Speaking of which, as you might have already guessed by the title it is the PNV-57E (ПНВ-57E) this time. As mentioned it is a second generation true stereo night vision device we are talking about. True stereo meaning it uses two separate imaging tubes, one for each eye.
It was developed during the mid 80s by the Novosibirsk instrument-making plant (Новосибирского приборостроительного завода) as a successor/update to the PNV-57.
Its performance is similar to that of the US made AN/PVS-5, however the PNV-57E outperforms most other gen. 1+ night visions. Produced in the Soviet Union and later on under license in Czechoslovakia, it was the most used night vision device among Soviet forces. Even today it still sees limited use within the Russian Army.
Since the Soviets fought against the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan at that time, it saw its first combat use pretty quick. Initially it was reserved for helicopter pilots only, but was issued to tank crews also to replace their old PNV-57 later on.
As it was mainly used by drivers and pilots the importance of the two separate tubes become clear. They allow for a stereoscopic vision, which is obviously a requirement for that sort of purpose.
By coincidence I just read a book about the development of the Mi-8 helicopters. Translated into English (it’s from former East Germany) it says:
…surveillance of large areas remained a major task for the MI-8 crews during the war. The helicopters circled airfields and bases nonstop to spot Mujaheddin attacks and provide intelligence. During night raids the reconnaissance provided by MI-8 crews equipped with PNV-57E for the first time proved to be a major benefit to the troops on the ground.
Like the NSP-2 it comes with its own transit and storage case, which includes the night vision itself, an infrared filter, some spare parts, a connector cabled and the manual of course. According to the manual the technical are as following:
- field of view: 30 °
- magnification: 1-1.2 x
- refreshment rate: 35 Hz
- diopter setting: +/- 4 diopters
- voltage input: 12V or 24V
- voltage output: 14kV – 19.5kV
However the field of view is definitively more then 30°. I assume they referr to the field of view which is not obstructed by the fish-eye effect. Also it will work with voltages below 12V or any in between 12V and 24V – more about that later.
Also note that I stitched two holes into the lens covers. Reason for that is, that the holes work as a pinhole apertures. With them you are able too use it at daytime, but more important with IR illumination.
As any night vision needs at least some light (starlight, moonlight…) you can use them inside buildings and such without active IR illumination. Yet the even tiny IR LEDs (like on my helmet – see below) are way to bright will blind just by the reflected light.
Also the night vision has a fixed focus that kicks an at about 4 meters. So anything closer then that appears blurry which is not exactly a good thing inside buildings.
Using the ‘pinhole apertures” also negates that problem, which is the reason why I went for this solution rather then dimming the IR light.
On the right photo you can see the unique serial number ‘ЦШТ 7581’ next to the ‘ПНВ-57Е’ print. In this case it indicates that it was made in 1986
Most Russian night vision devices disassemble pretty easy. The PNV-57E is no exception to that. In order to remove the lens you just have to unscrew the small metal rings (see the left photo) – this is pretty handy if you want to install a protective lens to if you plan to use it for Paintball or Airsoft.
Also you can simply pull out the imaging tubes by removing the four screws on each side. Getting replacement tubes might be a bit difficult as of today.
With just a few modifications the night vision goggles will mount onto a standards nvg mount via a ‘rhino mount arm’. Also I turned the whole thing upside down in order to get it closer to the eyes.
You can see the IR illumination light I talked about on mounted to the right sight of the helmet.
But lets get to some real footage. The building in the video is around 270-300m away. Keep in mind that my camera had a hard time picking up the image. In reality it has less of a fish eye effect and a greater fov.
However there definitely is still a fish eye effect like on gen 1 devices. It is way less of a problem though:
The squarish box worn on the back of the helmet contains a 12v or 24v transformer connected to the vehicle’s 12 or 24 volt system. As I already said the night vision even runs with 6V or anything up to 24V. I did not notice any difference in terms of image quality.
However the circuited generates a really loud beeeeep noise, as you probably hear in the video. I am not certain which part of the circuit is responsible for that.
But as you can see on the right photo they glued a circuit diagram into the box. Pretty handy. Fortunately soviet circuit diagrams are pretty similar to the ones here in Germany, so I hope to solve that beep issues in the future. I might post a how zo if you guys are interested.
Some words if you are planning to get one yourself:
The prices are way to high now. Here in Germany you will pay 200-300€ for a non-working one. I paid 120€ for mine, which is admittedly a pretty good price. I would consider 150€ a reasonable price for a working one.
Also you will often find PNV-57A advertised as PNV-57E on eBay, so watch out. They use gen 0 tubes and pretty useless in my opionion.
23.07.2013 by netsplit for Gruppa L