ATN makes thermal and night vision devices and weapon sights. RF offered me an opportunity to play around with one of their bi-oculars—one objective in to two eyepieces—the Voyager 5-2, and I couldn’t say no. The “5” stands for 5x magnification and the “2” tells you that the Voyager sports Gen 2 image intensifier tubes. If you’ve never used one, night vision devices intensify ambient visible and infrared light within a scene. With any night vision device, the first spec to look for is the generation number of the light intensifier. The generation determines two things: the quality of the intensified image and cost . . .
There are four different generations and all are still available on the market. While increasing the quality of the image is always a good thing, the catch is that each incremental generational jump approximately doubles the price.
ATN classifies the Voyager 5-2 as a medium range device and street price is about $2000, plus or minus a Benjamin. Its digital user controls include automatic brightness adjustment, a bright light cut-off and a low battery indicator. The Voyager will focus from 5 meters out to infinity and it has a proximity sensor which identifies the user’s intention to look through the bi-ocular. That means that when you raise the bi-ocular up to your eyes, it automatically turns on. Lower them and it turns itself off – pretty slick.
The Voyager’s body is made of plastic, but it’s very sturdy and well built. A hand strap increases comfort and helps protect against butterfingers. The unit can also be mounted on a tripod. The lens cap is captive, so when removed, it remains on the device to keep mindless folk like myself from losing it. I can’t even tell you how many camera lens caps I’ve lost.
And the lens cap on a night vision device is very important as having the device turned on in daylight can damage the intensifier tube. The Voyager’s cap has a 1/2-inch hole in its center to reduce the amount of light transmitted if needed when viewing a more highly illuminated scene.
The first thing I did to test this thing out was to take the Voyager down into my basement, turn off all the lights and see what I could see. And I saw, in a word, nothing, zilch, nada. OK…so that’s three words. Whatever, the reason I couldn’t see my furnace and water heater was because night vision intensifies existing light. Since all the lights were off and I have no windows in my basement, there was no existing light down there to be magnified.
So, I powered up the infrared flashlight that’s included with the Voyager and voila, my basement lit up like a menorah on the 8th night. The included infrared light, which ATN calls an illuminator, can be mounted on top of the unit and is spec’d to reach 100 yards. Naturally I had to try it out to see. Turns out that truth in advertising prevails, and it really does reach out to about 100 yards.
Back inside, I doused the lights and closed the door to my office. The room was lit by only the power lights on my telephone and fax machine—yes, I still use one of those things — and I could see everything, clear as day. Very cool.
ATN states the Voyager can be used for boating, camping, home security and wildlife observation. I would certainly add hunting to that list and let’s not forget tracking down those ever-present zombies. I can’t even believe I used that word.
Field of View: 9.5°
Infrared Illuminator: Detachable IR450
Power supply: 1 x 1.5V AA type or 1 x 3V CR123A battery
Battery life: 60 hours (3V) / 30 hours (1.5V)
Size: 254x140x78 mm/10″x5.5″x3.1″
Weight: 1.3 kg / 2.9 lbs
MSRP: $2100 (about $2000 street)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Build Quality: * * * * *
The Voyager is nothing if not sturdy
Picture Quality: * * and * * * * *
It gets two stars because it’s a Gen 2, so it’s image isn’t up to the current state of the art. But as a Gen 2 optic, it does what it’s made to do as well as you’d want it to.
Ease of Use: * * * * *
Simple interface with nice automatic features. Pretty much all you’d want.
Overall: * * * * *
Great for what it is, but spending more and getting a higher generation optic will get you a much better image.