered lever to go over the silver rod throw lever of the Chinese adjustable iris.
Cheap Night Vision Upgrade: Final Thoughts
The LLI white filter is a phenomenal cheap night vision upgrade. It is very inexpensive and it makes green phosphor night vision more appealing to look at. Some claim it helps reduce eye fatigue. But each person is different and while I never experienced fatigue from looking at green phosphor, I can see it being more pleasant to look at. Especially since it does not negatively affect your ability to see in the dark.
With regards to the adjustable iris cheap night vision upgrade, it is a clever DIY hack but it is not for me. I built one and tried it. I generally do not like anything covering up my objective lenses. Rarely do I need to focus on something within arms’ reach and if I do, I just adjust the focus of my objective lens. I rather have as much light entering my image intensifier than worry about great depth of field. Now when you compare the cost of a Tarsier Eclipse versus this DIY solution, it is a no-brainer. But that is only if you find a need for this type of device. For more information on how to build the adjustable iris, Ted Colegrove posted up instructions on his blog.
Thanks to Ted and Alex for sharing their photos.