Night vision

All posts tagged Night vision

GEN-3-night-vision

By Ken Jorgustin – Modern Survival Blog

There are many uses for a night vision device (NVD) including that of the military, law enforcement, security, surveillance, hunting, wildlife observation, navigation, hidden-object detection, entertainment, and more.

Although a night vision device can be an expensive addition to one’s preparedness ‘toolkit’, it could prove itself invaluable under some circumstances.

Here’s information on how night vision devices work, the differences in technology of the various generations (GEN-0,1,2,3,4…), and a good resource for getting yourself one…

Continue reading at Modern Survival Blog: Night Vision Device

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Guest Post by John Q. Public

Introduction

And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and commandments of men…. Let them alone: they are blind, and leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit. Matthew 15:9-14

Will you be blind? Will you fall into the pit? Will you be hungry? Will you be eaten? When the chips are down, who will own the night? You or the predators? Will you be cowering in the dark? Will your family be huddled around a flickering candle? What or who lurks just beyond the fading glow of your lantern?

Night vision devices (NVD) have come a long way since the cumbersome gear of World War 2. First used on German tanks, man-portable units quickly followed with development of the Vampir system for the German Stg44 and the “snooperscope” for the M1 Carbine.

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Modern NVDs (and suppressors—another article) have made night hunting of depredatory pigs and coyotes very popular. Night harvesting of predators now will gain you worthy experience in the best use of your equipment, stealth, fieldcraft, dressing, and butchery. For “preppers” night vision devices provide an edge in putting meat on the table and offer potential parity with the best-equipped and most dangerous predators. Put pork in the freezer and put ‘yotes out of your livestock. Important math tip: What you save in your food budget and livestock loss, can offset the cost of your gear.

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My goal here, as in my recent article on ham radio, is to give an overview of the basics to the newbie to pique interest in learning more. This is a gloss for the uninitiated, not a reference tome for engineers or imaging physicists. For explanations of line spread function, modulation transfer function, gain, temperature coefficient of resistance, pink noise, and other useful comparative specifications, the reader is referred to Bushberg or other imaging physics texts.

I2 and Thermal

There are two broad groups of night vision devices (NVD), Image Intensifiers (often abbreviated “II,” “I^2,” or “I2”) and Thermal Imagers (“TI”).

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Image Intensifiers use a photocathode tube to take available (“ambient”) visible light (and some invisible infrared light, “near IR”) to generate photoelectrons and then amplify those photoelectrons thousandsfold for display on a screen. Image intensification requires some light, even if it is starlight or a minuscule infrared LED. In complete or near complete darkness, when pitch black indoors, in deep shadows, or when cloud cover outdoors leaves no starlight, special infrared illuminators can provide the necessary invisible light to use an image intensifier. Remember though that use of illuminators reveals your position to anyone else equipped with I2, just as your body heat and hot rifle barrel reveal you to anyone with TI.

 

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The earliest I2 systems were active systems, meaning the user always had to provide a source of infrared illumination, an infrared floodlight like that shown in the picture of the M1 Carbine above. Such “Gen 0” systems were developed and utilized in World War 2 and the Korean “Police Action.”

By the time of the Vietnam War, Gen 1 passive systems used ambient light, usually without need for illuminators. The thousandfold amplification of the Gen 1 units required ambient light equivalent to at least moonlight. The introduction of the microchannel plate further amplified the production of photoelectrons in Gen 2 units resulting in about 20,000-fold amplification of ambient light, justifying the term “starlight scope.”

The Gen 2 multi-alkali photocathodes were replaced by gallium arsenide photocathodes in the Gen 3 units, allowing up to 50,000-fold amplification albeit with more power drain. Each jump in generation gained more sensitivity and efficiency.

Gen 3+ devices (sometimes called Gen 3 Thin Film) added autogating (on-off switching on the order of nanoseconds or picoseconds), hence faster response to changing light conditions such as unexpected bright lights that would have damaged earlier generation devices. Bright lights will cause Gen 3+ NVDs to “bloom,” a “white out,” or shut down the device, but will not usually allow bright light to damage the tube. Autogating is especially useful in twilight or indoors where lighting conditions may suddenly change.

Just as incandescent light bulbs burn out, so too do image intensifier tubes fail. Longer life can be expected from newer generation tubes. Life expectancy (Mean Time to Failure or MTTF) is typically 1,000 hours of use for Gen 1, 2,000 to 2,500 hours for Gen 2, and 10,000 to 15,000 hours for Gen 3 tubes.

I2 NVDs, especially those of the newest generation have excellent resolution and can see through windows and water, so I2 can be used to navigate from within a vehicle. Smoke and fog, however, handicap I2.

The more sophisticated and robust units are predictably more expensive. To some degree the lines between generations have been blurred (pun intended) by Photonis’ introduction of CORE™ (Ceramic Optical Ruggedized Engine) technology that upgrades resolution using ceramic and metal alloy plates instead of the microchannel plate detector.

Thermal imagers sense and display the heat, the mid-infrared “light,” emitted by objects and beings. Infrared radiation is emitted by all objects whose temperature is above absolute zero (-273.15° C. or 0° K) Thermal data can be acquired even in pitch black and never requires illuminators, but, because of reflection, thermal sensors cannot “see” through windows or water, so unless externally mounted, cannot be used for navigation from inside a vehicle. TI is not blinded by bright light and can even be used in daylight. TI is generally of lower resolution than I2 and depends on the temperature contrast among objects and beings. While TI can penetrate obscurations like fog and smoke, but TI is handicapped by environmental conditions that mute temperature contrast, such as heavy rain or snow.

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Early thermal imaging devices required very expensive and unwieldy liquid nitrogen cooling systems. Uncooled thermal sensors, microbolometers, were developed in the 1970’s , but were not declassified for sale to private citizens until 1992. The development of the microbolometer has dramatically improved the portability and, though still expensive, decreased the cost of thermal imaging devices. A microbolometer consists of an array of pixels each having an infrared absorbing material (such as amorphous silicon, a-Si, or vanadium oxide, VOx), a reflecting mirror material (such as titanium), and gold contact electrodes on a silicon chip, a readout integrated circuit (ROIC). Minute changes in temperature from the incoming infrared radiation cause measureable changes in the electrical resistance of the detector material. Lower room temperature resistance of the detector material means lower power draw, hence amorphous silicon arrays would be expected to draw less power and have longer battery life, but my search finds only a few handheld viewers and no amorphous silicon array weapon sights available for non-governmental purchase.

Diagram of a single pixel:

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These thermal sensitive pixels are then assembled into arrays. Older pixel pitch measured about 45 µm, but newer pixel pitch measure 17 µm. Arrays range from 160×120 to 1024×768. Larger pixels in smaller arrays mean lower resolution and lower cost; smaller pixels and larger arrays mean higher resolution and higher cost. Digital magnification of the array is available, but pixelation limits its utility. The non-thermal photo series below shows image degradation from increasing percentages of pixelation.

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As evident from the variety of TI images in this article, TI data can be displayed in a variety of monochrome (“white hot” or “black hot”) or pseudocolor palettes that use lookup tables.

Fusion

Enter fusion—devices that overlay the I2 and thermal data offering “the best of both worlds”—at a substantial price.

I2 and TI, as I have glossed above, have different strengths and weaknesses. Consider the tasks at hand: detection, recognition, and identification. Can you detect the animal? Can you be sure it is a coyote? Is it the family dog? TI excels at detection, but I2 excels at identification. Combine both and you “have it all.”

Here is a state-of-the-art dedicated fusion imaging device, the AN/PSQ-20 DSNVG (Dual Sensor Night Vision Goggle)—correction, here is a $16,500 state-of-the-art dedicated fusion imaging device:

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http://www.willsoptics.com/product-p/an-psq-20-dsnvg.htm

At a lower cost, a “clip-on” TI can be piggybacked onto an existent I2.  For example, a $6,700 AN/PAS-29 Clip On Thermal Imager COTI can be piggybacked onto the quite common $3,500 AN/PVS-14 Gen3 NVD.

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Even at such a cost, entry-level fusion devices are NOT rated for recoil. Though some users have mounted such units on lightly recoiling 5.56mm NATO weapons, doing so is not advisable. Entry-level fusion imaging NVDs are usually helmet-mounted, fragile and cumbersome, but provide awesome imaging capabilities. These can be inexpensively paired with an IR-pointer-equipped handgun or long arm. You can find a video of I2/TI fusion in outline mode here.

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The differences among I2, TI, and variable blending of I2 and TI is well demonstrated in the gallery of captioned photos demonstrating the AN/PSQ-20 DSNVG here.

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Be aware that some technologies, including certain image processing software features, are denied to good citizens. If you find forbidden technology for sale or someone offers to “jailbreak” your software, worry that you are being set up for a sting.

Timely, as I was writing this article, Dr. Zhaohui Zhong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and his colleagues at the University of Michigan announced plans for the next generation of NVDs, graphene-based full infrared spectrum contact lenses.

Budget—Buy once; Cry once.

So… what is your budget? The dispositive question! Though the most cutting edge technology always remains expensive, serviceable used equipment is available to the astute and budget-minded shopper. Consider registering at a forum like Sniper’s Hide. Learn at the Night Vision Devices section and shop at the Optics For Sale section. Quickly though! Bargains are snatched within minutes. An important caveat for good citizens—there is a very heavy police and military presence on “the Hide” and the no-politics/no-religion policy is mercilessly applied. Be cool. Don’t taze me, bro.

Used Gen 1 I2 weapon sights can be found for as little as $300-$400, but carry no warranty. New Gen 2 I2 quick detachable sights like the ATN PS22 Gen 2+ can be found for as little as $1,615. Other solutions for tight budgets? Pair a head mounted I2 device with an infrared-laser aiming device on a handgun—for example, a $3,400 ITT MODArmory Autogated Pinnacle Gen 3 PVS-14 Kit paired with the $350 LDI LAS/TAC 2 Class 1 IR Pistol Laser mounted on a 10mm or .45 ACP Gen 4 Glock 20 or 21—add a threaded barrel and an $850 AAC TiRant .45 suppressor anyone? You would be adequately equipped for short-range night pig hunting.

Instead of using a simple headband mount, many hunters mount their monocular or binocular NVDs on ballistic helmets such as those from Crye Precision, Team Wendy, or Ops-Core. A floppy mounting arm would seriously degrade the utility of NVDs, so a well-engineered helmet mounting system is essential. Consider those manufactured by Norotos and Wilcox.

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In a related product category, Wilcox combines a lightweight infrared laser, a visible laser, an IR flood illuminator, and a laser rangefinder into a single compact $6,500 unit suitable for rail mounting on a rifle, the RapTar ES. The more powerful RapTar is not eye-safe, so is forbidden to the hoi polloi. A much less expensive $1,595 unit deletes the rangefinder, the RapTar Lite.

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Until recently, budget TI sights, for example the ATN Thor320-1x Thermal Sight, would still set you back $5,499. But FLIR, one of the premier NVD manufacturers recently announced the FLIR ThermoSight R-Series. The series includes an entry level TI sight that can be used as a handheld viewer, a stand-alone weapon sight, or as a clip-on in front of a day scope. The entry-level model is recoil-rated up to .30 caliber and priced at $3,499. This entry level RS-24 has a small 13mm focal length, wide field of view, low 240×180 resolution sensor, a 30 Hz frame rate that briefly gives a smear effect for quickly moving hot objects, and no magnification—but this is warrantied thermal imaging from a reputable manufacturer. At the highest end of the series is the RS-64 for which $8,999 buys you a 60mm focal length, narrower field of view, high 640×480 resolution sensor, the same 30 Hz frame rate, and up to 8x digital zoom magnification. The models with 320×240 sensor resolution have a 60 Hz non-smearing frame rate. You can pick your price point and choose any of 6 models. To my thinking, the two major weaknesses of this series are (1) FLIR’s use of a proprietary and relatively short-life (4 hour), but rechargeable Lithium Ion battery and  (2) the absence of a miliiradian-based reticle. Those who, unlike me, prefer a minute-of-angle calibrated reticle may dispute the second weakness, but the inability to quickly swap out dead batteries is inarguably a huge deficit. A comparison of images from the low and high end models in the linked brochure provides an immediate intuitive appreciation of the differences far more than would a discussion explaining the technical specifications of the different models.

For higher quality hovering in the $13,500-$14,900 range, you can watch the Battle of the Best, then choose between the FLIR ThermoSight T70 and the L3 Insight AN/PAS-13G(V)1 Light Weapon Thermal Sight (LWTS).

L3 LWTS pigs @ 500yds digital magnification of 1X using ACOG 4X (white hot):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Y0CmP4oXqiA

FLIR T70 pigs @ 500yds cycling through digital magnification of ½X, 1X, and 2X using ACOG 4X (black hot):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=trGkueXdRn0

After you have added Thermal Imaging and a laser pointer/illuminator/rangefinder to your battle rifle to mark prey for your companions who are I2, but not TI equipped, consider adding a suitable I2 NVD to one or more of your family’s precision rifles. Again, the high end Battle of the Best is between FLIR and L3, the similarly-priced ($9,000-$10,000) FLIR PVS-27 MUNS (Magnum Universal Night Sight) versus the L3 CNVD-LR.

The PVS-27:

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The CNVD-LR:

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These quick detachable rail-mounted I2 NVDs should be coupled to a precision day optic, typically in the 4-12X magnification range, though some report good results up to 20X with the CNVD-LR.

Enter the most affordable, but very short range TI, the $350 FLIR ONE personal thermal imager that, as a deal killer, must be paired with that zero OPSEC device, the iPhone.

Whatever your budget, whatever you choose, I urge you to patronize reputable dealers. Among these are, in alphabetical order, EuroOptic, MOD Armory, Tactical Night Vision Company, and Will’s Optics. Joining certain forums can earn you percentage discounts that become significant at the price levels of NVD technology.

Camouflage

Can these technologies be defeated? Well… not by anything available to pigs and coyotes. While I2 camouflage is rather widely and inexpensively available, TI camouflage is only recently leaking into the civilian market. Outrage over omnipresent intrusive surveillance is spurring interest in imaging counter-measures.

I2 camouflage depends largely on exploiting pixelation:

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TI camouflage depends largely on containing the emission of thermal radiation:

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Ya pays yer money ‘n makes yer choice

Admittedly most NVD technology takes a big bite out of your budget. What are the lives of you and your family worth? At the low end you still have affordable options. Search persistently for the hard to find serviceable $300 used NVD units. Whatever you choose, Prepper, be sure to lay in a stock of batteries.

Good night, y’all. Bacon for breakfast!

This article first appeared at The Organic Prepper: Night Vision: Own the Night

About the author:

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

 

Night Vision and Thermal Imaging Resources:

NightVision

By

The idea of a force multiplier which increases the power of a small group is key to survival during an emergency. Force multipliers can range from defensive structures to specialized gear to proper firearms and training, so I have assembled the top 5 best for you to apply.

Disclaimer: Sadly I’m no legal expert nor an expert when it comes to firearms, explosives, traps and other force multipliers. Be sure to check with the proper authorities and experts before attempting to setup eye-gouging tripwires or spy on your neighbors with thermal vision goggles. It is rather hard to be properly prepared when you’ve been sued into oblivion!

5. Barbed/Razor Wire

I have previously discussed ways to build walls and earthwork bunkers, but rolls of wire are one of the best and most flexible means of defending any retreat. Barbed wire is generally cheaper and just as durable as razor wire, though barbed wire won’t store as compactly. Although ineffective against almost any vehicle, a few rolls of barbed or razor wire can effectively prevent incursions by any but the most determined looter on foot. For elevated defensive positions, the barbs can be attached along likely climbing areas to prevent being overrun by the sudden ascent of a few determined foes. Furthermore, both kinds of wire tend to intimidate and slow foes even before their attack begins, offering you additional time to respond before they’re on top of you.

Barbed wire tops this list because it is applicable to almost any defensive situation, and can be used to add an additional layer of deadly sharp metal to your structures.

4. Night Vision and Thermal Goggles

Our military regularly runs over larger enemy forces by engaging them at night with powerful night vision, and you can use it to keep your perimeter clear as well. Night vision works on both a practical level during fighting as well as a means to intimidate.

On the practical side, night and thermal vision make it much easier to properly aim and conserve ammunition while still putting enemies down quickly. There are some who claim that thermal is preferable since it is much more difficult to hide your thermal signature, but on the negative side thermal goggles can be prohibitively expensive even with a large budget. So long as the batteries used in either type of goggles are reasonably standard and you’re equipped to refill them you can freely patrol, fight, and even hunt at night without stumbling around in the dark.

Night vision truly shines when it is used to intimidate. An entire team of 10 hardened looters with heavy firepower might fall to one accurate shooter able to conceal himself in the dark and aim through a pair of goggles. Stragglers can be eliminated, camp patrols that are “Hidden” in the night can be shot, and general mayhem brought about that the enemy cannot counter. When dealing with a group of scum that would easily wipe the floor with you in broad daylight, a little nighttime shooting could cause them to flee en mass.

3. Training

I can never emphasize this enough, since a properly trained person is worth several untrained folks in almost any situation. Training helps you to react, aim, use cover, and generally fight with intelligence even when your fight-or-flight reactions are driving most conscious thought out of your head. Police, firefighters, EMTs and soldiers all cite their training as one primary thing that kept them from freezing up in a danger situation, allowing them to properly assess danger and help people as best they were able. Training is more than plinking away at the range, though that is part of the overall scheme.

I can personally recommend Mindset Labs in Indiana, having taken classes there and learned a great deal from them. The Force-On-Force class in particular is great for beginners!

After consulting with Prepared Preacher, I also recommend looking up Tactical Response. He took a few classes there and said that he benefited greatly from the instruction and the stressed testing he had to go through, which was better for improving his mental state than the calm atmosphere of the local range.

2. Leadership

Much like training, going into battle without proper leadership is a recipe for disaster. You don’t need to setup ranks and turn into a mini military, but just knowing that there is someone to assign people to certain areas and someone to take over if he gets shot helps keep group cohesion together. Knowing who is in charge also lets the non-leaders focus on their particular areas instead of having everyone try to take in the total situation which gets them in action that much faster.

Improving leadership isn’t an easy thing, particularly since you probably aren’t going to be leading men under fire any time soon. Taking training together can definitely help, as can reading books on leadership examples from great men of the past. The key is that a leader needs to be willing to do the job and accept the responsibility that comes with it so he doesn’t flake out when things get rough.

1. Tricks, traps, and dirty fighting

The best fight is the one you win long before a single looter appears on the horizon. Intimidation is one primary factor in using these methods, and so many traps tend to be deliberately designed to produce painful and lengthy death. I’ve previously discussed some traps such as punji stakes before so I won’t go into great detail on specific trap designs here. Poisons, severe and bloody wounds, and fire are all common components that are used to drive off looters as much as kill them so that you won’t have to meet them in direct combat.

They can also be used to focus certain fields of fire, since enemies will tend to follow the path with the fewest traps. Whether you’re leading them away from your retreat or into a killzone, a few pits and hanging tripwires could be the difference between eliminating a threat and meeting it head-on. I will stress that this particular multiplier is only practical in a lawless scenario since the law tends to take a dim view of pit traps that leave a man hollering in pain and bleeding out from multiple infected gashes. Respect your local laws for so long as they last, and be smart about when you use traps to defend yourself.

And these are the top 5 survival force multipliers. Use these as appropriate, and you can properly defend your retreat even with a small group of determined people.

Your thoughts?

Are there are force multipliers that should have made the list? Will you apply the ones listed here? Let us know in the comments below!

This article first appeared at Prepared For That: The Top 5 Survival Force Multipliers

Nighttime_Farm_Final

By

Our military forces have made wonderful use of night vision to creep about during the night, able to see everything while remaining unseen. Of course, they have the luxury of using expensive and powerful night vision goggles and other tools that are beyond the pocketbook of the average citizen. However, while you may not be able to buy expensive gadgets there are some simple and effective methods to improve your natural night vision and give yourself an edge when defending your home or hunting for food.

Understanding Night Vision

The basic idea of most techniques and technologies focused on giving better sight in the dark is to amplify more of the limited light so that you can see better. Since you won’t be using amplification tools, you will instead focus on using your eye’s natural ability to draw additional light in order to improve vision.

You probably know that in the dark the pupil of your eye expands in order to draw in more light. This allows the rods and cones in your eye that convert light into information your brain can understand to slowly form a better picture of their surroundings up to a certain point. Sitting in a lighted area or even looking at a bright light however contracts the pupil and temporarily destroys night vision as the eye tries to slow the flow of information coming from a powerful light source. This is why you have a hard time seeing anything for the first few minutes after you step outside of your house into the dark.

Most natural techniques that exploit how your eye creates its own night vision involve one of three things: diet, amount of light, and the positioning/color of light.

Diet

Sorry, no. They do help keep your eyesight strong, but don't really help night vision much.

One thing that does have a rather immediate effect is sugar, specifically blood sugar. Soviet special forces operating during WWII were given a sugar cube in order to give their blood sugar, and thus their night vision, a boost. This will actually be extremely important in a survival situation since a more limited diet (particularly one lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables) may result in a lower blood sugar level than normal, and so even a few spoonfuls of sugar may give you a significant advantage over looters.

The amount of light

If you know that you’ll need to head out into the night at a specific time, you should try to accustom your eyes to the darkness beforehand so that you won’t be blind for the first few precious minutes. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Avoid bright lights for 30 minutes. It takes about half an hour to fully adjust your eyes to the darkness, so keep your eyes away from bright lights for at least that long in order to be fully prepared.
  • If you travel in areas of bright light and darkness, cover one eye and use it for better night vision. With just one eye you won’t have great depth perception, but at least you’ll be able to walk past a bright light without being blinded.
  • Slam your eyes shut for 10 seconds upon entering a dark area. This technique is commonly used by Special Forces, but it shouldn’t have any profitable use following the normal adjustment cycle of your eyes. It has been thought that this method actually works better on a psychological level, acting like a “night vision placebo” that does give actual benefits.
  • Continually scan an area rather than peering at a specific spot. This keeps your eyes from adjusting for a specific spot of darkness or light, and instead gives a more general vision field.

Positioning and color of light

Odd as it may seem, the color of light that hits your eyes really does matter in terms of preserving night vision. Red light doesn’t affect your eyes very much, and so it can actually be used as a way to trigger night vision adjustment. Some Special Forces during WWII shone red lights into their eyes in order to offer a quick and immediate improvement in night vision. Furthermore, covering your own lights with red glass allows you to see without damaging your night vision, making them much more practical in an emergency.

Positioning is based on the idea that you can manipulate the way you see a situation to improve your vision and understanding. For example, if you are constantly looking upwards instead of straight on or down at an object, the light from the moon, stars, and other ambient light fixtures will silhouette people and objects against the light. This makes it much easier to see potential threats or stalk an animal.

On the mental side, looking for shapes rather than colors actually helps sharpen night vision, as your brain will stop trying to process colors in the dark and will start looking for the shape of a person, object, or animal. Since people are basically colorblind in the dark anyway, why not keep your focus on what you can actually see! This follows with the other mental technique of looking for contrasts. Anything that stands out by moving, for example stands in contrast to the still ground and foliage. Particularly bright or dark shades will also leap out at you, which is why most nighttime camouflage isn’t jet black but rather merely a dark shade of gray, blue or green depending on the environment.

In general, the best form of night vision really is the high technology stuff if you need to see a man hiding on a moonless night at 200 yards. However, if all you need is a general advantage over some random thugs or perhaps a tasty animal these techniques will help give you that edge. – Prepared For That

Your Thoughts?

Can you think of any other methods that could improve night vision without expensive equipment? Let us know in the comments. 

SHTF

By Sam Coffman – The Prepper Project

Dennis jumped on his mountain bike and pedaled as fast as possible through the brush and onto the short trail that would take him directly to the back door of his house in the growing evening darkness. Either his radio or batteries apparently had just chosen this inopportune moment to give out. Traversing the trail quickly on the bike was something he could do even in complete darkness however, as he had traveled it at least twice daily even before the collapse. Less than two minutes earlier he had spotted a truckload of armed men using his binoculars. Dennis knew they were raiders . They had running lights on and he doubted they had night vision equipment. The truck was turning into the entrance of his small, otherwise empty neighborhood and starting up the first hill.

Since the collapse and ensuing pandemic, everyone else in his neighborhood had left, died or been killed. Dennis, his brother’s family and two other small families from the neighborhood were now the sole residents, and even they were making plans to leave within the next week. Things were just becoming way too dangerous now that word had apparently gotten out that there might be a house in this neighborhood worth looting, women worth raping and food, ammo and medicine to the raiders who took it.

Man shooting a shotgunDennis and the other three families had consolidated into the largest house in the neighborhood that had an easy area to clear, was located at one of the highest elevation points of the neighborhood and had a crawl space underneath that they were able to dig out and expand. They had done their best to make it appear as though the house was not lived in, but it was impossible – especially when there were children involved – for there to be complete noise and light discipline all of the time. They were going to be ready to bug out as a group in just a few more days, but based on this truckload of raiders, they were going to have at least one fight between the immediate present and that departure date.

SHTF HouseHe wheeled up to the house, giving the code word for a full alert to Josh about 500 meters away from the house. Josh was in the closest LP/OP to the trail he rode up on. “Prairie Fire, ETA 2 minutes” He said loudly enough for Josh to hear. For the moment, until they arrived at their final bugout location, they were down to three working FRS radios due to shortages on batteries and limited recharge possibilities. His own radio crackled as he heard Josh pass the word on to the nearside LP/OP that also served as the command center. Dennis noted that apparently his own radio at least received transmissions or maybe the battery was just no longer holding much of a charge.

Dennis dumped the mountain bike into what looked like a pile of trash in the back yard and quickly ran around front, stopping at the house to yell only loudly enough for everyone inside, the same code phrase for “attack imminent,” then ran to the front to help check on tripwires and defensive positions. He could hear the sound of the truck now as it turned onto their street less than 6 blocks away. From his combat and military experience, he knew that no unit or team was ever fully ready for battle no matter how much they trained, but he hoped they had trained enough as a group of family and friends over the previous several months to at least get through this  onslaught without any injuries or deaths…

Defending your home in a SHTF situation

There are two very important concepts to realize when you are faced with the prospect of defending your home – whether it is in a post-SHTF scenario or someone breaking in: 1) A typical residential home is not a defensible structure unless it is either built that way or has been heavily modified and 2) Once the fight has reached the inside of your home, you have lost a good deal of advantage that you will have if you can keep them outside. 2

Because of this, there are a number of important priorities to consider in a SHTF situation when defending your own home, and this article will be divided into two parts. The first part will discuss defending your home while the attackers are outside of it while the second part will discuss the defense of your home once your attackers have entered the same structure that you are defending. It is important to be able to deal with this kind of a tactical situation during low-light conditions. As an additional primer on some of the most important low-light tactics you can incorporate into your training and preparation, I highly recommend the “Own the Night” DVD produced by the Womach brothers, that is available online.

Creating Targets

Small house on the hillTo defend your home correctly, you must take away cover (or lure them to false cover) from your attackers and turn them into targets. This can be done a variety of ways: You can clear all possible cover within a certain radius around your home (100 meters or more would be ideal). It may be that you already have this kind of yard, and are at the top of a hill looking down on all terrain 360 degrees around you, but chances are good that this is not your situation. I personally would have a hard time living in a home where I had no trees, rocks, logs and other such potential cover in my yard.

So in the case that you have natural cover (and a pretty yard), you need to consider two major things. How can you easily (with less than 10 minutes of warning) create a barrier for high-speed vehicle approach straight up to your house? And how can you direct foot traffic from that point, to areas that you want foot traffic to go to? In other words, what can you do to force attackers into the positions that you want them to be in? Barriers such as fences, logs, rock walls, ditches, ponds, pools, heavy brush, etc., can all be used to keep people from getting to cover easily (or at all), expose them even more during their journey to cover (such as having to climb up and over a wall that profiles them). This is the type of “fortress-scaping” that you can undertake now if you have already decided that your home will be a bug-in location (which it generally should be) in all but the worst situations.

Attractive walls, paths and heavy brush (for example greenbrier and other thorny plants that are very difficult to negotiate through with any speed) are very easy ways to direct foot traffic to the locations you want it in. At the same time, give yourself vantage points over all potential cover, as well as placing or at least having locations for future strategic light structures (yes, they can be shot out, but if they can be operated remotely, offer a good spotlight situation when you are ready to shoot the target once lit and have at least several seconds to do so while also ruining their night vision temporarily), motion detectors, trip wires (flares, noise makers, booby traps, etc.).

So what kind of cover do you need for yourself from inside your home? In part 2 of this article I will talk about ways to fortify (and defend) your home – both in ways that are not apparent to the casual observer and will give you the advantage during an armed break-in, as well as full fortification in a SHTF scenario – but for the SHTF scenario you can much more easily convert a crawl space, basement or other type of ground-level shelter under your house (e.g. pier and beam construction) that will allow you to create very effective defensive positions. Think “foxhole” fighting positions whenever possible, as this makes you a much more difficult target giving you a huge defensive advantage over any approaching attackers if you have cleared your fields of fire.

Fighting At Night

Fighting At NightIf you are not prepared to fight at night or in low-light environments, you are not prepared to fight at all. There are many considerations in regard to preparing and training for low-light conditions that include the most basic and primitive (flares, tritium/night sights, tracer rounds) up to the solutions that require power in order to work (IR lighting and night vision devices, flashlights, spotlights). IR and night vision is great, but make sure that you have the ability to sustain your power sources for the long run if you are truly interested in prepping wisely. In a complete collapse, batteries and sustainability of power will start to be at a premium in the first few weeks if not days. Target identification when fighting at night is one of the first and most important issues to deal with. Friendly fire is a very real probability in any night engagement involving teamwork. Another issue is keeping track of your equipment, loading magazines, dealing with being hit (both from the standpoint of first aid as well as loading and firing with an injured limb), dealing with equipment malfunctions, remembering where you keep gear, ammo, first aid, tools, etc. , team communication and signals and more. These are all things that can be practiced in the dark in your own home or back yard at night without having to use ammo. In fact, I highly recommend you get the basics of movement, gear and weapon management and weapon handling to a place that you feel very comfortable with before you even load a single round in your weapon and start practicing live fire. As a part of this type of preparation, there are some great resources out there to read, watch and learn from.

Part 2: Inside your Home

In part two of this article, I will cover two primary topics: 1) Field-expedient methods of reinforcing your home in order to make it more defensible and 2) Tactics inside your home if attackers make it that far.

SHTF Home Defense: Part 2 – Defending the Home

Dennis and Jake looked at each other from across what used to be a living room. “If they saw us come into this house, I’m guessing we have about 10 minutes tops before they come through one of these doors,” Dennis said. A little over a week into their bugout, they had left the rest of their group and families in a much safer location outside of this small town, and had come in as a team of two to scout out supplies, and bring back what they could. Despite their best attempts, someone had seen them come into town and had fired a shot, missing both of them by several feet, but forcing them into the best cover they could find: A small, ranch style home at the end of a small cul-de-sac. They both wanted to get out of town, but their exits were blocked by a small gang that looked to have taken up residence in this town. Their best bet was to hole up in an abandoned home and wait for nightfall.

None of the houses on the block were inhabited – and for that matter none of the houses in the town had appeared to be occupied, which made Dennis wonder where this gang actually resided. They hopped the fence first as though they were heading into the yard behind this house. Once they saw the back yard was fairly secluded from vegetation, they circled around and came in the back door of the house as quietly as possible. A quick security check revealed the house was void of everything except furniture. An 4 attached, half-finished garage contained some building supplies and tools that apparently had not been scavenged by anyone yet.

Dennis and Jake set to work while both keeping a watchful eye and ear on the street in front and the back yard…

Criminal in mask aiming at youInside the Home

In part 1 of this series we covered some of the important points in defending the perimeter around a house. In part 2 we will discuss a couple of very important points relating to home defense from inside of your home – both while attackers are outside as well as once they have gained entry into your home. One of those concepts is very similar to the perimeter around the home (which we talked about in part 1):

Namely directing the flow of traffic in a manner that creates targets out of our attackers without allowing them the chance to shoot at us first. Secondly – and as an overlapping part of this first concept – we want to fortify our house on the inside in ways that allow us to identify and shoot attackers before they make it into the house (ideally) or force them to slow down and take certain routes in if they do get that far.

Both of these concepts require the use of barriers such as furniture and construction materials (cinder blocks, plywood and other lumber, sand or cement bags, etc.). Additionally – if there is time – the common entry points such as doors and windows – can be fortified. Starting with the most common entry point for any house – the door – let’s look at how we can fortify this. The door is held onto the frame with hinges, a deadbolt and a doorknob. However, what’s holding the frame onto the house? Most doorframes are 1” wood (1 x 4) and have very little strength. The key to proper reinforcement of a door is to use steel (angle iron or mending plates) support that attaches the door frame to the studs that frame the doorway. Additionally, longer screws and a longer deadbolt (not necessary, but helps) sink the frame and the deadbolt itself into the framing of the house. In a post collapse situation where it is not necessary to keep the door looking pretty, 2 x 4’s can be screwed or nailed across the door (if you want to keep it permanently closed), or slid through an angle-iron bracket attached on either side of the door, like a barn.

Barricade Door SHTFIf there’s time, windows need to be boarded up using plywood, cinder blocks and/or sandbags. If you’re short on materials, decide which parts of the house are indefensible and pull back into the most structurally sound portion of the house. However, don’t leave yourself blind. Whether you have to knock holes in the wall or remove doors, make sure you are able to cover as many angles as possible of any room in the house based on how you set up barriers. Home-made, bullet-resistant windows can be made relatively cheaply using glass sandwiched between polycarbonate or acrylic sheets, glued together with liquid nails.

Fake barriers will also afford you the ability to force people behind “cover” that you can easily shoot through. Even though the attackers are in your home, you can still set yourself up for success by having good cover in a defensible location that narrows your attackers through forcing choke points (requiring them to move in single file) and fake cover. For example, you heavily barricade all but one door entry or window entry that you are most sure the attacker(s) will try first. Upon entry, perhaps a light couch in front of the door that slows them down but offers them no real cover and makes it look as though you didn’t want them to enter through this door.

Now let’s say there is a breakfast bar that overlooks all entries into the front of the house. You fortify this with sand or concrete bags (be aware that shooting into concrete bags will create a lot of dust that will interfere with visibility and be caustic to breathe), steel or even lumber if that’s all you have, but give yourself the ability to fire 5 through several different “murder holes” (to borrow from the medieval defense concept) in your breakfast bar barrier.

If you have more than one person defending a room, make the door into a choke point (narrowing it if possible using scrap lumber and furniture) and create wide angles for each person to have to cover when they enter. In other words, force your attackers to walk directly, one at a time, into a room where they are immediately flanked widely. Don’t wait until the first attacker is down before turning your attention to the next one. Have one defender always focusing on the next attacker coming through the door so that they do not have a chance to create their own fields of fire and return fire as a team. Force fire superiority on the attackers from the very start when they have entered the room, and do not allow them to regroup or gain momentum.

Some of the supplies I would recommend having on hand to make your own home more defensible in a bug-in situation would be: Lumber (1/2”or 5/8” plywood, 2 x 4’s, 4 x 4’s, 2 x 6’s), 1”, 2” & 3” nails and/or sheetrock (or deck if you can afford it) screws, power drill (with sustainable source of power), crowbars, gas masks (assume an attacking force would try to gas you out if possible using propane or insecticide, etc.), duct tape, plastic sheeting, sandbags, sand, ready-mix concrete and/or mortar, angle-iron (pre-drilled holes), mending plates, sledge hammer, heavy axe, fire extinguishers.

There is a lot more to be discussed on this topic, but remember that thinking through the concepts I’ve outlined in this article and asking yourself how you would break into your own home are good starting points. It costs nothing but time to practice low-light reaction drills and think through as many possible scenarios as you can in your planning for a defensible bug-in situation. – The Prepper Project

About Sam Coffman

Sam Coffman has over 10 years of military experience as a U.S. Special Forces Medic, an interrogator and a linguist. He studied botany and bioregional medicine both privately and at several outdoor schools in Colorado, and during his military service as a Green Beret Medic he logged thousands of hours in the field as a team medic, military emergency rooms and troop medical clinics. Sam founded and directs The Human Path – a survival school in central Texas – where students learn hundreds of skills based on four basic core specialties (combat medic, hunter gatherer, primitive engineer, scout) both in urban and primitive settings, and then apply those skills as a team in both scenarios and real-world settings in support of the non-profit organization Herbal Medics.

By Dan Zimmerman

Have a few – OK, a lot of – extra samolians burning a hole in your pocket? Have you always wanted to be able to blast those damned rutting hogs straight to piggy hell, even in the dead of night? Does the lack of post-SHTF 24/7 operational capability keep you up at night? Navigating your way through the night vision technological landscape can be more than a little daunting for the low light noobs amongst us. But ATN‘s putting on a series of free webinars that’ll explain it all and help you avoid making an expensive mistake. Here are the deets . . .

Purchasing a night vision or thermal imaging device can be a daunting choice for an agency or individual. Night vision and thermal devices have their respective attributes for a variety of missions. Whether the goal is surveillance, varmint hunting, or night rescue operations, each of the technologies features certain advantages for various applications. Tom Renn, the ATN Director of Government and OEM Sales, will guide prospective customers through a 30-minute, live webinar broken into a 20-minute learning segment, and plenty of time for questions and answers. The first webinar will give potential customers insight into night vision and thermal imaging technologies, the advantages, disadvantages and applications.

Additional webinars are planned this year including “One Size Does Not Fit All,” a webinar on selecting the appropriate thermal or night vision device and includes an overview of the ATN Interactive Night Vision Catalog. Then bring your questions to the “Night Vision Q&A” webinar, later in the year, when the ATN experts will be on hand to answer any question on night vision or thermal imaging.

Signing up for the “Thermal vs. Night Vision” webinar, or any webinar, is easy and free. Visit theATN website and click the “Scope Out Our Free Webinars & Newsletter!” button. Staying informed on all of ATN’s latest products, newsletter and free webinars are as easy as signing up on the private ATN email list.

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