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Hardware Review: NiteMax NM-1000

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  • Hardware Review: NiteMax NM-1000

    What it is/does: Nightvision capable, IR based digital camera

    Reviewed by: The Genesis Factor
    Manufacturer : NiteMax
    Model: NM-1000
    Specs: See Review
    Price: $20-$500
    Rating: 9.5/10
    Manufacturer website: Unknown
    Purchased at: NiteMax Mark


    Now that i followed new protocal, let's get down it business...

    Overview
    This is a solid all around camera at a price that is simply unbelievable. At the cost of a cheap CMOS bullet cam, you can own piece of near state-of-the-art equipment. Its self adjusting capabilities, its quality of picture, and its digital control give it pretty much near top marks across the board. Minor quirks and such are easily forgivable when measured up to the enjoyable, yes enjoyable, performance that it delivers. Tech support is always friendly and helpful, the camera’s performance is solid to yesterday’s camcorders and completely blows away webcams. The end result is a tool that, I hope, will become legendary in terms of performance, ease of modification, and reliability on this forum.
    A few of us are no stranger to this seller and device. Many of us ordered it. I will be reviewing it. This review is going to be comprised of several parts over a decent period of time. Some people will have attempted certain things before me (and I hope they do and post their findings on this thread). Please, this is a community, so chip in when you can!
    Introduction
    I am no stranger to night vision/lowlight/no light devices, although this is my first digital output device, so bear with me. Many of us have those neat-o bullet cameras with either CMOS or CCD image capture. This unit will be compared no to the ATN Viper1 Night vision Monocular. As with the NiteMax unit, it comes with an IR illuminator and has the ability to see in no light situations. Also, will be testing the NiteMax unit that many of you will be receiving, which I will dub the “Basic” model, as well as an upgraded model that comes with 2x digital zoom, which I will dub the “Advanced” model, also known as the NiteMax Viewer II.

    I want to apologize for the qualities of the movies and pictures and no sound. They were done with a lesser camera than the one I’m used to (mine broke, so I used my girl’s). All images on the camera LCD are pretty much sharp with a salt and pepper graininess at times.
    Background Specs
    Lens 1X f1.2
    Optional Digital Zoom 2X
    Resolution 420 TV Lines
    Display 2.5" LCD
    Field Of View 40°
    Weight 14 oz.
    Size 3.5"x3.5"x2.5"
    Battery Lithium Ion Rechargeable
    Battery Life 2 hrs.

    NightMax Viewer: - Digital Night Vision
    NightMax Viewer II: - Digital Night Vision W/ Digital Zoom
    NightMax Viewer C: - Digital Night Vision Color - 3X 25mm objective lens standard
    Why night vision over HID?
    Simply put, night vision rocks. But if the cool factor isn’t enough for you, consider this: HIDs work best after you do a complete upgrade to your housing and bulbs, they’re expensive, and they burn out after a while. They also blind other drivers as they are up to and can exceed three times the brightness of regular bulbs. My eyes are light sensitive, and to be honest, nothing ****es me off more than cruising down at ungodly speeds to be blinded going around a bend by an idiot in a civic trying to look cool. My apologizes to any civic owners out there who do not fit the bill, but your brothers and sisters can be annoying at times. Also, some states have restrictions laws on HIDs.
    Now, all light/low light cameras, such as the Nitemax NM-1000 are just, flat out, superior. Why? Because it doesn’t’ just let you see the road, or around, o peripherally. It lets you see EVERYTHING. You can read a book using night vision goggles (trust me, I have), so you can easily see road signs, people, trees, road kill, whatever, whenever. No bulb upgrades necessary, and it’s a one time payment until they break. Now, at ~$20 for a set of ebay HID bulbs and ~$50 for a complete Nitemax kit, you may think the bulb is better…but OEM housing for, let’s say an accord, ebays for around $500 shipped and the conversion kit, which if you do not have, you will need to properly use those neat-o bulbs, ebays for around $250. Can we say bargain? Especially since this IS a $700 camera…and it can hook up to your LCD or computer using the Video RCA.
    Day one: Arrival
    2 days after shipping, the package arrived. I had ordered in bulk for a few friends, yet, despite that, Mark had managed to neatly pack in everything with “not enough room left for a paperclip”. He wasn’t kidding. My shipment was packed, thoughtfully, very well in a Flat Rate box. This guy needs to come organize my garage or something. He included everything: the three full kits, which comprises of a camera body, a lens, a battery 2000mAh and charger, and a car adapter, and the review unit. Each came in its separate box, each separately bubble wrapped, and everything was new, as advertised. A very promising start. The cameras themselves were smaller than I anticipated. It fits in the palm of your hand and if you have big hands, like me, you can wrap around the body with ease. I removed my personal unit, a lens, and the three batteries and chargers, which I had let charge over night.
    Day two: Initial test of non DOA.
    After coming home from the police station, as I let the batteries charge, I decided to play around with my Advanced unit, to see just what I was dealing with.

    The Advanced unit’s body is similar to the Basic unit’s, however, there’s a few notable differences in the button layout. Here’s a picture of the two of them, side to side. Let’s play find the differences. There’s 3 of them. Ready, set, GO!


    Okay, now that we had our fun, here’s the answer. The color of the Advanced is darker, the On/Off button is blank on the Advanced, and, most importantly, a zoom button replaces the second gain button on the Basic. Beyond that, they’re the same camera. Now that we’ve seen the differences, let’s look at the rest of the layout!
    Layout
    The front has the Sony 1/3 CCD, just waiting for a CCTV lens to cover it. There is also a place for the battery pack/car adapter that takes a little force to get it. Oh, and of course, the IR illuminators, 15 LEDs of it.

    The buttons are simple, intuitive, neatly laid out and labeled. There is an On/Off button on top. The LCD up/down adjust the brightness of the LCD itself. The IR up/down adjust the brightness of the IR illuminator. The gain provides an immediate bump in contrast at the push and hold, and goes immediately back to normal at the release. There is also video out RCA and DC in @ 9V.
    ###INSERT REAR PIC###

    Performance (Bum Around the House Test)
    Before I get into the performance, I will say, that, compared to my ATN unit, I’m liking this one a little bit more. Why? Four reasons. First, the IR illuminator is adjustable. Second, this is digital and has little lens aberration. Third, I can easily use this to my specifications. And finally: daylight capable. The ATN comes with a head set, and are monoculars, so its still cool, as well as a fine piece of equipment, in my book, so its not getting put in the closet with the Ninja Turtles jacket just yet. Yes I this unit impressed me…especially since I shelled out under a quarter less than the ATN for it.

    Lights, camera, ACTION!
    At this point, I’m hoping I will have the videos hosted. I went to my car, whipped out my instant power pack, and set everything up. I adjusted the lens to a normal focus (all the way to where everything nearby showed up clear). Power on is instant and you a get a nice and clear picture. Playing with the buttons, everything is instant. There’s no appreciable lag in display either, as with webcams and what not. Day light image quality was good, though the field of view (FoV) is too narrow with the supplied lens for adequate car driving. I’ll have to upgrade lenses later. Something that impressed me about this camera is the automatic adjustment capabilities that it has. Moving from a bright room to a dark room took a second and no brain power to the user, even with the IR on. This would be especially helpful for those HID equipped civic drivers on the highway. That was one thing my ATN’s couldn’t compete with. You had to look away or be blinded. With this, just keep on truckin’.
    Cool pic i thought.
    Night time performance was very good in the control room (my computer room). It quickly adjusted between looking directly at my bright monitor and at the dark room behind it. However, the monitor looked flushed out. This was later to be found out that its an effect of the sensors of the camera, where the monitor wasn’t putting out enough IR radiation.

    Using the Video out is great. The LCD is still fully adjustable, however none of the adjustments comes though on the TV. The picture is very, VERY clear on the 27”.
    ###insert TV pic 2###

    Go Advanced
    The digital zoom of the advanced model is just a push and hold to activate zoom in of the center of the image. It’s a pretty nifty quick peek feature.
    To be continued....
    Carputer Progress: Here we go again...

    THE GF THEME
    Genesis has speed
    Genesis has class
    Genesis sent money
    before your a__;)

    Join the fight against carputters. EMAIL ME!

  • #2
    Part II

    Day 2: Drive Testing- any and all videos were taken with another person holding the camera. One hand on the wheel at all times. All I had to do was go with traffic. Please do not try this at any time.
    I did not take pictures of this test as, well, I was driving and no one else was around. Its hard to hold a digital camera, the NiteMax and the steering wheel at the same time. Thank God I have an automatic, or else I’d be out of hands, feet, and knees…
    In the end, this unit will be short as there’s not much more beyond the first day’s experience. It performed as I expected, especially after I remembered that this is not an light enhancement camera, like my night vision goggles, but an IR sensitive camera. This simple difference gives it all its strengths and some of it’s weaknesses over light enhancement.
    Drivin’ around the town.
    I decided against mounting the camera to anything because, it didn’t make sense at this point. Positioned on top of the dash, at tangent to the steering wheel, the night max blocked a little of my view, but…then there’s that lovely screen that have it all back. From its position, due to its 14 degree FoV, I wouldn’t recommend the NiteMax for driving without a wide angle lens. You see the cars in front of you a bit down the road, but not close enough, to me, to use it as your means of forward driving. A nice 120-160 degree lens…shoot, I’d buy an 8” LCD just for the NiteMax. Night driving was exactly the same as day driving with the lens- which is a great thing. The lights in a car, at times, did appear over bright, but they did not interfere beyond that. It literally appeared almost as good as it did during the day- WITHOUT THE IR ILLUNINATOR. That said, I was driving around town, not on the Northern State Parkway or I-495, so the streets were decently lit. However, you saw things that you couldn’t see with the eyes, like people in the shadows throwing out their trash and what not. Down my street, which is dark at times, I still saw a great deal. I want to take it out on the highway to see how much the IR illuminator helps on a dark road.
    ***Due to unforeseen events, like me blowing up my motor because it wasn’t working properly, this test and review will not be preformed by the date of publishing. I will try to get it done later, or if anyone has any experiences, please let me know.***

    Support
    Did he just say support? Ya damn skippy. Mark, the seller, gives support on his product. He’s been most helpful by freely giving out vital information to all us modders out there just for the asking. Plus, except for the power supply, he’s got even spare parts to last us a while…as long as people don’t abuse it, like buying to buy and resell those precious RCA in and out LCDs. The parts are fairly priced in comparison, not to the actual MSRP, but his selling price of the camera! Please, buy responsibly!

    More Information
    There's alot more to be said abou this unit, but picutres are worth a 1000 words. Many others, such as members quantum and shotgunefx, have taken this unit apart and dissected its inner workings or have enhanced on its external capabilities by using differnt lenses and what not. In the end, their stories and efforts are what's going to promote this camera. Most of the work done thus far is found on this forum right there.

    http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...t=68370&page=4
    (page 4 is when the major happenings started)

    I invite any and all of them to post up expereinces and findings under this thread to help out others who are fortunate enough to get thier hands on this device.
    Carputer Progress: Here we go again...

    THE GF THEME
    Genesis has speed
    Genesis has class
    Genesis sent money
    before your a__;)

    Join the fight against carputters. EMAIL ME!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Motorcity
      Nice review. I have some of these, and they are great. The main reason this cam is so much better than the other so called night vision cams is the fact that the camera board itself is the Sony 1/3" SuperHAD CCD Image Sensor. This is a quality optical part here, and is worth far more than a lot of people think. The IR LEDs help the cause, but the Sony board seals the deal for this cam. If you don't have one and are looking into a night vision car cam setup, or just NV to screw around with you will spend a lot of time looking for a better deal.
      Moved down.
      AMD XP 2600+/512MB RAM/120GB hard drive
      Opus 150W/DVD/GPS/7" Lilliput TS/802.11g/Bluetooth
      Installed.


      -GPSSecure- - GPS Tracking
      -AltTabber2.2.2- - Handy touchscreen utility.

      Comment


      • #4
        hehe thanks, sorry motorcity

        xBrady, how do i attach movies? I mean, there's HTML, but, then i need to host it HTML, which i haven't done as often as i'd like to...
        Carputer Progress: Here we go again...

        THE GF THEME
        Genesis has speed
        Genesis has class
        Genesis sent money
        before your a__;)

        Join the fight against carputters. EMAIL ME!

        Comment


        • #5
          some pics of peoples's nitemax

          first second and forth are the image projected on a 52"
          Attached Files

          Comment


          • #6
            a couple more...the gunk is just on the screen protector
            Attached Files

            Comment


            • #7
              now for the nite shots.....these were taken in total darkness....without the camera you could not see anything at all

              second two pictures are on the 52"

              the first picture has an outside light on.....but with the human eye, you could barely make out the car. The second picture is with the IR Leds all the way up....and the third is a lower setting of just the LEDs
              Attached Files

              Comment


              • #8
                whats the power consumption of that thing? 9v @ how many amps? have this thing portable....
                Apache/2.0.55 (Win32) PHP/5.1.2
                Forums Powered by phpBB 2.0.19

                Comment


                • #9
                  9-12V, 2000mAh battery recommended. When in doubt, ask mark or search any of the three threads nitemax dominates. Its a portable system.btw
                  Carputer Progress: Here we go again...

                  THE GF THEME
                  Genesis has speed
                  Genesis has class
                  Genesis sent money
                  before your a__;)

                  Join the fight against carputters. EMAIL ME!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    From its position, due to its 14 degree FoV, I wouldn’t recommend the NiteMax for driving without a wide angle lens. You see the cars in front of you a bit down the road, but not close enough, to me, to use it as your means of forward driving. A nice 120-160 degree lens…shoot,
                    hello
                    maybe i missed something, but none of the lens you mentioned in the begining had a fov of 14 degrees.
                    also, my assumtion was that for long distance view you d need a lens that has some zoom to it, i mean, you can see what is in range of the headlights yourself, what s after that you are interested in for night driving. I m sorry if i missed something obvious, but i really don t see why you d need such a big fov for long distance viewing and i really want to understand so i ll know what to get for myself.
                    looking forward to more info
                    cheers
                    p.s. what i got so far was for close picture you need big fov(small focal lenght) to see all the suroundings(backup cam), for long distance you need small fov(big focal length, optical zoom, makes objects in the distance appear closer)....did i get it wrong?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      In this reply, i use "I" alot, but i mean, that this is my feelings based on my usage and what i feel others may desire as well.

                      14 deg FOV its what the lens said. I may be mistaken, but put it this way what's on the screen is literally the area the camera blocks after 6 ft. I want to be able to see a larger chuck of the road, not just what's infront of the camera. I don't need long distance on this for night driving(i mean, when driving, i want to see what's infront of me and what i need to know about in the upcoming road), i just want the whole picture. Now, i'm doing a seperate project that involves a sniper scope. THat needs distance

                      EDIT
                      To cllarify, the NVGs do exactly the same thing in terms of what it sees. However, the NVGs are designed to be riight infront of your eyes, making it inconsequential. If you move the NVGs to arms lenght, it has the same problem as the nite max. I don't know if you can get that though...
                      Carputer Progress: Here we go again...

                      THE GF THEME
                      Genesis has speed
                      Genesis has class
                      Genesis sent money
                      before your a__;)

                      Join the fight against carputters. EMAIL ME!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Genesisfactor
                        In this reply, i use "I" alot, but i mean, that this is my feelings based on my usage and what i feel others may desire as well.

                        14 deg FOV its what the lens said. I may be mistaken, but put it this way what's on the screen is literally the area the camera blocks after 6 ft. I want to be able to see a larger chuck of the road, not just what's infront of the camera. I don't need long distance on this for night driving(i mean, when driving, i want to see what's infront of me and what i need to know about in the upcoming road), i just want the whole picture. Now, i'm doing a seperate project that involves a sniper scope. THat needs distance
                        Originally posted by Genesisfactor
                        Field Of View 40°
                        ok, most likely i missed something
                        i thought that, the fov being given by the lens, as distance increases it will catch more info in the picture, for instance, with a fov of 30 degrees, at 100feet it should have on screen the road+surroundings...hope it makes some sense what i said, sorry but english is not my natural language...also the figures are just examples, not real

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          hehe, its all good, we're all learning here. Your confusion was the fault of me not being clear enough i guess...

                          plus i made errors, as you pointed out...i'll revise the review one day
                          Carputer Progress: Here we go again...

                          THE GF THEME
                          Genesis has speed
                          Genesis has class
                          Genesis sent money
                          before your a__;)

                          Join the fight against carputters. EMAIL ME!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            i attached an ugly drawing to ilustrate my point better
                            i think having the cam at night with a large fov won t help very much because of no ir light from the headlights being projected on thesides of theroad near you where 120degrees will cover
                            Attached Files

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              i see and get your point, This is mine. The nitemax is a zero light capable imager. The IR works as a flash light and but it illuminates as a candle (wider spread). BUt, MOST IMPORTANTLY...the IR is an aid IF there's not enough light, NOT the primary light source. What i'm saying is this. On the road...you don't need the IR really, especially on city/ suburb streets. Sure it helps, but that's if there's not too much light period. On the highway, its a little bit more needed, but your headlights do the rest. Your headlight illuminate into view more than 40 degrees...more like, 100- 140 degrees..which si about beam the illumination the IRs provide as its just LEDs, not focused like a flashlight. Atleast these were my findings. someone refute me if i'm wrong, i don't like giving out bad advice...or retaining it.

                              EDIT: 120 degrees would give you massive fish eye...i really just want 60-90 maybe?
                              Carputer Progress: Here we go again...

                              THE GF THEME
                              Genesis has speed
                              Genesis has class
                              Genesis sent money
                              before your a__;)

                              Join the fight against carputters. EMAIL ME!

                              Comment

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