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PrimaLuceLab’s Eagle Core


SteveNickolls
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Hi noah4x4, that is all very interesting and most useful to know-thanks. I had wondered if the Eagle Core's Wi-Fi range had been compromised at night with more people being at home and all using their 2.4GHz channels for whatever purposes they had. It would be worth me checking during the day and in the evening to see what numbers of networks are in the vicinity and what variabilty happens. I haven't really looked into things in any depth but I think I recall the unit having 11 possible channels to use and seeing it preset to channel 6 which I understand is one of the three non-overlapping channels on the band.

I'm rather stuck with just using 2.4 GHz with the Eagle Core but I do like how you have neatly resolved your communication issues using the 5 GHz 'Wholehome' discs. I don't have any outside building in which the mount is located but I would be tempted to use a wired solution. I have used a crossover Ethernet cable to control imaging with the Eagle Core from a laptop indoors but ideally prefer to avoid cables wherever I can. It is a very poignant point that your friend makes regarding foil backed plasterboard affecting the signal passage. Good luck by the way with your project making your set up smaller to more meet your needs. The Eagle Core does have the strong selling points of being quite petite at around 155 mm x 80 mm x 30 mm, weighing around  512g and its box metal construction with pre-drilled holes allow the unit to become a rigid part of the imaging rig. I do like how the unit can be used to power peripherals (I power the mount and DSLR), keeping cabling short and ready for use. The ability to interface its proprietory (I think Linux-based 'Eagle App') using either Windows, iOS, Android OS etc. machines also opens it up to a wider number of potential users. I mentioned in some earlier post that the device is quite modestly powered cpu-wise using an ARM A7 1 GHz quad core with 1 GB RAM and 8 GB SSD on board bearing in mind its intended use.

Cheers,
Steve

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Hi Steve,

So far I am the only one in our group using the Eagle Core.  Most of the members are doing visual observation with dobs.  Other members of the group who do Astro photography are using  wired systems.  Since I am close to the scope when doing my photography I haven't had any wireless connection problems with the Eagle Core, but I am only using it for goto and camera control, not guiding.

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What I struggle to understand is how devices like the Eagle (and ASIAir) work with such a limited processor and so little RAM. Begs the question, will it work with large sensor high resolution CMOS cameras like ZWO ASI294 or Atik Horizon?

My 16 megapixel Atik Horizon churns out 3840 x 2040 resolution and hence generates huge files. If I stack/save these using two second exposures (on Hyperstar) whilst running CPWI scope software and autofocussing software then Windows Resource Monitor suggests that I am close to running out of CPU and memory resources despite having a decent 7i5 processor and 4Gb RAM. My computer resolves this, but not in 'real time' as it takes longer to process than than actual total exposure integration time. For single long exposure AP I guess this doesn't matter,  but for EVAA it is a tad sluggish. I am about to increase RAM to 16Gb having discussed this with Atik Support who suggested that 4Gb was a tad lightweight. 

If the Eagle has merely an ARM A7 at 1 GHz with 1 Gb RAM, what is the maximum camera specification it will handle?  Past CCDs have tended to be modest resolution, but more recent CMOS are far more demanding (example ASI294 at 11.7 megapixel). Do Prima Luci offer any guidance? 

 

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Hi Noah4x4,

The Eagle Core is designed to take photos through a DSLR or comparable mirrorless camera that store all photos internally.  It is also designed to allow guiding with typical guide cameras.  However, I found that when I tried to use Eagle Core to guide with my ZWO asi178 (3096 x 2080 px) it reported that the camera resolution was only about half the actual pixel count in each direction.  I don't know if they were using a smaller portion of the sensor or binning the pixels.  When I asked PLL about this they said it was necessary to prevent overloading the processor.  Unfortunately this was not mentioned in any of there spec sheets or the manual. This was one of the reasons I don't use the Eagle Core software for guiding.

I use the Eagle Core camera control software with my DSLR (24 mpix) to control exposure time and the number of photos taken at each exposure.  When an exposure is completed the camera downloads a copy of image to the Eagle Core through a USB connection and then displays it wirelessly on my ipad.  The Eagle Core only stores the image temporarily until it is overwritten by the next image or the unit is shutdown.  It takes a few seconds before I can see the image after the exposure is completed.  I suspect that the delay is mostly due to the wireless data transfer.  This is not a problem since my exposures are generally long and I have plenty of time to view images between shots.  I can also zoom in to see if I have round stars.

 

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That response suggests to me that devices like the Eagle 3 are fine for long exposure AP (where delay matters little), notably with DSLRs that have internal storage,  but might struggle where one is is using a high resolution CMOS astro-camera (like ASI178 mentioned) requiring external storage and even more so if multiple short exposure stacks for Electronically Assisted Astronomy (known in SGL as EEVA) are required. 

Indeed,  can it handle stacking in a manner similar to Sharpcap, Infinity, SG Pro or Maxim DL? Can anybody confirm?

Or is the Eagle 3 simply acting as transmitter sending camera and control data to your (indoor) more powerful laptop which then handles the camera software?

What about ASIair and AtikBase? I have tentatively been looking at these devices and the manufacturer websites are unclear what cameras or processes they will (or won't) support.

If I tried to run my 16 megapixel camera with (say) SG Pro on a PC with a low specification processor and merely 1 Gb RAM it is certain to choke. So how are they doing this, or are there limitations that are not stated in the marketing material (as confirmed by the previous poster)?

It would helpful if some Eagle 3 (and ASIAir and AtikBase) users could clarify. 

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My understanding on the Eagle Core spec

image.png.a0378761ed9b8f134f594efef2518104.png

(taken from the technical data tab on https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p9959_PrimaLuceLab-EAGLE-CORE---Control-Unit-for-astrophotography-with-a-DSLR-camera.html  ) is that the ARM cpu is very efficient and runs a proprietory Eagle App, I think Linux based. I understand ARM cpu's are used very widely to run bespoke systems using little power. This is however enough grunt to perform the necessary image acquisition and guiding, perhaps just enough. That is why I am unsure if any developments in terms of dark frame subtraction to help with guiding would be possible given the hardware limitations. The other products in the Eagle stable use Win 10 Enterprise edition that is stripped down of the usual bloatware and the user has the freedom to add whatever astronomy programmes they want to use. The differences in the larger models is the specification of the cpu and memory involved (that is both RAM and storage memory). Off the PLL website-

image.png.0d4e63ec3f1cc214886accb59688af22.png

Note there is no specification given here for the Eagle Core.

I am really interested in your comment JEM_svca -

3 hours ago, JEM_svca said:

I found that when I tried to use Eagle Core to guide with my ZWO asi178 (3096 x 2080 px) it reported that the camera resolution was only about half the actual pixel count in each direction.

as at one time I tinkered with the idea of getting such a camera for guiding. I certainly didn't read any information in the PLL literature to that effect. The ASI178 has a 6Mpx sensor of course.

I'd also mention that the last image you see on your tablet or pc is of the JPEG taken not the RAW image, this will have a smaller file size which presumably the device can handle fairly speedily. It actually explains a lot about the Eagle Core device, not detrimental given its use but understanding its limitations.

Regards,
Steve

Edited by SteveNickolls
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Hi Noah4x4,

Just to be clear all my comments are with regard to the Eagle Core and do not suggest any limitations for the Eagle 3.  You can't load any image processing software or any other software into the Eagle Core like you can with the Eagle 3.  With the Eagle Core you are limited to the functionality built into the unit.

Hi Steve,

Regarding dark frame subtraction, this is done in my camera when you turn on the log exposure noise reduction feature.  I wasn't expecting the Eagle Core to do this for me.  I was hoping instead that it would simply be intelligent enough to display the end result.  Unfortunately it doesn't display any image when the LENR feature is used.  The camera however, still records the image.  I just don't have any way to see it unless I disconnect the camera from the Eagle Core and look at the image on the camera display.  This is a real nuisance.

 

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Hi JEM_svca, my mistake, I was referring to a desired ability in the Eagle App to take a dark frame for use when guiding to pre entry guiding on a stuck pixel. Appreciate you would also like to perform long exposure noise reduction with your DSLR when controlled by the Eagle App. 😀 It all does make me wonder if adding such a feature in the software is simply too much to pack into the memory.

Cheers,

Steve

 

 

 

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Hi Steve,

Sorry I misunderstood.  As already discussed, it would be nice to be able to create a bad pixel map for the guide camera.  Regarding the DSLR, it seems like it would only take a small tweak to the Eagle Core firmware to delay uploading the image until after the in=camera long exposure noise reduction is finished.  The camera itself is able to do this when not connected to the Eagle Core.

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19 hours ago, JEM_svca said:

Regarding the DSLR, it seems like it would only take a small tweak to the Eagle Core firmware to delay uploading the image until after the in=camera long exposure noise reduction is finished. 

Yes, I hope that PLL are taking note of these tweaks to make the Eagle app more capable. Unfortunately I'm not a programmer but surely small changes that bring better usability can be added to the firmware along the lines we are suggesting and would like to see in the future.

There doesn't seem to be many paces online that the device is being discussed and reviewed. I hope therefore to soon be able to post on my experiences using the Eagle Core to control guiding of both my mounts.

Cheers,
Steve

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Hi Steve,

I agree with you that there seems to be very little user feedback about the Eagle Core online.  It makes you wonder how many people are really using it.  In theory it is a well made, compact, simple to use device that doesn't use much power, and could really do everything I need when out at dark sky sites. I hope to hear about your experiences. 

While the Eagle core is useful to me as it is, I would be much more pleased with it if they could simply add the LENR tweak, despite its guiding limitations.

If they could add more features to the guiding software, such as the ability to ignore bad pixels, utilize the full camera resolution, and the ability to specify declination angle for each target to avoid recalibration, it would be almost perfect.  I doubt they can do anything to allow for full camera resolution because of processor limitations.  I might be able to get by with 2x2 pixel binning, but I don't want to lose field of view.  PLL wouldn't tell me if their process uses binning or a subset the sensor image area.

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I thought the table of specifications  interesting. The Eagle 3 Pro has a processor with a CPU benchmark of 5139 and offers 16 Gb RAM and costs €1,995.

A vastly more powerful Intel NUC i7--8559U that has a CPU benchmark of 12218 and offers 16Gb RAM costs merely €1027.

However, I have been using a i5-7260U (benchmark 5641) NUC and 8 Gb RAM costing merely €610, yet is as high a computing specification as the Eagle 3 Pro. This NUC would support my 16 megapixel camera and 4K UHD display. 

I use a NUC running Windows 10 Pro, Sequence Generator Pro and autofocussing software at the scope. That is wirelessly controlled from a PC indoors using Windows Remote Desktop over a 5Ghz WAN. I affix NUC to a (€10) plastic electronics project box, and neatly  run any cables inside that to my focusser controller affixed to its other side. This contraption is strapped to my scope. Perhaps not quite a visually appealing as the Eagle's red box, but painted with red gloss it might. However cable management is satisfactory.

It seems to me that a DIY version of an Eagle 3 Pro can be constructed for under €800, even allowing for the purchase of Sequence Generator Pro that I perceive can control everything that most folk need. But for those that don't have the DIY skills, the Eagle can deliver at three times the DIY price.

 

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Hi JEM_svca, yes the Eagle Core is a decent option for people wanting a small, lightweight pc to control imaging with a DSLR but requires tweeking. You've experienced it also works controlling a EQ mount by wi-fi but the jury is out concerning guiding right now. 

It has a number of pluses considering the current competitors, I'd mention the unique design and ability to become an integral part of the equipment, its compatibility with a very wide range of Plus accessories, the ability to power other components and cabling which allows equipment to be kept assembled between uses, saving set up and tear down time. Oh, and lest I forget its Eagle OS (Eagle App) permitting wi-fi connection by Windows, iOS, Android plus pc control by crossover Ethernet cable. So it has much going for it.

Perhaps soon we could all contact PLL to suggest those tweeks which could be implemented in v2.7?

Cheers,

Steve

Edited by SteveNickolls
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Hi noah4x4, with the higher priced Eagle versions it does seem there are big savings should you be willing and able to self build. I guess it becomes more difficult if you can't or daren't try and build an alternative. As I mention above the Eagle range has a lot going for it beyond the mini pc concept but how much one values this is down to each imager to weigh up in their mind. We tend to be folks who like to tinker so there's an appeal of building stuff cheaper and learning much in the process. I dont think any product is so simple to be the equivalent of plug and play.

Cheers,

Steve

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On 13/02/2020 at 20:36, JEM_svca said:

I found that my Eagle core would not work with Celestron AVX mount until after upgrading to firmware version 2.6.  I found technical support from PLL to be very poor.  Many of the e-mails I sent them regarding issues I was having went unanswered.

Yeah. It is the version 2.6 that added support for Celestron mounts along with Skywatcher mounts which it already supports from version 2.5. That version also makes it possible to control the mounts with eagle core and skysafari plus or pro without needing an additional Wi-Fi hardware. 

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Meanwhile , I communicated with the CEO of PLL. I suggested a number of improvements  for Eagle Core like the addition of autofocusing feature for their Sesto Senso focuser. 

I also suggested adding a polar alignment feature and even platesolving feature and a few other improvements .

Out of those suggestions, I am not quite sure which ones will be limited by hardware. Obviously, hardware limitations will be a stumbling block, depending on how much memory the device is capable of.

Perhaps there is a way they can overhaul the OS and make it possible to add an external memory probably through one of the USB ports. That way, there may even be an option of Eagle Core support  for CMOS cameras.  But I am unsure whether the processor will be equal to the task. 

Of course, they will never tell you that something is not possible but he said that new features will continue to be added. 

He did say that in the next few days, they will be releasing an update which will add support for the second generation of Sesto Senso focuser which was introduced a couple of mounts ago. There will also be support for Essato microfucoser from PLL. He never confirmed whether there will be autofocusing which is actually very important.  

Eagle Core has a lot of potential, especially since it is also a cable and power management system and they should up their game and overtake asiair and Stellarmate in sales. I guess they made it that minimal because they have other much powerful and much expensive Eagle Systems. 

But that was before asiair and Stellarmate came out and started selling at a lower price than Eagle Core but with a lot more features like plate solving, polar alignment, autofocusing and Cmos Camera control. Now asiair pro has added cable management and will soon be adding livestacking  all at the same price point .  I have  read in forums where they advise potential buyers to go for either Stellarmate or asiair when they inquire about  Eagle Core.  Eagle Core has to change with the times or be forced out of the market. 

The is my epistle to PLL

 

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Thanks kunene for your posts 👍 it can't do any harm us contacting PLL and suggesting improvements to make the device more useful and desirable given the growing competition out there. It's hard not being a programmer judging what is possible given the limited resources (cpu and memories) of the Eagle Core. I certainly like the idea of being able to add external memory, now could that be used to empower additional capabilities for the Eagle OS?

Allowing support for CMOS cameras would go against the ethos of the Eagle Core being for DSLR's and as you rightly mention they have a cadre of more capable mini pc's able to do just that and provide for the functionality required by astro-camera users.

Will look out for the v2.7 update, there's not a day that goes by without me checking for a firmware update on thei site. I'd like to think some small ideas put to them will be added to the feature set.

Yes, if the latest ASiair Pro had come out some months earlier I might well have gone that route but the Eagle Core has its own distinct advantages, its weakness is perhaps its small percentage penetration of the market compared to ZWO which has a large presence due to its extensive camera range. Having said that Chinese firms are suffering loos of manufacturing capability and sales due to the coronavirus and the controls in place, that won't resolve for some time. One important element PLL could do would be to rewrite the manual for the device, it is not without spelling mistooks and needs a thorough review with one up to date manual being available to download. That doesn't take any system memory or cpu capacity on the part of the device just experience, time and patience to write it up.

Here's looking forward to v2.7.

Cheers,
steve

 

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Thanks Steve

One grouse I have with  PLL is that their cables are very expensive.  And they made the connections proprietary so that you can't get the cables elsewhere. 

I have their plus rings systems , though very expensive,  they are well machined and beautiful.  I have the tube rings, guide rings, and dovetail bars. I bought a cigarette lighter outlet cable from them. This lets me use the connection to power two different mount for cable management.  Instead of buying mount specific cables.

The idea is that only one power source goes to the unit and it supplies every part of your rig.  But those cables are very expensive and I am finding it difficult  bringing to buy an ordinary cable for £80. I think it is unfair . That is the reason a lot of people are staying away from the products. 

Otherwise,  it should power the DSLR, Focuser and even dew heater and other equipments. 

Edited by kunene
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I understand what you are saying kunene about the price of the PLL accessories. With my Eagle Core I purchased from the cheapest suppliers their proprietary cables to power my CG-5 mount, the cable to power my Canon DSLR's, the 5A 12V mains unit and a 140 mm dovetail and small clamp. The unit came with a cigarette lighter connection to a power tank but I haven't used that to date. There's no denying the design of the items and quality and I had to wonder if it was being made in the EU rather than China that had made prices so high and seemingly anti-competitive, just a thought. One of the strengths of the PLL PLUS system of accessories is their wide range of matching parts. You can buy the cable connectors though kunene if you are ok at assembling to your own cables, I can't comment if their price is high or not, here's a few UK links-

https://www.365astronomy.com/primaluce-lab-eagle-type-connector-for-power-in-and-5a-or-8a-power-out-ports.html

https://www.365astronomy.com/primaluce-lab-eagle-type-connector-for-3a-power-out-ports.html

https://www.365astronomy.com/primaluce-lab-eagle-type-connector-for-power-in-and-5a-or-8a-power-out-ports.html

Money presently being tight I have held off buying a pair of their 105 mm tube rings and instead been able to employ an extra SkyWatcher tube ring and some perseverance to connect the Eagle Core securely above my telescope (where there's a will there's a way).

IMG_9209A.thumb.jpg.982a825d7a99883a755d2add4cf82bf3.jpg

IMG_9210A.thumb.jpg.cea63c67f6df75c524737177a86359d6.jpg

I'm experimenting on how to position the guide camera, I may likely just connect the guide scope foot to the 1/4" screw on the top of the Eagle Core. The black tape and plastic are my poor man's way of giving some dew protection to the exposed upper holes in the Eagle core casing while allowing air circulation. 😀

In practice I have found the Eagle Core powers my mount and DSLR without any problems. I use a Lynx Astro 4 port dew controller and two Astrozap dew bands that I already owned but separately power this from the mains power reel as it is placed under the mount. If I hadn't been so mean I could have purchased the 10A 12.8V PLL power supply but it would have meant paying out for PLL dew bands and which frankly would have exceeded my budget. These accessories are all transferable of course should you decide to upgrade to a higher model of Eagle in their range.

Cheers,
Steve

Edited by SteveNickolls
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This is my DIY "Eagle" solution. Two ABS project boxes are fixed back to back to a 2cm piece of MDF. A slot in the MDF allows these to slide onto my tripod leg spreader rod. A power cable, USB3 cable and focusser cable run in a single coiled cable tidy to my OTA/Camera/Focuser (hence ultra neat). By putting the weight below the centre of gravity my scope is easier to carry. The whole contraption slides on or off as one compact unit for transport. 

Scope1.jpg.20a562977be101188e1705a85be9d164.jpg

 

Externally, I  have affixed an Intel NUC to one side (using VESA plate) and MKIT20 autofocusser controller to another (Velcro straps). Inside the ABS boxes are hidden the AC/DC power supplies plus all connecting cables. Again, it is ultra neat cable management. Then just a single cable to the floor to my mains supply (or to 12v/240v DC/AC Inverter/supply at a dark sky site, but most of my activity is at home). The item strapped to my mount carry arm is my Skysnc GPS unit. So only the white coiled spiral cable tidy  extends below the point of rotation.

The NUC runs Windows Remote Desktop with RemoteFX compression disabled. Sequence Generator Pro software (£99) controls camera and autofocusser (could also control other ASCOM devices such as auto-guider). I use Celestron CPWI (free) for remote scope control. Indoors, I use another PC as a dumb terminal to control scope side NUC over RDP. This all achieved wirelessly over a 5Ghz WAN. 

Scope2.jpg.4f633d07f658cf99fbb74a55dda7ae8a.jpg

The two ABS boxes were circa £10 each. Intel NUC (series 8 i7/16Gb RAM) £800, but to mirror an Eagle Pro 3 specification a lesser NUC model would cost merely £500. My MKIT20 auto-focuser (£700) is state of the art, but a Celestron powered  focuser is about £190. So for less than half the cost of an Eagle Pro 3 one can (DIY) produce a seriously capable all singing all dancing solution, and have extremely tidy cable management. 

EDIT

One other thought I forgot, my camera is 16 megapixel and I disable RDP RemoteFX compression as that allows 4K UHD screen data to be received indoors and output to my 4k UHD monitor.  

Edited by noah4x4
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7 hours ago, kunene said:

Do you have any cheap solution for powering DSLR from Eagle Core?

I'm afraid not, I bought one of these with the Eagle Core-

https://www.365astronomy.com/primaluce-lab-eagle-compatible-power-cable-for-canon-eos-550d-600d-650d-700d.html

I see the price has increased since I got mine last year. 365 Astronomy have a very wide range of these DSLR power cables, Flo have some also.

I'm not sure if it's something one could piece together as the part includes a voltage regulator to convert the 12V output to 8V input for the DSLR.

2 hours ago, noah4x4 said:

This is my DIY "Eagle" solution.

That's a very tidy, non intrusive and balanced control system you have there noah4x4 you will be very pleased to have designed and built it. Have you thought about making available a guide to choosing parts and assembly (my apologies if this is something you have already done on SGL)?

Cheers,
Steve

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Assembly is really easy Steve.

The two ABS electronic project junction boxes are 200mm x 75mm x 120mm. I found these on Amazon for £10.99 each.

However, Rapid Electronics offer a huge variety of sizes and it is a case of working out what size would best fit and meet your device needs. This size was perfect for my 8" Celestron Evolution or similar 8SE.

I first cut a rectangle of 2 cm deep MDF of size 180mm x 120mm to fit the rear of the boxes (lid facing out).. Then divided that into two pieces 90mm x 120mm. Screw one piece to the left of one box and one to the right leaving a 20mm central channel/slot for the tripod rod (hence 200mm x 120mm overall).. Then screw second ABS box back to back to that. Obviously, you need to drill a few pilot holes for the tiny wood screws. The device will then slide up the tripod rod and sit on leg spreader. Neat and easy to remove for transport. Here is the contraption under construction (before MDF painted).

Constructiuon.jpg.c34d01cafb4e66d63ee181573d00e4ce.jpg

Inside one ABS box I put the smallest two plug socket that I could find into which I plug in my 12v 5A 'brick' for camera and focuser and 19v 4A 'brick' for NUC. I dId try a single 12v 10A supply, but the NUC prefers 19v. The 'bricks' themselves fit into box two. This obviously requires drilling large holes between the boxes for the cables to pass through. Be careful not to obstruct the slot for tripod rod.

I only observe from home, so use AC/DC power, however, if using (say) Li-po batteries, just purchase different sizes of ABS box to suit. It will then take a bit more thought. Similarly, if you have a less powerful NUC that has an outsize plug with built in transformer you then might need one box to be 200mm x 100mm x 120mm to accommodate it. Getting appropriate sized ABS boxes to fit between the sloping tripod legs and to accommodate your components is the design challenge. I confess, I had two attempts before I got this sizing right (hence I wasted two boxes).

Scope2.jpg.49752c6669ab4688e332285dc5db0124.jpg

The VESA plate for NUC is bolted on using M3 nuts and bolts. Zacfron Velcro straps to hold focuser controller bolted on similarly (but could use sticky Velcro or adhesive). Cables between focuser and NUC neatly run through ABS boxes. Again, needs strategically positioned holes to be drilled. For connecting cables I drilled holes in the base, carefully avoiding the leg spreader. The cables from power supply, focuser controller and USB3 from NUC run through the ABS boxes emerging  together from the hole drilled in the front lid, then run together in a 16mm spiral cable tidy to my OTA. This should all be fairly clear from the illustrations. The cables are sufficiently long to permit two 360 degree rotations of my mount, so that with cord wrap set it should be fine even if I can't see my scope in operation (I observe from indoors using Windows RDP remote control on a 4K UHD monitor).

Scope1.jpg.e2d9579d5f61e0ce6ad8a825af597ef5.jpg

Setting up wireless remote control is a subject I have covered before in the EEVA Forum. Sequence Generator Pro is my control software of choice, but I believe Sharpcap Pro now offers many of its features. SG Pro seems to work far better with my Atik Horizon. 

Edited by noah4x4
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Thanks so much noah4x4 for going step by step through the process of the build, I will also take a look at the wireless set up posted on the EEVA forum. Certainly the price of a higher specification Eagle is beyond my resources and I would look to assembling a DIY solution at that time so I'm really pleased for all your advice  and direction. 👍 Can I enquire which NUC you finally settled on for the build, it would be useful to know the ballpark level of cpu and RAM required for smooth operation? Co-incidentally I have been looking at NUC's recently as potential replacement for my main pc and am astonished how little mains power they use and how capable the units are. I've built numerous pc's in the past but took my eye off developments several years ago only to be recently wowed and particularly by M2 SSD's and NVMe.

I have been looking at SharpCap Pro for some time now for when I do move a step forward an purchase a proper astro-camera and it seems that over time the solutions are merging in terms of what they can do and what devices are controlled. I have noted Sharpcap is not yet advanced to accommodate DSLR's as it can other types of cameras which personally is a pity in so many ways but it also denies getting more used to the software ahead of when the transition to a dedicated astro-camera occurs.

I hear what you say about best compatibility between software and astro-camera's and I think any future build is best done within a quick time frame after researching compatibility and user reviews. Tech always moves forward but you need a system that integrates well and will perform for several years into the future.

Cheers,
Steve

 

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Hi Steve,

I have a 16 megapixel Atik Horizon resolution camera and use a 4K UHD display. An ASI294 is 11.7 megapixel. We are now in the era of large sensor, high resolution CMOS. My suggestion below reflects this. However, if you buy a lesser specification camera you can inevitably succeed with lesser computing power. But I suggest buy for your NEXT camera to build some future proofing.

My original NUC had a 2.2 Ghz i5-7260U processor, Iris plus graphics 640 and 4Gb RAM. Frankly, this would occasionally splutter or even crash. The problem is that as the level of graphics intensive processing rises then it will 'steal' from system RAM. I reckon 4Gb is today too little in any PC used for astronomy purposes.

I increased RAM to 8Gb and it worked fine. However, satisfaction depends upon whether you are an 'imager' or 'observer' (or in-between). If taking two second stacked exposures, these might take five seconds to process. This perhaps doesn't matter to 'imagers', but as an 'observer' seeking near live viewing experience I got a tad frustrated.

I now have a i7-8559U with Iris Plus Graphics 655 and 16 Gb RAM. It flies in real time. This high specification NUC cost £867. However, one only needs to add a keyboard, mouse and 4K Monitor to have a 4K UHD system for less than half the cost of the cheapest 4k laptop. For the dumb terminal that controls the NUC under Windows Remote Desktop you don't need anything as powerful.

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