I love light, physics, optics, and electronics. I started designing night vision optics a few years ago when I got into playing airsoft with some buddies. After a couple miserable night games, I was inspired to build something better than a flashlight. Since night vision is typically expensive to buy, I chose to build a digital system and it ended up working out great! Thus, my love for building optics (particularly night vision) was born.
You can also check out one of my older digital night vision optic instructables here:
Night vision is actually much easier (and cheaper) to make than you might think and can be done using nothing more than a few off the shelf parts. Since it's a digital system, you don't need a tube or a fancy power supply. Also, unlike real night vision (image intensified), it can even be used in the daytime. There are tons of instructables and other resources about building digital night vision, but it's often hard to make because of the hardware or lack of a cohesive enclosure. With 3D printing, I've been able to solve those issues and experiment with designing a digital monocular that I've named...The OpenScope.
The OpenScope is my attempt to design a simple DIY digital night vision monocular with a 3D printed enclosure. It features an adjustable camera on the front, a 10mm 200mw IR LED for illumination, a removable battery cover, and a lens collar that will fit a flexible eye cup (Ninjaflex works good). The video connection this optic uses could also be plugged into an input or an output to use the optic in other ways, like for viewing FPV drone footage, recording video, using with a wireless camera, and more. Hence the term, OpenScope.
This instructable will show you how to build your very own 3D printed OpenScope monocular.
Estimated total printing time is around 20-25 hours. I used PLA and NinjaFlex for all the printed bits.
This optic is intended for educational and recreational use only.
Please use responsibly and use common sense.
Here's a few features of the OpenScope digital monocular:
I used SketchUp for the 3D design. I've been using SketchUp for almost 10 years and know how to make the geometry I need with the tools I have as well as some awesome free plugins like RoundCorner and the STL plugin.
I started off by modeling the bare electronic components I wanted to use for the optic such as the display, camera, 9V battery, switches, LED, etc. After I found the optical axis of the screen, eyepiece lens, and the camera, I started building around them. I used groups to keep the model organized and tidy.
I decided to make the front of the optic a separate piece that uses a ball & socket type system to adjust the orientation of the camera. I'm sure there's other ways to do this, but this was the best solution I could think of at the moment. I did this because I wanted to be able to use the monocular for both right or left eye use and still allow the ability to align the image with natural vision in the other eye. I implemented screw in clamps that tighten over the ball to help secure it in place.
The battery box has enough to fit the 9V and had room to spare for wiring and connections.
The screen and accompanying board were designed to be glued to both sides of a block with grooves to help ensure that it is inserted the correct way.
The eye cup was an afterthought that I decided would give the distinguished look of a optic. I would also say it adds some additional comfort when using it.
Finally, I chose to add the project logo and text labels to the enclosure.