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PrimaLuceLab Eagle Review
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PrimaLuceLab Eagle Review
Name: Christopher Corkill
Location: Italy (soon to relocate to USA)
Experience: 5 years
Number of Telescopes Owned: 3
Number of Eagles Owned: 3
I am reviewing the PrimaLuceLab Eagle which helps simplify the astrophotography workflow and gets you imaging faster and more efficiently. I purchased a three models of the Eagle new and in this review I will be focusing specifically on the Eagle 2 (non-Pro edition). The current model range include the Eagle3, Q, S, and Pro.
What is the Eagle?
The Eagle, named after the Apollo lunar lander, is a super compact specialized computer that controls your astrophotography gear using mostly proprietary connectors, chips and design. This computer is designed with the astrophotographer in mind by making set up/tear down a snap and reducing those long, winding, snaggable wires to a more manageable option. The Eagle is a self contained system that has several power ports in the rear that distributes the appropriate amount of amps to connected devices, such as a CCD camera or focuser. Along the lengths of the computer you have typical ports that any computer would have: 3.0 and 2.0 USBs, HDMI, mini display, dew heater ports, and ethernet. In addition to the ethernet port, you have the option to use the internal WiFi system to join a network or broadcast it's own network. The latter option is very handy for when you are out in the field as it allows you to remote desktop into it without running internet. This can happen using virtually any device.
My impressions of the Eagle
As with everything, there are many pros and cons of the system. I can't really pin point what the best selling point was for the Eagle because there were too many however my favorites would include the ease of setting up my telescope at night and tear down in the morning. The Eagle helps with fast assembly because the wires are all connected with shorter lengths and powered through the rear of the unit thus eliminating all power cables except the computer power cable. I am able to move my telescope (minus the counter weights) in three pieces: the telescope, the mount and pier/tripod. As you can imagine I can fully set up within about 15 minutes or so.
Another one of my favorite features are how you 'set and forget.' With the Eagle I can power the entire astrophotography system on and start up Sequence Generator Pro with one button. Once it is all on, I just remote desktop into the Eagle and select my sequence that I had prepared earlier in the day and then press play. Once done, I can sleep inside where it is warm and not have to worry about wires snagging or having power issues. It really cannot get any easier than that.
Lets talk power. Who likes carrying a second marine battery to power your laptop? Not me and neither does PrimaLuceLab. The small team of Italian designers have engineered the computer to have no onboard screen which makes power management very efficient. No LCD, no extra power draw. They've also designed the computer to use low power-consuming components to save the juice in that heavy battery you've been lugging around. An example of this is by using a lower power processor because most astrophotography software doesn't require a lot of horsepower (probably because most AP software is ancient). One last thing worth mentioning is the three silver ports labeled 5-6-7 that are used for controlling various accessories but most commonly used for dew band heaters. These ports can be automatically controlled by the Environmental Computerized Controller for Eagle (marketed as ECCO) which is a custom electronics board that has several sensors/algorithms for calculating the best power output for dew control. The ECCO is an expensive little guy but worth it for automation.
When it comes to the interface and software of the Eagle it uses a full version of Windows 10 Enterprise so that it allows you the Remote Desktop function. Included and preinstalled is the Eagle Manager which is a PrimaLuceLab coded software that helps the user view and manage the system and view power consumptions. Another great feature that the Eagle Manager brings is your ability to connect and disconnect power to ports that you choose. This is especially handy for remote setups.
This sounds great but what are the cons?
As I am attempting to write a unbiased review, I want to also touch on the cons and problems I have had in the past with the Eagle. I have owned the Eagle since the first model was released and I have to admit that I did have performance issues however this was quickly resolved once they had faster processors. That being said, there aren't any user serviceable parts that you can upgrade without voiding the warranty (the insides are intricate so it's best to leave that to PrimaLuceLab anyway). The Eagle has come a long way from the first model and the Eagle 2 is amazing. I've not had any problems with it ever.
As the Eagle has progressed in powerfulness, the price has been drastically lowered over each model. I don't necessarily consider the price a con compared to what I originally payed for my first Eagle however it still is a pricy bit of hardware. For what it's worth, all the conveniences it gives makes it worth it to me. One thing that I haven't noticed to lower in price is the accessories (i.e. power cables and ECCO). At the end of the day, the Eagle and it's components/accessories/cables are all custom made so the price can be justified.
As a disclaimer, I want to remind everyone that the PrimaLuceLab team are always there for their customers and respond/repair quickly. I've never had a bad experience with PrimaLuceLab's products that weren't immediately remedied. I also want to note that I've not been charged for any of the repairs to their products. Because I live down the road from PrimaLuceLab, interestingly anytime I had a problem they were so polite that they often dropped what they were working on to fix my issues that were often user error.
After using the Eagle for about three years I can comfortably say I would purchase this product all over again. Seeing the product in person and being able to hold it in my hand really helped with my decision to make my purchases with PrimaLuceLab. With it's ease of use, safety, customer support and conveniences, I say that this is a winner in my book. I would give this product a 9/10 stars.
This is my first review so please don't be harsh. If anyone has any questions or comments please let me know as I am more than willing to answer them.
Ease of use
Cost (however this is going down)
Not user upgradeable
Quicker assembly of gear
Not user upgradeable
Quicker assembly of gear
Shorter cables/No snagging
No built in espresso maker
One power cable
No extra batteries required
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