Black Boxing Night Vision: Why & How to do it

So, you didn't listen to our guide on How to Take Care of Night Vision, and now you've blemmed your device. Or someone at an airsoft event or force-on-force training shined a laser in your tube. Or whatever happened. Sh*t, we feel your pain. 

We know you're bummed, because we've been there. Luckily, there's a way that you may be able to reverse some of the damage. It's not a guarantee, but it's the best thing you've got.

Why Black Box Night Vision?

night vision blemishes
Image courtesy of Optics Planet

For photocathode oversaturation damage. This was caused by too much photon exposure in some way or another. It could have been leaving a battery in your device as you put it in the closet turned on, and now you have a thin line blem from where the door was leaking light. It could be because your girlfriend was staring at the moon while looking at the stars. Or because a laser flashed across your objective when it bounced off a mirror or was emitted from someone else's rifle. Or, maybe you were daynoodling to flex on the 'gram.

So anytime you want to try and remove (or reduce) these blems from your night vision device, you should be black boxing it.

What is Black Boxing Night Vision?

First, let's cover what black boxing NVGs actually is. It's really not rocket science, it's just running your device in a place with no light. 

If the blemish was caused by oversaturating your photocathode with photons while it was on, it makes sense to try and run it with no incoming photons to see if we can kind of "reset" that area of the photocathode. Kind-of sort-of the night vision equivalent of turning off the router and turning it back on.

What Will Black Boxing Fix? 

Tough to say, as it's not an exact science. In general, we'll say it will fix the minor over-exposure blemishes, reduce the severity of the medium ones, and probably won't do anything for more severe ones.

For example, say you're overwatching a house, and not moving. You're doing some secret squirrel sh*t, and you can't risk being seen. After the op, you notice that you have some dark spots where the porch lights were when watching. Depending on the brightness of those lights, you might be able to get rid of those blems by a good black boxing.

However, let's say you made entry into that house. This is actually an airsoft event, and your retard buddy flags your NODs with a high power laser as you enter a room from different sides. Now you're probably f*cked, because a high power laser blem is not likely to disappear. 

How to Black Box Night Vision

Great news, this is super easy to do. The toughest part about this is just not having access to your device for a few days. If at all possible, stop using your device and start these steps immediately upon noticing the blem. There's some debate in the community as to how much the speed of black boxing really matters. However, there's no debate that says it's worse to do it faster, so might as well take every edge you can get.

Step One: Put Your Caps On

Seems pretty simple, but let's put on the things designed for stopping the light to the device. Not daycaps, not just stopping an iris device down, put on caps that will block out all light. 

Step Two: Put the Device in a Dark Container

The darker the better. Realistically, if you have your caps on, how dark the box is won't make much of a difference. At this point though, we will take whatever fraction of a percent of a chance increase at getting rid of that blem. So we'll use the darkest container we can find. This is usually the small hard case it came in. Turn the device on with a fresh battery and close the lid.

Step Three: Put the Box in a Dark Place

See a theme here? At this point, there's definitely zero chance light is getting to that tube, but we don't care. I'm stuffing it in the back of that closet I never use, and throwing a blanket over it. 

Step Four: Let it Run for a Few Days

Now we wait. You're going to need to change batteries a few times. If you're doing this to a PVS-14, you'll definitely be getting 2 days of battery life at room temperature while not amplifying any light. For a dual-tube device, just call it 24 hours, and change it every night at the same time. Let it run like this for a week if possible, and avoid the temptation to pull the caps off and look around every time you change the battery to see if it's better yet.

Step Five: Pray

That's all you can do at this point. Just pray that blem goes away, make some deals with the devil, whatever you have to do. You're doing all you can do, at this point it's just going to come down to luck and the gods of image intensification.

Did it work?

For your sake we're hoping so, but if not, don't worry. Plenty of people run blemished tubes. Just ask anyone who's used night vision in the military. As civilians we have the luxury of spec sheets, and handpicking cosmetics. Even if you have a permanent blem, we're willing to bet that the tube is still usable for most purposes. Don't beat yourself up too bad, get out at night, and appreciate that you still have a super power. 

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