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Publication numberUS20070068058 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/238,209
Publication dateMar 29, 2007
Filing dateSep 29, 2005
Priority dateSep 29, 2005
Publication number11238209, 238209, US 2007/0068058 A1, US 2007/068058 A1, US 20070068058 A1, US 20070068058A1, US 2007068058 A1, US 2007068058A1, US-A1-20070068058, US-A1-2007068058, US2007/0068058A1, US2007/068058A1, US20070068058 A1, US20070068058A1, US2007068058 A1, US2007068058A1
InventorsMichael Remo
Original AssigneeMichael Remo
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Night vision monocular housing and universal system for using same in various applications
US 20070068058 A1
Abstract
A night vision monocular housing for containing an assembly of night vision components within, for releasably attaching the assembled night vision device to a universal rail having a plurality of ribs provided on the rail, including at least one raised portion provided on the surface of the housing, a clamping apparatus provided on a surface of the raised portion having first and second parallel protuberant walls defining a channel for snugly seating the universal rail within, the walls each having an inner surface and an outer surface thereof, wherein the inner surface of at least one wall is generally concave providing a mating surface for seating against an adjacent lateral side of the universal rail, and a biasing means for releasably attaching the clamping apparatus to the universal rail. An adapter for a preexisting night vision monocular device to be releasably attached to a rail surface, and a universal assembly for releasably mounting a novel night vision monocular to a particular application and switching the monocular to other mounted applications more quickly and efficiently, are also disclosed.
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Claims(21)
1. A novel night vision monocular housing for containing an assembly of night vision components within, for releasably attaching the assembled night vision device to a universal rail having a plurality of ribs provided on the rail, comprising:
at least one raised portion provided on the surface of the housing;
a clamping apparatus provided on a surface of the raised portion having first and second parallel protuberant walls defining a channel for snugly seating the universal rail within, the walls each having an inner surface and an outer surface thereof, wherein the inner surface of at least one wall is generally concave providing a mating surface for seating against an adjacent lateral side of the universal rail; and
a biasing means for releasably attaching the clamping apparatus to the universal rail.
2. The night vision device housing of claim 1, wherein the clamping apparatus further comprises a protuberant member perpendicular to the walls for seating in between two consecutive rails of a universal rail.
3. The night vision device housing of claim 1, wherein the concavity of the inner surface of the at least one wall of the clamping apparatus is beveled.
4. The night vision device housing of claim 1, wherein both the first and second walls of the clamping apparatus are generally concave.
5. The night vision device housing of claim 1, wherein the concavity of the inner surface of the at least one wall of the clamping apparatus resembles a dovetail.
6. The night vision device housing of claim 4, wherein the first wall is non-unitarily constructed with the clamping apparatus and both first and second walls having axially aligned bores defined therethrough, the bore of the second wall being threaded, the biasing means comprising:
a thumbscrew provided along the axis of the bores, whereby rotation of the threaded screw in a predetermined direction advances the thumbscrew within the threaded bore of the second wall advancing the first wall towards the second walls and securely gripping and attaching the clamping apparatus to the universal rail located between the first and second walls.
7. The night vision device housing of claim 1, wherein at least one of the first and second walls have a recess defined therethrough, the biasing means comprising:
a slidably advancing section provided within the recess, the advancing section and inner surface of the opposite wall having a generally concave contour for tightly seating against adjacent lateral surfaces of the universal rail; the slidably advancing section and opposite wall having axial bores provided therethrough, the bores being axially aligned with one another, and oriented perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the walls, the bore provided within the advancing section being threaded; and
a rotating axial member provided along the axis, whereby the axial member rotates to slidably advance the advancing section out of the recess and towards the adjacent lateral surface of the universal rail securely affixing the clamping apparatus to the universal rail.
8. The night vision device housing of claim 1, wherein the biasing means comprises a lever-actuated eccentric cam, whereby rotation of the lever locks the cam against the adjacent lateral side of the universal rail.
9. The night vision device housing of claim 8, wherein the lever-actuated eccentric cam is in communication with a cam bar disposed adjacent to the cam, the cam bar hingedly fixed to the second wall of the clamping apparatus, whereby rotating the lever operates to bias the cam bar away from the cam securely seating the cam bar under the adjacent lateral side of the universal rail, seating the adjacent lateral surface of the universal rail between the cam bar and the second wall on one side, and tightly seating the lateral surface of the universal rail adjacent to the first wall in the concavity of the inner surface of the first wall.
10. The night vision device housing of claim 1, wherein the universal rail is one of a weapon rail, a rail provided on a head mount adapter, a rail provided on a helmet mount adapter, and a rail provided on a dual monocular bracket.
11. The night vision device housing of claim 1, wherein the raised portion is unitarily constructed with the monocular housing.
12. The night vision device housing of claim 1, wherein the raised portion is of a non-unitary construction with respect to the housing and is attached to a preexisting night vision monocular housing.
13. The night vision device housing of claim 1, further comprising attachment means for attaching two novel night vision monoculars together for use as a binocular.
14. The night vision device housing of claim 13, wherein the attaching means comprises at least one embossment provided on the surface of the housing, the at least one embossment having an axial bore defined therethrough, whereby two housings may be coupled to a hinge apparatus and used as a binocular when the embossments are pinned to the hinge apparatus through the axial bore.
15. The night vision device housing of claim 1, further comprising a battery compartment located generally within the raised portion of the housing.
16. An adapter for a preexisting night vision monocular device to be releasably attached to a rail surface, the adapter comprising:
an upper surface provided with specific attachment provisions required to attach to the preexisting monocular mounting provision; and
a lower surface having a channel defined by first and second parallel frame members projecting from the lower surface of the adapter and extending parallel to the longitudinal axis of the channel, the first and second flame members having first and second inner surfaces, respectively, for engaging first and second lateral surfaces of the rail, respectively, wherein at least one of the first and second inner surfaces of the frame member have a groove defined along their longitudinal axis for accommodating the respective adjacent lateral surface of the universal rail within; and
a biasing means for releasably gripping the frame members to the lateral surfaces of the rail attaching the preexisting monocular to the rail.
17. The adapter of claim 16, wherein the attachment provisions provided on the upper surface of the adapter comprises:
a first and second wall projecting from the upper surface defining a slot therebetween, wherein the upper surface of the walls have inwardly depending flanges, and the inner surfaces of the first and second walls have grooves provided along their longitudinal axis; and
a male protuberance located perpendicularly within the slot, biased upwardly from the upper surface of the adapter, wherein the inwardly depending flanges function to retain a mounting bracket provided on the surface of the preexisting monocular when the bracket slidably engages with the grooves in the inner surfaces of the first and second walls.
18. The adapter of claim 16, wherein the attachment provisions provided on the upper surface of the adapter comprise at least one threaded member projecting axially upwards from the upper surface for engaging at least one corresponding threaded bore provided in a housing of the preexisting night vision monocular, and a rotating means for the threaded member provided on an adjacent lateral surface of the adapter.
19. A universal system for releasably mounting a novel night vision monocular to a particular application and switching the monocular to other mounted applications more quickly and efficiently, the system comprising:
a night vision monocular housing having a raised portion on at least one surface thereof, the raised portion provided with a clamping apparatus on an end, the apparatus having gripping walls and a biasing means for clamping lateral surfaces of a rail;
a headgear adapter having a first end for attaching to a preexisting headgear and a second end having a rail provided thereon for attaching to the clamping apparatus of the monocular; and
a dual monocular bracket having means for releasably attaching to a preexisting headgear, and also having a rail provided at both longitudinal extremities on the underside thereof for attaching to the clamping apparatus of the monocular at both extremities.
20. The system of claim 19, wherein the preexisting headgear is one of a helmet mount and a head mount.
21. The system of claim 19, further comprising an attachment apparatus for attaching two novel monoculars together for use as a binocular.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

I. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to night vision devices. More particularly, the present invention relates to a night vision device housing having improved means for mounting to a weapon and to headgear.

II. Description of the Prior Art

Night vision devices are a necessity in today's military and law enforcement applications. Besides allowing movement in low light conditions and even in complete darkness, attempts have been made to employ night vision monoculars on weapons, particularly rifles, in order to more accurately engage targets under these conditions. These attempts have all included the need for special mounts, which fasten to the monocular on one end of the mount, and fasten to the weapon on the other end. The weapon most often has a picatinny rail employed on its top surface, which the mount attaches to using various rail grabbing means known in the art.

Attempts to attach the monocular to the mount have included using screws to engage threaded bores located within the monocular housing. This suffers from the obvious need for small screws and bulky screwdrivers that may not only hinder the operative's objective, but also may easily be lost and render the night vision device inoperable in the weapon-mounted application.

Another attempt has been to provide a rectangular bracket on the housing of the monocular for engaging with special mounts. The bracket has flanges, which slide within grooves of the special mounts and the mount has a biased male protuberance which engages in a slotted portion of the bracket. This did away with the need for special tools and screws to mount the device to a weapon mount; however, it still requires a weapon mount to attach the device to a universal weapon rail.

Besides the need for mounting a night vision monocular to a weapon, they have also been employed on various headgear, i.e., helmet mounts and head mounts, for simply moving about in a low light or no light environment hands free. Even mounting these devices to different forms of headgear require the use of special adapters. These adapters attach to the monocular in much the same way as the weapon mount does. The adapter is fastened to the headgear using a stud provided on the adapter and a receptacle provided on the headgear. The other end of the adapter is then fastened to the monocular using the same means as which attaches the monocular to the weapon-mounted application as previously described. Other versions of night vision devices knows as goggles, which provides a sight picture for both of the operator's eyes, can be mounted to the same headgear, as night vision goggles also have a stud provided directly on the housing of the goggle for interfacing with the receptacle of the headgear. The use of two monoculars simultaneously as a binocular or google has also developed the need for a dual monocular bracket which also attaches to headgear in the same manner as the headgear adapters described herein.

These various weapon mounts and dual monocular brackets are an additional piece of equipment which may be lost or damaged in the field, hindering or preventing the ability of the operative to perform their duty, which may also endanger their life in a hostile environment. These weapon mounts also require two points of attachment in order to adapt the monocular to its specific task, requiring the operative to spend more time preparing their night vision device for the particular application.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a night vision monocular housing that solves the problems associated with the aforementioned prior art.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a night vision monocular housing that mounts directly onto a universal weapon rail without the need for a special weapon mount.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a night vision monocular housing with attachment means provided on the housing that can mount directly onto a universal weapon rail, a head/helmet mount adapter, and dual monocular bracket, independently.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a night vision monocular housing that is prepared by the operator for its particular application more quickly.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a night vision monocular housing that has a provision for quickly assembling two units into a binocular.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a night vision monocular housing of improved ergonomic shape by providing a centrally located battery compartment away from the periphery of the housing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in connection with the accompanying drawings disclosing preferred embodiments of the present invention. It should be understood, however, that the drawings are designed for the purpose of illustration only and not as a definition of the limitations of the invention. Similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the figures.

FIG. 1(a) is a left perspective view of a prior art night vision monocular housing manufactured by US NightVision designated USNV-14;

FIG. 1(b) is perspective view of a prior art weapon mount used to attach the monocular of FIG. 1(a) to a picatinny weapon rail;

FIG. 2(a) is a right perspective view of the monocular housing encompassing a first embodiment of the present invention having a thumbscrew clamping apparatus provided thereon;

FIG. 2(b) is a rear operator's view of the monocular housing of FIG. 2(a) securely affixed to a universal rail commonly found on most modern military rifles;

FIG. 3 is a right side view of the monocular mounted to a weapon rail of FIG. 2(b), but now the rail is shown attached to the upper receiver of an M4 rifle, and the monocular is shown behind an EOTech optical sight;

FIG. 4(a) is a right perspective view of the monocular housing encompassing a second embodiment of the present invention showing the monocular housing having a lever-actuated camping apparatus provided thereon;

FIG. 4(b) is a rear operator's view of the monocular housing of FIG. 4(a) securely affixed to a universal rail commonly found on most modern military rifles;

FIG. 5 is a right side view of the monocular mounted to a weapon rail of FIG. 4(b), but now the rail is shown attached to the upper receiver of an M4 rifle, and the monocular is shown behind an EOTech optical sight;

FIG. 6(a) is a right perspective view of the monocular housing encompassing a third embodiment of the present invention illustrating the monocular housing having a variant of the thumbscrew clamping apparatus of FIGS. 2-3;

FIG. 6(b) is a rear operator's view of the monocular housing of FIG. 6(a) securely affixed to a universal rail commonly found on most modern military rifles;

FIG. 7 is a right side view of the monocular mounted to a weapon rail of FIG. 6(b), but now the rail is shown attached to the upper receiver of an M4 rifle, and the monocular is shown behind an EOTech optical sight;

FIG. 8 is a mirror view showing the upper and lower perspective views of a fourth embodiment of the present invention illustrating a clip-on adapter that easily retrofits an existing night vision monocular to an embodiment illustrated in the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 8 illustrating how it attaches to an existing USNV-14 monocular showing the clip-on embodiment in phantom;

FIG. 10(a) is a front view of the monocular of the first embodiment of FIGS. 2-3 mounted to a headgear adapter to be used in conjunction with the present invention, for adapting the monocular to an existing head mount or helmet mount, shown here attached to a helmet mount;

FIG. 10(b) is a front view of the monocular of the second embodiment of FIGS. 4-5 mounted to a headgear adapter to be used in conjunction with the present invention, for adapting the monocular to an existing head mount or helmet mount;

FIG. 10(c) is a front view of the monocular of the third embodiment of FIGS. 6-7 mounted to a headgear adapter to be used in conjunction with the present invention, for adapting the monocular to an existing head mount or helmet mount;

FIG. 10(d) is a left side view of FIG. 10(a);

FIG. 11(a) is a front view of a dual monocular bracket having rail attachments for mounting two monoculars of the present invention shown in the embodiment of FIG. 13, to an existing head mount or helmet mount, shown here attached to a helmet mount;

FIG. 11(b) is a bottom perspective view of the dual monocular bracket of FIG. 11(a) showing attachment of two monoculars of the present invention in phantom;

FIG. 12(a) is a further embodiment of the present invention depicting a monocular of the embodiment of FIGS. 13, shown having attachment embossments provided on the surface of the monocular housing for attaching itself and a second identical monocular to a hinged apparatus for creating a hand held binocular;

FIG. 12(b) is an exploded view illustrating the attachment between the monocular of FIG. 12(a) and the hinged apparatus;

FIG. 13(a) is a rear operator's view of another embodiment of a monocular housing of the present invention shown mounted on a weapon rail with the identical clamping apparatus as depicted in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 6-7, but having the power switch and battery compartment relocated to a centralized location, creating a more ergonomic design; and

FIG. 13(b) is a perspective view of the monocular of FIG. 13(a).

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1(a) is an example of a prior art night vision monocular device 100 whose housing is manufactured by US Night Vision, designated USNV-14. Typical features on this device include ocular (not shown) and objective 199 lenses, power switch 190, battery compartment 150, and infrared illuminator spotlight focus knob 151. Bracket 130 is used for attaching the device to a special weapon mount 140 and to a headgear mount to adapt the night vision device to either application. The bracket is divided into two distinct fixtures 125, 127 defining a slot 135 therebetween perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the bracket. The top edges of the two fixtures 125, 127 of the bracket 135 have flanges 120.

The weapon mount 140 of the prior art (FIG. 1(b)) has a clamping apparatus 148 including a channel 141 for providing the bracket 135 a means for sliding within. The bracket flanges 120 of the housing 100 slide within grooves 142 on the inner surface of walls 145, 147 of the weapon mount 140. Flanges 144 provided on the top inner surface of walls 145, 147 retain the flanges 120 of the bracket 130 within grooves 142. A biased male protuberance 143 on the weapon mount 140 engages the slot 135, thereby locking the device 100 to the weapon mount 140. Release lever 146 retracts the protuberance 143 and disengages the weapon mount 140 from the bracket 130. On the opposite end of the weapon mount 140 is a rail grabber (not shown) used to mount to the universal rail of a weapon (not shown). This is one example of how a night vision monocular 100 of the prior art has been employed on a weapon rail.

Turning now in detail to the appended drawings, particularly FIGS. 2-3, therein illustrated is a first embodiment of a novel night vision monocular housing 200 embodying the concepts of the present invention. Monocular housing 200 is primarily cylindrical and hollow to accept the standard components of a night vision device, including but not limited to ocular 298 and objective lenses (not shown) and an image intensifier tube (not shown). The monocular housing has provided thereon a battery compartment 250 for containing the power source and a power switch 290. Optional infrared navigation light may have an adjustable focus knob 251 over it making it able to focus infrared light out to varying distances from the operator. This assists the operator in viewing under extreme low light or no light conditions, for example, indoors with no light present, since infrared light is below the discernible human visible spectrum, but can be seen with night vision equipment. Additional accessories are a sacrificial lens 270 shown on the end of the objective lens for its protection, a demist shield (not shown) covering the ocular lens on the other side of the monocular housing, and a rubber eyepiece 285 for shadowing out external light from the operator's viewing eye.

Of particular significance is a raised portion 240 which may either be an integral part of the monocular housing 200 and permanently fixed to it, or may be featured as a separate piece (discussed later) that may be clipped, screwed, or attached by any other means known in the art to existing housings. Raised portion 240 needs to have a sufficient height in order to raise the monocular housing high enough off of the universal rail 280 of the weapon 265 so as to be aligned with the optical sight 275, so that the sight 275 may be viewed and used in low or no light environments. A height of ⅝ has worked properly for this sight and has given the operator proper eye relief. However, especially if the raised portion 240 is detachable from the housing 200, raised portions 240 of varying heights may be offered and exchanged in seconds to maximize the operator's comfort and proper eye relief when using different sighting systems, rails, and weapons.

A clamping apparatus known in the industry as a “rail grabber” 230 for clamping onto various types of rails, is provided on the base of the raised portion 240 for securely attaching the housing 200 to the universal rail 280 of the weapon 265. The rail grabber 230 includes a channel 235 defined by two parallel protuberant walls 225, 227 for snugly seating a universal rail 280 within. The channel 235 is placed on top of the rail 280 with the monocular 200 facing in the proper direction. In the present embodiment, a thumbscrew 210 passing through the channel 235 is seated between two consecutive ribs 260 of the rail 280. The generally concave grooves 220 in the walls 225, 227 of the rail grabber 230 seat around the lateral surfaces 255 of the rail 280 when the housing 200 is placed on top of the rail 280. The contour of the grooves 220 of the walls 225, 227 compliment the contours of the lateral surfaces 255 of the rail which create a secure grasping area when tightened. These grooves 220 may be beveled into the inner surface and have a dovetail-shaped profile to compliment the tapered shape of the lateral sides 255 of the rail 280.

The thumbscrew 210 is provided as a biasing means for gripping the clamping apparatus 230 to the universal rail 280. A first wall 225 is provided as a non-unitary member with respect to the rest of the rail grabber assembly 230. A second wall 227 is provided as a unitary member and is an integral part of the assembly 230. The thumbscrew 210 passes through axially aligned bores provided through both walls 225, 227, with the bore of the second wall 227 being threaded. Tightening of the thumbscrew 210 advances the first wall 225 towards the second wall 227, which when mounted on rail 280 results in the secure gripping of the walls 225, 227 upon the lateral surfaces 255 of the rail 280. The thumbscrew 210 may optionally have a washer (not shown) installed between it and the first wall 225. The thumbscrew 210 is to be tightened enough so as to prevent the monocular 200 from shaking loose from the recoil of the weapon 265 as well as other vibrations and shock that a weapon 265 may encounter in a hostile environment.

FIGS. 4-5 depict a second embodiment of the night vision monocular housing 300 of the present invention. Similar to the first embodiment 200, a raised portion 340 is provided on the surface of the monocular housing 300 having a rail grabber apparatus 330. Also as in the first embodiment 200, the raised portion 340 may be provided as a single unitary construction with the housing 300 or may be provided as an independent piece that may be attached to a pre-existing housing in any number of ways known in the art. Pre-existing raised portions 340 of varying heights would also enable the operator more versatility in the field in choosing a correct height for proper eye relief.

The rail grabber 330 of the present embodiment differs slightly from that of the first embodiment. They share many common components, such as, a rail grabber clamping apparatus 330, a pair of adjacently spaced first and second walls 325, 327 on either side of channel 335, raised portion 340 to provide a clearance height for properly aligning the device 300 on a weapon rail 380 for use with an optical sight 375, power switch 390, battery compartment 350, infrared illuminator spotlight focus knob 391, ocular 398 and objective (not shown) lenses, and sacrificial lens 370. The inner surface of the first wall 325 in this embodiment has a beveled dovetail-shape contoured surface 320. A protuberant member 326 which seats between two consecutive ribs 360 of the rail 380 proves additional stability preventing forward and rearward movement of the rail grabber 330 on the rail 380 (the thumbscrew in the first embodiment accomplishes this). Alternatively, the second wall 327 has no beveled inner surface. It simply abuts the adjacent lateral surface 355 of rail 380 and the clamping biasing force is accomplished through the use of a biased cam bar 315. A lever 310 provided on the opposite side of an extended surface of the second wall 327 is in direct communication with a cam 317. After the monocular 300 is placed on the weapon rail 380, the operator rotates the lever 310 one hundred eighty degrees which rotates the cam 317 and locks the monocular 300 to the weapon rail 380. Towards the end of the lever's stroke (one hundred eighty degrees), the cam 317 comes into communication with cam bar 315 forcing it outwardly towards the rail 380 which grasps the underside of the adjacent lateral surface 355 of the rail 380 securely locking the two. The cam 317 locks the cam bar 315 in this position preventing it from retracting while the lever 310 is in this position. The inner surface of second wall 327 together with the cam bar 315 act to securely grip the rail 380 on that respective side, while the dovetail beveled inner surface 320 of the first wall 325 act to grip that respective side to the lateral side 355 of the rail 380. FIG. 5 shows the lever 310 in a locked position after the operator has placed the monocular 300 onto the rail 380 and rotated the lever 310 one hundred eighty degrees.

FIGS. 6-7 illustrate a third embodiment of the monocular housing 400 of the present invention. The rail grabber clamping apparatus 430 in this embodiment illustrates a variation of the first embodiment. A threaded member, or thumbscrew 410 is shown, similar to the embodiment shown in FIG. 2(a). However, here the threaded bore 428 is provided in an advancing section 429 contained within a recess in the second wall 427 that moves laterally in and out of the second wall 427. This section 429 preferably has a dovetail bevel 420 similar to that discussed in the previous embodiments for accommodating the later surface 455 of rail 480. The biasing means functions opposite to that of the first embodiment in FIGS. 2, that is upon advancement of a rotating axial member (ie, thumbscrew) 410, the advancing section 429 of the second wall 427 advances towards the rail 480 seated within the channel 435 of rail grabber 430. The rail grabber 430 is released from the rail 480 by turning the thumbscrew 410 in the opposite direction.

FIG. 8 illustrates a fourth embodiment of a device 500 that retrofits an existing night vision monocular 100 of the prior art to a weapon rail according to the present invention. The concept of utilizing the rail grabber clamping apparatus 530 and raised portion 540 as a non-unitary piece from the monocular housing 100 depicted in the upper reflection view, has previously been disclosed in the description of the first and second embodiments, although may also be used in any of the embodiments herein. The present embodiment affords the operator the ability to use a rail grabber clamping apparatus 530 of their choice, i.e., lever-actuated, thumbscrew, etc., as well as using a raised portion 540 that suits their height requirement for proper eye relief, all in one predetermined adapter 500. The attachment means on the upper surface of the adapter 500 may be provided to suit an existing monocular 100 according to its own attachment requirements. The bottom reflection view shows an attachment means known for the USNV-14 monocular 100 of the prior art.

For this type of monocular, the upper surface of the device 500 has a channel 541 defined between two adjacent parallel frame members 545, 547 that project from the upper surface. The inner surfaces of these frame members 545, 547 preferably have grooves 542 cut along their lengths. The top edges of the clamping apparatus 548 have flanges 544 formed on them so that the monocular mounting bracket 130 (FIG. 1(a)) can slide within grooves 542 and be held within the channel 541 by the flanges 544. The monocular 100 (FIG. 1(a)) is locked in place when a biased male protuberance 543 provided within the channel 541 oriented perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis of the channel 541 engages with a slot 135 in the bracket 130 that divides the bracket into two fixtures 125, 127 (see FIGS. 1 and 9).

The monocular housing of the present invention must also be adaptable to use on head mounts and helmet mounts as monoculars of the prior art are. Existing headgear is satisfactory and for simplicity, there is no need for special headgear to be manufactured to be used with the present invention. It affords the operator with various features as illustrated on the helmet mount in FIGS. 10, including angular adjustment knob 720, a detachable headgear body 740 and detach button 760 which allows for removal of the body and avoids wasted time in taking off and reapplying the entire assembly 700, helmet mounting hooks 750, a rail 730 and rail adjustment knob 770 for adjusting the distance between the monocular 200, 300, 400 and the operator's eyes for proper eye relief, and pivot hinge 780 for flipping the night vision 200, 300, 400 device up and away from the operator's view when not needed.

For many makes of night vision monoculars, headgear is provided and supplied with an adapter similar to the adapter 600 to be used with the present invention, shown in FIG. 10. This adapter 600 attaches to the headgear (helmet and head mounts) as described in Kastendieck et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,697,783, using a stud 610 provided on one end of the adapter and a receptacle provided on the headgear (750 in FIG. 12(a)). The opposite end of the adapter of the prior art attaches to the monocular with the required mounting provision for the specific monocular used, ie, holes for screw fastening, or a bracket as discussed in the prior art monocular 100 USNV-14 of FIGS. 1 and 9.

To accommodate the present invention, however, this bracket 600 can be provided with a short picatinny rail 280, 380, 480 in place of the attachment provisions provided with known headgear adapters. This would enable the rail grabber clamping apparatus 230, 330, 430, 530 (FIGS. 2(a), 4(a), 6(a), 8) of the present invention to quickly attach and detach from an otherwise existing headgear adapter. The headgear adapter 600 to be used in conjunction with the monocular 200, 300, 400, 4000 (FIGS. 2, 4, 6, and 11) of the present invention or the clip-on embodiment 500 of FIG. 8, would have to be manufactured having a different arc angle for proper eye relief. The headgear adapter of the prior art mounts closely to the surface of the prior art monocular housing. Due to the raised portion 240, 340, 440, 540, 4400 on the monocular housing 200, 300, 400, 500, 4000 of the present invention, the adapter 600 to be used in conjunction with the present invention must have its mounting provision 280, 380, 480 higher from the operator's sight plane than the current location of the mounting provision of the headgear adapter of the prior art. This is required to maintain proper sight alignment and eye relief. As discussed earlier, a raised portion 240, 340, 440, 540, 4400 of ⅝ was found to work well, so contouring the headgear adapter 600 so that its picatinny rail 280, 380, 480 would attach to the rail grabber apparatus 230, 330, 430, 530, 4300 of the monocular housing 200, 300, 400, 500, 4000 of the present invention about ⅝ higher from the operator's sight plane relative to where the adapter of the prior art would attach to a monocular 100 of the prior art, would compensate for the raised portion 240, 340, 440, 540, 4400.

FIGS. 11 illustrate an embodiment compatible with any of the embodiments discussed herein. It relocates the power switch 490 and battery compartment 450 (FIGS. 6) from the periphery of the monocular housing 4000 to closer to the center of mass of the monocular unit 4000. The power switch 4900 is offset to the side of raised portion 4400 and a centrally located bore 4500 within the raised portion 4400 of the monocular 4000 houses the battery compartment 4500. This eliminates the clumsiness associated with handling an obtrusively shaped monocular and results in a sleeker and more ergonomic design. The infrared illuminator has been omitted for simplicity of the drawing, but may easily be encompassed in this or any other embodiment.

Certain mission requirements may call for a night vision goggle for use with both eyes, known as a PVS-7. These devices use a single image intensifier tube that displays the same image in both lenses for both of the operator's eyes to view. Other missions may require a night vision goggle that provides better depth perception than these single image tube goggles are able to provide. Consequently, many military and police helicopter pilots are issued PVS-14B night vision goggles, which are two single monoculars (PVS-14's) attached together through the use of a bracket resulting in a dual image tube goggle, rather than a single image tube goggle (PVS-7). FIG. 12 illustrate a bracket 800 that may be used with two monoculars 4000 of the present invention. Picatinny rails 880 are provided on the lower surface of the bracket to facilitate mounting of two monoculars 4000 of the present invention. This bracket 800 is then attached to a headgear 700 of the prior art, again as described in Kastendieck et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,697,783, using a stud 810 provided on one end of the bracket 800 and a receptacle 750 provided on the headgear 700. A bracket of the prior art has stud 810 located on its upper surface, however with the addition of the rails 880 to the bracket 800 to be used in conjunction with the present invention, it lowers the overall sight plane of the monoculars and therefore the lever 810 is provided on the lower surface of bracket 800 to compensate for this. The bracket 800 has features in common with that of the prior art, such as adjustment knobs 890 so that the operator may move the monoculars 4000 laterally to adjust for proper eye relief.

The monocular of the present invention as well as monoculars of the prior art have the provision for mounting a magnification lens over the objective lens for long distance viewing under low light conditions. If the operator wishes to use the dual monocular configuration discussed herein as a binocular for quick viewing without the need for mounting both to headgear or the use of the dual monocular bracket 800, FIGS. 13 illustrate an embodiment that most easily accomplishes this. The present embodiment provides for quick attachment of a hinge apparatus 900 to the periphery of the monocular housings 4000. In this embodiment, a pair of square shaped embossments 940 are provided on the surface of each monocular 4000, the embossments 940 each having a through hole 950 aligned axially parallel to the longitudinal axis of the monocular 4000. The embossments 940 are provided away from the clamping apparatus 4300 discussed earlier, to avoid clearance problems. A simple U-shaped hinge apparatus 900 with through holes 960 provided at both ends of the U are pinned 920 between the embossments 940 holding the hinge apparatus 900 to each respective monocular 4000. The base of the U-shape preferably compliments the contour of the monocular surface so as to provide a flush mating surface preventing rotation at the pinned sections and only permit rotation at the center hinge 930. To further prevent rotation at the connection points, the embossments 940 may be made longer and have two axially aligned through holes 950 for two pin 920 attachments per monocular 4000, with corresponding through holes 960 provided in the U-shaped hinge (not shown).

Another simple apparatus which attaches two monoculars 4000 together to create a hand held binocular, would be a hinged double-sided picatinny rail 1000 as illustrated in FIGS. 14. Although this may have size limitations for current production monoculars, with the progression of technology, the size of monocular housings and their components are expected to decrease in size making this apparatus a simple and viable connection means.

Other changes and modifications may be made as will be apparent to those skilled in the art. For example, other types of “rail grabbers” known in the art to be used to engage with picatinny rails may be substituted for the specified examples. Similarly, the upper surface of the adapter embodiment may have other means for attaching to existing night vision monoculars provided on its top surface that is specific to the type of monocular being used, and may also be known in the art. The term universal rail and picatinny rail were interchanged through the specification, however other types of rails known in the art, i.e., Weaver rail, etc., are also compatible with the spirit if this invention. The specified embodiments were only intended to be exemplary and not an exhaustive list of possible embodiments that may be used that still capture the scope of the invention. Variations thereof are still encompassed in the scope of the invention. Therefore it is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7945967 *Jul 11, 2007May 24, 2011L-3 Insight Technology IncorporatedMethod and apparatus for mounting a vision system
US8116015 *Dec 18, 2008Feb 14, 2012Sheltered Wings, Inc.Monocular with attachment points
US8806796Feb 22, 2013Aug 19, 2014Prezine, LlcCam lever mount
US20080263752 *Dec 14, 2005Oct 30, 2008Insight Technology, Inc.Method and Apparatus for Mounting a Vision System
Classifications
U.S. Classification42/122
International ClassificationF41G1/38
Cooperative ClassificationF41G1/32, F41G1/387, F41G11/003
European ClassificationF41G1/387, F41G11/00B4, F41G1/32