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Friday Night Lights: COD MW Dark Edition Pano NVGs

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) came out on November 9, 2009. The Prestige Edition of MW2 came with extras for the game including a set of digital night vision goggles. Fast forward almost a decade later and Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2019) just came out and just like its decade-old predecessor, this year’s Dark Edition MW came with real digital night vision goggles. From the interviews and sneak peeks it looked like the COD MW Dark Edition Pano NVGs might be quad tubes for the masses.

The Anticipation And Let Down Of MW NVGs

Back in 2009 night vision goggles were expensive. They were not as common as they are today and the allure of having affordable night vision goggles was not only tempting but potentially possible with the MW2 NVGs.

The MW2 NVGs were loosely based and designed after the PVS-7 night vision goggles. The PVS-7 is a single tube night vision device. The image from the single image intensifying tube (ITT) is split using a prism and bounced off a pair of mirrors into and out the rear eye pieces. While both eyes are getting a night vision image, it is the same image. To some people, it is better looking than a single monocular like a PVS-14 but for others, it is just a trick. The issue is the lack of stereoscopic imaging. Since the same image is being shown to each eye, the image is not 3 dimensional and you do not have good spatial awareness. I used a PVS-14 for over a year and when I tried a PVS-7 for the first time, it seemed better to me than the PVS-14. However, it was just a trick. Using actual dual tube night vision goggles is a 1000% better.

Anyway, as I said earlier the MW2 NVGs were loosely based on this design. Rather than a single ITT, the MW2 goggles use a single lens and a single CCD sensor. It shows you a single image which is split similarly to the PVS-7 so both eyes are looking at the same image.

The MW2 goggles are digital night vision however these are nothing like the SiOnyx Aurora. The CCD is not sensitive in low light. It is simply a color CCD sensor without an infrared filter. The MW2 goggles have an array of infrared (IR) LEDs to help illuminate low light areas or no light areas. The CCD sensor does not amplify light at all so it needs some light to see. These MW2 goggles have two modes; green and B&W. Although in daylight the B&W mode does show color. But if you use the B&W mode in the dark at night, it only shows you a black and white image. You can turn on lights in your house or use a bright flashlight to bring out the colors in the image.

Normally the MW2 NVGs came with a head strap. I removed it and modified mine using GoPro hinges and the GoPro helmet mount.

COD MW Dark Edition Pano NVGs

Back in the beginning of August, it was announced that the COD MW Dark Edition would come with night vision goggles. An interview was made about these goggles.

Unfortunately not much was gleaned from this interview. Other than these nerds trying hard to make these toy goggles sound cool. With a little bit of deductive reasoning, there was potential hope that the Dark Edition Pano NVGs could be legitimately panoramic like the real quad tube panoramic night vision goggles.

The Dark Edition Pano NVGs have what looked like four objective lenses in a panoramic shape. However, upon closer inspection, it appears one of the lenses is an array of four IR LEDs. The MW2 googles had a ring of seven IR LEDs around the objective lens and a second array of five IR leds off to the side.

I theorized that it could be possible for the Dark Edition Pano NVGs to mimic panoramic vision. The two outboard lenses could have their own CCD sensors and matching screens inside. The inboard lens would be just like the MW2 goggles. If it did function like imagined then it would resemble this Chinese made panoramic night vision goggles. Although the COD MW Dark Edition Pano NVGs are Chinese made as well so that is not saying much.

 

2019 MW Pano NVGs In Hand

The knobs on either side of the bridge are for adjusting inter pupilary distance. The indicator and lines provide reference for where the left and right monocular pods are positioned.

As expected one of the fake objective lenses is an array of four IR LEDs. There are two long-range LEDs, one on each monocular. It is a TIR style reflector and throws the IR light about 50 feet.

The left side monocular has the camera lens. Just to the right of it is a small dark circle. That is the ambient light sensor. If you walk into a room with lights, it shuts off the night vision aesthetic and IR illuminator. The goggles will display a full-color image.

The photos below were photographed with my SiOnyx Aurora camera.

The Dark Edition Pano NVGs have a folding mount that is attached to a head strap. The mount is styled after a Wilcox mount. Push the cylindrical button on the side and you can fold the Panos up. Squeeze the ribbed buttons on either side and you can slide the Panos forwards and backwards.

While the Panos can fold upwards, there is no tilt adjustment or height adjustment. You can shift the entire head strap to raise or lower the goggles with relation to your head and eyes.

At the back of the headstrap is a fake battery box modeled after the GPNVG-18 battery pack. The original MW2 NVGs had a functioning battery pack that housed 5xAA batteries. The 2019 Dark Edition Pano NVGs have an onboard rechargeable battery in the goggle housing. The wire going between the goggles and fake battery pack is vestigial. It is just a rubber cable. There is no metal wire inside.

Open the battery pack and you can see inside. You could put some metal inside to act as a counterweight to offset the weight of the Pano NVGs.

Remove the threaded cover plate and you can see the rubber cable goes nowhere and is just stuffed inside the fake battery pack.

On the left side of the Pano NVG housing is the micro USB recharging port.

Underneath the left monocular pod are the controls.

The closest button to your face is the power button. When you turn on the goggles a MW splash screen shows up. It takes about 11-12 seconds before the night vision starts working. The MODE button switches from white phosphor night vision to a black and white image. However when you are in a lighted area and the Panos switch to color, the MODE button will not do anything. Long Range activates the two long range IR illuminators.

Aside from pupillary distance adjustment, the Pano NVGs have a sort of diopter. The two switches you see above each respective eyepiece adjusts the rear lens to help you focus on the screen inside.

MW2 vs 2019 MW NVGs

One of the biggest differences other than aesthetics is the switch from the faux green phosphor color palette to a white phosphor color palette. Another big change is the field of view on the Pano NVGs. They are much wider. Take a look at the photos below.

Looking at my shed through the MW2 goggles.

The same position as above but shot through the 2019 Pano NVGs.

You can see in the photo above (I shot it with the unit upside down) it has onscreen indicators. A battery life meter and a mode icon. The mode icon is a little superfluous since you can see if you are in night mode or day mode. In a lighted room, the moon changes to an icon of the sun and the image goes full color. You can hear an audible clicking sound which makes be believe there is an IR filter and the sensor is flipping the filter off and on when switching to day or night mode.

One feature the 2019 Pano NVGs lack that the MW2 has is a front objective focus. There is no front focus adjustment on the new goggles.

The Panos do not have a giant face cup like the MW2 goggles. You have no peripheral vision using the MW2 goggles but with the Dark Edition Panos, you can look below the goggles and a little bit to the sides using your natural peripheral vision.

MW2 Prestige edition came with a bust of Soap MacTavish to display your toy NVGs. The 2019 Modern Warfare opted for a more functional display stand. It has ledges and tabs to hold the goggles, mount and fake battery pack.

Using The Dark Edition Pano NVGs

Since the lens is in the left monocular pod, if you want to shoot a gun, you are better off shooting it left handed. Or aim with a laser.

 

How does the Dark Edition Pano NVGs look compared to real white phosphor NVGs? Similar in color but performance is lacking.

Here is a video of some in-game footage. There is a night vision mode and it appears they went with White Phosphor in the game as well.

 

Since the battery pack and cable are nonfunctioning, I removed them and modified the MW Panos to interface with my real night vision mounts.

The modification was extremely simple. Use metric allen keys to remove the mount from the bridge. The mount has a small plate which you can see in the photo below. Unscrew that from the mount. Drill a small hole and bolt on a metal dovetail. I used one off of my Norotos Dual Dovetail adapter. But you can buy wilcox dovetails separately from TNVC. Ideally a fabricated replacement plate made out of delrin or 3D printing would be stronger than the thin ABS plastic plate I bolted the dove tail to. This is just a proof of concept.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, the Call Of Duty Modern Warfare Dark Edition Pano NVGs are just a toy. However, they could have gone the extra mile and made them functional Panos. They could have put another pair of lenses, one on each far side. Then have a corresponding screen and lens. That way your peripheral vision could pick up the outboard images. This would give you a more panoramic view. See the wasted space on the left and right sides of the eyepices?

Infinity Ward certainly mimicked the look of panoramic night vision goggles.

From the top they look very similar.

The Call of Duty Modern Warfare Dark Edition was a GameStop exclusive and it cost $200. However, if that is outside your budget you may be able to get these free paper goggles. They are like 3D glasses with green-tinted film to make your vision look like a stereotypical green night vision.

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