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Author Topic:   Poor man's FLIR
unsinkable_2000 posted 02-25-2012 04:14 PM ET (US)   Profile for unsinkable_2000   Send Email to unsinkable_2000  
I love the FLIR technology however I don't have the several thousand dollars to cough up for one of these fancy night vision setups. Here's a thought. My primary use is while motoring back to my dock at night. My biggest concern is sailboat mooring buoys and various bleach bottles people use to mark thier moorings. This is typically encountered at low or lowest speed of travel. Since I live in a sailing harbor these obstacles are everywhere. How about a poor man's version. Since I own an ipad and an iphone as do a lot of folks why not use a camera with ir night vision capabilities in low light as an aid while in these types of scenarios. Utilizing your ipad/iphone screen (mine is already dash mounted) you can get decent (not FLIR) quality night vision assistance for around $100-$120. Here is an example;

Foscam FI8910W Wireless/Wired Pan & Tilt IP/Network Camera with IR-Cut Filter

This camera would have to be carefully mounted on bow or center console and kept dry but I am sure I could McGyver something. The main drawback is that these only have usable night vision for about 25 feet but this would be ok while puttering through the moorings.
Just a thought..

unsinkable_2000 posted 02-25-2012 05:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for unsinkable_2000  Send Email to unsinkable_2000     
I've been researching a bit more. I'm a bit skeptical on this working...
Hoosier posted 02-25-2012 08:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Why not just buy one of these? On sale for $149.99.
Jefecinco posted 02-26-2012 11:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Incredible, a Starlight Scope for $150.

In 1966 in Vietnam my electronics shop was one of very few shops qualified and equipped to repair the scopes. They were huge relative to the Cabalas unit. The repair manuals were classified and kept in a vault. We built a climate controlled lab/shop out of a large Conex container where we worked on and stored the units and repair parts. The conex was treated as a classified container with the special combination locks required for same. I have no idea what the cost of the scopes was in 1966 but I imagine it was in the dozens of thousands of dollars each.

The advance of electronics technology is amazing.


jimh posted 02-26-2012 01:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
David--re that device being sold at Cabela's for $199: its appearance confuses me. It looks like the objective lens--the big lens--and the ocular lens--the eyepiece--are pointed in the same direction. Do you have to face backwards to look ahead?
K Albus posted 02-26-2012 01:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Jim - I believe that what you perceive as the ocular lens is actually an infrared flashlight. It shoots out the infrared light that lights up the objects you are viewing through the scope.
unsinkable_2000 posted 02-26-2012 05:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for unsinkable_2000  Send Email to unsinkable_2000     
Thanks! I'll check it out. It is amazing that the technology between FLIR and the next closest thing is a $4000 difference. I think FLIR must make most of its money from Govt agencies that will pay anything for technology. The average boater or boating enthusiast however is not able to afford this technology. I am fairly certain a quality and affordable alternative can't be far around the corner.
Jefecinco posted 02-26-2012 06:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
The Cabelas' scope is primarily a light amplification device. IR scopes with IR light sources are very common and have been used by the US Army since at least WW II. IR is very inexpensive technology requiring only an IR filter. Tank drivers would wear IR goggles and shine an IR searchlight at the course ahead allowing nighttime navigation without the use of visible light which would give away their position to anyone looking their way. Of course, if the enemy was also equipped with IR goggles that could become a problem.

Light amplification devices, OTOH, use only available light which the device amplifies for the benefit of the user. Thus the term starlight scope.

The standard flashlight issued to soldiers is equipped with a supplemental IR filter allowing map reading at night without divulging your position.


Hoosier posted 02-26-2012 08:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
When I read Unsinkable's first post I thought that some sort of night vision device really could come in handy for us boaters. How many times have we said to ourselves, "Man, I'm not going through there in the dark,..again". To get theoretical, I'm not sure FLIR would be that useful in a marine environment where all inanimate objects quickly assume the temperature of the water. As I understand FLIR it needs a temperature difference to "see" objects. The USCG looking for people is one thing, but us guys looking for rocks and other unpleasant things is different. Butch is right, a "starlight" scope/glass makes more sense since it doesn't rely on the temperature difference between objects.

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