What are the various grades of night vision image tubes?


Among the generations of night vision image intensifier tubes, there needs to be some clarification about the names and abbreviations. There are a lot of them, new ones often appear, and disputes arise around one or another subspecies. Our article will allow you to structure the information and determine what each type of equipment is and what generation it belongs to. This will enable the customer to select a night vision monocular, night vision binocular, or night vision sight with the type of tube best suited to their needs.


Gen 1+.

The Gen 1+ tube differs from Gen 1 in that instead of flat glass, a fiber optic plate is installed there, the inner side of which is shaped like a sphere. The scale is a cut, at an angle of 6 degrees, a tube of many glass fibers. Glass fibers transmit the image without losing clarity and brightness. This design made it possible to reduce the blurring of the outer third of the image, prevent distortion of the shape of objects and protect against side flare. In this modification, the material of the cathode was changed. Instead of the S-20, a more sensitive S-25 appeared. These measures increased the luminous flux from 500 to 1000 and the recognition range from 40 to 60m. The clarity of the image in the center has also increased to 45 strokes. /mm.


Gen 2+, Gen 2ST.

Generation 2+, Generation 2ST is the primary standard tube. It gives the following parameters: luminous flux amplification of 25-50 thousand, a detection range of 110 m, and a service life of more than 5 thousand. Hours, signal-to-noise ratio from 14-18. Each tube has a microchannel plate and an S-25 multi-alkaline photocathode with a built-in power supply.


Gen 2CGT, Gen 2MS.

Generation 2CGT, Generation 2MS (Mil-Spec) differs from generation 2 without an accelerating chamber. This made getting a more precise and sharper picture possible than the prototype. But it led to a decrease in the brightness gain. This problem was overcome by doubling the sensitivity of the IR-shifted cathode. The brightness coefficient reaches 35 thousand; the resolution is 40-45 lines / mm, the detection range is 180 m, and the service life is 2000-5000 hours. These pipes have better characteristics than the standard ones, and their price will be slightly higher. Often supplied with a tube passport.


Gen 2HPT, Gen 2HP.

Generation 2HPT, Generation 2HP was born as an attempt to get something cheaper than Gen3 but just as effective. For this, a miniature multi-alkaline S-25R photocathode was created with exceptionally high sensitivity in the infrared region. It was more resistant to degradation than AsGa but much easier and cheaper to manufacture. This made it possible to abandon the protective ionic film on the microplate. The number of microchannels was increased in the microplate, which improved the image quality. The result is a tube with the characteristics of the Gene3 box but cheaper and more reliable. It demonstrates the following features: image clarity of 50-70 lines/mm, light amplification of 25-30 thousand, and a detection range of 230m.


Gen 3.

Gen 3 differs from Gen2 in having an AsGa-based semiconductor photocathode, with a sensitivity peak shifted to the infrared region. This made it possible to see in conditions of a starry night with significant cloudiness without infrared illumination. The tube has the following parameters: a light amplification factor of 30-35 thousand, a detection range of 250 m, a resolution of 55-64 lines/mm, and a working life of up to 10 thousand hours. Due to the complexity of production, this generation remains one of the most expensive in the line of night visions. Using robots in vacuum chambers and 400 operations with excellent parameters fully justify their cost.


Gen 3ST.

The Gen 3ST is a standard tube similar to the Gen 3 base tubes but of slightly better quality. There are fewer defects and noise in the images.


Gen 3A.

Gen 3A is a higher-grade tube than the standard Gen 3. They have improved picture clarity and performance. They see a little further; the image is brighter at the same illumination level.


Gen 3P/Gen 3AG.

Gen 3P (pinnacle) / Gen 3AG are auto-gated tubes. The terms auto-gating and pinnacle are essentially the same technology, used interchangeably. This technology is suitable in cities with artificial lighting. It provides better image quality, minimizes ghosting around the light source, saves tube surge, and saves battery life. The tube is based on a GaAs photocathode, and a microchannel plate has a resolution of 64-72 lp/mm and a typical signal-to-noise ratio of 26.


Gen 3 with HS.

Gen 3 with HS (Hand Select) is hand-selected tubes, the highest grade, with a minimum of defects and improved performance and image quality. They have an increased resource of use (more than 10 thousand hours) and are more reliable than their counterparts. Such parameters can be obtained despite automated mass production. The fact is that during manufacture, there will always be a difference in negligible fractions of microns, which affect the parameters of outwardly identical devices. Tubes are as individual as fingerprints. And in a large mass, there will always be better units. When buying a tube, pay attention to the signal-to-noise ratio. Indicators below 27 should not be considered. You should only buy if the seller indicates this data.


We draw your attention to how manufacturers label their products differently and do not adhere to one strict classification. Each pipe maker has its standards and terms. Names and designations can change at the request of each large firm. In addition, the parameters of tubes with the same name from one developer may differ from those of another. But there is a general understanding of the issue’s essence, and the buyer can navigate if he is familiar with the basic concepts. 

Given the above, our guide can serve as a basis for a better understanding the types of night vision image intensifiers. Remember high-quality multi-coated lenses when choosing an image intensifier tube. It is not enough to have a good tube; you need good optics. Poor-quality lenses can spoil the parameters of any good tube.




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