Unfortunately, true night vision in even the lowest quality can cost hundreds of dollars just for the optic alone, excluding hardware necessary to mount the optic to a helmet or airsoft rifle. It's expensive technology. However, there are alternative methods for seeing in the dark. There are several versions of educational night vision viewers and toy spy binoculars available on the market for kids and...um...well, geeks like me. They utilize low-lux cameras, infrared illumination, and a display for a more affordable $50-$80 system that can still see in the dark. This is the system I chose to utilize.
Being inspired by DIY'ers like Kipkay, and reading books like 50 Spy Gadgets for the Evil Genius, I chose to invest the money to build my own infrared night vision viewer. Besides, both of those night vision builds use parts that can only be scavenged, not purchased individually. I wanted to show how to build a unit from stuff you can buy online easily or at the store.
For more information on how to build this type of system, here's some helpful links:
KipKay's Night Vision instructable:
Longwinter's Steampunk Night Vision Periscope build:
Lucidscience (50 Spy Gadgets for the Evil Genius) Night Vision build:
Alex1M6's IR Night Vision illuminator:
So let's get started. Remember, don't get into any trouble with this, and don't expect this to compete with real night vision devices. This is intended to be a proof of concept. Let's begin!