Tactical Tailor

Posts Tagged ‘Photonis’

DEP Offers Knight’s Armament UNS Family Powered by the PHOTONIS INTENS Image Tubes

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

DEP, USA. Texas – The system enhancement company, DEP, LLC. now offers the Knight’s Armament Company (KAC) family of Universal Night Sights (UNS) powered by the recently released INTENS 4G image tube.

INTENS 4G significantly exceeds resolution and bandwidth sensitivity of any current image tube and is being fielded to various Special Missions elements.

Offerings will include the UNS A3, PVS-22, and PVS-30 clip-on night sights in both P43 (green) and P45 (white) phosphor.

KAC pioneered weapon sight use of the PHOTONIS white phosphor image tube in the KAC UNS over 6 years ago, with the system remaining serviceable following thousands of rounds and years of use.

All factory KAC warranties and service will apply.

Please contact KAC directly, a DEP distributor or DEP directly for inquiries.


Night Vision Redux – Part 6

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

As a tie-in conclusion to the last few weekly segments, a final area of discussion is augmentation accessories. Expending the resources to enhance EO equipment typically means you want to utilize it in more situations, harsher environs, and allow functions not previously available. Various accessories are binders that allow these advances without taking away from previous capabilities and magnify the singular enhancements.

Modularity and scalability are the key fundamentals this series began with. Another key is compatibility. Being modular and scalable by design is great, but limiting yourself to a sole source can (and has proven to) be very limiting. The components shown to this point are to a high threshold backwards compatible to the host device, as this was referenced as key with regards to component costs. Compatibility going backwards and forwards is a practicality keystone.

Mechanical interface has always been a sensitive industry topic. Who’s trinket works on who’s widget weighs heavy, particularly as the dollar threshold increases. You want your stuff to work with available stuff, and the new stuff you don’t even know exists until next SHOT Show. Maybe, even stuff that you want to design around for personal uses. 

The main point to grasp here is that optical stuff isn’t cheap. Even the cheap stuff isn’t cheap. So if your entertaining upgrading it, make sure it’s all compatible and works to your benefit. The linkage hardware needs to be the right prescription for your needs, or its sour grapes. This means the weight is right, as optics hang off your face-you can’t function long with excessive head weight. The gear works for you and your host optics, not against you. You understand the hardware matrix and what benefits come with what risks. Are there safety concerns when driving ATVs or dynamic applications that your gear wasn’t made for particularly? When discussing compatibility, it’s not just does it fit, it’s also does it work with what your doing. A shoe may fit well, but it’s not a boot.

Night Vision Redux is a weekly series prepared with the assitance of DEP, the US subsidiary of Photonis. It is intended to educate readers about image intensification (I2) systems and ways they can be upgraded without having to purchase completely new systems.

Night Vision Redux – Part 4

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Getting to this point in the systematic evaluation of the legacy PVS-14 as a candidate device for update and augmentation going forward (aside from the surface modification), several of the known and largely unknown areas of improvements are noted for those whom focus on the device more than the average user.

Upgrades to the Hyper 14TM configuration include:

– Denser and smaller OD front windows. These are know to crack or leak due to age or warpage of the chassis itself.

– Custom designed battery module gasket in lieu of a thin o-ring. In many cases the standard o-ring does not fully make contact with or even touch the lip of the mating part.

– Fully heli-coiled surfaces to a toleranced hole. In many legacy devices the standard housing makes due with a plastic thread. The steel screw makes quick fodder of the plastic mating surface.

– Use of a patented Burke Ring, which allows the device to be disassembled or undergo maintenance without removing the entire electronic housing or image tube to replace or upgrade optics.

– Obverse interface. This addition allows the monocular to have 2 interface surfaces versus the one standard 1/4″-20 thread.

– Ruggedized Collar. If used, this titanium collar replaces the standard plastic or aluminum Objective Focus Stop Ring. As a note, some manufactures have altogether eliminated this part and mold a faux stop ring into the legacy chassis. This ruggedized replacement part now adds yet a third interface point as an orbital anchor point. Typical uses are aftermarket weapon mounts, COTI/COSI/CORI clip-on devices and dual bridge type applications.

– Shock resistance. This particular Hyper 14TM is equipped with a (patented) multi-part sleeve system that significantly dampens shock and pulse problematics. This may open up the co-use of typically problematic calibers or weapon types that put optics in the permanent OFF mode.

Many of the criteria (modularity, ruggedization, logistical easement, scalability, etc.) are already available or open the possibility of these improvements. Since many of these items are internal and not readily viewable with a functioning device, the next discussion point that does provide direct critique-interface modularity.

As you can see, the Hyper 14TM can be configured with either or both interface shoes in place. These can be added as needed for dovetail style interface as either/or, or as a set for whatever options the user chooses as a relative component(s).

These allow cross use with currently fielded digital weapon sight mounts, magnifiers, other non-relative interface equipment or forthcoming modular hardware. They can also be hastily removed to retain full use of the legacy PVS-14 family of parts such as the J-Arm and issue style weapon mount (since those parts probably cost equal or more than the new chassis, you may want to maintain them).

Night Vision Redux is a weekly series prepared with the assitance of DEP, the US subsidiary of Photonis. It is intended to educate readers about image intensification (I2) systems and ways they can be upgraded without having to purchase completely new systems.

Night Vision Redux – Part 3 – The Chassis

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

A quick laymen review of the PVS-14 component layout tells a fairly quick story. The electronics (image tube and lower monocular housing/battery box) are the most complex and the most expensive segments of the device (see supporting graphic). This is good news, since you won’t want to tinker with these. In their issue state, both of these components are efficient as-is (unless damaged) and require no excessive skill to install/remove. These items are not the center topic, but come into discussion down the road.

Interestingly enough, the least expensive component and universal junction for the monocular itself is the chassis (upper monocular housing). From an industry cost perspective, this item is as cheap as they come. The legacy chassis is a simple molded plastic part that serves as the universal junction for the remaining complex components. The optics, image tube, battery housing, purge screw, o-rings and associated components all interface into, onto, or within this housing. Average cost to manufacture, about 20 bucks. The cost to install the pins, windows and various heli-coils (if they use them) equals the same or more cost. This is a general manufacturing estimate; different companies may vary with labor and methods.

The points be made are:
– You have rough part cost that equals as much as a good lunch.
– The cost driver to this component cost is mostly physical labor/burden.
– This critical part is the junction point to every other part that costs from 5-50X more (excluding fasteners, spacers, etc.)
– This part is essentially 18 years old and has never been improved beyond its initial design and manufacturing process, other than to manufacture it at an even lower cost.

To many it may appear that the plastic chassis (above, left) is being bullied in examination, but the facts are what they are. This is the most inexpensive key component and it’s mission is binary; to hold all the other stuff together. It does. If it can do that (much like a rifle lower receiver does), let’s make it do more since is it a relatively simple part. For reference, one of the main reasons a PVS-14 fails in the field is internal issues. Corrosion, fouled optics and impact/deformation rank highest in deadlined devices. The core issue is interface compromise. Either a lens seal, housing seal or thread surface allows moisture or dirty air inside the device.

Some of the easiest ways measure improvement of something are to add utility, ease logistics, increase longevity and improve performance. Looks might also help.

This chassis modification is an example of taking the lowest common denominator (plastic housing) with minimal function and expanding the reliability and usage, easing logistics and opening the modularity discussed in the first segment of this series. A standard PVS-14 has the following attributes (some not visible) which could argue for an “improved” device over replacing the device.

– Significant ruggedization of felt shock and recoil.
– Increased submersion well past 60′ exposed.
– Denser front windows to minimize impact cracks.
– Exacting surface features for interface.
– Full backwards compatibility with legacy components.
– Minimal weight increase of about an ounce.
– Ability to add a variety of new optics.
– Does not require full disassembly to repair optics or electronics.
– Looks cooler.

This is an example of how EO of the future may want to lean given the cost, logistics support matrix and utility lean designs we have had to present.

Night Vision Redux is a weekly series prepared with the assitance of DEP, the US subsidiary of Photonis. It is intended to educate readers about image intensification (I2) systems and ways they can be upgraded without having go purchase comoletely new systems.

Night Vision Redux – Part 2 – Component Costs

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Continuing with the the previous week’s narrative of use, potential modularity and general candidacy of the PVS-14 as a modular and scalable night vision device, a simple crayon explanation should be used as a common example of the device.

Modifying or upgrading a device needs to begin with understanding it, the key components, how they bind the device together, what they do, and what the practical cost are. As stated correctly, “the enemy of better is good enough”. This is a statement that needs to be regarded and examined thoroughly. 

The enclosed image is a poor mans exploded view of the key components of the PVS-14 monocular with relative commercial costs referenced. These costs are general and vary with the source and quantity, but were taken from the web today for a baseline reference. In this reference, please take a look at which articles drive major costs, are key features (or should/should not be) and may be potentially focus items for enhancement. Several items such as screws, o-rings and lens caps have been deleted for discussion. 

As you can see, many components on the PVS-14 are relatively inexpensive, although critical to its performance. Selective replacement of components can result in increased performance for a fraction of the cost of a new system. In the image you can clearly divide the components into electrical (typically serialized and complex) and non-electrical (less expensive and generally user adjustable).

By comparison, the M4 rifle is a solid although different technology. It has evolved from the M16A1 into recent form, then resulted into numerous sub-versions in the past few years. When the M16 service version was fielded, the key (not initial) improvements which drove the rifle into its changes of calibers, accuracy/ammunition improvements were highly influenced by a key addition. 

Night Vision Redux is a weekly series prepared with the assitance of DEP, the US subsidiary of Photonis. It is intended to educate readers about image intensification (I2) systems and ways they can be upgraded without having go purchase comoletely new systems.

Night Vision Redux – Part 1 – An Introduction

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

This is the first installment in a series, being prepared with the assistance of DEP, the US subsidiary of Photonis, which will discuss how a standard AN/PVS-14 Night Vision Monocular can be upgraded to be not only lighter, but more powerful and more robust.  Potential upgrades also integrate improved optic lenses as well as tubes, which not only work during the day, but also see out of band. By the time we are finished, you’ll see how you can upgrade the standard PVS-14 seen on the left of this photo to the PVS-14+ to the right, at a lower cost than purchasing yet another new NVG.

The last 15 years or so have brought significant and well needed improvements to the US service arsenal, in the form of both new as well as the improved versions of the various instruments of combat/survival.

Terminology such as multi-role, multi-mission and the modularity axiom are widely used, along with the “SWaP-C” acronym, nearly to the point of fault in many instances. Surface ships are in-fact now modular, as are sub-surface craft. Airframes are now in a sense modular (or common) as are the most individually focused articles such as weapons, holsters and of course personal issue items. Adding to the concept of modular or configurable is that of scalable. More so than modular, moving things around or taking components on/off, scaling allows one to use what’s most required without the potential grief of having too much, or too little, capability or functionality. This is the KISS-effect, in action.

One of the areas that has traditionally not been modularized is individual optics. Optics are a little tougher to contend with in a non-permanent format, particularly Electro-Optics (EO). EO, and even Day View Optics (DVO) have evolved to be very versatile, and multi-mission, adapted to applications in various environments. What they tend to lack is much of the aforementioned modularity, and surely scalability. More troublesome is repairability. If it breaks, it’s generally going home; a long way away. There is very little an armorer or operator can do locally for sick EO, or DVO devices. Fortunately, DVOs in most cases are very robust and usually affordable enough to replace in the AOR, that they provide a useful, affordable lifespan. Additionally, if push comes to shove, operators can rely on back up iron sights or an aiming light.

An exception, the individual night vision workhorse of the US military (and many others) is the legacy AN/PVS-14 Night Vision Monocular. An interesting study, this monocular was fielded just before the Global War On Terror began. As of today, it remains in service in many of the same organizations whom early adopted it, but without the upgrades, enhancements or modifications other equipment has received.

In the next few weeks the descriptives of modularity, scaling, multi-mission and near-to-user repair will be addressed to evaluate if the over 1,000,000 service PVS-14s can be improved and utilized in ways other systems have been over the last decade.