Monocular vs. Binoculars/Goggles
I'm new to night vision so sorry if this is a noobish question, I did some searches and didn't find much info either so far.
My question is about the logic behind why one would choose a monocular versus a binocular/goggle setup. My current assumptions are that the monocular is cheaper, lighter, doesn't need as much batteries, more versatile, allows you to get a proper-ish, if not adequate cheek-weld on the weapon, (an AN/PVS-21 can do this too though) they allow for quickly seeing with your un-aided eye without having to flip them back up and your un-aided eye will still be adjusted to darkness.
I assume the binoculars give the advantage of: Increased comfort of using both eyes and depending on model, better depth perception as you are using both eyes in night vision.
I know that gear choice is mission specific, so I'd think that the monocular would be better when you're not using NV all the time at night and for long-term deployment. And that the binos should be better when constantly doing night-ops.
I don't have any experience in this yet though, am I correct in any of this?
Monoculars are MUCH more expensive. Expensive PVS-14s run upwards of $4k. The lower price end of Bino are G15s at $6100. ANVIS-6/9s run $10K+
Monos also allow you to retain adjusted night vision in the unaided eye, which is nice if you want to observe "Nod-less".
The only time cheek weld is really only an issue is if you go from an unlit area instantly to a lit area, while using a weapon. Allowing you to transition to your sights without taking the time to flip up your NODs.
I think most of the decsion to use monoculars vs binoculars is due to cost. Most military quality Binos would cost as much as 3 PVS-14s. For guys like me, it's a numbers game. I could outfit a platoon with ANVS or a company with PVS-14s. Plus, PVS-14s are in the pipeline already, I'd have to use unit funds to pay for ANVS goggles.
The Rangers are using ANVS, but they're all hand me downs from pilots. Pilots got the ANVS-9s, and all the ANVS-6s were kicked down to the the Rangers. There's not really enough hand-me-down ANVS goggles to give to all those who use NODs.
Welcome to the world of night vision!
For the most part, your assumptions are correct concerning monos vs. binos. But, allow me to clarify a few things. The monocular is a great tool for general purpose night vision application. The current standard issue for the US Army is the AN/PVS-14, which is a monocular. Monoculars, like all gear, have pros and cons. But, in this case, the pros outweigh the cons.
1. Weight and size savings are a huge bonus. Although today's NV devices are exponentially smaller and lighter than their older counterparts, they can still get heavy and stress your neck and back over long missions. This is a matter of ounces=pounds and pounds=pain. Over the course of several hours, anything that is cantilevered off your head is going to start producing some neck, back, and shoulder fatigue/strain. The lighter the device, the less this occurs. Also, the smaller size of a monocular is beneficial because it means you have less bulk. This attribute is welcome when the user is both, wearing the device on a helmet, and/or storing it in a pouch on their gear. The smaller the device, the less profile there is when it is flipped up or down on the helmet. It is also a benefit when not wearing the NVG on your head, but still carrying it on your person. Warfighters have a lot of gear they have to carry. So, the smaller the NVG, the smaller the pouch/case they need to mount on their armor.
2. The battery is a non-issue. Most monoculars run off a single AA or CR123 battery. This is also true of many/most binoculars.
3. Price is certainly a factor. Because you are only paying for a single tube (the tube is the most expensive part of the system), you will obviously, pay less.
4. Versatility is hugely beneficial. A monocular can be helmet-mounted, weapon-mounted, or hand-held. The weapon-mount capability is the key difference. While it is generally recommended to use the NVG as head-mounted observation device while aiming with a weapon-mounted IR laser, monoculars can be mounted behind NV-compatible red dot optics. This is good for static sniper/observer roles, perimeter work, and hunting. You lose a bit of situational awareness because you have to point your rifle at everything you want to look at. But, it is great for static positions.
5. Single eye use has pluses and minuses. On the plus side, the ability to only have one eye covered with NV is key to maintaining your natural night vision. When using NVG's the aided eye is seeing a lot of light and it is common to have "bright spots" in the eye immediately after you flip your NVG's up. NVG's are not magic and will not always be the answer to every low-light/no-light situation. Due to the fact that you need to focus the NVG to infinity, up-close areas/items will be out of focus. When small spaces or rooms with a lot of obstacles, you will want to use white light to see detail and make sure you are not missing anything. Having an un-aided eye, greatly helps this process because you do not need to flip up your NVG's to use your weapon light. A lot of guys talk about using their optics or sights with their dominant eye while having a monocular flipped down over their non-dominant eye. It has been my experience that this is not a practical application. It is very difficult, cumbersome, and slow to acquire weapon sights in this manner.
Binocular, or dual-tube systems are associated with increased depth perception. Since you need two eyes for depth perception, this is a no-brainer. Comfort can also be argued because about 10% of the population's brains cannot properly process a NVG monocular image and will cause headaches after prolonged use. Binos are obviously heavier and more expensive.
Thank you both for the information.
About the binoculars, when would one want to use it over a monocular setup? I'd think that mountain operators would definitely need it, but what about those who are in flatland or uneven (though not mountainous) rural terrain? What other uses for binoculars are there?
I'm considering taking a training course since I bet that's the best way to learn for starters. Of all those listed on the TNVC website, would you recommend one course over another? And are the Redback One and Telluric Group courses open to civilians?
Admiral IM sent.
Sorry, I think it was accidentally deleted. Could you resend it?