It is widely accepted that night vision is expensive. The PVS-14 with Gen 3 image intensifier tubes cost on average $ 2,500- $ 4,000, depending on the tubes used in the interior. However, just like creating an AR-15 budget, you can save some money if you build it yourself. Now, if you do not have the mechanical ability to build an AR-15, then this is not for you. Building a PC tower is more complicated than building a night vision device. Some people in the night vision industry will scare you and tell you that building your own night vision is not for people with a light heart. "You will need adequate equipment and test measures, otherwise you will have headaches, eye fatigue and nausea." This is the same scare tactics the gunsmiths use to scare you and make you build your own AR-15. If you can turn a key you can dodge a ball. I waited . . . I want to say that I can show you how easy it is to build your own PVS-14.
Get all the parts to build your own PVS-14
The easiest way to build your own PVS-14 is to obtain a PVS-14 housing kit. Think of it as an AR-15 parts kit that has everything you need to build an AR-15 except the bottom one. With respect to a housing kit PVS-14, it is anything but the image intensifier tube.
Here is a list of the parts you normally get in a PVS-14 housing kit.
- Battery Housing (Single Battery Configuration) (274422-2)
- Battery Cover w / Tether (275113-2)
- Monocular housing (277705)
- Tube retainer (5002569)
- 25mm eye piece set (5009545-1)
- Neck Rope (A3144306)
- Purge screw (A3144315)
- O-ring of the purge screw (A3144316)
- Lens cap (A3144318)
- Close focus stop (A3144322)
- O-ring objective (A3144323)
- Assembly of the eye cup (A3144422)
- Mount the lens (A3256342)
- Eye cup adapter (A3256354)
- Battery / monocular housing O-ring (A3256356-2)
- Light tube (A3256358)
- Lens lock ring (A3256360)
- Lens paper
- Screws of the battery case x4 (MS16995-2B)
- Operator's manual (TM11-5855-30610)
There are some parts there that you really do not need. I have done them BOLD FONT in the list above PVS-14 housing kits cost between $ 700 and $ 1000 depending on which retailer you go to. You can also use improved components such as the Vyper housing or the Hyper Aluminum housing from DEP Technologies. They also make titanium lock rings to add shine and pay more for those things.
There are two types of image intensifier tubes. MX-10160 and MX-11769. The difference is manual gain against no manual gain. The gain is like the brightness of the screen on the tube you are looking at. There is a button on the PVS-14 to adjust the gain if you have a style tube 11769. See the pigtails in the three tubes in the photo above? The pigtail is how you know it is a style 11769. 10160 tubes do not have the ponytail. In some cases, you can weld a pigtail into a 11769 and turn it into a 10160 tube if you need it.
Why would I need a 10160 tube in front of a 11769 tube? Well, not for a PVS-14 compilation. However, many dual-tube binocular night vision devices do not have manual gain, so flexible cable is not used and there is no room for them in these cases.
PVS-14 parts: ASSEMBLY !!
The tools you will need to assemble your PVS-14 are not specialized.
- Allen keys 0.050 and 5/64
- small flat head screwdriver
- air duster spray can
- lens cleaning pen
- Hotel card or credit card similar to rigid plastic that you can cut.
The first thing is to mount the PVS-14 battery housing. Most battery housings will have these parts pre-installed, but in case this is what you need to do.
The power knob has a small set screw / pin. You need an Allen key of 0.050 to tighten it. Be careful when installing this screw. The pin can fall down if the knob is not properly aligned and, if you try and force it, the hexagonal screw will tear very easily. I'm talking about the hexagonal socket for the Allen key, not the threads.
The next thing is to install the manual gain knob. Use a set screw of similar size, just without the pin. Slide the knob over the silver bar. Use your 0.050 allen wrench to tighten the set screw in the notch you see on the silver bar in the photo below.
The second step is to install the objective lens in the housing. You must install the lens lock ring before screwing the objective lens. Before you screw the objective lens, use the stylus or the lens cleaning cloth to clean the lens and clean the back of the lens. There is also a close focus stop. I'm missing both the lock ring and the focus stop on this PVS-14, so I can not show you those. But once you install the locking ring and the lens of the lens, you must screw the focus stop from the inside of the housing. This prevents the objective lens from being unscrewed directly from the housing. The PVS-14 has little depth of field. You can focus on infinity and everything that is near will be out of focus or you can focus on something close to you, but everything that is far away is out of focus. To focus on nearby things, you are unscrewing the objective lens. If you unscrew it enough, it will go out if you do not have the close focus stop installed. You need it? Do not just consider how far you unscrew the lens from the lens.
Some objective PVS-14 lenses are different from others. Here are two different objective lenses that I have found. The one on the left is the type I see most in PVS-14s. I'm not sure where or who does the one on the right. The lens on the right is extremely tight and I must use a little silicone grease to make it softer.
Plug the battery case into the monocular housing. If you look inside the monocular housing there are two small pins that protrude. They correspond to the external contacts that are on each side of the threaded hole to place an arm in J. The battery housing has a flexible cable with two conductors that must be plugged into these two pins.
I use a small flat head screwdriver to push the copper / copper look cylinders into their corresponding pins.
See that little epoxy metal pin in the monocular case? That is an anti-rotation pin to prevent the image intensifier tube from turning once installed inside the housing.
The next step to build your own PVS-14 is to install the image intensifier tube. If you are using a 11769 tube with a flexible cable, make sure that the flexible cable is inserted first. Then insert the tube. There will be a small notch in the bottom edge of the tube. Align this with that pin in the monocular housing. Before fully seating the tube, spray the tube with the canned air cleaner.
If you have a 10160 tube, you can ignore this next step. If you have a tube 11769, read on. Pigtail 11769 has a small chip with four pins. These correspond to the holes in the board of the battery case. I surrounded them in blue. Plug them in the board. See the photo below.
Here is the chip partially installed. Simply press down gently until the chip touches the board.
Now, carefully, bend the battery case over the monocular housing observing how the flat cables fold over on themselves.
If you look at the side of the AA battery compartment in the housing, one of the screw lugs has a molded notch. This is for the battery strap. You must make a loop with the rope on this small part before screwing the housings.
Then take your Allen key 5/64 and screw the four screws of the battery case.
Now you need to place the image intensifier tube in place. Otherwise, it will slide from one side to the other and lose the contact points of the battery case. If you touch the case down on your hand, it will reset the tube and it will turn on again. Ask me how I know. LOL
For a budget solution minus bubba, simply place the light tube on top of the image intensifier. There is a small rectangular protrusion that you place on the place where the flexible tube 11769 enters the tube.
The last step to adjust the tube is to install the tube retaining ring. This is where you need the old credit card or hotel access card. Cut it to be as wide as the retaining ring. You could use the small flat head screwdriver for this, but the card makes it easier to press evenly and tighten the ring.
Now install the ocular and eyepiece locking ring. Take care to screw the eyepiece since the threads of the monocular housing are very thin and made of polymer. So the threading is very easy. Spray the tube and dust-free eyepiece with the canned air duster or use the lens cleaning pen.
Then, the last part is to install the purge screw and the O-ring. Normally, factory night vision is purged and some will tell you that you need the right equipment to do it. Certainly, it makes it easier to purge the PVS-14 if you have the right equipment, but it's up to you if you need to. If you live in a dry climate environment, you do not need to purge night vision. If you live in a humid environment, your night vision may fog up. There are some DIY purging methods, but I have not tested them to see if they are viable. The first method is to use an air duster can.
Carefully spray the compressed air into the purge hole and then quickly install the purge screw. Supposedly, this will replace the air inside the casing and reduce its susceptibility to fogging. The other method, which I have not heard from anyone trying, is to use nitrogen purge kits for wine bottles.
Once you have completed your PVS-14, you must establish the focus in your eyes. Look through the eyepiece and rotate the objective lens to focus on something about 10 feet away. The ideal is to look at something that has big words or fine details. Then adjust the rear eyepiece, it has a built-in diopter. Get that back focus as clear as possible. Then readjust the front lens to focus on infinity.
Final costs to build your own PVS-14
Is it cheaper if you buy new components? Not really. I know it's not what you want to hear, but the image intensifier tube is the most expensive part of the construction. The retail price of the tubes can be from $ 2,000 to $ 3,600, depending on the specifications and if you want the price of white phosphorus to be at the highest end of the spectrum. However, like used firearms, you can find rough diamonds. You need to shop around. There is no singular place to buy such gems. But if you are looking to buy "tubes blem" alias, you can also find good deals.
Below is what I call "blemtastically cheap". This tube is not very desirable and seems to have contracted a deadly disease. But if you really look where the blems are, they are on the outer edge called Zone 3. There is a small blem in Zone 2. Zone 1 is the area in the center and is relatively clean. You can use this tube to shoot at night in a flat range.
Actually, you can press an intensifier tube into the battery housing to test the tube before installing it. Obviously, do this in some dark place. Most gene 3 enhancer tubes are autoguided, so you do not have to worry about burning them. Just do not have them in the light of day.
There are two contacts on the board in the battery case. Turn on the power and touch the battery case with the corresponding contacts and the tube should turn on. I did this to take a photo of the defect in the photo above.
Here is a video I made showing how ANVIS lenses can not see green dots. The first two tubes you see are seamless tubes inside PVS-14s. The green phosphorus cost me only $ 500 and the white phosphorus cost me $ 1,000. That was only for the tubes, without casings or optics. If you can overlook a small spot, you can find some really good offers.
You can also look at less popular image intensifier tubes. as Photonis. When I built my ANVIS9 glasses, I found a pair of Photonis Green Gen2 + commercial tubes that had a guy and only wanted $ 900 for the pair. Free of spots! They are not as good as my Gen 3 L3 tubes but they work. I can see in the dark and I can shoot in the dark. If you manage your expectations and build your own PVS-14 with commitments for the cost, you can find a happy medium and enjoy the darkness more often.