I would like to understand the differences between Astroberry and StellarMate both in terms of functionality and commercial aspects. I am currently using Astroberry so familiar with its functions which are good although the GUI can be frustrating when compared with Windows applications. I notice StellarMate has live stacking which is missing in Astroberry. In short do I need to spend $49 for StellarMate or stick with Astroberry. What am I missing?
You get official commercial support with Stellarmate, while you only get best-effort community support with Astroberry.
Stellarmate also has an Android/iOS app, which means that you can operate it natively with a phone/tablet. Live stacking also as you say.
If you buy the Stellarmate hardware then you also get the benefit of an RTC module (which means the Pi will remember what time it is when you boot it up, Astroberry would either rely on you setting the clock, manually fitting a RTC module, using Internet time - if available, or using a GPS module).
I think there are some other differences, there are a lot of apps included with Astroberry in addition to Kstars/INDI, I'm not sure which, if not all, are also included in Stellarmate, although you might be able to install them - not sure if they would then be supported though.
Thanks Giles for your reply. I am trying to convince myself I should try StellarMate but failing on this at the moment. As I have the PI hardwired to my LAN it seems to set the time sufficiently accurate from Internet servers. I don' use a tablet or phone to operate Astroberry but operate from my desktop in the house or a laptop in the observatory. I guess I could connect using a tablet across the LAN if I had one. I wouldn't use my phone as EKOS windows are a challenge to view on a large screen so on a phone must be limited. Live stacking capability is a big attraction however and it's a shame its not available running on the raspberry. Is this because there are only libraries available on Android? Does ZWO ASIAir do live stacking on the raspberry?
You mention a large number of apps included with Astroberry? I use PHD2 as I have not managed to get the EKOS guiding to work yet. What am I missing?
The Android / iOS Stellarmate App is different from the Ekos interface to Kstars, it is a seperate interface and talks to the running kstars on the Stellarmate - there may be a Youtube video out there that demonstrates this. So the User-experience interface is different to Ekos (but pretty much a lot of the same functionality).
Astroberry includes the apps as mentioned here: www.astroberry.io/ - you may not have used many of them, but they are included. Stellarmate appears to me to be more Kstars/INDI/Ekos centric with some built-in extra features.
If you are only interested in the Live Stacking then I can't comment too much, it is not a feature I have tried out on Stellarmate. I have a mono camera, and really live stacking is only going to be visually nice with a colour camera. So my methodology is to acquire as many images with different filters, and I only really get to see the results of a nights work the next day after I have packed all the kit up again. Where Live Stacking is probably useful (with a colour camera) is to immediately be able to show off the results of your viewing in a social sense with friends - but you wouldn't use a Live Stacked image to send off for processing to mount on a picture frame, as the best quality is obtained through detailed and intricate controlled stacking, rather than an automated process.
I guess the other benefit of Stellarmate is that you have (indirectly) supported one of the developers of Kstars/Ekos/INDI, which might give you a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling.
You have a problem on Saturday morning with your setup. You get on a Live chat through the support site, probably with Jasem (main developer / supporter). If required they remote into your Stellarmate and fix it, even if it was you who caused the problem in the first place. That's the difference for me.
WO ZS 61
Edgehd 8 with Celestron OAG
Stellarmate on RPi 4
294 mc pro
224 planetary cam
174 guide cam
Sesto Senso focusser
QHY5II-Mono guide camera
EOS6D - not modified
My preference is using Astroberry, which really helps me learn the system and all the nooks and crannies. I always advise new, unfamiliar users to go to Steller mate purely from the support aspect. I have the TIC Focuser module. I do not know if it is supported on Stellar Mate.
Telskop Service TS80 480mm APO FL53 Glass
Canon 450D DSLR
ASI120MM Guide camera.
TIC Focuser NG
Raspberry Pi 4 8GB with Astroberry
If you're comfortable with astroberry, I don't think you *need* to buy a copy of Stellarmate OS. With a little bit of googling will get you plenty of info on how to install an RTC into any raspberry pi, and you'll probably find at least one open-source live-stacking app. Both will expose INDI services so you can use your favorite INDI clients, including Kstars/Ekos over VNC running on the Pi itself. I've also got an Indigo-Sky, just for the sake of completeness.
So why did I buy a copy of Stellarmate OS? Two reasons: live stacking which is a fun way to tour the night sky with friends, and to support the INDI developers. Commercial support is nice, but even if I didn't have that I'd still try to file bug reports - with diffs if I have a fix, or at least a good repro if I don't.
I switched from Astroberry to Stellarmate OS because it is more frequently updated, because it allows me to control everything from a tablet (even though I don't use it much), but most importantly, because I believe these guys really deserve to be compensated for all their efforts.