Night Vision Technology

More Night Navigation Models from FLIR

FLIR First Mate Thermal Imaging Monocular

FLIR First Mate Thermal Imaging Monocular

FLIR this week announced expansion of both its fixed M-Series and handheld First Mate series of night vision devices. They’ve covered several different price points now with the First Mate monoculars, which we wrote about here on OceanLines. The M-series also gets a new, less-expensive version that drops the low-light camera and carries only the thermal imager, which I don’t really consider a downgrade since the thermal imaging technology is profoundly superior for the task of night navigation and hazard avoidance.

The First Mate line adds two new models — the First Mate XP and XP+, which have the same 320 x 240 thermal image resolution as the M-Series, as well as expanded envionmental survivability ratings and still image capture capability. The XP+ model also offers the ability to capture live thermal video to a removable SD card. My colleague Ben Ellison at Panbo did a more detailed write-up of these new units.

Here’s the current MSRP info for the First Mate line:

HM-224:            $2,999
HM-224 Pro:     $3,999
HM-324 XP:       $4,999
HM-324 XP+:     $5,999

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Boats, Cruising Under Power, Electronics, Gear & Apparel, Industry News, seamanship, Technology

From FLIR Comes Night Vision You Can Afford

FLIR First Mate Thermal Night Vision Monocular

FLIR First Mate Thermal Night Vision Monocular

You may actually be able to afford the practical Navigator series, or the seriously capable M-Series night vision systems, both from FLIR, but the new First Mate™ thermal monocular from FLIR is the night vision system you canNOT afford to be without.  The same advanced thermal detection technology and signal processing from the higher end units (we wrote about the M-Series here on OceanLines) is fitted to this handy monocular and, like its brethren, it turns night into day — okay, a sort of odd black and white day, but day nonetheless. And the best part is you can now own this technology for $2,999.

Testing the First Mate at the recent Fort Lauderdale boat show, the device easily revealed all manner of details hidden in the darkness.  A lot of people are still confused about night vision technology.  To simplify, there are basically two kinds — light-intensification, which simply amplifies any existing light, even starlight; and thermal imagery, which uses sensitive detectors to measure extremely small differences in temperature between objects.  Light intensifiers are often marketed with labels such as “Gen I or Gen II or Gen III.  On a bright, moonlit night they can help, somewhat.  But when you have a truly black night, with no ambient lighting, these units are essentially useless.

The First Mate unit is a thermal imager and can create an image in total darkness, based on the fact that all things either radiate or reflect heat to different degrees.  The unit takes these differences and creates an image of contrast — hence the black & white or white & black typical image colors (on the First Mate you can change the colors to suit your own preference but most users will use a B&W version where hotter objects are either white or black, as you choose.

This device will see other boats, buoys, floats, people, deadheads, fishtrap markers — virtually anything that is in the water.  It’s battery-operated but can be plugged into a power adaptor and can also provide video-out to a monitor.  If you cruise at night, this kind of device will add immeasurably to your peace of mind. The price tag may still seem a little steep, although if you’re willing to spend half of this on a good pair of stabilized binoculars, I might argue the night vision capability will be even more useful.  Get to a retailer some evening this winter and try it out.  I’m betting you’ll be taking it home.

Copyright © 2009 OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Industry News, Technology