Friday Night Lights is upon us once again. Welcome back. Today we will take a look at the 3D-printed J-arm for night vision monoculars. There are two different makers of 3D-printed J-arms – Noisefighters and FW-Solutions. They have their own approach to mounting night vision in front of your face.
3D-Printed Night Vision @ TFB:
Noise Fighters 3D Printed J-Arms
The Noisefighters 3D Printed J-arms is something you have seen before in some of my previous articles. It is their X-14 arm. This is one of the first 3D-printed J-arms. I do not count the home-brew ones printed on FDM printers. The X-14 is made with multi-jet fusion out of a robust material that is strong and flexible. It weighs a mere 0.6 oz and is reasonably affordable. The design is simple. There is one arm that wraps around the side of a PVS-14 and allows the user to swing the arm to position the PVS-14 to the right or left eye.
The one downside to the X-14 is that its range is rather limited. The arm can only swing left and right so far before something hits the Wilcox G4 mount.
Below is where a PVS-14 would be positioned for the right eye and the Wilcox mount is flipped up against the helmet.
Since the 3D-printed J-arm X-14 has some articulation, you can swing the arm in a bit to bring the PVS-14 closer to the helmet for storage reasons. This helps reduce snagging on anything and hitting things with the PVS-14. However, due to the X-14 design, it can only get so close to the helmet.
This is as far to the left as the X-14 3D-printed J-arm can move to the left side of the helmet.
AX14-Pro Articulating 3D-Printed J-Arm
Noisefightes has since upgraded their 3D-printed J-arm and added another point of articulation. You can see the second screw in the middle of the arm.
The AX14-Pro functions similarly to the X-14 but now with more articulation!
Due to customer feedback, they also added a loop to attach a bungee to tether the monocular to your helmet. I prefer to tether the actual night vision device but this should do just fine.
Now with the added point of articulation, the PVS-14 can sit closer to the helmet when the Wilcox G24 mount is folded up.
Below is what the X14 3D-printed J-arm could only do. See how the PVS-14 housing is touching the Wilcox mount? This limits your ability to fold the PVS-14 up against the helmet.
The AX14-Pro actually articulates better on the left side rather than the right. See how the 3D printed J-arm almost folds around the Wilcox G24 mount?
The AX14-Pro has actually undergone a further redesign.
The AX14-Pro has a rearward sweep bringing the PVS-14 closer to the user’s eye and allowing for more compatibility with various helmets. It weighs a little bit more at just 0.9 ounces. The AX14-Pro is available on Noisefighter’s website for $175.
FW-Solutions 3D-Printed J-Arms
FW-Solutions is based out of Germany and made by Florian Winkler. He made his articulating J-arm before Noisefighters came out with their Panobridge. This is the A14. It is made of Nylon PA12 which is also printed by multi-jet fusion. Of the 3D-printed J-arms, this is the simplest one out of the four in the article. It consists of a rounded block with a dovetail bolted onto it with an arm on the right side of the block. This is set up for right-eyed users.
The A14 J-Arm uses a hex bolt to secure it to your PVS-14 or similar night vision monocular. It is a 1/4-20 thread pitch. FW-Solutions makes an A14 tool to help tighten or loosen the hex bolt. It is basically a tiny 3D-printed wrench.
I would have preferred a slotted bolt rather than a hex bolt so in case I don’t have the A14 tool or another wrench, I could still remove a slotted bolt with a coin or flat head screwdriver. It is much easier finding something to turn a slotted bolt than a hex bolt.
This 3D-printed J-arm only works for right-eyed users. But it does articulation. Normal J-arms do not articulate.
You can stow the PVS-14 up out of the way without flipping the Wilcox mount up.
But if you did, the PVS-14 will comfortably fold against the helmet making it more comfortable to wear in the stowed position.
Look at the photo above and then the one below. See how far the PVS-14 sticks out if it is not filed against the helmet? That is added leverage pulling the helmet down on your forehead.
A14 QS (Quick Switch) J-Arm
Those who want to switch their PVS-14 to the left, can use the A14 QS. This 3D-printed J-Arm has dual dovetails. So rather than have the arm swing the PVS-14 over from one side to the other, you have to undock the A14 QS from the mount, rotate the entire mount upside down and re-dock it to position the PVS-14 to your other eye.
Unlike the A14 J-arm that uses an aluminum dovetail, the A14 QS is all 3D printed as a solid cohesive piece. It has holes designed to reduce weight. Interestingly, it has an adjustable rear tab so you can fine-tune the lock-up with whatever dovetail mount you use.
Just like the A14, the A14 QS articulates similarly.
Invert the A14 QS to position the PVS-14 over your left eye.
There is a minor issue with the FW-Solutions 3D-printed J-arms and that is the thickness of the dovetail block. It was clearly designed around the PVS-14 but if you use a different style monocular, the dovetail block can interfere with the monocular housing. Positioning a Nocturn Industries Tanto over your right eye is not ideal. The housing hits the underside of the J-Arm and prevents the eyepiece from lining up perfectly with your eye.
The A14 QS is better suited for left-eye dominant users.
Even the regular A14 dovetail block hits the Tanto housing.
See how thick the dovetail block is? I am not sure why it has to be so thick.
Final Thoughts On 3D Printed J-Arms
You have options and unlike the typical Wilcox dovetail mount, the Noisefighters and FW-Solutions 3D-printed J-arms all have some form of articulation. The old X-14 arm from Noisefighters only allows you to switch from the left or right eye use. It is not as adaptable to folding against the helmet. The FW-Solutions J-arms are solid but they are too bulky. They are cheaper though. The A14 only cost €109.99 whereas the A14 QS J-Arm retails for €89.99. I think the price difference is due to the aluminum dovetail used for the A14. For more information, check out the FW-Solutions website. If you want to learn more about the Noisefighter 3D-printed J-arms then check out their website.