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Night Vision System Offered for Performance Boats

The Nighthawk system incorporates a FLIR thermal imaging camera on a retractable bracket from manufactured by Latham Marine.

The Nighthawk system incorporates a FLIR thermal imaging camera on a retractable bracket manufactured by Latham Marine.

Electronics Unlimited of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has developed a night-vision system specifically for high-performance powerboats. The system incorporates a power-raised-and-retracted (see video), deck-mounted infrared digital video camera that feeds to a boat’s NTSC format-compatible GPS monitor. (Using a dedicated monitor with a visual input for the system also is an option.) The camera lens field of view is 36 degrees, which is roughly the same field of vision the human eye has looking forward, according to Ron Muller of Electronics Unlimited.

Called Nighthawk, the first system was installed on a 28-foot Skater catamaran owned by Muller.

“I’ve been a performance boater my whole life,” he said. “I got involved in the marine business years ago. Night vision systems have become so popular with the larger recreational vessels we do, but I also have had interest from people who own Cigarettes and other performance boats.”

For the camera unit, Muller turned to FLIR, the widely acknowledged world leader in thermal imaging. To create the electric-power mounting bracket, which is flush with the deck when the camera is retracted, Muller tapped nearby Latham Marine.

When retracted, the camera and bracket are flush with the deck.When retracted, the camera and bracket are flush with the deck.

“I did a lot of testing with the 28’ Skater,” said Muller, who wired the camera to feed to his Gamin 5208 GPS system. “Obviously, the camera and bracket needed to be able withstand a rigorous environment.

“The FLIR camera does not work off amplified light,” he continued. “It works off temperature changes in the environment. This system will detect objects in the water like planks. It will detect a person in the water up to one-quarter-mile away. I can even see floating coconuts with it.”

According to Muller, mechanically inclined owners can install the system, which costs $6,995 and includes the camera, mounting bracket and a wiring schematic, themselves.

“The wiring is simple,” he said. “The entire installation is very basic. You don’t have to find a dealer to do it.”

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