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Inside the PrimaLuceLabs Eagle 4 (teardown photos)

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#1 Psychlist1972

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 03:52 PM

Thought folks might be interested in this. I like to take things apart. Sometimes, I even put them back together tongue2.gif (a bunch of my Flickr albums are teardowns of various synthesizers)

 

I was able to pick up a PrimaLuceLabs Eagle 4 - the base model that runs for just about $1000 USD. I've picked this up to try it out because I like the combined solutions like this and the ASIAir, but want more flexibility in the software I run, and in the devices I connect to it.

 

Without having done any testing, but knowing a fair bit about Windows, the sweet spot to me seems that it would be the i3 version. (Eagle 4 S). But that's impossible to get right now, so I picked up the basic Eagle 4 with the Celeron processor and 4G memory. You can see a comparison table near the bottom of the page here:

 

https://www.primaluc...hotography.html

 

Anyway, on to the photos. smile.gif

 

(Larger photos are in my Flickr album here: https://www.flickr.c...157720056888824 )

 

51620143015_e3e0b73ec0_b.jpg

 

 

There's a NUC in here, plus a companion board that does all the heavy lifting for the astro features.

 

This is the Intel page about this NUC:

https://www.intel.co...echProdSpec.pdf

 

51619272621_1c93a3fdf4_b.jpg

 

 

This NUC, the NUC7CJYB, supports up to 8GB memory in two slots. I have not checked to see if PrimaLuceLabs limits max memory to 4GB in the BIOS or anything similar. But in terms of the NUC, you can bump to 8GB.

 

This is the matching memory to what was installed in my unit (I don't know if they mix and match, so you would need to check yours)

https://www.transcen...PN=JM2666HSH-4G

 

51620142770_f201c045c5_c.jpg

 

SSD. In theory, this is upgradable, but I wouldn't mess with that unless you know how to transfer disk images, and are comfortable finding (or, erm, making) an SSD with this same form factor.

 

51620142610_8dbea0065a_b.jpg

 

 

 

I have no idea if there is a tamper switch in this. I'll find out when I go to power it up. smile.gif

 

Edit: Oh, and I'm sure I voided all sorts of warranty here. I'm ok with that. If you open yours, do so at your own risk.

 

Pete


Edited by Psychlist1972, 22 October 2021 - 03:58 PM.

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#2 Psychlist1972

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 06:53 PM

I've upgraded the memory and the SSD. This feels much snappier now. It helps that the drive is marginally faster, but it's really about the memory.

 

To swap out the drive, I first cloned the existing one using the free version of Macrium Reflect. I cloned directly to the new drive, which I had in a SATA USB-C dock. Note that to take the new drive apart, you'll need a tiny security (hole in the middle) star bit. Mine is marked CR-VT6. Cost of the drive from Amazon was $85.

 

The memory is an 8GB kit, which was cheaper than a single 4GB stick of the memory that was in there. It's also fully compatible with this NUC. Cost was $42 from Amazon. This NUC maxes out at 8GB across two sticks.

Memory:

 

51626393066_c3233513be_z.jpg

 

 

Drive:

 

51623374138_e4fa93ac26_c.jpg

Testing it out.

 

51625561792_b823275b14_c.jpg

 

After I verified it was working, I used Disk Manager in Windows to extend the partition to take up all the available space on the new drive.

 

Pete


Edited by Psychlist1972, 24 October 2021 - 09:31 PM.

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#3 Rasfahan

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Posted 30 October 2021 - 04:58 AM

Thanks, this is valuable. With a fast telescope, 120GB space is really tight, considering how many hundreds of shots I gather. But I really don't need processing power and for mobile use the lesser draw of the Celeron is appealing. It's rather surprising that there's no M.2 SSD in it. The base configuration is also worse than my NUC7 that I bought in 2017 for 600€ and even the 4S is only slightly better. The price differences between the 4, 4S and 4 Pro are in no relation to the increase in component value. I'ld really like this to replace my ASIAir with something more flexible equipment-wise but even with the budget in hand I do feel ripped off a bit here. Replacing the SSD and RAM doesn't look very daunting, so I think it is an option. As the Eagle will be residing outside a lot, I feel any warranty claim will be turned down by "water damage" anyway.


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#4 Psychlist1972

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Posted 30 October 2021 - 11:36 AM

Thanks, this is valuable. With a fast telescope, 120GB space is really tight, considering how many hundreds of shots I gather. But I really don't need processing power and for mobile use the lesser draw of the Celeron is appealing. It's rather surprising that there's no M.2 SSD in it. The base configuration is also worse than my NUC7 that I bought in 2017 for 600€ and even the 4S is only slightly better. The price differences between the 4, 4S and 4 Pro are in no relation to the increase in component value. I'ld really like this to replace my ASIAir with something more flexible equipment-wise but even with the budget in hand I do feel ripped off a bit here. Replacing the SSD and RAM doesn't look very daunting, so I think it is an option. As the Eagle will be residing outside a lot, I feel any warranty claim will be turned down by "water damage" anyway.

It has been working out really well with the additional RAM and drive space. Both were easy to replace. The RAM is the critical part, IMO as Windows will run on 4G, but it's not all that happy about it, especially if you run NINA or other "big" apps. It's also the easiest thing to add to.

 

That model of NUC has no provision for m.2, but the SSD is fast enough for what I need. I'm not doing planetary.

 

On the Celeron, ASTAP plate solving isn't particularly fast, but it's also not super slow. This may just be the algorithm vs the relatively fast plate solving on the ASIAir. I've never plate solved on another PC, so I don't have any other data to compare.

 

The Celeron model can replace the Pi for sure. The software setup is more complex (unless you just use ZWO's software on it), but you have a lot more options.

 

Stellarium is a miserable experience on it, and not usable at all with the 4GB. Stick with Cartes du Ciel for finding targets. There may be some other options there, but I stopped looking for them. Software like that is above and beyond what you had on the ASIAir anyway.

 

Finally, I don't recommend remoting in from an iOS device. I tried two iPads and that was frustrating. You have to jump through a lot of hoops to get the network set up, and then the screen would constantly freeze and cut out. Not having a mouse or touchpad just added to it. So I switched over to my Surface and that was a much better experience. Note: do set the resolution of the remoting session to something reasonable like 1920x1080 as it will directly impact performance (I did the same on iPad). 

As to pricing, well, that's typical. Most laptop manufacturers charge a crazy premium for more soldered memory or SSD. I'm not going to judge there. But the hardware they offer here, including the aluminum case, is really good.
 

Pete



#5 rakrok

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Posted 01 November 2021 - 02:46 AM

I did something similar but with the Eagle4 Pro. I wanted to use it for planetary, and also as my main workhorse for processing those planetary videos since I don't have a Windows PC, so I ended up beefing it up as much as possible. I actually couldn't use the Eagle for high speed video captures until I replaced the SSD drive - the one it ships with is quite limited performance-wise and I would become I/O bound quite quickly. As a result I ended up replacing the RAM to 2x32gb and upgraded the SSD to an M.2 2TB Samsung 970 Evo and it now performs flawlessly.


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#6 Psychlist1972

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Posted 01 November 2021 - 01:29 PM

I did something similar but with the Eagle4 Pro. I wanted to use it for planetary, and also as my main workhorse for processing those planetary videos since I don't have a Windows PC, so I ended up beefing it up as much as possible. I actually couldn't use the Eagle for high speed video captures until I replaced the SSD drive - the one it ships with is quite limited performance-wise and I would become I/O bound quite quickly. As a result I ended up replacing the RAM to 2x32gb and upgraded the SSD to an M.2 2TB Samsung 970 Evo and it now performs flawlessly.

Nice. Those Samsung drives are perfect for this.

 

Also good to know that the Pro supports M.2 drives. 

 

Pete



#7 mklosterman1

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Posted 03 November 2021 - 07:34 PM

This really great info. I was always curious about the innards! I like the idea of the Eagle but hate the  price. I already have a very powerful NUCi7 that I bought used fairly cheap on ebay and added a 1Tb M.2 and 500Gb SSD. If I could only get my hands on a eagle for parts and maybe the drive intact to clone then I could perhaps build a SuperEagle.



#8 Psychlist1972

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Posted 04 November 2021 - 12:17 AM

This really great info. I was always curious about the innards! I like the idea of the Eagle but hate the  price. I already have a very powerful NUCi7 that I bought used fairly cheap on ebay and added a 1Tb M.2 and 500Gb SSD. If I could only get my hands on a eagle for parts and maybe the drive intact to clone then I could perhaps build a SuperEagle.

Thanks.

 

The trick with the Eagle case and the NUC is if all the ports line up. Otherwise, you'd have to do some customization of the aluminum to make it work. Also, it can't be too thick or else you'll hit the top of the case (and mount screws).

 

The price PrimaLuceLabs charges is actually not too far out. Yeah, they skimped on drive and memory, but that was easily fixed. But you're paying for all the milled aluminum, the custom power management/sensor board, and the software. I still think the i3 version is the sweet spot there price-wise for what this does. But I don't do planetary, so I don't know if the i5 or i7 would be needed.

 

Pete



#9 MLM

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Posted 04 November 2021 - 12:17 PM

As the Eagle will be residing outside a lot, I feel any warranty claim will be turned down by "water damage" anyway.

The top case on the Eagle is like 'swiss cheese'. I ordered a bunch of SS 18-8 metric Allen set screws from Bolt Depot and filled all the unused holes. Be careful to use short screws when you do this because some of the boards are close to the top plate. Next I filled all of the unused USB and other ports with rubber plugs from Amazon. In principle it should be a lot more water resistant. 



#10 Psychlist1972

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Posted 04 November 2021 - 02:34 PM

The top case on the Eagle is like 'swiss cheese'. I ordered a bunch of SS 18-8 metric Allen set screws from Bolt Depot and filled all the unused holes. Be careful to use short screws when you do this because some of the boards are close to the top plate. Next I filled all of the unused USB and other ports with rubber plugs from Amazon. In principle it should be a lot more water resistant. 

Just don't plug or block all the bottom ones as well. With all those holes plugged, the CPU fan isn't getting any makeup air.



#11 MLM

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Posted 04 November 2021 - 02:56 PM

Just don't plug or block all the bottom ones as well. With all those holes plugged, the CPU fan isn't getting any makeup air.

Indeed, I left those one unplugged just for that reason!


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#12 PuroOro

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Posted 07 November 2021 - 09:26 PM

I want to make my own power cables for the Eagle 4.  Does anyone know the designation of the 2 types of power connectors?



#13 Psychlist1972

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Posted 07 November 2021 - 09:57 PM

I want to make my own power cables for the Eagle 4.  Does anyone know the designation of the 2 types of power connectors?

You can buy them from Opt and others, but I haven't yet looked up what brand/model of connector it is.

 

Pete



#14 Psychlist1972

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Posted 07 November 2021 - 11:16 PM

I want to make my own power cables for the Eagle 4.  Does anyone know the designation of the 2 types of power connectors?

This is the company that makes them:

 

https://www.maojwei.com/

 

Half the pages on their site lead to Cloudfront errors though (at least for me). Also, neither Mouser nor Digikey carry them as far as I can tell. Alibaba and Aliexpress didn't have the specific connector either.

 

This is either also them, or affiliated somehow
http://www.zjpt.com/

 

So if this is any sort of standard design (may not be), may be able to find a compatible one.

 

Pete



#15 StephenOTT

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Posted 08 November 2021 - 02:22 PM

I was heavily looking into the eagle and i eventually went with a custom mini PC build:

 

https://www.cloudyni...x-advance-gen2/

 

140417882-be777e2b-8e36-4d53-8faf-22f786

 

Minus the integrated GPS and ~sky camera, would love to hear some comparisons and what drove you to the eagle!


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#16 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 08 November 2021 - 02:45 PM

See this thread: https://www.cloudyni...rs-proprietary/

 

I want to make my own power cables for the Eagle 4.  Does anyone know the designation of the 2 types of power connectors?



#17 Psychlist1972

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Posted 08 November 2021 - 03:42 PM

I was heavily looking into the eagle and i eventually went with a custom mini PC build:

 

https://www.cloudyni...x-advance-gen2/

 

140417882-be777e2b-8e36-4d53-8faf-22f786

 

Minus the integrated GPS and ~sky camera, would love to hear some comparisons and what drove you to the eagle!

Nice! That MeLE PC is pretty slick. Plenty of USB as well.

 

It was the all-in-one solution that did it for me. I wanted a clean setup that could be easily mounted on the scope. Cost for the Eagle was $995, but I also had to add the memory and up the HD size. It's nice that it runs on 12v, but the Type C that yours uses could also work. Did you have to run a second cable to the battery, or was the Pegasus able to power it?

(The Eagle also came with a legit Windows 10 Enterprise/embedded license, which will typically run you around $300, IIRC. Those $20 Windows 10 pro licenses on ebay and elsewhere are not legit. Windows 10 Pro costs around $130 for an install. You got yours with the PC, so mostly adding this because I see it coming up in other PC build threads.)

 

After running PHD2 and NINA on mine for a bit, I'm doubling down on saying that the i3 or i5 is the better choice. Between remote desktop, NINA, and PHD2 when it's working hard, that PC really slows way down. I'll be curious to see how your Celeron experience goes.

 

I haven't decided what I'll do for the Stellarvue setup next year. I may decide to go a similar route to what you did. TBD. :p

 

For those considering an approach, the Eagle does have some bugs and shortcomings in their tools. They have a new version of the software coming out soon, and I hope that addresses them. 

 

Pete


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#18 Psychlist1972

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Posted 08 November 2021 - 03:48 PM

Be sure to read the whole thread. It ends with some grinding.

 

They're often not in stock, but if you want the original ones, here you go:

 

https://optcorp.com/...power-out-ports

 

https://optcorp.com/...power-out-ports

 

$15 USD each. But again, stock varies.

 

Pete



#19 StephenOTT

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Posted 08 November 2021 - 04:20 PM

Nice! That MeLE PC is pretty slick. Plenty of USB as well.

 

It was the all-in-one solution that did it for me. I wanted a clean setup that could be easily mounted on the scope. Cost for the Eagle was $995, but I also had to add the memory and up the HD size. It's nice that it runs on 12v, but the Type C that yours uses could also work. Did you have to run a second cable to the battery, or was the Pegasus able to power it?

(The Eagle also came with a legit Windows 10 Enterprise/embedded license, which will typically run you around $300, IIRC. Those $20 Windows 10 pro licenses on ebay and elsewhere are not legit. Windows 10 Pro costs around $130 for an install. You got yours with the PC, so mostly adding this because I see it coming up in other PC build threads.)

 

After running PHD2 and NINA on mine for a bit, I'm doubling down on saying that the i3 or i5 is the better choice. Between remote desktop, NINA, and PHD2 when it's working hard, that PC really slows way down. I'll be curious to see how your Celeron experience goes.

 

I haven't decided what I'll do for the Stellarvue setup next year. I may decide to go a similar route to what you did. TBD. tongue2.gif

 

For those considering an approach, the Eagle does have some bugs and shortcomings in their tools. They have a new version of the software coming out soon, and I hope that addresses them. 

 

Pete

Psychlist1972  the powerbox runs everything: Mount, PC, Camera, dew heaters, etc.  12v goes into the Powerbox from battery/power source, and everything else runs off of the powerbox.  The USBC to 12V is the powerbox powering the pc.  Entire setup runs on less than 2.5 amp hours. (Gem28 mount, ZWO ASI camera, dew heaters, mele pc, ZWO EAF, iPolar, and iGuider cameras).

 

Performance wise, I have had no issues with performance (and no issues with Windows license. works like a charm and updates as expected).  Remote desktop works fast (have found better performance if you tweak the graphics in the RDP app to medium rather than "auto"), but this is mainly a WIFI thing.  If you are running in AP mode then should not notice, otherwise make sure to have a ~good router (the nano travel routers just don't have the bandwidth for quality connection).  

(Also I think the MELE has a better processor than the Eagle: J4125 vs J4005).

 

The final step to have ~all features of a eagle is to add: https://pegasusastro...s-meteo-sensor/


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#20 Psychlist1972

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Posted 08 November 2021 - 04:58 PM

Psychlist1972  the powerbox runs everything: Mount, PC, Camera, dew heaters, etc.  12v goes into the Powerbox from battery/power source, and everything else runs off of the powerbox.  The USBC to 12V is the powerbox powering the pc.  Entire setup runs on less than 2.5 amp hours. (Gem28 mount, ZWO ASI camera, dew heaters, mele pc, ZWO EAF, iPolar, and iGuider cameras).

 

Performance wise, I have had no issues with performance (and no issues with Windows license. works like a charm and updates as expected).  Remote desktop works fast (have found better performance if you tweak the graphics in the RDP app to medium rather than "auto"), but this is mainly a WIFI thing.  If you are running in AP mode then should not notice, otherwise make sure to have a ~good router (the nano travel routers just don't have the bandwidth for quality connection).  

(Also I think the MELE has a better processor than the Eagle: J4125 vs J4005).

 

The final step to have ~all features of a eagle is to add: https://pegasusastro...s-meteo-sensor/

Oh cool. I wasn't sure if the powerbox could supply enough USB juice to run the PC. A lot of USB-C chargeable ones require 100W USB-C charger ports.

 

It's a nice setup. Definitely something I'll consider for the Stellarvue when it arrives next year.

 

Pete




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