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Armasight Spark Multi-Purpose Night Vision Monocular CORE IIT 60-70 lp/mm
|Price:||$499.00 & FREE Shipping. Details|
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- Resolution 60-70 lp/mm
- Lightweight and Compact
- Weapon Mountable
- Powered by a Single CR123 Battery
- Export Available but some Restrictions May Apply
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For years, development and improvement of consumer-orientated single stage Gen 1 technology has stood still – until now. Traditionally, Gen 1 tubes are made of glass – making them quite fragile and easily damaged, and have relatively low resolution, with very evident image edge distortion.
Introducing an Armasight exclusive – CORE (Ceramic Optical Ruggedized Engine) technology image intensiffier tubes! While CORE does not contain a micro channel plate (and so by definition lands in the Gen 1 category) that is where the parallels end. Instead of glass, CORE tubes use a specially formulated ceramic compound fused with metal alloys similar to those used in production of Gen 2 and Gen 3 image intensiffier tubes.
Further advances in CORE have almost removed edge distortion, dramatically increased photo-sensitivity and most importantly, almost doubled resolution up to 70 lp/mm! The Armasight Spark is the perfect partner for this new hybrid tube-type – a rugged, but light-weight multi-purpose night vision monocular. With optional accessories, it can be used hand-held or head-mounted; with a day scope adapter, it can convert your existing day scope to night vision at a budget price. With optional 3X a-focal lens and IR illuminator, it can serve as a medium range, ultra-high resolution spotting scope and with optional camcorder/camera adapter, you can even take footage or stills though it in darkness.
The Armasight Spark is the ideal night vision unit for the outdoorsman or first responder who demands more resolution, image clarity and durability than standard Gen 1 can offer.
- Compact, rugged design
- Water and fog-resistant
- Head mountable for hands-free usage
- Ergonomic, simple, easy to operate controls
- Utilizes single CR123A lithium battery
- Adaptable for use with cameras
- Built-in Infrared illuminator
- Limited two-year warranty
- Resolution 60-70 lp/mm
- Magnification 1x, optional 3x
- Multi-Purpose System Yes
- Exit Pupil Diameter, mm 8
- Eye Relief, mm 20
- Lens System F1.7, 35mm
- FOV 35°
- Range of Focus 0.25 to infinity
- Diopter Adjustment +5 to -5 dpt
- Controls Direct
- Infrared Illuminator Yes (built in with flood lens)
- IR Indicator Yes
- Power Supply CR-123 Lithium 3V (1) or CR123 type rechargeable batteries with voltage 3.2V (1)
- Battery Life 40 hrs
- Environmental Rating Water resistant
- Operating Temperature -40 to +50 °C
- Storage Temperature -50 to +60 °C
- Dimensions 149 x 49 x 82 mm / 5.8 x 1.9 x 3.2 in
- Weight 0.37 kg / 0.8 lbs
- Warranty 2 Years
Top Customer Reviews
This is the first gen-1 device I've seen that uses a ceramic core instead of glass, making it much more durable and with higher resolution than all the rest. It still uses a gen-1 grade light transferal system, so the light amplification is no better than your average gen-1+ unit. It does, however, greatly increase the quality and usefulness of the device when used in conjunction with an InfraRed illuminator. It also makes it weapons mountable. When used with an Eagletac T20C with 2nd gen. 3.4w IR module, I can just barely identify coyotes vs sheep at about 150 meters. When placed behind an Aimpoint CompM3, I have a hard time identifying anything out past about 80 meters. That being said, my alignment isn't quite perfect, so that may contribute some light loss.
I have since tested the SPARK behind an Eotech 55x, and it is much clearer than the Aimpoint, probably due to better alignment and the larger FOV on the Eotech. ID range through the Eotech is probably 125 meters, vs. 80 through the Aimpoint and 150 through just the SPARK.
Overall construction quality seems excellent.
This is still a Gen-1 device, and it really pales in comparison to a Gen-3 unit. The on-board illuminator is only good out to about 5~7 meters -- making it just enough to walk through your average house and have plenty of light. It actually works quite well for that, but if you take it outside you'll need supplemental illumination. Also, this is NOT able to handle the 3.7v li-ion 16340 cells, although one of Armasight's tech reps says they hope to have an improved model capable of withstanding a wider range of battery types out within a year (written 06-21-13). According to the manual, expected battery life on 1 CR123a cell is 40 hrs, or 20 hours if using the on-board illuminator. This is, of course, another incentive to have a supplemental IR device -- preferably one that uses 18650 Li-ion batteries, which you can get for free out of most dead laptop battery packs.
The picatinny rail conversion unit (available from Armasight for around $130 via Amazon) is very well constructed, but it places the SPARK about 1/2 inch higher than both my Aimpoint, and a cheap scope on medium height rings. Still usable, but it's an odd bird. There are a handful of other quick-detach mounts designed for the PVS-14 that may work, but I haven't tried any of them yet.
There is a bit more fish-eye effect with the Spark than a PVS7/14, but it's no worse (and maybe a bit better) than other gen-1 devices I've tested. It's only distracting at first, but I think I would get a headache after several hours of continuous use.
Used or blemished PVS-14 units are popping up on ebay for around $2,000. If you can afford one of those, it's a big difference in illumination. Otherwise, this is the first gen-1 unit I've worked with that was worth using. Keep in mind that your final cost of operation is going to be closer to $700. $460 for the Spark, $120 for an illuminator, $130 for a mount of some type, and another $20 for a set of batteries. (It does come with one nice Energizer CR123a) Depending on your rig, you may also need a light mount -- either a dovetail adapter for the side of the Spark itself, or a picatinny rail adapter for your rifle. I'm testing the Safariland RLS -- seems nice, but I haven't had it very long. Note that you would probably have to purchase most of those things even if you get a $2000 pvs-14, as most of them in that price range don't include any accessories.
That said, it's best to understand the limitations of Gen 1 prior to ordering. For instance, this unit will not work in pitch-black. It is a starlight monocular, which requires some form of ambient light. Very dim light should be enough. Gen 1 units amplify light by about 1000 times, Gen 2 by about 20,000 times, and Gen 3 between 30,000 to 50,000 times. Obviously Gen 3s with autogating (power fluctuations to reduce blooming) and adjustable gain (brightness) are the current industry-best, but they also increase the cost of the device by about 6-7 times (typically upwards of $3,000). Most Gen 1 units are hazy, have terrible image resolution, and have a very short useful service life, which is offset by their cheap price. The Spark is not the cheapest Gen 1 device out there. Some night vision may be had for less than $200, but I'd be willing to bet those units are not as advanced, technologically speaking, and they are probably not as durable. And they probably lack the accessory options available to the Spark. Also, this unit has a barely noticeable high-pitched whine when operating, and is definitely not as pronounced as other Gen 1s. You literally have to hold it up to your ear to hear it.
The built-in IR LED seems strong enough to cast a wide beam, sufficient to light out to beyond 20 feet and probably further (though the unit claims it is only for use up to about 3 meters). The image itself is a fairly narrow field, and this is not a true 1:1 (1x magnification) monocular. The Spark appears to be closer to a 1.10x or 1.25x magnification (maybe even up to 1.5x), and looking through the tube, objects are slightly magnified greater than they appear with the unaided eye. This can throw off some peoples' equilibrium, if they are trying to move while using the scope to navigate terrain in the dark. It's fairly easy to get used to, however.
This device has a sweet spot for focus. Some call it a fishbowl or fisheye (or walleye) effect, but it is not pronounced. The entire field of view is not in focus, but the center is, and the focus tapers off to a fuzzy image around the edges. This makes the effective field of view somewhat smaller, which might be a problem for some users who need a wide field of view in close quarters. The company claims 30 degrees FOV. Not a huge issue to me, because in the middle, where the eye normally wants to look, the device focus can be made very sharp, with excellent resolution probably rivaling Gen 2 (I wouldn't know) and maybe rivaling Gen 3, at least in image clarity within the sweet spot. Focus is manually adjustable to achieve a clear image, but both focus controls are fairly stiff to move (will probably require some break-in period). Also, this does not have the honeycomb grid present in modern Gen 3 devices (due to the Micro Channel Plate--MCP). There are the telltale black spots, which are due to limitations in the production process--inherent in any night vision device--but mine were VERY tiny, and do not interfere with the image. I've seen much worse spots on the military Gen 3 tubes.
* Very clear focusable image (uses a traditional front focus for switching between up-close and long distance viewing, and a rear diopter for adjusting fine focus to an individual's eye, just like with binoculars)
* Excellent resolution (Armasight claims up to 60-70 lp/mm for the latest model, or 40-60 lp/mm for the earlier model)
* Rugged, high strength polymer housing - looks like it could sustain a drop (I'm not gonna test that!)
* Bright ambient light amplification
* Ceramic core IIT (to extend tube life beyond typical 2000 hours service life)
* 50 hour battery life (using a single 3V CR123A, but NOT rechargeable 3.7V RCR123A--compare w/40 hour life claimed by most other units)
* Can be attached to another Spark unit for cheap NV binoculars rivaling Gen 2 (true binoculars, not like PVS-7s, which use one image intensifier tube, split between two eyes). Attachment bridge sold separately.
* Has 3 mounting points (two, offset, on the flat sides, and one, centerline, on the tall side--opposite the battery housing)
* Unit comes with a fairly comprehensive manual, a single fresh CR123A battery, and a cool OD MOLLE pouch you can attach to your PALS gear
* Comes with pinhole cap with retention straps, so you'll never lose the protective cover (same w/battery cover)
* Looks militaristic (if looks are important--of course, function is way more important)
* Apparently waterproof, though I refuse to test this!
* Manufactured in the USA by a well recognized and respected night vision company
* Many accessories available (camera mounts, head/weapons/helmet mounts, adapters, and a 3x zoom lens!)
* Battery can be "hot-swapped" (IIT stays active for a short while after shut-off, allowing hot swap of batteries AND simultaneous image intensification even while unit is shut off and w/o a battery--however, this is common to most, if not all, night vision--so it might not be such a "pro" as listed here. I just think it's a cool feature worth mentioning.)
* Some of the most expensive Gen 1s
* Accessories extra (weapons mounts are EXPENSIVE, and because of the offset mount, proprietary Armasight mount is required, unless you use the high-profile centerline mount, which would make the sight stand tall on a weapon)
* Does not use modern Picatinny rails, but older dove tail mounts (requires purchase of adapters for use with most common attachment mounts in use today)
* Edge distortion, despite company's claims to the contrary (though relatively minor)
* The built-in IR is probably in the 840nm wavelength ("near-IR" rather than 940nm "far-IR," which is VERY hard to detect with the human eye), and as such, is more visible than a higher wavelength emitter. Should not be too noticeable beyond a few yards, however.
* Unit can be damaged/degraded by the lens cap being removed in lighted conditions, even if not turned on. I'm pretty sure this is true of all night vision though.
* If you buy this as a gift, you'll have to buy two... one to give away, and one to keep!
The Spark is the most advanced Gen 1 available today, using a very new CORE technology. This night vision device is TRUE night vision using a ceramic alloy IIT (compared with a glass IIT for standard non-CORE Gen 1s), and this is not cheapo digital night vision using CCDs. The extra price is offset by the added technological benefits, but this is not a see-in-pitch-black night vision device. For close-quarters use, the built-in IR is fine. For further away, a separate IR throwing flashlight is recommended. Cheap drop-in P60 style IR light heads can be had for between $15 and $25 (or as much as around $50 for top quality). Add that to a Surefire-style flashlight body, and you'll be in business. I'm happy with my purchase. Maybe I'll get another and make some dual-tube binoculars. Own the night!
Usable night vision
High resolution. Just as a test with the included 1x lens, could distinguish the two stars of alpha capricorni, which are 0.11° apart, and see the sky between
Good construction of the unit
Fish-eye distortion around the edge
Very slight high pitched sound like an old TV, barely noticble
Glows green for a while after being turned off
Just FYI it is important to use the knurled ring right behind the rubber eyecup to get the eyepiece in focus, then focus for distance using the objective. At first I was only focusing the objective and the image would never be completely sharp.