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EQUIPMENT

This section really should be called “How I spent a fortune on stuff I just had to have, but mostly didn’t need” or “A gadget lover’s wet dream”.
Trying to observe or capture footage of something that usually only comes out at night, is very smart and shy and seems to anticipate your every move, is an expensive process.

Over many years my pile has grown to ridiculous size. Each new technological innovation offered what I hoped would be a gadget to finally allow me to reach my goal.

Israeli Infra-red goggles

Israeli Infra-red goggles

I remember how excited I was many years ago when I was able to buy my first piece of equipment, a set of Israeli surplus infra-red goggles. These were state of the art in the 1960s, and work very well, as long as you have a good IR illuminator to go with them. At the time, the best illuminator I could find was made up of a US Army surplus IR filter which fit over the front of a spotlight.

Russian gen1 binoculars

Russian gen1 binoculars

Then along came the Russians with a pair of Gen1 binoculars. They were followed by a US Army surplus PVS-2 Gen1 rifle scope, which I was smart enough to sell before the Israeli version flooded the market. It was huge and cumbersome.

Russian gen1 rifke scope w/ IR illuminator

Russian gen1 rifle scope w/ IR illuminator

PVS-7s, Gen2

PVS-7s, Gen2

For everyday or night use, what Squatcher would be without a pair of PVS-7s, the Army gen2 binoculars , with an adjustable IR illuminator. These run forever on a pair of AA batteries and can be focused up close for nighttime map reading.

Crummy gen1 Russian scope w/ transmitting camera attached

Crummy gen1 Russian scope w/ transmitting camera attached

Of course I HAD to get a couple Russian Gen1 scopes, complete with their own IR illuminators. On one of them I fastened a camera to the eyepiece; however, that scope was poor quality and the resulting pictures were disappointing.

RAPTO gen3 6x scope

RAPTOR gen3 6x scope

The RAPTOR scope is very sensitive and needs only the slightest IR illumination on pitch black nights to see a long way. I purchased a 940nm  laser illuminator with an adjustable beam which permits me to see for hundreds of yards..

Ratheon PalmIR 250 Thermal Imager

Ratheon PalmIR 250 Thermal Imager

The Ratheon 250 has worked faultlessly for over 8 years. With its Video Out port I can connect a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) to it to capture the action. It is this device that allowed me to record my recent sighting.

For recording I have a number of DVRs, a Toshiba, a Vosonic, two Apitek small video cameras with Video In ports, and a number of camcorders. The Aipteks are remarkably inexpensive, well under $200 each, and while they need SD cards for good memory storage, they provide the best bang for the buck for on-and-off-again filming. The other DVRs cost a bunch, but have huge hard drive memories.

Various recording devices

Various recording devices

Illumination is very important, but an ongoing problem, since Sasquatches seem to notice the faint glow given off by the common illuminators which are 850nm. Unfortunately, all the night vision equipment I have which has built in illuminators are 850nm. The two big LED illuminators in the upper left of the photo are 940nm…. and hence give off no discernable red glow. They work very well with good night vision, and with some TV cameras, but not all. They also require an exterior battery source. The two illuminators on the upper right are 850s.

The lower left shows three small but powerful and focusable 850 illuminators, great for boosting handheld gen1 equipment. The big funny-looking gadget on the lower right is the 940nm laser. It, along with a small rechargeable 12v battery, fits snugly in an old “Bag” cell phone case.

Illumination devices

Illumination devices

Transmitters, receivers and antenna

Transmitters, receivers and antenna

The ability to place a camera in a remote spot, and have it transmit to a small TV or recording device (DVR), has always interested me…. And this stuff is CHEAP!!! 2.4gh cameras, with built-in transmitters and (unfortunately) 850 illuminators and a 4-channel receiver are around $100 or less. The range… line of sight… is around 200 feet. The large off-white box in the right side of the photo is an amplifying antennae which replaces the antennae on the stock receivers. With this antennae ranges well in excess of 1000’ are easily obtained as long as the line of sight is clear. This antennae, hooked to a 4-channel receiver, you can set it to scan 4 remote cameras at a time.

Here are two photos of a set-up I have used to shoot out of the back of my Highlander.

FULL BORE SET UP

FULL BORE SET UP

FULL BORE SET UP

The tripod holds both the thermal imager and the Raptor scope. There is a camcorder fastened to the rear of the scope, and the signal from it is sent to the DVR below it. On top of the thermal imager is an Aiptek camcorder being used as a DVR. Hanging below is one of my 940nm illuminators, powered by a 5 amp 12v rechargeable battery.

DVR

Finally, there is a photo of my 4-channel 110v DVR and monitor. The advantages of these are reliability, a 150-gig memory and the ability to not only scan all 4 channels, but set motion detection programs for each camera separately. The downside is the 110v requirement. I used this set-up in a habituation situation in Florida for months.

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