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Posted: 1/25/2014 6:26:25 AM EDT



Armasight SPARK CORE review - Hyper or just hype?

















A review of the Armasight SPARK CORE Gen1 Night Vision Device, by David Kitson.








Armasight's CORE is one of those technologies that really didn't seem like a technology at all. I've certainly questioned their claims in the past, and have been frustrated by their use of acronyms suggesting technology outside of the typical marketting hype. Recently, Dimitry Rocklin, CEO of Armasight, provided an opportunity for me to test-drive one of their CORE products. The SPARK system is their Gen1 solution aimed at entry-level users who are trying to achieve Night Vision goals without the budget to go for Gen2 or Gen3 equipment.








Many of the claims made about the product by different reviewers have claimed performance similar to Gen2 equipment, something I am highly skeptical of, so it's been a good chance to get to the bottom of what CORE really is and to examine it with an analysing eye. Armasight provided their product as a whole system – that is, a complete part intended for use on rifles, or helmet mounted. The complete system allows for helmet-mounting, handheld use or rifle mounting.

















However, in reading this review, it's important to state clearly and unambiguously at the beginning, this is a First Generation night vision device, and this is a Gen1 technology review, and before reading through to see how it performs, it's important to state the the achilles heal of Gen1 equipment is it's gain level. Unless it's used in a cascade tube ( exponential gain Gen1 ) then it's not going to provide much amplification. As a result, All Gen1 single-stage Night Observation Devices should be viewed in light of active systems – that is, they require Infrared light from an illuminator to function well. Even an older, less capable Gen2 will usually outperform it by an order of magnitude. Gen1 is a short-range system intended to be used with illuminators, usually at ranges well-under 100m and typically within 30m.








Armasight SPARK CORE








Armasight's SPARK system is a Gen1 monocular. It's main claim to performance is the CORE image intensifier, however it also has quite a few other particular features. The first to notice is that it has three hard-mount points. These are similar to the NVT-14 style ( or MUM or GT-14 ) and are relatively standard. Two of these are placed in the expected position, which is useful, since it means the device can be head mounted with a helmet. The third is mounted on the IIT cover, and is useful for additional equipment mounting, such as IR illuminators.








The unit is well designed. Unlike most Gen1's, it has the look and feel of a miltary unit, despite it's large size, and has a very professional feel to it that most Gen1 simply lacks. However for each "good idea” in it's build, there seems to be a design flaw. Firstly, the objective looks like it's PVS-14 style ( good ) but it's too small and threaded to small to take PVS-14 style parts ( bad ). It's a C-mount thread ( good ) but the flange on the upper is too long by a few millimeters to take other C-mount lenses ( bad ). The ocular has a strong focus knob and larger than usual eyepiece ( good ) but the eyepiece diameter is only 19mm (bad, well, it could have been better ). It has rubber eyecup and objective cover on retaining cords ( good ) but they are difficult to adjust and the cords sometimes get in the way of the IR (bad). It has a PVS-14 style power knob ( good ) but no "pull on IR” (bad. Well, not really bad, because, lets face it, if you have a Gen1, IR discipline means nothing ).








Because of this, the Spark feels like every time the designer moved in the right direction, he managed to somehow get it wrong. Despite this, it's important to consider that these are not really problems with the unit – just missed opportunities. Sizewise it's small for a Gen1 and looks good enough to make an amateur airsofter happy. It's larger-than-usual size is due to the size of the Gen1 tube, which is smaller than many Gen1's but still quite long. More on that later.








Mounting options are the usual Gen1, however because of the standard mounting points, this unit can be worn with a USGI helmet adapter. This is actually somewhat useful as there are many valid reasons to head-mount a suitable Gen1, even if it's lacking gain. Also, Armasight seem to sell adapters for many common parts ( eg, Afocal lenses ) so it does have potential to address some of the unit's design shortcomings.








Armasight AIM PRO.








The SPARK fits directly into Armasight's AIM PRO system. This is a mountable reticle projection unit that adapts the SPARK CORE directly to a rifle for night-time shooting. It couples with their 810nm illuminator via an adapter and with the SPARK fitted between to provide a complete shooting accessory. The AIM PRO, unlike many other Gen1 accessories, is a general Night Vision accessory, capable of working with any generation and with native mounts for well-known Gen2/3 units such as the MUM2 monocular and, no doubt, much of the Armasight range. With adapters, it will also support the AN/PVS-14 and has an exceptional range of adjustment and a safety switch to allow it to turn on into DAY mode.












This allows it to be used as a true day-night aiming device.








Coupled with the AIM PRO, the SPARK does provide a fairly functional hunting and shooting platform and although it looks like the reticle prism should get in the way, the objective lens looks easily around it and the light losses should be well less than reflex sights, which lose a lot of light through the reticle reflector.








The AIM PRO attaches to the rifle via a MIL-STD-1913 rail segment. It does however require a longer rail than many similar-sized items, and the QD mechanism is limited in grab and will fail to correctly adapt to smaller segments such as may be used to adapt an 11mm or 13mm rail to Picatinny. Armasight supply a rail adapter, which is just long enough my a few bare millimeters, but generally, it's designed for long, continuous segments of rail 2.5 inches and longer. Segments shorted than 1.5 inches will not engage at all.








The AIM also features a rail grabber for the monocular, which attaches well, though again, through a slight design limitation, can be adjusted but fails to grab similar rails completely. It's not a show-stopped, but it does highlight very small changes that would have yielded an improvement in design, especially as the system provides a ready upgrade path to Gen3 devices with similar rails as US rails are often slightly smaller than Russian rails of the same dimension.








In terms of function, the AIM PRO gave no issues. The adjustment tools provided are adequate and the mechanism is better than many others I've seen and tried. That said, despite two attempts to field test it, factors outside of the test prevented any accuracy testing of the AIM PRO ( I will attempt to update this review later to include more field testing ). At this point, however, I have no reason to thing it will not perform as expected.








The adjustment of the AIM PRO illumination levels however is exceptional, and reticles were visible, clear and well-defined in all tests. Some unwanted reflections were apparent, both in-reticle and immediate-field reflections, but otherwise it all worked as expected and the range was sufficient for Gen1, Gen2 and Gen3. Gen3 testing, in particular, gave excellent passive results.








Getting to know the product.








The SPARK/AIM-PRO combination seems to be the standard base pair within the Armasight range. The product arrived, clean and neatly packaged. It was definitely more tacticool than tactical, but Armasight have shown taste there and kept things utilitarian, the whole setup stowing away in two similarly-marked pouches, which I thought well suited to the task. Each is lined with extras ( batteries, keys, information pamplets ) and sized well. The IR810 illuminator is only boxed, but then it's small enough to fit in either pouch and two pouches is enough.








First impression is that where something should be, it's there. Lens caps, retaining rings, etc. Unfortunately, these later got in the way.








First test was down at a friend's farm – we went for a walk looking for roos in the paddocks on a moonless night. At first, there was a little light. At about moon-light level, late dusk, I took some pictures and was amazed at how detailed they were. The images came out well enough to fool anyone they were Gen3, had they not known I was using a lot of skyglow. Pictures can be deceiving and there were few clues that it was a Gen1. The aiming reticle shows up well and we began with some range tests, working out at what ranges we could spot each other and notice a significant change in albedo of the clothes we were wearing with the IR illuminator. The best range we got to was about 120 yds, according to his laser rangefinder, which was more than I was expecting.












< A real SPARK CORE image. It's about moon-dark - but very diffused. It looks really good and is a genuine un-altered image. In higher light, the image is pretty good. Trees @400m from memory. >







< Another image in a slightly different direction. Also very sharp. >








Then we went for a walk in the dark. It wasn't over-cast-remote-rural dark, but it was dark enough that we had to dark-adapt our eyes for at least five to ten minutes just to see the paths we were walking on. The monocular didn't provide an image that helped much, but did give similar vision to non-adapted eyes.








We spotted a roo at about 100m, and several more at 200m. The one at 100m definitely spotted us as we flicked the IR beam ( 810nm ) in his direction, but despite being light-shy, he didn't run and the eyeshine helped locate him. Appearance was well made out and we could see he was a big roo ( and a he... No, I can't tell, but my friends could, and I know from experience he would have been correct ).








At that range, the reticle dot filled the roo's head, but had we needed to place a shot, he felt it would have been possible, so we decided that cats, dogs and foxes out to 100m would be fairly easy to drop, even with a 1x lens. A 3x lens would improve accuracy and might be needed for really small targets like rabbits.












< The roo can be seen top-of-reticle >







< The eyeshine helps a little - it's easier to spot with the eye than the camera... Range approx 100m >








The walk back allowed us to determine that the beam from the IR could be seen about 200 to 300 meters away, on highly reflective trees and the like, but recognition wouldn't have been possible at those ranges. Just because light can be seen doesn't mean there's enough to make out the necessary detail. That goes for spotting too. The kangaroos at 200m were clearly visible to the Gen3 we took, even without IR – passive was enough. Yet with the IR, the roo at 100m could just be made out, but the ones at 200m were invisible. Also, the middle of the screen needed to be used. As the unit was panned, the kangaroo would blend into the background at the screen edges, meaning it had to be in the middle third of the screen to make out.








Bench testing.








Collecting results, the next test involved putting the CORE under some scrutiny. I hooked it into the tester, and the results under high light ( moonlight ) conditions were exceptional, but the results under low-light were zero. No image could be made out at all. Not even the general shape. This wasn't unexpected, but the high light results were very clear. My recent digitals could see the high-light readings on frame combination settings, but not at 30 Hz. The SPARK CORE however make it look like a Gen3. Several tests were like this – when it worked, it worked well. When it failed, it failed hard.








The next test was for distortion. I printed a matrix pattern and took some pictures, noticing something that we started to spot during the first field test – The two most prevalent things to notice were that the middle third of the screen, an area of around 10 degrees, was the sharpest and that the distortion increased and resolution decreased rapidly beyond this point.














< A comparison with a low-light shot with a Gen3 and the Armasight lens show the lens is actually fairly good - the distortion comes from the Gen1 tube. >








The other thing I noticed was that often the image was good enough to see clearly with my eye, but the camera couldn't make anything out. The extremely low background noise and clean image often give the impression that the unit was working like a Gen3 – and I'll say Gen3 because it has the sort of image you see on a PVS-14 with the gain turned down – like looking through green glass, except I'll call this one a coke-bottle lens,because of the distortion and blurriness in the edge of the image.








So I adjusted the amount the door was open behind me, letting in light from the next room, so that I could get good photos.








At this point, the distortion had be curious, so I removed the objective (front) lens from the SPARK and noticed it was threaded 1” 32tpi... Almost C-mount when measured, but a few millimeters too long to support aftermarket C-mount lenses, so no cheap F1.4 50mm lenses for this model :( Quite a shame that. However I could fit the SPARK lens to one of my Gen3's. The result was actually quite good. The SPARK uses a F1.7 lens 35mm lens, which really isn't suited to the Gen1 – which could benefit from a good piece of cheap glass in F1.4 or F1.2... However despite the noticeable vignetting, it produced a clear image on the Gen3 in low-light with almost no visible distortion. Nice lens Armasight...








However now it was confirmed that the source of the distortion was the tube. Looking in, I saw that the rumors of a proximity focused tube was incorrect, as the anode cone was clearly visible through the brownish photocathode. At this point, I realized any chance of it being a Gen1+ were gone – It was just like every other Russian Gen1, with almost the same internal build. In this case, the Ceramic in the CORE didn't really mean anything of note.














< Pincushioning caused by the electron lens setup with electrostatic inversion >








Still, it had the performance, and it was good. A combination of high resolution and high sensitivity was giving the SPARK the edge over other Gen1's I have tried.








Bench testing complete, it was time to head out for a second field test – this time somewhere darker.








Katanning Tests.








Katanning is where I do my NV testing. Located in the heart of the Western Australian wheat belt, it's one of the darkest places on earth that's still populated. Great for astronomy. Even better for testing NV gear and I have plenty of experience with how it looks through different Gen1 and Gen2 units as well as Gen3. So when the lights go down, I'm not so reliant on my eyes to tell me how dark it is.








Well, we went walking until it got really dark, then to show my son how badly a Gen1 performs next to a Gen2, I pulled out the SPARK.








"Dad, this is pretty good,” he says, holding up the SPARK.








"What do you mean, pretty good?” I asked.








He hands it to me, and I start to see where the myths about them outperforming Gen2 come from. Because of the low noise floor, and no amplification noise, the image is very faint, but visible, and definitely an improvement over unaided vision. So I pull out the AU/PVS-14 and turn the gain way down as low as it goes and swap between them, and it's about the same. A PVS-14 should be below 100x system gain when fully turned down – pretty close to the Armasight SPARK CORE. So if you want to fully understand how a SPARK CORE will operate on any given night, and you have a PVS-14, then turn the gain knob all the way down and that's about right. That's what a SPARK CORE looks like.












< Low light in Katanning - I had to amplify this with a Gen3 tube to take the picture. It is through the SPARK CORE though. >







< In another direction - Still picking up a lot of light, and again, amplified by Gen3 stage >








Well, you can see with a PVS-14 even turned all the way down... So I took a picture, using a Gen3 tube to amplify the image and you can see the noise, but it's pretty dark. It looks like a full moon from the shadows. Actually, it's moon-dusk on less than a quarter-moon and even the PVS-14 isn't showing the shadows up like that. Mind you, both together are pretty bright, and I easily get a snapshot. Not a perfect (infinity) S/N as claimed, but closer to about 10:1 I think, under very dark conditions. Still, not that bad, and I am impressed.








It's then that we discover the CORE won't attach to the rifle rails. It needs a longer rail segment ( 1.7 inches minimum, 2.5 inches optimum ) to connect to – A pain, because there's no reason for it to be like that.












< The SPARK CORE and AIM PRO mounted on an AR6. The rail length is insufficient to allow a suitable mount. >








So we finish testing there, but generally I find my Son is seriously liking the CORE at this point, and he starts pointing out to me that it's perfectly suited to the kinds of ranges we shoot at with the AR6. Though in some final tests I notice that it seems impossible to get rid of immediate-field reflections and make a note to investigate on return.








Back to final testing.








Well, the only remaining tests are the head-mount and to investigate some reflections. I pull out the standard mount I use and insert it into a USGI slot of a Rhino and the SPARK slots right in, like it's meant to be there. The spacing around the rails is pretty much standard too, so optical alignment is no problem. There's a proper attachment for that, but I don't have it so can't comment on it, but the one I have is fine.








Walking around is OK – It's about 30 degrees FOV – less than the 40 I'm used to but I don't notice a lot of difference. However the distortion is terrible. It feels like the last time I was drunk and makes it really hard to use both eyes, but once I get into a darker area, the feeling of distortion disappears – so in darker circumstances, my brain begins to use both eyes again. Optical alignment is actually pretty good on the tested unit, and I find both images align immediately, at least in the centre.












< Head mounted testing - the SPARK CORE worked quite well and was more comfortable to wear than I expected >








Resolution is excellent, but the image is very dark, especially inside. I turn on the IR, then notice a major flaw in the design. Either the plastic is carrying IR or the LED inside isn't shielded, but the IR light introduces a HUGE amount of noise into the image – perhaps reducing the S/N to around 4:1 or so – Some image detail completely vanishes.








I places some duct tape over the LED to confirm, and the S/N drops to near-units as the image in darker areas disappears. This is something that needs to be fixed. It's bad enough that the rubber bungee from the lens cap and the battery retaining strap are constantly throwing shadows across the view, but this kills it entirely. I get the feeling it needs a few good coats of black paint or something inside. I didn't investigate that issue further, but will ask Armasight to comment on that.








Finally, I check external illuminator immediate-field reflections. They are pretty severe because the IR810 has no shade out front – something it badly needs given how far back it's mounted on the rifle. The barrel isn't so much a problem, but the prism that projects the reticle causes serious reflection. A small piece of duct-tape to shade the prism corrects the situation and I'm able to see the reticle clearly, but the final problem presents itself. The illuminator can't boresight with the reticle.








Now, admittedly, I haven't zero'ed the unit, so perhaps I would be luckier if I did, then again, perhaps it would be further out. I can't criticise that too much however since it's a fairly common limitation. Expanding the beam covers the reticle again, but it loses intensity. This is something that individual users will just have to address individually.











<The beam sits off-center with respect to the reticle in the test system >



< With the beam widened, the reticle is covered, but at a cost of range. >






Performance of the CORE








After a few weeks of practical testing, I come back again to a question, and we get to the heart of the Armasight claims – the CORE image intensifier. Core stands for Ceramic Optical Ruggedized Engine, an Armasight acronym, and it's what provides the image for the SPARK. On first view, the CORE specifications look impressive.








These seem to be reflected in the difference between Armasight Gen1 and CORE on their website. Gen1 comes with typical figures of around 350-400uA/LM sensitivity ( vs 200 uA/lm for Gen1 ) and the tested unit came in over 500 uA/LM – and their main claim, that the CORE uses Ceramics in the manufacturing process rather than Glass that most Gen1 are made of.












The claim of ceramics is an interesting one. Armasight claim 500 G's for CORE with 200 G's for glass. The first thing to mention is that Gen1 and Gen1+ has been using glass for a long time, and Gen1+ glass tubes are rated well in excess of 500 G's. Some Gen2 devices made for weapons recoil that come out of Russia are also glass, so the claim that ceramic is somehow better in this respect isn't very accurate. Ceramic does however allow different manufacturing techniques. In this case, the Core uses a ceramic space to keep the two high-voltage sections apart. Otherwise it's just a normal Gen1 with a construction not dissimilar from the method used to make mx9964 tubes.








In evaluating CORE, the following criteria is used. This is broken down by category so as to provide an effective overview and to include the influence of housing technologies on the overall design.











  • Non-operational





    • Size/Weight.



      While large for a monocular, this is primarily due to the size of the Gen1 inverter tube. In terms of balance, it does push the balance forward due to the lens displacement from the mount point. This usually means little in Gen1 which is primarily handheld, but the SPARK seems to lend itself to head-mounted use more than most Gen1 units. General placement and spacing however isn't too bad and the weight is wearable, especially for a monocular.


      In terms of other use, it's small enough to fit into a pocket or sit comfortably in the hand. While I've seen smaller Gen1 units, the focus on the CORE tube seems a reasonable compromise in terms of the mechanical attributes of the device.








      The tube is 60mm in length ( just under 2.5 inches ) and 47mm ( nearly 2 inches ) high, however the main section has a diamter of 38mm – around 1.5 inches ) which is very close to modern tubes, making for a compact housing.








      Specified weight is 0.4kg ( 0.88lb ) which is within reasonable limits for a head-mounted unit.












    • Level of Hybrid



      The CORE image intensifier is a single-stage image intensifier and is not a hybrid nor does it offer any hybrid benefits. There is no FO plate used, and no second stage amplifier. Gain is a combination of PC sensitivity and linear electron kinetic gain.






    • Type of Manufacture


      Separate Ocular/Objective/Body manufacture, with an access panel to allow side-insertion of the image tube. Power is via a PVS-14 style ( though different ) know which moves through on, to IR. There is no protection on the IR. Tube access is via a second plate on the monocular rather than beneath the battery.








      Battery is a single CR123 and the battery cover is a typical screw-top with an o-ring seal. O-rings are located all around the unit, which is well sealed, though sealant on the review-unit cover plate was missing ( traces of it remain, so it seemed like it might have been a gasket type seal rather than a typical o-ring seal. Also, screws used to fasten external devices ( eg, rails ) do not appear sealed. The unit is generally weather resistant, but would not be waterproof.








      The tube itself is a Ceramic/metal standard, much like modern Gen2/Gen3 tubes. It features a standard russian-style anode cone and uses electrostatic inversion much like every other Gen1 tube. The internal parts within the tube also look like standard Gen1 Russian components.








      The tube is packaged within a sealed unit, that takes 3v from the battery and provides it's own inverter technology.








    • Correction technology






      There is no inherent correction technology included in the image intensifier, and doesn't appear to be any significant optical correction either. Image distortion is primarily related to the electrostatic image inversion system and is common to Gen1.

















  • Operational Characteristics





    • General Specifications






      Overall, these are quite good. With high sensitivity ( approaching Super S25 for the photocathode ) it's clear they are using Gen2 type photocathodes, even if they don't look any different to me. The tube itself has a large photocathode ( estimated around 25mm active ) and this is similar to many larger Gen1 devices. Armasight claim the following;








      Photocathode – 350-400uA/lm specificed – Notes – tested unit exceeded 530 based on datasheets and I have no reason to doubt it. This may be the critical feature of this tube.








      Resoluton – 60-70 lp/mm Specified – Notes – Resolution is usually specified at a particular luminance level, and often it's around 100uLX, at which the tested device did not provide any image, however the high light test produced excellent resolution. The "measured” level of the test unit was 75 lp/mm and the photocathode surface exceeded 20mm. Gen1 benefits from high-resolution capabilities – and can well exceed 100 lp/mm at higher light levels. The CORE does not disappoint at all in this area. If not for the distortion, it would make an excellent clip-on solution. Edge resolution was very low.












      < The resolution of the SPARK CORE under high-light test was exceptionally good >








      Signal to noise – Infinity Specified – Notes – Not a chance. True low-light S/N was closer to Gen2 and did not approach Gen3 levels, though the reason for this was not determined. Still it's very good. Good luck seeing it though – you'll be struggling to make out any detail. Yet the low-light performance with sufficient gain did make very dark situations easier to see – In this respect, again the CORE performed.








      Recommended Recoil – 500 G's. - Notes. Nothing special. See earlier comments. Still, it's nice to see it specified.








      Distortion.








      Armasight claim that the CORE system reduces overall distortion. While not as bad as many Gen1's I've seen, it was substantial compared to Gen1+ and Gen2 inverter systems. In this case the primary source of the distortion appears to be the electron lens in the electrostatic inversion system. There are ways to eliminate this distortion, but the CORE does not do this. Unfortunately, this is the difference between Gen1 and Gen1+ and in this respect, the CORE is not really Gen1+. Unfortunately, while the CORE tested ( the SPARK ) was suited to head-mounted navigation, it takes some getting used to the distortion, and this will likely cause eye fatigue amongst other things.




      < Distortion highlighted - Two of the "bow-shaped" lines are colored blue to highlight the extent of distorton >








      Gain.








      Gen1 tubes typically have gain levels of between 100 and 300x ( fl/fc ) and the CORE that was supplied had a gain level of around 900. This compares to lower-end Gen2 which often has gain levels of around 10,000 to 20,000 and higher-end Gen2 and Gen3 which often has gain levels of 30,000 to 90,000. This is the achilles heal of modern Gen1 – It simply lacks sufficient gain to be militarily useful. However it does lead to a system gain of around 100x. This can be compared to 2000x which is considered the minimum to be militarily useful, and though it falls well short, it's still considerable compared to normal Gen1. Its just enough to provide some intensification under darker light conditions which are more common and does, in fact, seem to give the CORE an edge over normal Gen1. While not militarily useful - it's just enough to make it reliably suited to many close-range activities with IR lights – eg, hunting and navigation.

















  • Usage





    • Range



      The effective range of the SPARK is around 100m with the 810nm supplied external illuminator, on the narrowest beam setting and highest power. On the widest beam setting the range is around 30m. At this range, a target can be relatively effectively identified. Beyond this, identification drops of very rapidly, though the torch beam can be seen out beyond that.



    • Use and useability



      The Spark CORE is relatively easy to use, convenient to set up and reliable. Aside from a few placement issues (eg, lens caps), there is no problems with general use of the device.






    • Effectiveness






      As Gen1 units go, the CORE is highly effective. The high resolution and high gain provide far more usefulness than any other Gen1 unit I've seen.








      Head Mounted - FOV – 30 degrees specified - notes - While I didn't measure this, it did appear accurate from general estimation in comparison to s 40 degrees unit. - Surprisingly, the distortion and low edge-resolution didn't affect head-mounted use that much. Generally, it performed fairly well in this respect with enough resolution to make navigation achievable. Generally as good as other units for this purpose and would probably suit applications such as airsoft or night-time tours quite well.








      Accessories – No accessories were supplied for this review. Base parts were 1x SPARK, AIM PRO and IR810 illuminator. However accessories exist to mount different NV gear on the AIM PRO, and a 3x lens on the SPARK CORE. Actually, a quick browse of the Armasight website showed more accessories than you can poke a stick at and I'm going to make fun of anyone silly enough to collect them all.


















Summary.








In technically evaluating the CORE, it was tested for performance and general quality and while it only performed as a Gen1 device, there were moments when I was significantly impressed that I had any function at all. The light levels were well below where the camera could capture an image, but the fact that the amplification that was occurring was clear and sharp left me able to see more with the SPARK than without it on both test nights and also under starlight only conditions.








Having tested and evaluated it, CORE is what I always suspected. A simple Gen1, with no enhancing technology. It would be wrong though to say it's the same a Gen1. It is a very good Gen1 and the focus and attention on the resolution of the screen and the photocathode response do actually make a significant different. With a well-designed housing to take advantage of it, I was continually surprised that, under many conditions I expected a complete failure of the test, it continued to provide an image and one that I was able to use.








Range with external illuminators was exceptional and the SPARK CORE easily provided sufficient image to identify targets at 100m, with enough resolution to do so with 1x magnification.








Coupled with the AIM PRO, it seems that Armasight have created something I have never seen anyone else do successfully. They've built a model by which a Gen1 system can be upgraded to a Gen3 system at reasonable costs and with relatively low-losses in the process. With an estimated $500 street-price for the SPARK CORE, it does provide a functional system for someone to equip their rifle with a complete system, obtain head-mounted equipment and move around in darkness, especially if they are considering upgrading to a PVS-14 or MUM ( adapter required for PVS-14 ).












<  The same system, this time with a DBT-44 rev2 Gen3 monocular in 2x configuration - Clips straight in... An easy upgrade to Gen3 >








That said, the SPARK CORE would also provide a low-end solution to people with reflex and red-dot sights as well, if they supported suitable NV models of operation.








It's not a magic solution to NV problems. Although some image is available under dark conditions, it won't peer into dark areas without enough light, and doesn't lend itself to practical uses such as law enforcement where passive operation is critical. It's only gen1 and it's bulky compared to modern NV. It has as many flaws as it has features.








But for a Gen1, I'd be lying if I said it didn't impress me. And I can see it being useful to people who end want to start with a Gen1 unit and upgrade to Gen3.








So in the end, is CORE Hype or Hyper? Well, given that it's just Gen1 technology, I have to go with hype. That said, it's the undisputed King of Gen1 devices I've seen in the past and stands head and shoulders above them all. It proved useful and usable in situations and conditions I expected it to fail in. I wouldn't have expected anyone to come up with a useful and usable Gen1 device, but Armasight have succeeded there.








So for people who really don't need to see past a few dozen feet, who can put up with the distortion for head-mounting, or for those who just have to shoot a few coyotes out to 100yds, but need to identify what they are shooting at, it is actually suitable. The fact that the illuminator and sighting system work well for other Gen2 and Gen3 applications also proves a bonus, as is the fact it support other systems.








Not suitable for tactical applications, but definitely suited to low-budget active night-vision requirements.


















<The CORE tube visible inside the SPARK housing>









<The complete system, as reviewed.>




 
 
Link Posted: 1/25/2014 6:43:07 AM EDT
Really great and very thorough review cj7, appreciate it.

Link Posted: 1/25/2014 2:16:30 PM EDT
Thank You!!  I have always been interested in the CORE.  It performs to my expectations actually.  

Fantastic review.. Top drawer.  
Link Posted: 1/25/2014 2:30:08 PM EDT
Nice review David. I will be keeping my gen 3 though.

So for the 100 dollar question. If you were in the market for a entry level setup what would it be ? Digital or Core ? I think this is what it will boil down to with consumers.
Link Posted: 1/25/2014 3:59:55 PM EDT
Definitely a fantastic review. A perfect example of the capabilities (good and bad) of Gen 1. The pictures of the kangaroo at 100 meters was particularly telling.

For me personally this has solidified that fact that Gen 1 is pretty much obsolete (or at least near obsolete) given the latest generation of digital. While the FoV is ridiculously small on my Sightmark/Yukon Photon and the image is not quite as clean as what is shown in this review, sensitivity is way, way better. No problem at all seeing 100 yards with just moonlight (or IR if no moonlight) and 150-200 yards is doable. Given that the Photon and SPARK are pretty much the same price, I think the win would go to the Photon for anyone wanting to hunt,
Link Posted: 1/25/2014 4:37:24 PM EDT


Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:



Nice review David. I will be keeping my gen 3 though.





So for the 100 dollar question. If you were in the market for a entry level setup what would it be ? Digital or Core ? I think this is what it will boil down to with consumers.
View Quote





 

An interesting question. The SPARK has a market price of around $500 from Optics Planet ( site sponsor ) - $459 actually at the moment, and from ARFCOM there's 5%, so that's about $436. Normally I'd say "avoid any Gen1 over $300" but in this case I'd make an exception to my rule and it comes pretty close to a reasonable price. Likewise they have an aimpro for $380 ( after assumed discount ) at the moment. Then there's the IR810 for about $105. Together the total cost to get into the setup is about $945 street price.. Just under the thousand dollar mark.  You could throw in a hand-held digital scope and use that with the AIMPRO, but let's leave that out of the question at the moment.







Let's compare that to digital. ATN X-Sight seems to be the latest, but we don't know if it's any good. The pictures on the web are kinds of dodgy ( at least, I hope they are, or I would question it's value ) and we don't know how well it works. Let's assume it needs a good illuminator and with accessories may well cost the same - it's just too new to know. However digital usually underperforms on gain, so while you can tweak it with lasers for good range, there are problems getting lasers in the US. And the Pulsar, widely considered the best in digital, costs a lot more than that.







The SPARK has higher resolution and fairly good high-light resolution, with a very light weight. And you can head-mount. Also, it has some passive capability and will at least let you detect, if not recognize, a little past unaided vision range. Also, if you're in and out of light, it's a big difference, even passive.  So if you're aiming for an upgrade-possible SHTF solution, it's the SPARK, hands down. It's still not a serious competitor to Gen2/3 but it's better than nothing - while most Gen1 is actually worse than nothing. So for anything head mounted, hand mounted or the likes, it's a clear winner over digital. Also, the AIMPRO can be used 1x or 3x in daylight with optical adapters - it's quite a versatile system.







For accurate placement of shots at over 100m? For pest control? It's still digital. The SPARK won't see that far, unless it's a moonlight night. So then it's more of a dedicated vs head/rifle solution question. Also, digital sucks your batteries dry in a few nights. Armasight claim 40 hours for the SPARK, but at 30mA, I can imagine one running up to 80 hours with a good battery. So you don't really need to carry spare batteries for an extended run with the SPARK.







I guess it comes down to the application, and then the same questions are relevant to Gen2/3. Also, if you upgrade a SPARK system to Gen3, you only lose the $440 dollar component, and you can probably sell it for a couple of hundred dollars. That's probably it's main benefit. It's still just a Gen1, but they way they've made it, it provides a few options that weren't previously available. I think that's it's main strength.  I can see people buying it for that reason, then later getting a Gen3 and really having a passive capability. Though if someone didn't like red-dot or reflex type sights, then it's not really a solution at all.







Regards


David





















 
Link Posted: 1/25/2014 5:33:49 PM EDT


A missing image from the review- This shows the effect of immediate-field reflection on the image -










The prism that reflects the reticle is normally not seen as it's smaller than the lens of the objective, but if it starts reflecting IR, it's really noticeable and will stop the image being clearly seen.




A small piece of duct tape around the IR810 to form a "funnel" was all that was needed to resolve the issue - it's just a matter of keeping any IR splash from the torch, or any nearby light for that matter, from hitting the prism.




Regards

David



Link Posted: 1/25/2014 6:31:04 PM EDT
Damn, that is a first class review for sure, nice work, David. Would like to see you do a similar review of some Gen III equipment, then we would really learn something.
Link Posted: 1/25/2014 11:41:13 PM EDT
Thank you for review David. I have a Spark here that came just for the same thing (testing)
and while i can say it is best among almost all gen1, comparing it (their marketing terms) with gen 2-3
in real life situations it's far from fair.

I am adding 3 photo comparisson situation with gen3 , i hope you don't mind David. If needed
let me know and i will erase them. I tried to catch the exact same situations.

1. really dark area




2. semi, with moon light




3.well lit area




Here is the unit i have received (no idea if there are more models)


Link Posted: 1/26/2014 12:23:34 AM EDT

Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:


Thank you for review David. I have a Spark here that came just for the same thing (testing)

and while i can say it is best among almost all gen1, comparing it (their marketing terms) with gen 2-3

in real life situations it's far from fair.



I am adding 3 photo comparisson situation with gen3 , i hope you don't mind David. If needed

let me know and i will erase them. I tried to catch the exact same situations.



1. really dark area

http://astb.ro/tmp/core/core1.jpg



http://astb.ro/tmp/core/comp1.jpg



2. semi, with moon light

http://astb.ro/tmp/core/core2.jpg



http://astb.ro/tmp/core/comp2.jpg



3.well lit area

http://astb.ro/tmp/core/core3.jpg



http://astb.ro/tmp/core/comp3.jpg



Here is the unit i have received (no idea if there are more models)



http://astb.ro/tmp/core/core8.jpg

View Quote
Hi Qavro,

 



No, I don't mind at all. Technical and comparitive discussions are always good and help to contribute to a thread that people will be able to reference for a few years.




I believe that the only difference between earlier models and current models is that datasheets are available now.




Regards

David
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 4:57:30 AM EDT
Impressive for the price point.

This looks interesting as an economical add on for hunting with a pvs 14.

https://www.armasight.com/direct-view/weapon-sights/armasight-aim-pro/

https://www.armasight.com/direct-view/weapon-sights/armasight-aim-pro-l/
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 7:20:03 AM EDT
David,

Excellent and comprehensive review. it answers all the questions. thank you for taking the time to do it.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 8:54:26 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:

  An interesting question. The SPARK has a market price of around $500 from Optics Planet ( site sponsor ) - $459 actually at the moment, and from ARFCOM there's 5%, so that's about $436. Normally I'd say "avoid any Gen1 over $300" but in this case I'd make an exception to my rule and it comes pretty close to a reasonable price. Likewise they have an aimpro for $380 ( after assumed discount ) at the moment. Then there's the IR810 for about $105. Together the total cost to get into the setup is about $945 street price.. Just under the thousand dollar mark.  You could throw in a hand-held digital scope and use that with the AIMPRO, but let's leave that out of the question at the moment.

Let's compare that to digital. ATN X-Sight seems to be the latest, but we don't know if it's any good. The pictures on the web are kinds of dodgy ( at least, I hope they are, or I would question it's value ) and we don't know how well it works. Let's assume it needs a good illuminator and with accessories may well cost the same - it's just too new to know. However digital usually underperforms on gain, so while you can tweak it with lasers for good range, there are problems getting lasers in the US. And the Pulsar, widely considered the best in digital, costs a lot more than that.

The SPARK has higher resolution and fairly good high-light resolution, with a very light weight. And you can head-mount. Also, it has some passive capability and will at least let you detect, if not recognize, a little past unaided vision range. Also, if you're in and out of light, it's a big difference, even passive.  So if you're aiming for an upgrade-possible SHTF solution, it's the SPARK, hands down. It's still not a serious competitor to Gen2/3 but it's better than nothing - while most Gen1 is actually worse than nothing. So for anything head mounted, hand mounted or the likes, it's a clear winner over digital. Also, the AIMPRO can be used 1x or 3x in daylight with optical adapters - it's quite a versatile system.

For accurate placement of shots at over 100m? For pest control? It's still digital. The SPARK won't see that far, unless it's a moonlight night. So then it's more of a dedicated vs head/rifle solution question. Also, digital sucks your batteries dry in a few nights. Armasight claim 40 hours for the SPARK, but at 30mA, I can imagine one running up to 80 hours with a good battery. So you don't really need to carry spare batteries for an extended run with the SPARK.

I guess it comes down to the application, and then the same questions are relevant to Gen2/3. Also, if you upgrade a SPARK system to Gen3, you only lose the $440 dollar component, and you can probably sell it for a couple of hundred dollars. That's probably it's main benefit. It's still just a Gen1, but they way they've made it, it provides a few options that weren't previously available. I think that's it's main strength.  I can see people buying it for that reason, then later getting a Gen3 and really having a passive capability. Though if someone didn't like red-dot or reflex type sights, then it's not really a solution at all.

Regards
David




 
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Quoted:
Quoted:
Nice review David. I will be keeping my gen 3 though.

So for the 100 dollar question. If you were in the market for a entry level setup what would it be ? Digital or Core ? I think this is what it will boil down to with consumers.

  An interesting question. The SPARK has a market price of around $500 from Optics Planet ( site sponsor ) - $459 actually at the moment, and from ARFCOM there's 5%, so that's about $436. Normally I'd say "avoid any Gen1 over $300" but in this case I'd make an exception to my rule and it comes pretty close to a reasonable price. Likewise they have an aimpro for $380 ( after assumed discount ) at the moment. Then there's the IR810 for about $105. Together the total cost to get into the setup is about $945 street price.. Just under the thousand dollar mark.  You could throw in a hand-held digital scope and use that with the AIMPRO, but let's leave that out of the question at the moment.

Let's compare that to digital. ATN X-Sight seems to be the latest, but we don't know if it's any good. The pictures on the web are kinds of dodgy ( at least, I hope they are, or I would question it's value ) and we don't know how well it works. Let's assume it needs a good illuminator and with accessories may well cost the same - it's just too new to know. However digital usually underperforms on gain, so while you can tweak it with lasers for good range, there are problems getting lasers in the US. And the Pulsar, widely considered the best in digital, costs a lot more than that.

The SPARK has higher resolution and fairly good high-light resolution, with a very light weight. And you can head-mount. Also, it has some passive capability and will at least let you detect, if not recognize, a little past unaided vision range. Also, if you're in and out of light, it's a big difference, even passive.  So if you're aiming for an upgrade-possible SHTF solution, it's the SPARK, hands down. It's still not a serious competitor to Gen2/3 but it's better than nothing - while most Gen1 is actually worse than nothing. So for anything head mounted, hand mounted or the likes, it's a clear winner over digital. Also, the AIMPRO can be used 1x or 3x in daylight with optical adapters - it's quite a versatile system.

For accurate placement of shots at over 100m? For pest control? It's still digital. The SPARK won't see that far, unless it's a moonlight night. So then it's more of a dedicated vs head/rifle solution question. Also, digital sucks your batteries dry in a few nights. Armasight claim 40 hours for the SPARK, but at 30mA, I can imagine one running up to 80 hours with a good battery. So you don't really need to carry spare batteries for an extended run with the SPARK.

I guess it comes down to the application, and then the same questions are relevant to Gen2/3. Also, if you upgrade a SPARK system to Gen3, you only lose the $440 dollar component, and you can probably sell it for a couple of hundred dollars. That's probably it's main benefit. It's still just a Gen1, but they way they've made it, it provides a few options that weren't previously available. I think that's it's main strength.  I can see people buying it for that reason, then later getting a Gen3 and really having a passive capability. Though if someone didn't like red-dot or reflex type sights, then it's not really a solution at all.

Regards
David




 

I would agree that mostly it is application driven. Battery drain is a good point but I use eneloops in my Hornet 5x24 digital (yes I own digital ). I also have to take into account the durability aspect. Gen 1 is easily damaged by bright lights (at least in my experience) and I wonder about the durability of the core technology. Digital does not care if the lights are on or off and MTTF is a long time. I don't know how long because I don't use mine much but I doubt most can wear one out.

I still would recommend folks save up for a SHP Gen 2 at minimum but I see where this could be useful for low budgets. I am on the fence I guess but think I would still go digi. My use for digi would be pest control though and that is only one aspect of use. Sub $300 is where I would feel comfortable. I still think I would build something used for under 1K but realize this is not a option for most. I could build something with a beater Gen 3 for sub 1K and band clamp it to a day scope for a respectable varmint setup.

Great review and thanks for taking the time to do it. I know that took hours of work.
Link Posted: 1/27/2014 9:34:54 AM EDT
That was a pretty awesome review. I don't have anywhere close to the technical knowledge you do, I'll give my thoughts on the unit as an end user if you don't mind me adding to the thread.
Having used most night vision out there on both the mil side as a ranger/long range target interdictor, and as a hunter. Ill try to paint an accurate picture of where I see it placed among others.
I bought one on Amazon last May (actually my wife bought if for me) or so and reviewed it on sniper's hide. At the time, it was a 45-50 lp unit, for this year it has been upgraded to units that have up to 75lp with better glass. I had mine upgraded to the newer version and I'll get to the differences in a minute.

What it is not, is a gen 3 device. However, it doesn't resemble gen1 much either. All my pictures linked here are from me holding an iPhone 4 by hand and taking the pic, so keep that in mind.
The shortcoming with CORE, Gen2, and digital is the need for supplemental IR illumination, which rules them all out for running around Baghdad or the mountains of A-stan. Where they do come in to play is for running around the field killing pigs. That said, what illuminator you use will be paramount to image quality when using anything other than Gen3.

Pitted against anything in the same price range, I don't think you can compete with them. Some guys on the board can build one from parts with the same coin that can achieve the same or better results, but I don't think you can buy one off the shelf that will. I view gen1 as a child's toy (excluding well done cascade units, but it would be hard to helmet mount one of those) not a useable toy, thus I wont go there.
There are some digital's in the same price range, but they don't have the resolution of this unit, or image quality in general, and are not mountable to either a helmet or a weapon. Using the exact same illuminator, side by side, there will probably be a comma in the price of a digital with a comparable image. I have used some pretty good digital units, which is where the future probably lies, but nothing that is neck and neck for both price and performance.

The upgrade to the Spark was pretty significant. It took out some of the edge distortion that was there on the original, leaving a nice flat image. The resolution was also improved enough that you could easily see the difference, and I was happy with it for the price beforehand.

With a good illuminator, I can manage shots on steel with consistency respective to my skills, at 200+. I can get about half that out of a gen 1 with the same illuminator, and we are talking a gen 1 scope in the same $500 price range, so it is not a multi purpose unit.

In December I got one of the Vampire 4x rifle scopes that uses the CORE technology. While it is not as versatile as a monocular, I found the image to be better yet than the Spark. I'm sure the 90mm objective lens plays no little part in this. At around $700, it pulls away even further from gen1. I was doing a teir'ed review if you will, of sub-$1k scopes from a few manufacturers and another of high end gear. I ended up purchasing the Vampire, albeit, not at full price but rather dealer. I would have paid $700 for it though.  

Ill be spending some time next month to go hog hunting with some of my 1/75 buddies from the good ole days, in  Austin, with a stop in Dallas for another rendezvous.  If anyone is on my route between here and there and has some good digital and/or anything else they want to compare it too, Id be glad to link up with you and get some opinions from others.

I'm going to take a break and dig up some pictures, but Ill come back and finish where I left off.


Link Posted: 1/28/2014 6:31:50 AM EDT
Thanks CJ
The unit resolution appears to exceed the 800x600 oled display screens of the digital scopes currently marketed.
Delta4-3
The pics and review of the vampire will be great!

Keep us posted.
Link Posted: 1/28/2014 6:57:52 AM EDT
qavro, checking out your comparison photos and they are very informative. I would like to see an unaided photo for a base line comparison.  How much better than than no NVD at all was the Spark Core. Thanks Lee
Link Posted: 1/28/2014 7:04:45 AM EDT
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Quoted:
qavro, checking out your comparison photos and they are very informative. I would like to see an unaided photo for a base line comparison.  How much better than than no NVD at all was the Spark Core. Thanks Lee
View Quote


Keep in mind the sensitivity of the camera may make it brighter or darker, unless the photo's brightness is adjusted using an editor to make it match what naked eye will see.
If a comment is attached to say that actual image is slightly darker or brighter then the photo, that would work as well.
Link Posted: 1/28/2014 11:14:14 AM EDT
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Quoted:

Ill be spending some time next month to go hog hunting with some of my 1/75 buddies from the good ole days, in  Austin, with a stop in Dallas for another rendezvous.  If anyone is on my route between here and there and has some good digital and/or anything else they want to compare it too, Id be glad to link up with you and get some opinions from others.

I'm going to take a break and dig up some pictures, but Ill come back and finish where I left off.

View Quote


I haven't posted here before, but I live near Wylie in the NE Dallas burbs and hog hunt with a Digisight n550 on my 6.8 AR.  I've been contemplating moving to the kind of setup described in this thread but have been reluctant to spend the money on a PVS14/eotech.  I would like to see how this setup works in person.  My big problem with the digisight is the lack of FOV when the hogs start running.  I'm not sure this will be any better on dark nights after reading this thread unless an illuminator can flood a wider area than where the reticle is.  It was painfully obvious this Saturday when I shot a sow under a feeder and then missed a big boar twice that ran buy so closely that I had trouble finding and tracking him in the scope.  If I'd had more FOV I could have done a much better job of shooting.  I almost never shoot over 100 yards at night so the the range limitations of this setup are not likely to be a problem.

Anyway, thanks for this thread and all those who posted pictures as it is very helpful to me.

George
Link Posted: 1/28/2014 12:17:40 PM EDT
Hard_ware is right. I should have said what i could see with my naked eyes.
My camera have no chance to take a picture in that conditions (we are talking about the dark ones)
What i was able too see with my naked eyes was nearly as much as spark was, but the main problem was the light that spark put it out on the ocular side, quite dim to be honest,
while gen3 is so damn light that could have been taken for a flashlight ,i had to actually lower exposure value to get a picture near to what i can see thru it...
none of my camera settings were able to resemble what my eyes have seen on Spark, but it was quite close.
I am a bit amazed reading here that can be actually 2 sparks with 2 different tubes. As i said, this is what i was able to do with the one that arrived to me for test. It is not mine.
To be fair, i think david did the whole job here, i just wanted to add a small bit simply about the one that i've had here. I still have it here for a few days if someone wants me to try something else.
Link Posted: 1/28/2014 2:48:33 PM EDT
Do you have a powerful IR illuminator to test at about 100yds?
Link Posted: 1/28/2014 8:41:46 PM EDT
To be fair, i think david did the whole job here, i just wanted to add a small bit simply about the one that i've had here. I still have it here for a few days if someone wants me to try something els  
View Quote


Sorry to pass over david's effort. It was a very well thought out and very informative review.  Thanks again David and qavro.  Lee
Link Posted: 1/28/2014 10:55:54 PM EDT
Hard_ware, i don't have one. I am building one from scratch using an Oslon Black driven by a wired buck-puck driver
so i can lower the light to zero, but this illuminator will not be ready in time for Spark. I do have a small flashlight with 1W
infrared led. Will that one be good enough? Will be harder to find those 100 yards because we are under 2 meters of snow :(
and no line of sight good enough from my house.
Link Posted: 1/29/2014 12:14:21 PM EDT
Quantum tunneling composite pill,  will make light  10-100%.

The device works by applying pressure to get it to conduct. Should work on flashlight or motor anything low voltage under 10Amps.

Ebay 3 for 4.99.  You still need a led driver to set the maximum current level to protect the led.

Try the 1 watt inside in the dark at what ever range you have, see if it over powers the spark.

Which power Oslon are you using.

I might build a 10W Oslon black IR with  adjustable focus and  0-100% using 3 18650 batts to provide power if the spark will work out to 500yds with 3x mag.
The 70-75lp/mm (way way better resolution then any digital NV) is very tempting to try and have enough IR light to make these work out to 500yds with proper magnification.
10w IR light should be under 100.00 to build, 30 degree for spark @ 1x and zoom for 3x or 5x lenses.
I would like a dual bino setup for a cheap beater setup. 1/3 the cost of a PVS14 gen 3 mono with the same resolution just needs IR light to function at that resolution.

Link Posted: 1/29/2014 1:54:35 PM EDT
Great Review. It looks like the Spark is actually a pretty decent option for those on a tight budget who want some night vision capability for navigation or short range varmint hunting. I like the fact that it can be helmet mounted and It probably would make a good loaner option when you upgrade to a PVS-14 down the road. An interesting piece of technology, I will look forward to the Vampir reviews as well.
Link Posted: 1/29/2014 1:57:25 PM EDT

George,
Ill post up when I know the exact date I'm heading that way and we can link up.
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:


I haven't posted here before, but I live near Wylie in the NE Dallas burbs and hog hunt with a Digisight n550 on my 6.8 AR.  I've been contemplating moving to the kind of setup described in this thread but have been reluctant to spend the money on a PVS14/eotech.  I would like to see how this setup works in person.  My big problem with the digisight is the lack of FOV when the hogs start running.  I'm not sure this will be any better on dark nights after reading this thread unless an illuminator can flood a wider area than where the reticle is.  It was painfully obvious this Saturday when I shot a sow under a feeder and then missed a big boar twice that ran buy so closely that I had trouble finding and tracking him in the scope.  If I'd had more FOV I could have done a much better job of shooting.  I almost never shoot over 100 yards at night so the the range limitations of this setup are not likely to be a problem.

Anyway, thanks for this thread and all those who posted pictures as it is very helpful to me.

George
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Quoted:
Quoted:

Ill be spending some time next month to go hog hunting with some of my 1/75 buddies from the good ole days, in  Austin, with a stop in Dallas for another rendezvous.  If anyone is on my route between here and there and has some good digital and/or anything else they want to compare it too, Id be glad to link up with you and get some opinions from others.

I'm going to take a break and dig up some pictures, but Ill come back and finish where I left off.



I haven't posted here before, but I live near Wylie in the NE Dallas burbs and hog hunt with a Digisight n550 on my 6.8 AR.  I've been contemplating moving to the kind of setup described in this thread but have been reluctant to spend the money on a PVS14/eotech.  I would like to see how this setup works in person.  My big problem with the digisight is the lack of FOV when the hogs start running.  I'm not sure this will be any better on dark nights after reading this thread unless an illuminator can flood a wider area than where the reticle is.  It was painfully obvious this Saturday when I shot a sow under a feeder and then missed a big boar twice that ran buy so closely that I had trouble finding and tracking him in the scope.  If I'd had more FOV I could have done a much better job of shooting.  I almost never shoot over 100 yards at night so the the range limitations of this setup are not likely to be a problem.

Anyway, thanks for this thread and all those who posted pictures as it is very helpful to me.

George

Link Posted: 1/29/2014 10:34:42 PM EDT
Hard_ware, i will answer about illuminator on PM so we can keep the topic clean,
and i will post here just what is relevant to Spark. One thing i want to add though:

If the Spark i have here is with 70-75 resolution, it means that my gen3 is around 135-145 lp/mm if not better..
Does anyone know for sure how many tube types are used in Spark?
Link Posted: 1/30/2014 8:26:00 AM EDT
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Quoted:
Hard_ware, i will answer about illuminator on PM so we can keep the topic clean,
and i will post here just what is relevant to Spark. One thing i want to add though:

If the Spark i have here is with 70-75 resolution, it means that my gen3 is around 135-145 lp/mm if not better..
Does anyone know for sure how many tube types are used in Spark?
View Quote


contrast and resolution are not the same I see very good resolution with the core, the gen 3 has much better contrast, maybe it just me.

Link Posted: 1/30/2014 9:20:38 AM EDT
i know this ,but holding the camera in one hand and nv in the other is not the best for taking pictures. especially with pvs7...
looking thru both the difference is huge for me...and you had to enlarge the gen3 more to make them both approx the same size due to the fact that was a difference in
size between the images.
Link Posted: 2/9/2014 7:17:47 AM EDT
As a new NOD user on a limited budget, the Spark Core is working out very well. My defined uses for the optic are getting home through rough metro areas in the event of a disaster (ie, avoiding dirtbags during travel) and security around my rural property. Neither requires a passive system and the Spark's high resolution is great for my uses. The other night I tested the unit on a hike with my three black dogs. With a half moon and some normal neighborhood ambient lighting, I had situations where I couldn't see one of the dogs against a dark treeline with the naked eye. The Spark allowed me to see the dog and ID which one it was without IR. Impressive. In situations that required it, the Armasight 810 illuminator really lit up the night. It is great for detecting eye shine. The long range 810 illuminator does produce a visible red glow... The ring insert allows the illuminator to be aimed correctly to center the cone of light in the Spark (I have the illuminator mounted on the intensifier).

I have found that there is some technique required to getting the Spark set up properly. Both the ocular adjustment and front focus should be tweaked to get a sharp focus on a star. This infinity focus works great for general outdoor use.

Hopefully my backordered head mount will show up soon, and I'd ultimately like to get the 3x A focal lens. These items will increase the versatility of my setup.

For my uses, the Spark is going to serve quite well. It was money well spent for a versatile, inexpensive system that performs admirably. My hat is off to the folks at Armasight.
Link Posted: 2/9/2014 7:32:04 AM EDT
Should also add that I bought my Spark from Adorama for $459. http://www.adorama.com/ARMNSMS01C.html With the headmount and IR810 the total was under $670 shipped. Optics Planet has recently jacked up the price of the Spark (it got up to $579 but is now back at $499) and wanted $185 for the headmount that retails for $104. Be careful where you shop...
Link Posted: 2/16/2014 5:35:41 PM EDT
OP-

Any updates on the AIM Pro? How is it working for you?
Link Posted: 2/17/2014 5:52:23 AM EDT

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Quoted:


OP-



Any updates on the AIM Pro? How is it working for you?
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It's working better than the radiator in my car at the moment, which is keeping me citybound... :( But a friend has trouble with foxes, so it's a good opportunity for more research... And some comparative research also - :)




David.
Link Posted: 2/17/2014 7:50:14 AM EDT
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  It's working better than the radiator in my car at the moment, which is keeping me citybound... :( But a friend has trouble with foxes, so it's a good opportunity for more research... And some comparative research also - :)

David.
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OP-

Any updates on the AIM Pro? How is it working for you?

  It's working better than the radiator in my car at the moment, which is keeping me citybound... :( But a friend has trouble with foxes, so it's a good opportunity for more research... And some comparative research also - :)

David.


PVS-4 for fox problems. Just sayin.
Link Posted: 2/18/2014 7:21:00 AM EDT
This is incredibly thorough! Well done sir!
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