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Some months ago I bought a second hand Eaglecore by Primalucelab https://www.primalucelab.com/astronomia/eagle-core-unita-di-controllo-per-astrofotografia-con-reflex.html on Astrosell https://www.astrosell.it//mercato.php?Id=1

I was interested in it as I’m focus in setting up some good core of stuff for quick working astrophotography gear to be used from my balcony and/or while traveling.

Eaglecore tempted me because it supplies both for autoguiding reflex shooting managing and as power control unit for power source of motorized mount, and eventually other 2 devices.

Eaglecore power-out side

I tried it on my gear: WO61 Zenithstar with EOS550d as primary optics, sVbony SV106 (60/240mm guidescope) with ZWOASI5II-L C as guidingboth on a Skywathcer EQ35M-Pro mount.After some weeks, even by strictly following user manual suggestion first attempt of firmware update miserably failed, with system in crash/loop.

I thus contacted Primaluce for understand which procedure I may have to get in for an hard-reset and recovery of the Eaglecore, and I sadly discovered that there was no self (client) possible solution, but the stuff had to be sent to their lab. Sadness proceeded as I got it back for more than 70 euro, and from my pov it’s very very expensive, especially as I bought it by second hand fore less then double, and I just met an OS crashing while updating.

Anyhow, the stuff was back and I can use it again. After few weeks a new updated firmware was released by Primaluce, I thus carefully downloaded it, red again manual instructions, set up my pc, files and Eaglecore for update and launched it.

Like a clockwork it crashed again, exactly as it did some months ago, with frozen update and system in loop.

I didn’t wont to repeat the just lived story, thus I started thinking about other solution and destiny for this Eaglecore, moreover because aside from crashing upgrading OS problems, I wish my gear has to have less boundaries as:

  1. EaglecoreOS is closed, cannot modify it, cannot get the source and there is no Primalucelab specification about it,
  2. Acquisition supported camera is just related to DSLR gears. No CMOS or CCD working for it.
  3. Guide system just available with some cameras and gears

Looking the Eaglecore USB ports setup I found it very close to my Raspberry Pi4 astroberry configured, so Sunday rainy Halloween bat my daughter and I decided to carefully ungear the Eaglecore to better understand what’s inside! We easily removed the 6 top-cover gears to open it up and – ta daaaaa- we discovered inside an Orange Pc plus and a red board plugged.

Orange PI PC Plus inside the Eaglecore
Side view: OPI PC plus with red top board pinned

We moved to get the upper stuffy card applied on motherboard out removing the adhesive red tape cover, ungearing the couple of screws, and carefully unplugging the two-grouped pins thus to get access to the OPI board. No SD card was inserted, thus was clear that Primalucelab OS was resident on EMMC and we bet we can bypassing it by OPI compatible OS on SD card loaded at startup. According to OPI PC Plus specification and resources http://www.orangepi.org/downloadresources/

Orange PI PC Plus details from manufacturer website
Choosing the right OS release for pertinent device

we downloaded OrangePi_pc-plus_ubuntu_xenial_desktop_linux5.3.5_v1.0.tar.gz and following http://www.orangepi.org/Docs/SDcardinstallation.html#Windows we burnt a 32Gb sd card, connect our gear, and power the Eaglecore on getting a perfect Lubuntu logging-in screen.

Buuuut….

After a routine sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade we crashed several several time bouncing in some hardware problems. We decided to back on it with different and more stable OS, looking for kStars and PHD2 compatible system. After some days and unsuccessful attempts we decided to give to Eaglecore a second life by changing its nucleus with a Raspberry Pi4 4gb working as astroberry.

After some quick alteration of red case USB port side (have to work better on it) we plugged the red Primaluce power card to Pi4 pins and gave it a start: it worked perfectly.

Case alteration for better hosting of Raspberry Pi 4b USB port blocks.

We thus did reassemble the whole Case, eliminating the central inner structure for top cover, we plugged our vixen bar and clamp, and set it up on our astrophotography gear.

Removing central inner gears and block from top cover
Setting up on balcony: Synscan hand command is USB plugged to Eglecore in USB2 port.

Connecting by VNC from sitting room we started our kStars/PHD2 grounded session.

kStars and PHD2 running in VCN connection from PC to Astroberry/Eaglecore

Here following some jpg directly took from raw, all ISO400 600sec with Optolong CLS filter on EOS550d/WO61 Apo: 

M31 Andromeda galaxy
NGC1907
M81 and M82 Galaxies
M51 Galaxy
M101 Galaxy

Next steps I’d like to make is to spend some focus on Orange PI PcPlus, trying to understand if it is broken or not, and if it’s possible to set it up with some stable arm-linux OS, with kStars with full INDI drivers and EKOS support and PHD2 adequately compiled and installed.

Some focus on Eaglecore USB case alterations, for better fit the Astroberry USB/Ethernet and power/HDMI ports.

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