Scopes have become an important shooting accessory Because they enhance the shooting experience making it more effective. Scopes help improve your vision and, ultimately, the accuracy of your shooting. The benefits of using a scope are numerous and far-reaching. They include providing clear shooting visibility even at night since night vision became a thing.
Hunting specific animals, military operations, home defense, among others, are some of the activities that require night vision scopes.
These scopes are vital and can be gotten from optics stores or even built yourself if you’re up for it. Creating a night vision scope yourself has so many advantages, which we’ll see shortly but first, making a night vision scope is not as complex as it may seem. Seeing a pre-built night vision scope may put you off assembling your night vision scope, but with a bit of guidance, you’ll be able to set up an effective scope you can use for night shooting.
There are the pre-built Gen 1 night vision scopes with infrared illumination; there are also the Gen 2 and 3 versions of this scope. They are all expensive and may still not cover your specific needs.
This article will guide you through the whole process of making this scope type. You’ll see everything from sourcing the parts needed to putting them together and enjoying an effective night vision scope.
Why You Should Make Your Night Vision Scope?
While this article is predominantly to help people who already want to make night vision scopes themselves, there’s no harm in helping people who are not completely convinced to make a more informed decision. Here are some of the reasons why you should make your night vision scope:
- You make a more specialized scope: Making a night vision scope yourself enables you to produce the exact scope specifications you need. Sometimes the same feature combination we need in a scope may not be available; making this scope ourselves allows us to assemble the features just as we like them.
- Make use of spare parts: Sometimes we just have lots of scope parts lying around and would like to make use of them. These parts can come from other gadgets and appliances.
- Save cost: Making a night vision scope yourself is ultimately more affordable than buying a pre-built model. This is not unconnected to the fact that you’ll be making use of parts from other abandoned gadgets you have lying around and or purchasing affordable parts from stores or garage sales. You can have everything set up for under $200 and maybe even $100 if you have some parts already.
If any of these interest you, making a night vision scope yourself may be a good choice.
How Does Night Vision Work?
Understanding the working principles of night vision is the first step to building this type of scope. You cannot build what you do not understand.
Typically the naked eye cannot see in the dark because it cannot see infrared light, which reflects from surfaces. Night vision amplifies this little infrared light with the help of electricity and turns it into a green glowing image. This happens in the image intensifier tube.
The significant part here is the intensifier tube which is in three generations, Gen 1,2 and 3, with Gen 1 the weakest and most affordable.
What You Need to Make Your Night Vision Scope?
A night vision scope is made up of different parts. Making a night vision scope does not require you to make these parts from scratch instead, it is all about assembling these parts to make the correct scope specification you need. Here are the parts you need to make a typical night vision scope:
- Intensifier tube: an intensifier tube is made in 3 generations, with the first generation the weakest and least expensive, which is no surprise since it is the first model made. Nevertheless, it will serve you well if you’ll only be handling basic shooting activities. You can get this tube from suppliers like Anchor and Starlight.
- C-CS adapter ring: this holds your lens firmly to the housing box and allows you to add other c-mounts in the future. You could also use epoxy glue to hold it firmly if you don’t plan to use another c-mount
- C-mount CCTV objective lens assembly: get a c-mount lens with a rating faster than F2 to allow enough light into the scope. You should also consider a c-mount with an adjustable iris.
- Magnifying loupe: a magnifying loupe with an adjustable focus is ideal, but you can still make use of threaded PVC adapters for adjustments. This is the magnification that would be attached to the eyepiece so you can see targets close up.
- Project box: this will house the whole setup and protect it
- Threaded plugThreaded adapter
- Black duct tape
- Spray paint (any color)
- PVC pipes
- End caps and test caps
- Toggle switch
- Hot glue gun
- Soldering iron
How To Make Night Vision Scope?
After getting the necessary tools and parts listed above, you can begin making your night vision scope.
Step 1: Test the Intensifier Tube
After getting this tube, you should test the tube to ensure it works. As you’ll see, the tube is sensitive to light, so it should be tested in the dark. Wire the tube, ensuring you use DC between 3-6V as anything above that can damage it. Looking through, you should see a green phosphorus screen light. The image may still be blurry, but that is normal as it gets clearer as you set it up.
Step 2: Form the Eyepiece
The eyepiece is the optics at the end of the scope closer to the user. This is the part you look into. To create the eyepiece, you need the threaded plug and threaded adapter. They will serve as holders for the lens. Use a hole saw to drill a hole into the 3” end cap. A hole just under 1” wide is ideal. This hole is so you can thread the plug through the end cap into the adapter.
Use the hole saw to drill another hole into the threaded plug so you can see through the lens. Keep paint and anything that can mess up your eyepiece away when drilling and fitting. Use strong super glue to hold the setup in place and tap the wires around the eyepiece.
Step 3: Create the Objective
This is the other end of the scope that is farthest away from the user. This is the lens section that first takes in the image. Making the objective is similar to the steps used in making the eyepiece.
Use a hole saw to make a hole on the end cap, apply glue to the C-CS mount, and glue it to the end cap. Screw the lens firmly to the setup.
Step 4: Add the Battery
To add the batteries needed to power up the system, drill holes on the housing box so the wires you have already connected to the intensifier tube can pass out through to the battery. You can make a small box for the battery to protect it and prevent shock.
Remember to solder in only the negative connection and screw in the positive connection, so you do disconnect hidden connections in the positive area.
Step 5: Paint
Painting is essential to improve the aesthetics of the setup and prevent additional light from entering the system. This is because PVC pipes are not entirely opaque. They allow some light to pass through, which may affect the quality of the image in the tube.
You can spray-paint the pipe in your favorite color. The painting will prevent unnecessary light from entering. Remember to unscrew all the parts first, so the paint does not mess up your lens. You should also tape the threads to keep paint away.
First, use a primer over the whole area and allow it to dry first before painting. Painting the inside of your objective end cap will serve as double protection if the outside paint scratches off.
Step 6: Focus the Setup
To focus the setup in the system, you need to fit the set up firmly, so it does not move about inside the box. This will allow for optimum efficiency when using night vision. The Intensifier has to be firm inside the pipe, and you can use duct tape to increase its size and make it challenging to shift inside the pipe.
Carefully fit the objective lens at the end of the piece and test it in the dark. Focus on a target and adjust until you can see clearly. Avoid holding the phosphor screen, instead hold the other areas of the tube.
Place the eyepiece and screw until you can see the image in the tube clearly. Trim the end of the pipe if you can’t seem to focus on the image.
As you have seen, making your night vision is not so difficult after all. You can set up everything with $200 and have a decent night vision on your hands. Because of the parts and its lack of cohesion, the night vision may be bulky and bigger than pre-built versions, but that is a small price to pay for the satisfaction and pride that comes with making your night vision scope.