US 20070068058 A1
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.
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
3. The night vision device housing of
4. The night vision device housing of
5. The night vision device housing of
6. The night vision device housing of
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
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
9. The night vision device housing of
10. The night vision device housing of
11. The night vision device housing of
12. The night vision device housing of
13. The night vision device housing of
14. The night vision device housing of
15. The night vision device housing of
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
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
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
21. The system of
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.
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.
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.
The weapon mount 140 of the prior art (
Turning now in detail to the appended drawings, particularly
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.
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.
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 (
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
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
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. 11 illustrate an embodiment compatible with any of the embodiments discussed herein. It relocates the power switch 490 and battery compartment 450 (
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).
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
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.