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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

 

Abstract

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

Verdict

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.

 

Pros                                             

Cons                                             

Ease of use

Cost (however this is going down)

Customer service

Not user upgradeable

Quicker assembly of gear

Not user upgradeable

Quicker assembly of gear

Expensive accessories

Shorter cables/No snagging

No built in espresso maker

One power cable

 

No extra batteries required

 

 


  • okiestarman56, Delta608, stephendej and 2 others like this


66 Comments

We cant...Some think its the best since sliced bread, others dont...The faults, my opinion only...You dont own the software...It is made to run your scope, period...So no upgrading as it works as it suppose to in its present state...Any software issues, its off to Italy for repair...and its VERY proprietary...It has occasional wifi dropouts, but what windows machine doesn't...As far as cable management, none compare..Did I mention very proprietary...Just re-read this thread..It does what its advertised to do and very good at it, AS IS, to run your scope and buy Prima cabling ect..!


Ok...but does it really do what it says on the tin RELIABLY...
That’s the primary question. Also, if drivers for kit are updated, are you stuck, unable to update the Eagle to account for this....
The other thing is how robust is it?

If this sits in a permanent remote observatory how well will it fare from 0-35 degrees Celsius and with humidity. As mentioned, an industrial NUC can handle all of that no problem. Against the NUC is the cable management aspect

Also, if drivers for kit are updated, are you stuck, unable to update the Eagle to account for this....

In the last post on the page 2 there was a question I posted recently regarding driver updates, etc...

 

Long story short, I have an Eagle2 which came loaded with Win 10 Enterprise LTSB 2015 build.  In theory LTSB is a great option for astro machine because it's not as bloated as the standard 10 Pro and you don't have to deal with pesky OS updates all the time.  In practice it proved to be a dud recently: that version of Win 10, which is supposed to be good for 10 years, is now too old to accept Microsoft's own .NET platform updates (typical Microsoft nonsense...).  As a result, I couldn't install a driver for my new dome (NexDome) which relies on a more recent .NET update.  So, I was completely stuck.

 

I've reached out to PrimaLuce several times and it was like pulling teeth - slow (over 2 weeks in one case), incomplete answers.  I got 3 messages after I asked how long, how much it would cost to update to new Win and I still couldn't get a straight answer... was told - it would take some time, and it would cost extra.  No specifics whatsoever.  And of course it would require shipping the PC to Italy at my own expense both ways.

 

I decided to just do my own upgrade and luckily was able to just upload the latest Win 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019 over the original OS without a problem.  Now - I happen to have access to MS volume licensing through my employer, which is how I was able to obtain LTSC edition - I couldn't find any way to buy it directly from MS.  It was still ridiculously expensive - $325, but I figured it would cost at least that much to do it through PrimaLuce in addition to hassling with their support (which again, has sucked recently) and shipping PC, etc.

 

Other than that, the PC seems to work exactly as advertised.  Even given the hassle, I would still recommend it as a clean solution for software and power management.

Ok...but does it really do what it says on the tin RELIABLY...
That’s the primary question. Also, if drivers for kit are updated, are you stuck, unable to update the Eagle to account for this....

Again it does work reliably.....pay heed to what Alex had gone thru and remember its very proprietary..If you want it all to fit, looking nice...Your gonna need their rings as well...There is a ton of Youtube's comparing a NUC  and Eagle..

 

*BTW they do not want you dating drivers....It works out of the box and that's the way THEY want it to stay...That's why you don't have the license to change things...

Does anyone have an opinion on this question that never received an answer?

 

"Which version of the Eagle3 would you recommend?  Choices are:  Eagle 3, Eagle3 Q, Eagle S, and Eagle3 Pro.  Is the basic version adequate or do you really need the Pro version or middle range versions?  The only software I'd have running all night would be Sequence Generator Pro, PhD2, Cartes du Ciel/Stellarium, and EQMod.  I don't need a lot of storage, since my images total less than 10GB in one night and I'd offload them the next day to free up space.  Just wondering what the better processors would help with.  Thanks."

Not knowing anything else...Eagle 3s ......or a Laptop and a hub or a Nuc..or a Pegasus V2.....

Again it does work reliably.....pay heed to what Alex had gone thru and remember its very proprietary..If you want it all to fit, looking nice...Your gonna need their rings as well...There is a ton of Youtube's comparing a NUC  and Eagle..

 

*BTW they do not want you dating drivers....It works out of the box and that's the way THEY want it to stay...That's why you don't have the license to change things...

 

http://forum.mainseq...2-and-3/11451/2

 

this is a supported approach from Primaluce after discussion with them over the break. 

 

your suggestion THEY don't want you to change the drivers is nonsense - it was sold as an IOT device requiring no OS updates.

Sadly thats ironic thanks to MS :) 

Does anyone have an opinion on this question that never received an answer?

 

"Which version of the Eagle3 would you recommend?  Choices are:  Eagle 3, Eagle3 Q, Eagle S, and Eagle3 Pro.  Is the basic version adequate or do you really need the Pro version or middle range versions?  The only software I'd have running all night would be Sequence Generator Pro, PhD2, Cartes du Ciel/Stellarium, and EQMod.  I don't need a lot of storage, since my images total less than 10GB in one night and I'd offload them the next day to free up space.  Just wondering what the better processors would help with.  Thanks."

I have an Eagle 2 which is an I5 and is fine

 

the I3 core Eagle 3 is faster - both are overkill for SGP 

 

big USB3 stick now and you don't need masses of disk space - the ram can be upgraded if you find its not enough (i like 8gb min for win10 )

 

I don't run heavy planetarium software remote - so mine works fine - the basic or mid range would do well 

    • M Milligan likes this

Thanks @ZL4PLM. FYI: All Eagle models are 10% off right now.

 

I'm trying to decide between the Celeron-based Eagle 3 and the latest-generation I3-based Eagle 3s. I would upgrade the RAM and the SSD no problem.

 

I'm going to pull the trigger today or tomorrow, so my last questions are:

 

1. You're comfortable the Eagle Celeron (after I upgrade the RAM & SSD) would be able to run the necessary software like TheSkyX, CCDSoft, PH2, SGP, etc.?

 

2. Do you have a retailer that carries them that you especially like? PrimalucelabUSA is actually Woodland Hills, which is AKA telescopes.net. They had a little knowledge about it, but I'm looking to buy from a site with a bit more. Or should I call Italy?

 

Thanks again for your help.

 

Mike

I purchased the Eagle 3 pro version last year at NEAF. It was one of the best purchases I made for setting up and controlling my equipment remotely.

 

I thought about buying the Celeron based model and upgrading but decided against it. Not sure if it was due to warranty being an issue if I cracked open the case.

 

Another US based distributor is Land Sea and Sky Telescopes based in Texas, They have a great staff and are very familiar with the products from Prima Luce.

 

I will say that if you can get to NEAF you will save 10% as they are discounted during the event.

    • chriscorkill likes this

http://forum.mainseq...2-and-3/11451/2

 

this is a supported approach from Primaluce after discussion with them over the break. 

 

your suggestion THEY don't want you to change the drivers is nonsense - it was sold as an IOT device requiring no OS updates.

Sadly thats ironic thanks to MS smile.gif

 Again, See # 54..I was was referring to drivers of  your equipment, not being compatible without a Win-10 updated build.....One of the reasons for my return...Anything but nonsense ... It worked great except a reboot once in a while, but could not load NINA because of an older build...Net 4 or something or other...not nonsense..

    • AlexTardif likes this
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chriscorkill
Jan 14 2020 07:56 PM

Just got my Eagle3 and wished I'd done it ages ago !!!

 

Chris - can you tell me where you get your 90 degree USB cables I can find 90 degree USB-A to USB3.0-B, and micro C, but not Micro-B or Mini-B.

 

Thank you

Hello Sgt Ernest!

I am sorry for the late response, I just got done moving across the world! I purchase my 90 degree cables from https://www.usbfirewire.com. Just make sure you get the right cable because the right and left 90 degree angle are completely different from each other. They are good quality cables at an affordable price :)

Christopher

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chriscorkill
Jan 14 2020 08:02 PM

I have a loaded nuc, powerpole strip and usb hub.  I am VERY interested in this all in one "clean" setup  BUT.  (cons?)

I see it has a small SSD.   And major difference in price for a later one and 4 8 or 16 gb

Here is a major con.  If I get a 4gb - what if I want 8gb later?  I have to send this thing back to Italy to get an upgrade?

 

Same for SSD?  what if ram or SSD goes bad?  I can't just swap another?  I have to send it to Italy for service? 

A major pro for me is that with the nuc I can open it out and swap M2 drives or SSD's (I do and have).  

Upgradability and service ability like my Intel Nuc is a MAJOR PRO for me.   This might be something they might consider in a future model.  If I lived in Italy then fine, but in the U.S. it's not at all attractive to me to ship the thing to Europe. 

Hi Ron!

I've seen the insides of the Eagle and the RAM and SSD are not proprietary however you would void your warranty with PrimaLuceLab. There is now a service provider for Eagle located in the USA now; his name is Tom Bramwell! PrimaLuceLab decided on this move as the customer base is expanding rapidly in the USA.

 

Christopher

    • Delta608 likes this
If you want Remote Desktop control surely an i5 Intel NUC will do the same job at less than half the price? I run my NUC ‘headless’ and have short USB cables from Camera and Focuser control to its USB3 ports. Cable management is hence easy. I affix NUC to a VESA plate affixed to scope using Velcro straps. Only trailing cable is power. The use Windows Remote Desktop to control from indoors.

If you want Remote Desktop control surely an i5 Intel NUC will do the same job at less than half the price? I run my NUC ‘headless’ and have short USB cables from Camera and Focuser control to its USB3 ports. Cable management is hence easy. I affix NUC to a VESA plate affixed to scope using Velcro straps. Only trailing cable is power. The use Windows Remote Desktop to control from indoors.

I didnt buy it just for the compute power - my eagle integrates my whole power management, dew control, scope and guidescope mounting and allows me to have the whole unit as one lump 

 

takes me mins now to set up and i am ready to go 

 

also I can some back night after night and the setup is as I left it 

 

Its saved me hours on hours of effort 

 

its a lot more than just a NUC :) 

    • chriscorkill likes this
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chriscorkill
Jan 30 2020 03:47 PM

If you want Remote Desktop control surely an i5 Intel NUC will do the same job at less than half the price? I run my NUC ‘headless’ and have short USB cables from Camera and Focuser control to its USB3 ports. Cable management is hence easy. I affix NUC to a VESA plate affixed to scope using Velcro straps. Only trailing cable is power. The use Windows Remote Desktop to control from indoors.

Noah I am glad you found a solution that works for you. How do you have your NUC powering your accessories and dew bands? 

The Eagle computer powers everything through it's custom ports and controls the dew straps internally by setting the voltage using software. 

If it is possible, I recommend securing that NUC with bolts as it will reduce any flexure or tracking problems in the event of it moving even a little.

    • scopehead10 likes this


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