From: Michael Zhou <systemsarchitect@___com>
Subject: The Fraser-Volpe M25 Gyro Stabilized Binoculars
The Fraser-Volpe M25 Gyro Stabilized Binoculars
A while back I bought a non-functioning pair of Fraser-Volpe Corp. 14x41mm M25 binoculars from an online pawnshop. The unit looked relatively new, I couldn’t find any evidence of abuse or an accidental drop. When I gave it a light shook, I could see and hear the prisms rocking back and forth and perhaps a loose screw rolling around. The only vital sign was the sound of the motor when I turned it on.
I went to the web to pull up a list of binoculars repair shops, made some calls, but had a difficult time finding someone who can work on the FVC M25. I even thought about breaking out my screwdrivers and have a go at it out of desperation, luckily I didn’t. Time went by and one day I managed to get the search to come back with a small paragraph of the XM25 dated April 1998 by Earl Osborn. Then I searched for “Earl Obsorn” and came up with a list of three phone numbers. On making the third call, bingo - I found the OM I was looking for.
After a long wait I finally got it back and immediately gave it a try. The stabilization is amazing, I can make out 2” characters blocks away and the resolution is excellent. I whipped out my 10 year old Fujinon 14x40 Stabiscope for a quick comparison. The Fujinon has a flatter view and perfect edge-to-edge sharpness. The FVC looks cooler, more comfortable to hold, better contrast, and quicker stabilization response time. Both are rather heavy handheld instruments.
From the factory, the unit comes with a hard pelican case tagged with the FVC logo, model number, NSN number, a soft case, straps, lens caps, and a two page instruction, and some connectors perhaps to draw power from for a helicopter, humvee, or tank. The somewhat bulky unit looks like an armored handheld camcorder running a Beta tape, except it has two sets of lenses. It has 41mm objectives and inside are prisms are fitted with two nickel sized green laser filters. The M25 is said to be able to run continuously for 12 hours on two AA batteries, but I have not confirmed this. In addition to powering the gyro motor, the AA batteries also illuminate the internal ranging reticle on the right eyepiece.
To operate the M25, turn the unit on and wait about 15 seconds for the motor to reach its optimum speed. Hold the unit with two hands so your fingertips are on the top panel. Sight and acquire the target, and exert some pressure on the top via your fingers you will hear a click and WOW! I tried it sitting down with my elbows resting on knees and without the stabilization, the image vibrates from my heartbeats and hand tremors, but with the stabilization on, the image is an absolute still. Before taking it down from you eyes, relax your fingers to lock the gimbals.
The placement of the solid-state caging switch is clearly ahead of the Fujinon’s thumb operated switch. In the case of the Fujinon S1440, it is very easy to forget to lock the cage before you put the binoculars down which is a bad thing for the delicate gimbals/bearings. The M25 caging design minimizes this from occurring and just a little pressure will turn the stabilization on. I found the M25’s handling of panning is as good if not better than the Fujinon - and the M25 is only powered by two AA batteries, while the Fujinon requires six. Also, during panning, the image is sharper with the M25. Like the 7x50 M22 series binoculars, the M25’s laser filter tints the image with a shade of violet. I like this because it enhances the contrast and give the overall view a cool feeling.
According to Earl, gyro stabilized binoculars by nature are delicate instruments. While the M25 can take minor bumps, it is unlikely to be able to withstand a hard drop onto concrete. When in transport, the M25 should be sleeved into the soft case and then put into the pelican hard shell