ATN OTS-HD 384X288 Thermal Monocular

Reviews, comments, and information on current thermal imaging devices.
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Ken
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ATN OTS-HD 384X288 Thermal Monocular

Post by Ken » Tue Jan 22, 2019 5:59 pm

This is my review of the ATN OTS-HD 384X288 Thermal Monocular. For starters, this unit does in fact have a threaded tripod socket. I like to wear a camera vest to hold my thermal monoculars so a tripod socket is a must for me.

Previously I had the Pulsar HD19S but sold it to find out what else was on the market. The pulsar had the same resolution but I saw that the ATN OTS-HD also had wifi, Bluetooth, a compass, and the ability to take video and photos. It was also around the same price used. This seemed like a no-brainer to me. Unfortunately, after using the ATN model for a bit I think you’re paying for those extra options (which I really didn’t need) and loosing really important features that the Pulsar offered.

Here's my Youtube footage showing image quality of the monocular: https://youtu.be/Vr-twIER5II

First the good:

The ATN OTS-HD thermal monocular is very well built. It has a metal body capable of taking recoil. This version is basically the Thor model minus the rifle mount. It even runs on the same software and gives you the option to choose the Thor features or the OTS features. I suppose if you came across a Thor rifle mount it may even be attachable, and then you would have the Thor unit. There are a few screw hole locations that appear to be able to accept a mount of some sort.

Now the bad:

If I never owned the Pulsar HD19S I probably would think the ATN OTS-HD is wonderful. Unfortunately, the Pulsar came with auto calibration and once you’ve used auto calibration it’s hard to go back to a scope that doesn’t have it.

Calibration

All thermal scopes show an image that tends to degrade over a period of a few minutes. It may show as graininess, lines through the image, or blotchiness. The Pulsar could recognize this and automatically close the shutter, calibrate, and reopen the internal pseudo shutter mechanism (not what it’s called but that’s what I’m calling it because it’s not a mechanical shutter). What this meant was that I never had to manually calibrate the unit, which tends to be a massive pain in the butt after a while. To calibrate the ATN unit you have to replace the lens cap, which is cumbersome, then hit a button to calibrate, and then take the lens cap back off. Speaking of lens cap, the Pulsar had a built-in iris which you closed by turning the front. It was so simple. The little lens cap of the ATN is dying to fall out of my pocket or just get misplaced somehow. It doesn’t even have a bungee to just let it dangle.

Auto Exposure

The next problem I found with the unit was this very annoying auto exposure feature(problem) which you can’t turn off or modify in any way. Panning around or looking up towards the sky would turn everything white until the camera adjusted exposure. Again, if I never had the Pulsar I would just think this is how thermal scopes work, but it’s definitely not. I’m not sure why the ATN unit is constantly adjusting exposure but it can cause you to miss things in front of you while it’s trying to figure it out. I could walk around at night just using the Pulsar. I didn’t feel as confident with the ATN monocular because of this auto exposure delay.

Weight

This unit weights about 2 pounds. 2 pounds is okay if this were being mounted on your rifle but it’s difficult to handhold all day. Again, the Pulsar was much better in this respect.

Software issues:

It’s often the case that the more tech you pack into a unit the more problems you are likely to have. This seemed to be the case here as well. I couldn’t get the wifi video feed to play on the Obsidian app. It perpetually read “loading”. I also couldn’t get the Bluetooth to ever connect to my iphone. I never tried with Android. I don’t know what the issue was but I didn’t spend too much time trying to figure it out because after all of this I was determined to just send the unit back. There was also an issue where the unit reset to factory settings for some reason and erased all of my presets and dead pixel corrections, as you can see from the video. It took a while getting everything setup, so the thought of having to do it all over again was disappointing. Who knows how many times I’d be setting everything up again in the future if I kept the unit. I’m not seeing other reviews about this problem on the Internet so I don’t know if I just received a bad unit or what.

Screen:

I didn’t like how recessed the screen was from the eyecup. The eyecup was very comfortable but I think the increased distance from the screen is due to the fact that this really is a stripped-down Thor unit meant to be rifle mounted. The display never got perfectly clear while adjusting the diopter. This made navigating the menus and reading the small text on the display more difficult that it should have been, especially if the text was located on the periphery of the display.

Conclusion

I would go with one of the Pulsar models if you want a small lightweight monocular that does thermal very well. If you absolutely need pics or video or the ability to stream to your phone (didn’t work for me) then the ATN OTS-HD is pretty much your least expensive option that retains 384X288 resolution. There is also the Flir Breach but it’s a few hundred dollars more, has lower resolution, and I hear pretty bad battery life. I really thought I was going to love the ATN OTS-HD 384X288 thermal monocular but the image auto exposure and manual calibration made me wish I hadn’t sold the Pulsar.

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