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The Importance of Night Vision Test Equipment

The Importance of Night Vision Test Equipment

A Collaborative Effort between James Coffman of Hoffman Engineering & Tyler Roberts of Licentia Arms Co.

Hoffman Engineering LLC (Part of AGI HOLDINGS LLC) was founded in 1955 by J. Gordon Hoffman. The initial charter of the company called for it to support the photometric needs of the aircraft panel and instrument manufacturers. At that time, color and luminance requirements were becoming more stringent and most companies did not have the equipment necessary to measure performance. Mr. Hoffman recognized their need and began performing photometric tests in his NBS (NIST) traceable laboratory. In addition to laboratory services, he expanded the business by designing test equipment to support the aerospace market. However, Mr. Hoffman’s golden rules were simple “the customer comes first, have open honest communication, and the team can always achieve more than the individual!”

     In the early 1980’s, Hoffman’s laboratory expanded into night vision measurement and evaluation of aviation crew station devices and soon became known as the industry experts. Hoffman working closely with night vision image tube manufactures, developed test equipment that revolutionized the industry. The test equipment offered MIL compliant measurement capabilities of Image Tube values such as: Gain, Signal to Noise, EBI (Equivalent Background Illumination), resolution, spot defects and image quality. We still value those relationships to this day.

     Through direct customer feedback HOFFMAN then developed the ANV-126A and it remains the industry standard all around the world. Hoffman regularly collaborates with US Military and US Night Vision representatives from all facets in an effort innovate or remain at the forefront of night vision testing. Our latest offering from Hoffman Engineering is the HOFFMAN VISION SYSTEM (HVS-126A).  The HVS-126A is a computerized system to evaluate night vision goggle / device image quality. The HVS-126A has simply revolutionized the evaluation process to give fast accurate results time after time, which, until now has been a slow and laborious task for NVG maintenance personnel.

    The HVS-126A utilizes a high-resolution camera system to capture live images generated by the Hoffman ANV-126A test set through a night vision goggle. The images are analyzed by proprietary software running on a Microsoft® Surface Pro 4™ Tablet. There is no longer a requirement for the maintenance personnel to be dark adapted; the process is carried out under normal lighting conditions. Test results are automatically calculated, and a Pass / Fail is displayed for Resolution at both high and low light settings, and Spot Defects. All testing is achieved in a fraction of the time it would take to carry out this task manually, giving fast, accurate, consistent results and significantly improving productivity and, most of all, operational safety. Test results are automatically stored in a specified location with captured images. This information can be retrieved for future reference and evaluation.

     In addition to the groundbreaking advances in calibration, laboratory services and equipment for the lighting and night vision industries, Hoffman has developed and produced hi-integrity engineered LED lighting solutions for Aerospace, Military, Defense, Law Enforcement, and other demanding markets where quality and reliability are crucial. Hoffman’s Lighting solutions include both interior and exterior lighting such as the first FAA approved PAR64 LED Landing Lights.  All of Hoffman’s fully compliant lighting solutions offer cost savings by increasing reliability, reducing down time, and significantly reducing power consumption.

     Hoffman Engineering’s continues to thrive in both night vision and lighting. Hoffman continues to expand product offerings, as they evolve with the ever-changing and demanding markets to meet the needs of the Night Vision, Aerospace Lighting and Ground Vehicle Markets. HOFFMAN success has revolved around Mr. Hoffman’s simple golden rules “the customer comes first, have open honest communication, and the team can always achieve more than the individual!” One of the most recent collaborations was with a company called Licentia Arms Co. Licentia Arms saw a need within the industry and took steps to help fill it. They reached out to us for support. Over several conversations we understood what direction they were heading and wanted to do whatever we could do to help.

     Licentia Arms Co. believes in the importance of night vision test equipment. Licentia Arms pointed out that over the last 10 years the night vision industry has been fortunate enough to have grown dramatically in size and market.  They knew with technological advancements in manufacturing and tube development, products continue to get better and more accessible in different markets. Currently the three main domestic markets are government, law enforcement, and commercial sales.  Although these three markets are drastically different, they all demand quality products for their applications.

     Licentia Arms Co. operates by placing an emphasis on education, pushing standards, and quality.  These are at the core of Licentia Arms’ business.  Very integral to the success and quality of their products is Hoffman night vision test equipment.  Working closely with Hoffman Engineering, Licentia Arms has a suite of in-house state of the art Hoffman Test equipment used to build complete systems and quality check tubes & finished goods.  They use an ANV-126a with the HVS-126a and a full suite of 126a additional equipment.

     When discussing their business and the quality of their product, Tyler Roberts of Licentia Arms says, “Implementation of proper night vision test equipment is a must, due to the unique nature of tubes, vastly different contract requirements, and the nature of manufacturing complete systems. The equipment ensures a quality product that is manufactured correctly. Also, allowing us the ability to have an objective performance baseline. This baseline helps streamline business between the industry and ensuring our customers receive a quality product built to spec.”

     Licentia Arms’ test equipment is used in three main areas, tube inspection, building systems, and maintenance.  When tubes arrive from L3Harris and Elbit Systems of America, all tubes are checked against contract specs upon arrival.  “This inspection is completed with our Hoffman ANV-700, which allows us to inspect, test, and match tubes for systems without having to rely solely on the data sheet.  This gives us the ability to have a quality control process on tubes well before they are built into complete systems,” says Tyler.  Tyler explains, “By doing this, it saves time and almost eliminates returned product due to defect.  Next, tubes are prepped and matched, and then assembled into systems.  Once assembled, we use our ANV-126a to properly set infinity, diopter, and binocular collimation.  With this process, it ensures an objective baseline for all goggle assembly.  We can consistently deliver to our customers while also eliminating inefficiencies in our business processes by using the Hoffman Test equipment.”

     Through open communication we found Licentia Arms Co. and HOFFMAN Engineering share very similar goals within night vision. We further agree the future of night vision revolves around open communication and working together. That is why Mr. Hoffman was way ahead of his time when he implemented his golden rules “the customer comes first, have open honest communication, and the team can always achieve more than the individual.” We believe in these rules and like Licentia Arms understand that customers need us. By maintaining these simple golden rules, the sky is the limit within the night vision industry!