Astrophotography control systems such as the Ikarus StellarMate X, the Prima Luce Lab Eagle and the ZWO ASIAIR are designed to add convenience and, dare we say, “streamline” your Astrophotography system. While simple in design, they are anything but and and contain a myriad of advanced features, which gives the end user, in some instances complete control over every aspect of an imaging rig; the mount, the camera, the guide camera, the focuser and much much more. Daunting as these systems may seem, our astrophotography experts who use this gear in the field have put in hours of work breaking down the complexities involved in choosing the right control system, how to set them up and which one is right for you based on your needs. Ready to cut the cable as it were? Click below to visit our learning center and find out why we regard these wireless control systems as the quintessential "brain center" of cutting edge Astrophotography systems.
An article describing entire line of StellarMate products. Include a chart showing the different features as well as a link to the article and a embedded video we produce showcasing all the differences. Nicole produces this video on the differences between the Stellarmate products. Article on how to set up, and how to use it. Edward produces this video and article
Battle video between Stellarmate, ZWO and PLL Eagle - Teagan produces this video and article
Comparison video and article between the different Eagle products. Graphic chart showing the features between the different options. How to set up guide, how to use guide and manual article, Edward produces this
Choosing the right control system can be something something something. Some sort of intro few sentences which lead into the questions we’re asking below
How Much Freedom Of Choice Do You Want To Have Throughout Your Astrophotography Journey?
If your answer is “as much as I can get” then you are looking at either the Stellarmate or the Eagle, as the ZWO locks you in with ZWO brand cameras, focusers, and at the type of writing this the AM5 and AM3 harmonic drive mounts, excluding the iOptron harmonic, Pegasus astro NYX and Sharpstar mount.
How Much Set Up Are You Wanting To Put Into This?
If your answer is “as little as possible” then the Stellarmate or the ASIAIR is the right choice as the Eagle requires that you sources all the software you want to use and appropriate drivers for your gear, whereas the Stellarmate has the latest drivers pre-installed for nearly all the gear and already comes loaded with industry standard guiding software (PHD2) and a image acquisition software suite. The ASIAIR in comparison, has an application which contains a suite of proprietary software and version of guiding software reminiscent of a stripped down PHD2.
What Type Of Support Would You Like To Have?
If the answer is as much support as possible, then you’re looking at the Eagle then the Stellarmate. The Eagle runs a dedicated Windows operating system, which has a tremendous amount of support. As you’re using a Windows system, and downloading independent software, such as Sharpcap, Sequence Generator Pro, PHD2, they each have their own support systems which makes troubleshooting any issues considerably easier as you reduce the chances of the Eagle itself causing problems. Similarly, the Stellarmate has an open source operating system which affords individuals an incredible amount of control over documentation, support and updates to help streamline and continue to improve the software, reducing constraints on what is possible for updates when compared to the Eagle. When considering the amount of end user control, the ASIAIR products are very limited. While there is great potential to improve the software, ZWO is essentially the gatekeepers of the end user experience. Having said that, ZWO is receptive to changes and has continually improved the ASIAIR platform over the years.
Are You Concerned About Compatibility?
Well as ZWO manufacturers both the ASIAIR and the cameras, focusers, filter wheels and in some cases, mounts that work with it - they are able to integrate these very effectively. While locking yourself into this ZWO ASIAIR ecosystem is limiting, the compatibility inside that ecosystem is excellent. Now comparing this to Ikarus Technologies, who’s sole products are the StellarMate OS and systems, one might expect a suboptimal experience but this is not the case; as Ikarus has dedicated themselves to optimizing their software for many of the most popular astrophotography items from a multitude of brands. While also not “locking” you into a particular ecosystem of accessories. Making the Stellarmate, arguably a better choice for future proofed systems and something more likely to grow with you through your astrophotography journey. Similar to the Stellarmate, the Prima Luce Labs Eagle systems do not lock you into any brands ecosystem, feeling you up to choose the accessories you want. However, unlike the STellarmate who develops drivers specifically for their system, above and beyond what the manufacturer provides, the Eagle systems again run a standard Windows operating system and therefore rely on each individual software manufacturer to develop and maintain their own drivers.