While searching Ebay for Soviet/Russian gear, I stumbled over this ancient night vision. Neither did I recognize it, nor was able to find anything about it on the Web.
So it was clear what to do: Buy it! 🙂
A (pretty decent) leather Etui, a daytime cover and the night vision itself – that’s all I got! So no manual, no paperwork, no nothing…
By the general look and feel I could already tell, that it was more on the expensive side -that is when it was new. Especially when comparing it to Cyclops, one can tell the difference in the workmanship.
What I did notice and what probably made me buy the night vision, was the ZOMZ logo (above the MHB-2 marking)
The Zagorski Optical and Mechanical Plant (Загорский оптико-механический завод) or ZOMZ (ЗОМЗ) for short, is one of the smaller state plants which was founded in 1935.
Like many others they were manufacturing a whole range of optical devices. For military, medical, civil, space and whatnot applications. However in the difficult 90s, the government orders, which they like all state factories relied on, stopped out.
So ZOMZ started developing and producing consumer marker products on their own.
I suspect that the MHB-2 was on of their first night vision devices, since in some internet archive found that they produced night visions named MHB-5, MHB-6 and so on.
Due to the fact that the markings are all in Latin rather then Cyrillic, one can assume that those devices were mainly built for export.
Yet the night vision runs on one of those ancient Soviet 6V batteries.
So the first thing I did was to get rid of the old battery mount, which I then replaced with a new one to hold two CR123 cells with 3V each. Since those (serially connected) provide 6V, it worked just fine and I was able to get it running.
Maybe this could be the reason why there is no information available about this night vision. I can not image it being successful without being compatible with western battery standards.
The tube appeared to be in an excellent condition. I am sure that the former owner did not use it all that long – probably due to the battery issue 🙄
The lever right of the MHB-2 marking is used to adjust the focus, while the two buttons turn on the tube and the IR illumination respectively. A pretty streamlined design I have to admit.
To my surprise the IR illuminator was not an LED, but a regular light bulb with an IR filter on top. Another clue, that this is probably one of the first night visions that was produced in the Russian Federation or maybe one of the last in the Soviet Union.
Getting sharp photos from the night vision in use is almost impossible with my camera. However the photo above show reflects the image quality pretty good (apart from the defocus of course), It has a pretty strong fish eye effect, which is partially the fault of the old gen 1 tube, but also originates from the wide field-of-view the lens system has.
I would rate the tube as one of the better gen 1 tubes out there. It is on par with the
PNV-57E tubes, but without having that annoying buzzing from the transformer.
So the MHB-2 Panotron-M is not only a ‘rare’ collectible, but has some use to it – even today.
08.02.2016 – by netsplit for Gruppa L