Author Topic: Living with the X-Sight II  (Read 2962 times)

Alan

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Living with the X-Sight II
« on: October 12, 2016, 08:48:45 AM »
I have lived with an ATN, 5x20, X-Sight II for almost two months. I’ve hunted with it in full daylight about 30 times, and 4 times in the dead of night. While it does have its quirks and shortcomings, I’ve managed to overcome a lot of them. This said, some on-line solutions for the quirks and shortcomings are questionable at best. However, some of the comments are dead on, and the major ones are the references to a love-hate relationship.

This scope (5x20) is HEAVY! With the external battery pack (an absolute necessity!) and IR illuminator attached, you add just over 3 pounds to your airgun! The 3x15 is a few ounces less, but it is still far heavier than even the largest of optical scopes. One saving grace is the fact that most PCP airguns are also rather heavy, so the use of a bipod is de rigueur, lessening the heft a bit.

The scope’s basic optical(?) power (3 or 5 as the case may be) is, well, its basic power. That is to say, everything higher is an optical zoom. This fact is why some on-line reviews complain about pixillation at higher power settings. I should note that the display screen is listed as 720P, but no real pixel count is listed (I assume that means 1,280x72). The CCD imager is 2.1 megapixels. While ATN calls this high resolution, it truly is not. Nonetheless, in broad daylight, it is adequate to about 12 to 14 zoomed-power (5x20 model). I suspect the 3x15 is better, and if I had it to do all over again, I would buy the 3x15.

By the way, to all of those beginner shooters who fall of the “higher power is always better” school of thought, I say this: You’ll do a whole lot better using a lower power setting to start with, especially when hunting game. Obviously…. higher powers amplify one’s shaking along with the larger image. I should add, I’ve never found it necessary to use any zoom setting, even when sighting in. 

The field of view of the 3x15 is 9°, and the 5x15 is only 5°. That is REALLY narrow when compared to an equivalent optical scope of decent quality. In the case of the 5x20, 5° equals about 12 feet at 50 yards! The 3x15 is about 20 feet at 50 yards, so neither could be called wide-angle!

The depth of focus is another oft talked about issue, mainly because the focus adjustment is very hard to turn when new. It does loosen up over time, and oiling it is NOT the fix (a larger wheel might be). Fact is, if you use the sun shade with the daylight aperture screwed on the front, your depth of focus will increase by about 10 times. In my case, I can shoot from about 10 yards out to about 50 yards without refocusing.

It should be noted, that the focus is indeed a focus, and not a parallax adjustment as often mentioned on-line. Think of it like the focus on a camera, since that is exactly what the X-Sight II is! As mentioned above, the pixel count is not as “HD” as ATN purports. Fact is, even a cheap digital camera has over 10 megapixels nowadays. In any case, the movies made with the X-Sight II are passible, even on a fairly large-screened HDTV. Although it can take photos too, I’ve never found a need to do so.

If you do buy an X-Sight II, buy the external battery pack along with it. If you don’t, you’ll soon learn why—the scope eats batteries! The battery life is less than half what ATN says it is, even when using lithium batteries.

No matter which firmware is loaded, here is an important bit of information. Format the card with the scope, not your PC! This is contrary to on-line suggestions about formatting the card with FAT32. This will require R&R the memory chip. Download the latest firmware to the chip from the ATN site, and them reload the firmware, even if it is the same version! This simple fix overcomes most of the major firmware issues.

Buy the fastest memory chip you can buy! That is to say, buy the XC version (https://www.oempcworld.com/category/microSD.html#form=microSDXC). Although ATN recommends buying the 32 GB chip if your’e having issues with the memory chip, if you buy the XC ones, you will not have any memory issues. These chips are MICRO size, although they come with an MINI-adapter adaptable to most PCs.

Mounting the beast on any airgun without a Picatinny rail will require an adapter. Various ones are available from Amazon for less than $10. The scope must be mounted so your eye is against the flexible extension, as ambient light will effect the clarity. The bottom lug on the scope can be rotated is required. I should note, that the eye cup, if you could call it that, is made of latex. If you’re allergic to latex, this scope is not for you!

Sighting in is as simple as it gets, and you can get VERY close with just one shot! Remember, this is an electronic scope, not an optical one, so the sight in adjustment is essentially built into the firmware, not mechanical in nature. But don’t rely on the X&Y coordinates to reset the scope. That is one faux pas which needs fixing. You can, however, set up multiple calibrations for various weights and speeds of the pellets. There is even a built-in ballistic program, but it is more hype than reality. And so is the range finder as it relies on an eyeball estimate.

The Bluetooth function has not been implemented, so true downloading of the videos still requires R&R the memory card. You can view the videos on a smartphone or iPad, but the application leaves a lot to be desired.

I might add, that the WiFi and the iPad/iPhone/Android app do work, albeit with a few foibles. In my case, the video viewing isn't as smooth as it should be. I suspect ATN is looking into this as well. And, I've been told the WiFi allows download to a PC, but I can't get it to work on my PC under Windows 10. I can get USB downloads to work, however. Neither work with my iMac with OS10.12.1.

Enough of the pluses and minuses, here are a few personal experiences.

If there is adequate ambient light (street or security light), you can see full color down to about .1 lux. Very few video cameras can duplicate the feat. In night mode, holy cow! Most of the time, you will not need the included IR illuminator to see game. This is a godsend for those areas (like New Mexico) which do not allow any kind of night-time illumination, even IR! With the illuminator on, 100 yards is about the limit to see rabbit-sized game clearly.

Once you get used to using the scope, you get used to the viewing screen’s “look”, and it will no longer be an irritant. It still looks a bit strange at night, especially in “green” screen mode, so some users will prefer the B&W screen mode. And to be honest, most folks won’t like any zoom setting at night, as it causes the viewing screen to “dance” about. This effect is really caused by stocotic-eye movement, so less is more so to speak. By the way, the eyepiece has a focus range of about ±5 diopters.

Contrary to on-line reviews, the aiming point does not change with the zoom mode, nor does the size of the reticle. And, there are 10 different user-selectable reticles, and 7 different colors of same! That fact should satisfy certain simian and zombie members of the guild! Hopefully?!

Things I’d like to see, really soon!

Upgrade the firmware a bit more regularly.

Implement a parameter save function, or fix the X&Y display values so they can be reset accurately!

Or, release the microcode to the general public. After all, there are a bunch of us guys out here, who really do know how to program!

Enable the Bluetooth function! R&R the memory chip is getting old!

A separate airgun ballistics program, and one that doesn’t use elk-sized game as a measuring criteria.

Brighter screen setting. Even at its highest setting (5), it is a bit dim. I suspect this was done to save battery life, but we already know that stinks! Oh! An include the external battery with the scope!

Fix the button push-length issue.

There are probably more, but this is enough to start with.

To finish, the ATN X-Sight II, is just the beginning of electronic rifle scopes. I suspect in the near future, they will become more sophisticated, lighter, and with much-longer battery life.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2016, 06:02:44 PM by Alan »


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Alan

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caniborrowsomeammo

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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2016, 07:46:00 PM »
Great write up Alan.
I considered the 3-14, but haven't quite pulled the trigger on it. Now that you have brought these things to light i may hold off another year until things improve. I can be happy with my Gen1 NV for now.
Buncha BB guns that I don't get to shoot as much as I like. Building duck boats now that I'm "retired".

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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2016, 01:46:19 PM »
Okay, in the end you like/don't like the scope. What would attract me to this setup would be switching from first and second focal plane, a built in range finder, I know they say this one has it, but when you read how it works it isn't what I mean when I say 'rangefinder'. It seems intuitive to expect an extreme palette of reticles to choose from, on the fly, a reticle wheel if please.

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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2016, 01:56:27 PM »
Alan thanks for taking the time to write up such a detailed review. It is difficult to read many online reviews as they're incomplete more often than not so it's great for us to see such a comprehensive review by an active member of our sport that highlights both strengths and weaknesses of any produc
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Alan

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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2016, 08:12:54 AM »
With the X-Sight II, your relationship is either love it, or hate it. But what few purchasers don't consider (even ofter purchase) is the scope isn't optical! It is, in the strictest sense, a digital camera. The fact it has a reticle doesn't matter, except when you want to aim a weapon with it! And, I consider it a generation 2, as it is far above the original X-Sight (older model as it were). But it is still far inferior to even a cheap optical scope if all we're talking about is visual clarity. And speaking of which, the case of "first vs. second" focal plane is irrelevant. The reticle is superimposed on the viewing screen, thus the "centering" is done electronically.

The latter aforementioned, allow one shot zeroing to become a reality. I managed to get it close enough the first try, to come within 1/2 inch at 50 yards with only one shot! Dead on, took a couple of more. The X&Y coordinates don't register correctly, unless you reboot the whole shebang, which means reseting everything. No biggie, as re-zeroing is really easy, and fast. This issue is on the slate to fix on the next firmware update due in December.

It has other issues we could beat like a dead horse, but for me I'm trying to look past the foibles, thus concentrating only on the positive aspects. And I have to say, based on the street price of the scope (if we can call it that), it is a head above everything else selling for less than $2,000 or so.

If you're looking into a night vision scope, especially when mounted on an airgun (≤100 yards), this is it! I am still impressed with what it can see with just moon light illuminating the scene. Good enough to shoot rats at 50 yards, and then some!

But again. It is NOT a panacea!
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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2016, 06:34:49 PM »
I just got a 3-14 version of this scope.  I second everything Alan has said.  The ONE thing about this scope that I absolutely hate is the focus adjustment knob is TIGHT.  Hopefully it will loosen up with use.  Hopefully I will get to the range and sight it in tomorrow.  I have been playing around with it using it more or less as a camera to get a feel for the features.
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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2016, 08:56:17 AM »
Finally got to the range to sight it in.  One shot, make the adjustment, second shot less than half an inch off.  One more small adjustment and I am shooting single hole groups at 40 yards.  IT was that simple.  For night vision, I found I had to turn the screen brightness way down otherwise I was night blind in my right eye after looking in the scope.  The included illuminator, at least with my scope, is not all that good beyond 30 yards.  I ordered another, brighter light.  As Alan said, this scope takes some getting used to, but as I am using it I find I really like it.  I am usually not an early adopter of technology, rather waiting for the bugs to get worked out, but since this is a Gen II version I thought I would jump in.

Got the wifi to work with my iphone and ipad, but when I was using the phone for the viewfinder, the transfer rate is too slow.  Any movement of the scope and the screen is very pixilated and is unintelligible.  I am not sure that can be fixed with a firmware upgrade.  However, with the scope on a solid base the picture is clear.

All in all, I like it.
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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2016, 05:14:37 PM »
Went to my regular range today and set up at 50 yards.  The zero was pretty close, one small adjustment and it was dead on.  Took the cope off and put it on my BSA R10 (22 cal) and set up a new profile and did a sight-in.  One shot, adjust, dead on.  Shot the 22 for a while then switched the scope back to the Flex, uploaded the previous profile and the scope was right where I had left it.  Next week I am going to set it up for my AR.  I am really beginning to like this thing.  While at the range today a couple guys were looking at my setup and after trying a few shots they both are in the market for an X-Sight.  Once people get their hands on it and can use it, it sort of sells itself.

Alan, I didn't mean to hijack your thread.
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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2016, 09:05:05 PM »
Glad to hear your liking it Newell! Really nice that you can have multiple guns sighted in on it.
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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2016, 01:55:51 PM »
Great review, Alan!  You nailed it.  By the way, you obviously have a better background in digital optics than I do, what are the actual specs at both ends of this device?  I'm trying to figure out some of the coding constraints they must have run into while working on reticle setup and zoom functions.   :)
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Alan

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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2016, 05:28:58 PM »
The viewing screen is 1280 x 720. This is the same pixel count as so-called, medium-res HDTVs. The screen is more or less an industrial-common size, thus readily available from several manufacturers. The imager, assumed to be a CCD (charge-coupled device), is 2.1 pixels (actually 2,073,600 pixels), or 1920x1080 which is the HDTV broadcast standard. While the viewing screen is a bit substandard in viewing area, the playback over a standard, 30 fps, HDTV is rather good, and still photos are nothing short of amazing! Just for the record, most cellphone and handheld video cameras use APS (active pixel sensor). They're less expensive than a CCD, but also less sensitive. 

What gets to some folks as a first impression is the refresh rate. In sunlight, it is 30 fps, but can slow down to 15 fps or 7.5 fps in night mode. Slowing down allows the CCDs to pick up more light (more time between scans). Some folks are really sensitive to the resulting flicker, which causes them to blink (closed lid) for an extended period of time (saccadic closure). They often attribute the effect to an issue with the scope, which it is not. And, they don't realize just how sensitive the scope is. I've been impressed with the sensitivity several times. Under the right night-time lighting conditions, the scope can see nearly full color (depends on the lighting source) without switching to night node.

The night mode has three setting, and you almost cannot use the most sensitive setting if you're using the included forward-looking IR light source. I have an Amazon-purchased, aftermarket IR source. It looks more like a halogen shop light, than an IR source. When used as a background light source (not shown directly ahead towards the target), you can often see rabbit-size game at 200+ yards. Non IR reflective objects (trees for example) lack detail, but that is one of the tradeoffs.

The biggest drawback is weight! At nearly 3 pounds with the requisite external battery, it isn't a field-luggable scope! But the WARized Marauder isn't a light-weight either, so I use a bipod and a rear bag when needed.

My only real complaint is the lack of firmware upgrades. The last one was promised in mid November, and I'm still waiting along with everyone else.

Oh! And the app for the iPad and Android? It needs a complete rewrite!
« Last Edit: December 31, 2016, 03:53:49 AM by Alan »
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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2017, 05:17:23 PM »
Just a short update.

Overall, my experience has been good, but there are still a number of lingering issues ATN is well aware of. ATN has promised a firmware update for several months to address the major ones. An announcement was to be made at the Shot Show, but that didn't happen! Supposedly, a beta test is going on in the field by a few long-term users.

I have since taken the scope off my main airgun, and installed it on my 9 mm Korean hog getter! But before I did, I attached a laser pointer to the scope to test is the POA changed with the power setting. It does, albeit small for airgun use, but large for long-range powder burners. As soon as the weather gets better, and I can get to the range, I'll write an another update.
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Alan

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Re: Living with the X-Sight II 5x20 - Review
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2018, 09:48:40 AM »
Alan, this really is a great in depth review of the X-Sight II 5x20. This is the kind of review that brings folks to the AirgunGuild and encourages them to stick around.

A++!

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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2018, 02:41:48 PM »
You must be the same Alan as on the ATN forums. Seem you and I are about the only ones posting there. Love my 3X14 BTW! It does have some quirks and hope to get a fix for the min 27yd range sooner than later. I did have an issue with NV mode black screen but the sticky on the forums fixed that up. Other than the digital zoom you can’t beat the features for the $350 I paid for it and also got a $79 Xtrac mail in rebate and T-shirt for doing a review.
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Alan

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Re: Living with the X-Sight II
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2018, 03:55:16 PM »
I should write an exposé on the X-Sight II, as I have used it for over 2 years. Alas, it is on its way to Steveoh, so he can get a first hand account.
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Alan

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