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Tube Lens Power Dimensions/weight Construction Type
Gen. I (20mm) 50mm F 1.5 (2.4X) Squeeze (Piezo) 5.9"x2"x3"  /15oz. Plastic w metal I.R. Night viewer
    This is a good general purpose scope, and a lot of fun. This is a medium quality night scope which sees noticeably better than a pair of night adapted eyes. The rated gain of the tube is around 1000x-1500x, but the total system gain is down to around 90x. In my purely subjective opinion, I would say this is about a two F-stop improvement over the totally night adapted eye. The I.R. illuminator is pretty much a requirement for this generation of scope, if used in deep darkness.  The imager is powered by squeezing a rubber bellows at the top if the scope. This charges the imager tube, which will stay lit for several minutes, before requiring another charge. Though the scope itself needs no power source, the I.R. illuminator takes a single DL1/N lithium battery. This is an odd size and voltage (3 volts), and I had to try about four different places before finding one that carried them. The battery is about the diameter of a standard camera type, but it is twice as thick. The 3 volt requirement means that you can not take standard button batteries and stack them to get the width. There are other I.R. sources. You can get filters for flashlights, headlights, and spotlights, but these produce a great deal of heat, making the direct I.R. source the preferred method. The included illuminator is not a very "clean" source of I.R., and there is a small, but noticeable amount of ruby colored light emanating from it. The objective, and ocular both have focusing adjustments. These adjustments, and the squeeze power generator, are the only controls on the unit. The detachable I.R. source has a rotating on/off switch.
    Scopes of this type are an aid to night vision, but are not true night vision scopes without the use of an I.R. source, which is the reason that most first generation scopes include one. The plastic body is not up to military standards, and the device must be treated with a certain amount of care. Though the optics are good, the image tube introduces a considerable amount of distortion, particularly around the outer edges. This is normal for a first generation (cascade type) tube, and is no reflection upon the quality of this particular model. My tube has a couple of pinhole black spots, which is a normal variation of all 3 (possibly all 4) generations of tubes. The pinholes are not visible in the example photos, and are generally not noticeable at all except when moving the scope. Scopes of this type sell for around $150-$230 depending upon the make, model, seller, and the luck of the buyer. I paid around $130, and consider it to have been a pretty good deal. The scope is light, handy, and the plastic body is robust enough for casual civilian use.
     Like most of the low end night vision devices out there, this unit is made in Russia. Russian night vision devices began to hit the American market right after the fall of the old Soviet Union. Though not up to the quality of American made units, the Russian scopes were actually cheap enough to be affordable to the casual user. Availability has created a reasonably strong demand for these types of devices. Where, 20 years ago, few would have had any interest in owning a night scope, considering such a thing to be a gadget, or some sort of exotic piece of espionage gear, today police departments, hunters and outdoorsmen consider night vision gear to be useful, if not essential pieces of equipment.
     These are often advertised as gen1+ scopes, due to the cascading image tubes used in their construction. A cascading image tube is essentially two (or more) tubes used in tandem, which is why there is often so much distortion on this type of unit. Distortion and all, this is an amazing piece of technology, at an amazing price, when considering what it does, and how much such a device would have cost a decade or so ago. Tube life, on these units is said to be around 2500 hours of use. This may not sound like much, but calculates to being an hour of use per day, every day, for about seven years. The average owner will probably put less than 100 hours a year on one of these scopes, meaning that most units sold today will probably be around for some time to come.  Sample images from this scope are on my main night vision page, both in the example section, of a first gen unit, and in the main section, as the two pictures of the tavern scene. I have had this scope for several years now, and have never had a bit of trouble with it.