Party with the lights out! With the new LUNOX night vision device
Lights out, goons out or party with the light out are just a couple of sayings everybody uses or says it when it comes to night operations specially when NVGs (night vision goggles) are involved into it. Lots of pictures or vids are popping around the social media afterwards which shows the world through a tube of an NVG in bright green, the typical colour of an night vision device or to be more accurate, from the tube which is installed inside.
Today we wanna bring you a first-hand look at a brand new NVG on the market called LUNOX made by the guys over at ACTinBlack a company based in Luxembourg specialized on NVGs and NVG parts. The LUNOX is their first ever self-made night vision device available to purchase for the professional and the civil market as well. I had the chance to test one of their prototype model two times during a CQB and greenside training I went through the last month. This review is about to show you the features, how it´s built and how it performed during the test we did with.
Once you look at the LUNOX the first time you may say: Yeah!, it´s just another copy of an mini PVS-14. But you´re wrong! The LUNOX is built-up all the way from the ground by ACT itself. Does it look similar to it? Of course it does but that depends on the internals/technology these devices need to have installed inside and because of that, you´re limited in the overall construction (housing) especially for those monocular type of NVGs. To save weight and size of the NVD (night vision device) itself, ACT designed the LUNOX as small as possible to give the end-user the maximum of comfort and usability. With an overall weight of 315g, it is compact and lightweight together without sacrificing durability or quality.
HOUSING / MATERIAL
As I said I had a prototype model for my test, the final finish of the housing may looks a little bit different to ours but there´re no big changes to come. The material is the same. We really put our model into the testing so it didn´t look that new now on the pictures! ACT uses GRP (glass-fiber reinforced thermosetting plastics) for the main body or housing which includes the battery compartment where the baseplate from the J-Arm sit on as well. The finish from that element maybe looks a little bit different to you but it´s the same material.
Beside the GRP for the main body/housing, there are several others to name. Starting with the baseplate for the J-Arm which is made out of aluminium, we have brass inside the battery compartment, rubber for the day caps and the eye shields. The lenses are made out of glass and they are anodized as well.
All these materials meet milspec standards and incorporate all relevant features a military night vision device has to offer.
The LUNOX is and will be offered with basically two different tubes. Either a Photonis and a Harder tube. The difference being the Photonis are all new from the factory tubes and the Harder Gen 3 are B-grade tubes from military production. The Photonis Commercial is, as all Photonis tubes, based on Gen 2+ technology and simply the XR5 and/or INTENS B-grade production. Normal specs are usually about sensitivity: 550-750 uA/lm, resolution: 60-75 lp/mm and SNR: 22-28. The Harder Commercial (available from aprox end of May 2016) is a Gen 3 tube that did not meet the military specifications. Minimal specs are sensitivity: 1650 uA/lm, resolution: 64 lp/mm and SNR: 19. These are the minimal specifications of the Harder tube and most all tubes will exceed this.
Let´s go more practical now. Like any other monocular NVG, the LUNOX has a eyepiece adjustment ring at the rear. Here you can adjust the dioptre from +4 down to -6 to set the sharpness specific to your own eyes. NOTE: If you use contact lenses or glasses – this do not have any effect to it. The adjustment ring is easy to handle even while wearing gloves but also strong enough to stay on the adjusted dioptre if you touch it “lightly” by mistake.
To choose your preferred focus, you can use the focus ring which is around the front lens. You can set it starting from 0,25m to infinity. But always have in mind: you have to play with both, eyepiece adjustment and focus to get a clear view through the tube all the time.
To get the party finally started, you have to turn on the activation switch. As you can see in the picture, the switch has an edged form to provide a solid grip (also while wearing gloves) what it really does. It offers three modes: 1st OFF / 2nd ON / 3rd ON with IR-light. The last one becomes very helpful once you´re operating in really dark environments or someone cut the electrical power supply in the building for example. The location of the IR-light is on the battery housing right beside the battery cap. You can see it clear two pictures above.
NOTE: if you activate the IR-light on your night vision device constantly, you turn yourself into a easy target for all other enemy units around who use NVGs as well. You can call yourself the “shining star then” then. To support you in these kind of situations, I suggest you to use an IR weapon light or something similar which is easy to turn on and off in a blink of a second and just for the time you really need it. To switch from position 3 to 2 on the NVG takes too much time and you have to get one hand away from the gun as well (just to point your attention on this topic really quick). If you´re in a safe environment, go ahead with the IR-light from the LUNOX. To avoid that you potentially forget to turn it off, there´s a small “red indicator” inside the tube to remind you that it´s still turned on.
To fit the LUNOX on your helmet, you need to have a few things. First is a J-Arm what these kind of NVGs need to get connected to the main NVG/rhino Arm. The LUNOX can use both, standard PVS-14 J-Arms or MUM/Mini-14 J-Arms what is great so you are not limited to one system only.
The baseplate on the LUNOX has a small notch in it to fit the J-Arm correctly and to make sure that the NVG can´t dangle around. This becomes important when you have it adjusted correct to get a clear view through the tube and you´re in constant action or on the move.
Second step is to have a rhino/NVG arm. Here you can choose from a few different versions which are currently available on the market. Just look for PVS-7 / PVS-14 type of arms. To name just two manufactures who will make you happy with their products: Norotos and WILCOX. I suggest you to always go with the real steel parts/product! Don´t buy any replica stuff. The problem with replicas are: they always have fabrication tolerances, less/bad quality and they do not guarantee strong fitting and usability. Don´t try to save money here!
Last needed part is an NVG shroud. As mentioned above, check these companies for some and add opscore to your list as well. I´m sure you find something good. You can also visit ACTs webshop for mounts and shrouds as well. They do offer some different types for you. Regarding replica shrouds: It´s pretty much the same as I said above!
The LUNOX was with me for several trainings in CQB and greensite. The longest time I used it constantly was about ~6hrs during an observation mission. Did I have to change the battery? A clear no. The LUNOX guaranteed a total runtime of 50hrs with a single CR123 battery which is quite a long time so you do not have to carry a whole pouch of batteries with you. Since it only weights 315g, you didn´t need “counter weights” on your helmet to balance it. Just adjust it right, tighten your helmet-straps correctly and you´re good to go for the whole night. I never had issues or felt pressure on my forehead coming from the helmet cause of the weight distribution.
Also, play a little bit with the distance and angel adjustment form the NVGarm to find your preferred distance between the lens and your eye so you always get a clear and full size view through the tube. “The picture above have been shot with an cell phone through the tube. It does not reflect the real quality from the LUNOX it self which is way better. It is just about to give you a quick overview how it can look like. I guess my lens on the phone was fogging. Sorry”.
NOTE: A correct adjustment becomes really important when you´re under stress and have to work fast. The last thing you want to do under that kind of pressure is, to get your hands away from the gun!
The compact design of the LUNOX allows you to operate your rifle with IR compatible optics like from EOTech, Trijicon or Aimpoint like you do it during daylight. I personally run an EOTech EXPS 2.0 together with an G33 STS magnifier and it works just fine.
The LUNOX is desinged for various kinds of uses like hunting, observation, airsoft, hiking, military or any other kind of situation where you would require a night vision device. It is easy to handle and to adjust once you´re familiar with which takes no time. I was totally happy with it´s performance and usability. Perfect for those who want to get their first step into the world of night vision. Starting at an price level from 2,384.95€ including: Photonis Commercical Gen 2+ Tube and an J-Arm (you can choose between the PVS-14 J-Arms or MUM/Mini-14 J-Arm) the LUNOX is an affordable night vision device for the above named area of applications. If you want to, you can add the “Autogated” option for 265,00€ to it as well. What does Autogated mean? (It means the system is turning itself on and off at a very rapid rate. This reduces blooming. An autogated power supply helps protect the tube from damage when exposed to light. The gated power supply will regulate the amount of power supplied to the tube so that it does not become over-exerted when exposed to light).
If you think this price is too high and you better go with an Gen 1 unit because it´s way cheaper… I can clearly tell you: you will be unhappy!
WHERE TO BUY?
The LUNOX is available from ACTinBlack and their authorized dealers. They ship all over Europe, United States, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia and Japan which is no problem with the Gen2+ units.
You get it here >>> www.actinblack.com/shop/lunox