The OVNI-M is equipped with the world's most powerful GEN3+ thinfilm tube. Ambient light (visible and near infrared) is captured by the OVNI-M's intensifier tube, which operates in 3 parts:
1/ The photocathode which transforms photons into electrons
2/ The MCP (MicroChannel Plate) will multiply the electrons by thousands. About 70,000 times more.
3/ The generated electrons will then pass through a phosphor screen (green or white) and be transformed into photons in the same original alignment.
Thus, the newly composed image passes through the eyepiece to be captured in real time by the eye. It will have a green tint if the phosphor screen is green or a grey-blue tint if the phosphor screen is white. (see picture below)
White phosphor tubes are a recent development, previously there were only green phosphor tubes. The technology has evolved a lot since the appearance of night vision tubes in the 1940s. The US Army distinguishes 3 generations of night vision (see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night-vision_device).
GEN 1 : Generation 1 (max. amplification x1000), very bulky and low performance, was developed for the US Army during the Vietnam War. It is this generation that equips the night vision eyepieces that can be found on the internet for less than 1000€.
GEN 2 : The generation 2 (max amplification x20000), developed a few years later, marks a great evolution because it becomes easily transportable and works in ambient light, even on a moonless night.
GEN 3 : Generation 3 (max amplification x80000) was developed for the 1st Gulf War in Iraq. It is the most powerful generation. It has undergone 2 major evolutions, the GEN3+ then the GEN3+ thinfilm/filmless.
GEN 4 : Generation 4 does not exist, it is sometimes wrongly referred to thinfilm/filmless tubes. It is these thinfilm intensifier tubes that are proposed for the ONVI-M. These tubes are the most powerful in the world, much more than the GEN3 or GEN3+ (non thinfilm/filmless).
It is thus understandable that this is a military technology that is improving with the passing of wars led mainly by the American army. But the export of American tubes is strictly forbidden because it is an ITAR classified product regarding the US regulations on international arms trafficking.
"Export of Night Vision Equipment or related accessories (such as manuals) is strictly regulated by the US Department of State in accordance with the guidelines of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). It is a major crime to ship or carry US manufactured Gen3 night vision devices outside the borders of the United States, punishable by fines and prison sentences. Ignorance of these regulations will not hold up in court. Also, it is illegal to allow a non-US Citizen to look through US Gen3 Night Vision Devices, even on US soil. Again, this is a crime punishable by fines and prison sentences. If/when such items are resold, the original purchasing party must advise customers/end users of their duty to comply with U.S. export control regulations or face the possibility of severe criminal and civil fines including imprisonment if convicted."
However, there are few manufacturers outside the USA who master the manufacturing process of 3rd generation tubes. It is these GEN3+ thinfilm tubes, with performances equivalent or better than those of the American army, which are integrated in the OVNI-M.
Around the world some astronomers have experimented night vision observation with instruments such as the PVS-14. Despite good results, it is an instrument made for terrestrial use and suffers from many constraints for astronomy. This is how the OVNI-M was born, designed and optimized for astronomy, bringing many improvements such as :
- GEN3+ thinfilm tube with higher performance, higher characteristics
- possibility of using the OVNI-M at prime focus and in afocal
- possibility to use the OVNI-M without telescope, with the naked eye only
- manual gain control
- wider field
- tube with autogated function
- c-mount adapter
- use of DSLR lenses
- tube available in Green Phosphor (GP) or White Phosphor (WP) version