Elon Musk’s Starlink

 

My kid brother John runs a small television, antenna, cable, and dish installation business in New Mexico. He’s been doing it for many years and he’s really good at it. He sends me pictures sometimes of huge flatscreen televisions he’s mounted on tile walls above fireplaces in extraordinarily expensive Santa Fe homes, stuff like that. He does nice work.

Lately, he’s been busy — really busy — doing Starlink installations. Starlink, as everyone probably knows, is Elon Musk’s space-based internet service provider. New Mexico is a huge, wide-open, mostly empty state with lots of mountains and pockets of wealth. It’s a booming market for Musk’s high-speed, low-latency, low-Earth-orbit service.

Starlink interests me. Not because I want it: I have inexpensive cable internet that does a great job for me. It interests me because it’s innovative, beautifully engineered, and one of the drivers of SpaceX (Starlink’s parent company) and Musk’s rocket business.

I have grown to appreciate Elon Musk’s style of engineering. He is a lot like the best of the entrepreneurial engineers with whom I work: smart, innovative, quirky, and somewhere on one or another spectrum. I like his openness, his willingness to fail spectacularly — and to let us watch. And I love that his rocket boosters land upright, sometimes two at a time.

Next time you see a television dish on someone’s house, note the arm rising up into approximately the middle of it. There’s a little receiver at the end of that arm; the dish is a parabolic reflector that focuses the signal from a faraway (geosynchronous) satellite on that receiver. (Sometimes, there are two receivers, and the dish focuses signals from a different satellite on each.) On internet-capable dishes, there’s a transmitter sharing space with the receiver, and the dish focuses the signal from that transmitter into a beam aimed at that far-away satellite.

Those aren’t Starlink dishes. Starlink dishes don’t have that arm sticking out, because Starlink dishes aren’t really dishes per se — they aren’t reflectors directing a signal toward a receiver. Rather, they’re what are known as phased array antennas. Each “dish” contains hundreds of little antennas in a honeycomb pattern. Sophisticated electronics and computers within the dish control the timing of the signal emitted by each of those little antennas so that the phases of the signals reinforce and cancel each other in a way that effectively aims the radio signal sent out.

None of that is necessary when dealing with a satellite that doesn’t move across the sky. But Starlink satellites are much closer than normal satellites and so move quickly. Starlink antennas have motors that will move them on their masts, but most of the satellite tracking is performed by the phased array, electronically shifting the angle of the emitted beam.

I read somewhere that Starlink now owns more than half of all functioning satellites in low Earth orbit. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s certainly plausible.


I’m thinking about Starlink today because I read that Russia has put the world on notice that it might shoot down such satellites if it deemed them military threats — or, presumably, if Ukraine keeps using Starlink services to coordinate its defense.

Elon Musk replied to the threat, observing that SpaceX can launch satellites faster than the Russians can launch anti-satellite missiles. (Seriously, this is what I love about the guy.) That’s probably true: SpaceX can put them up about 50 at a time, and can do it week after week. I doubt the Russians have extensive anti-satellite capability.

Of course, the Russians have demonstrated a willingness to dump a lot of debris into orbit, threatening the physical integrity of satellites, space stations, astronauts, etc. It’s easy to imagine them exploding things in the orbit used by Starlink, filling it with nuts and bolts and dangerous junk.

But the more I think about that, the less effective a technique it seems. Space is big: the orbit Starlink satellites occupy is a bit bigger around than the surface of the Earth, and just imagine how much debris you’d have to put in the air at ground level to go all the way around the planet and threaten a few thousand refrigerator-sized objects. And, of course, it’s hard to blow things up at a carefully controlled speed. That means that debris is going to rise (if moving fast) or fall (if moving slowly) until it enters an orbit above or below Starlink’s, perhaps crossing orbits occasionally but not zipping around picking off one satellite after another.

Finally, every Starlink satellite has little Krypton-fueled ion engines that can adjust the satellite’s position: they aren’t entirely passive targets.

This threat from Moscow, at least, seems empty.

Published in Science & Technology
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 69 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Bunsen Coolidge
    Bunsen
    @Bunsen

    I marvel at the technology that Elon Musk has but can’t help but think of Wall-E and the massive amount of dead satellites in that movie.  Plus the conspiracy theorist in me says one man should not decide if a country has or has not on Starlink.  

    • #1
  2. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    China sent this same message, somewhat credibly ten or fifteen years ago.  Twenty?  They shot down one of their own satellites, to prove that they could do it.  The ISS was actually boosted to a higher orbit to dodge the highest population of shrapnel.

    The point that I took was not that they could do it, but that they were willing to scatter junk throughout some segment of orbital space.  They *did* it.  The US has a great lead on everybody else in the military space domain, and the best most others can do is attempt to deny us that advantage.  It costs Russia or China nothing to so pollute orbital space with risk that we are effectively denied the reliable use of that space.

    Musk can keep putting his satellites up, but the USAF cannot.  It’s ridiculously expensive to lob individually expensive and HEAVY spy satellites up there.  So the plotters could decide to make low-orbital space untenable not via sophisticated ASAT weapons, but with buckets of birdshot.  (Higher orbits are typically reserved for weather and comms sats, not spysats).

    Satellite launches like Musk’s can accept the risk of passing through a hazardous zone — manned launches not so much, and expensive missions to Uranus would have to accept a higher probability of failure.  So would spy satellites.

    • #2
  3. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Bunsen (View Comment):

    I marvel at the technology that Elon Musk has but can’t help but think of Wall-E and the massive amount of dead satellites in that movie. Plus the conspiracy theorist in me says one man should not decide if a country has or has not on Starlink.

    There’s a case for regulation here, where the government might step in and — hey wait a minute!

    • #3
  4. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Henry Racette: Of course, the Russians have demonstrated a willingness to dump a lot of debris into orbit, threatening the physical integrity of satellites, space stations, astronauts, etc. It’s easy to imagine them exploding things in the orbit used by Starlink, filling it with nuts and bolts and dangerous junk.

    Then we have to worry about the Kessler Syndrome

    • #4
  5. Keith Lowery Coolidge
    Keith Lowery
    @keithlowery

    @henryracette

    Very much concur with this post. Elon Musk (i.e. SpaceX) is an extra-planetary military power in his own right.  Both the Chinese and Russians are belatedly waking up to this reality.   He’s so far ahead technologically that it’s going to be hard for anyone to catch up.

    My own interests are in the network characteristics of low-earth orbit constellations.  I’ve ordered Starlink, not because I need it, but because I want to play with it.

    Several years ago I had some rather catastrophic surgery from which one of the side effects has been that my bodily thermostat is a little wacky.  It’s not a huge problem and I can generally manage it by wearing a hat most of the time. I have a collection of hats that I wear, but most days I wear my favorite black Starlink hat. You can order them on the SpaceX web site if you’re interested.

    One of the happy side effects of wearing SpaceX gear is that it’s viewed as kind of a mildly subversive conservative-ish statement in some circles. (Musk is no conservative, of course, but he often has intuitions that are in the right direction.  His personal life is a mess though, IMO.)

    Anyway, really great post.  

     

    • #5
  6. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    There was an episode of the great old show UFO dealing with “space junk.”  In that episode, in fact, the aliens were using some of the junk to conceal “weapons” that caused Earth ships to be destroyed upon re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere.

    • #6
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    • #7
  8. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    I don’t know. I saw Gravity. And because everything in movies is real, it sure looks like having a lot of random space junk orbiting up there at crazy speeds is pretty dangerous.

    Then again, if it is really dangerous, I expect that Elon and SpaceX will come up with a crazily awesome solution that not only removes the threat but also recovers the metal and uses it to fabricate another space station annex, probably involving an Elvis theme. 

    • #8
  9. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Keith Lowery (View Comment):
    Several years ago I had some rather catastrophic surgery from which one of the side effects has been that my bodily thermostat is a little wacky.  It’s not a huge problem and I can generally manage it by wearing a hat most of the time.

    At least you can still perspire.

    • #9
  10. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Keith Lowery (View Comment):
    One of the happy side effects of wearing SpaceX gear is that it’s viewed as kind of a mildly subversive conservative-ish statement in some circles. (Musk is no conservative, of course, but he often has intuitions that are in the right direction.  His personal life is a mess though, IMO.)

    I don’t know if they still have it, but ten years ago they had the motto, “Occupy Mars”.  I found it off-putting. 

    • #10
  11. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Henry Racette: Finally, every Starlink satellite has little Krypton-fueled ion engines that can adjust the satellite’s position: they aren’t entirely passive targets.

    It’s more than that.  Those little satellites can, if necessary, maneuver themselves into collision courses with Russia’s and China’s own military satellites.

    Musk is, wittingly or not, the military superpower of low earth orbit.

    • #11
  12. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Keith Lowery (View Comment):
    One of the happy side effects of wearing SpaceX gear is that it’s viewed as kind of a mildly subversive conservative-ish statement in some circles. (Musk is no conservative, of course, but he often has intuitions that are in the right direction. His personal life is a mess though, IMO.)

    I don’t know if they still have it, but ten years ago they had the motto, “Occupy Mars”. I found it off-putting.

    Speaking as a Martian, eh?

    • #12
  13. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    U! S! A!

    U! S! A!

    U! S! A!

    • #13
  14. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Elon Musk is a great African-American success story.

    • #14
  15. John Hanson Thatcher
    John Hanson
    @JohnHanson

    What needs to be known here, is that at the altitude the present Starlink network is operating in, the lifetime of the satellites is only about 5 years, and they and any other junk will deorbit and burn up in that time frame, so have to be either boosted to stay in the same orbit, or replaced.   Each of Starlinks birds has its own Krypton powered electric drive motors, and normally at End of Life (EOL) is deorbited, and when needed can avoid junk or other satellites.  Capability is limited to fuel on board, and they try to keep a reserve for deorbiting. Satellite is designed to fully burn up in the atmosphere, so no risk of junk impacting people on ground.  As said, if this fails, will still deorbit in 5 years or so.  Not true for satellites that orbit higher up, as time to deorbit depends upon remaining air density at orbit level.  At level of ISS for example is on order of 20 years w/o reboost, and at level of Hubble, was on order of 40 years.

    • #15
  16. Henry Racette Moderator
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    John Hanson (View Comment):

    What needs to be known here, is that at the altitude the present Starlink network is operating in, the lifetime of the satellites is only about 5 years, and they and any other junk will deorbit and burn up in that time frame, so have to be either boosted to stay in the same orbit, or replaced. Each of Starlinks birds has its own Krypton powered electric drive motors, and normally at End of Life (EOL) is deorbited, and when needed can avoid junk or other satellites. Capability is limited to fuel on board, and they try to keep a reserve for deorbiting. Satellite is designed to fully burn up in the atmosphere, so no risk of junk impacting people on ground. As said, if this fails, will still deorbit in 5 years or so. Not true for satellites that orbit higher up, as time to deorbit depends upon remaining air density at orbit level. At level of ISS for example is on order of 20 years w/o reboost, and at level of Hubble, was on order of 40 years.

    Thank you, John.

    By the way, I said “Krypton-fueled,” but that’s of course incorrect: Krypton is noble gas, and so makes a poor “fuel.” Krypton is the reaction mass for the satellite’s ion engine; the power to drive it comes from the sun, via the craft’s solar panels.

    • #16
  17. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    We’ve signed up, but still don’t have it yet because Musk diverted some satellites to help the Ukraine.  I blame Putin . . .

    • #17
  18. She Member
    She
    @She

    Got an email a few days ago that my Starlink has shipped.  Apparently, my area doesn’t have full satellite coverage yet (thanks, Vlad), so I had to agree to something called “Best Effort,” which may be a reduced level of service through mid-2023, by which time they “should” have all the satellites deployed. I’m betting that Starlink’s “Best Effort” will be at least as good as my current, equally expensive, execrable Hughesnet service, but we’ll see.  I have 30 days to return it with a full refund, if it’s no good.

    Will report back.

    PS: It looks to me that the Starlink dish orients North.  The Hughes, Viasat,  DirectTV and Dish receivers (I have extensive experience with this sort of thing) all oriented South.  Does anyone know?   

     

    • #18
  19. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    She (View Comment):

    Got an email a few days ago that my Starlink has shipped. Apparently, my area doesn’t have full satellite coverage yet (thanks, Vlad), so I had to agree to something called “Best Effort,” which may be a reduced level of service through mid-2023, by which time they “should” have all the satellites deployed. I’m betting that Starlink’s “Best Effort” will be at least as good as my current, equally expensive, execrable Hughesnet service, but we’ll see. I have 30 days to return it with a full refund, if it’s no good.

    Will report back.

    PS: It looks to me that the Starlink dish orients North. The Hughes, Viasat, DirectTV and Dish receivers (I have extensive experience with this sort of thing) all oriented South. Does anyone know?

     

    The other satellites are all geostationary/geosynchronous, which means they all orbit at the equator, at fixed points.  The Starlink satellites are spread around, and while the Starlink “dish” might be initially aligned northward, that’s just the starting point.  The Starlink dish is able to move around physically, as well as redirect electronically.

    • #19
  20. namlliT noD Member
    namlliT noD
    @DonTillman

    An interesting video explaining the Starlink Dishy:

     

    • #20
  21. Henry Racette Moderator
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    namlliT noD (View Comment):
    An interesting video explaining the Starlink Dishy:

    Don,

    That was terrific. Thanks!

    H.

     

    • #21
  22. She Member
    She
    @She

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    An interesting video explaining the Starlink Dishy:

    Thanks.  Very interesting.

    It’ll be an adventure.  There are two places where there’s a remarkably wide-angled view of an unobstructed sky, even before I get to the top of the barn roof where, let’s be clear, I’m not going right now (although it’s the absolute best spot).  The app tells me both of them are no good.  OTOH, my phone is so old (go figure) that it won’t scan the sky automatically so I have to put the app in “guided” mode and then wave the phone around until SL thinks it has all the data and compiles the results.  I mistrust those conclusions on general principles; but we’ll see.

    The terrain–hilly and wooded–isn’t ideal.  However, I’m not  cutting the trees down and living on the blasted heath for the rest of my life just to see if it makes a difference. Can’t do much about the hills.

    Much of the buzz in the chat groups is that the “obstruction” algorithms are quite overblown, and based on the sort of Internet use I can’t envision for myself, ever.  So I think I’ll set it up temporarily, perhaps on top of a fence post for now, run the cable into, and set up the router in, the barn, and just see.  It it doesn’t work any, or much, better than what I have now, I’ll be mildly disappointed, but I’ll survive.

     

    • #22
  23. Henry Racette Moderator
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    She (View Comment):

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    An interesting video explaining the Starlink Dishy:

    Thanks. Very interesting.

    It’ll be an adventure. There are two places where there’s a remarkably wide-angled view of an unobstructed sky, even before I get to the top of the barn roof where, let’s be clear, I’m not going right now (although it’s the absolute best spot). The app tells me both of them are no good. OTOH, my phone is so old (go figure) that it won’t scan the sky automatically so I have to put the app in “guided” mode and then wave the phone around until SL thinks it has all the data and compiles the results. I mistrust those conclusions on general principles; but we’ll see.

    The terrain–hilly and wooded–isn’t ideal. However, I’m not cutting the trees down and living on the blasted heath for the rest of my life just to see if it makes a difference. Can’t do much about the hills.

    Much of the buzz in the chat groups is that the “obstruction” algorithms are quite overblown, and based on the sort of Internet use I can’t envision for myself, ever. So I think I’ll set it up temporarily, perhaps on top of a fence post for now, run the cable into, and set up the router in, the barn, and just see. It it doesn’t work any, or much, better than what I have now, I’ll be mildly disappointed, but I’ll survive.

     

    My brother tells me that the cables are pre-made and can’t be extended in the usual way (i.e., with RJ-45 connectors and a crimping tool). I’m guessing Starlink sells various lengths, or perhaps an extender cable; I’m also guessing that you’ve already taken that into account. ;)

    • #23
  24. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    She (View Comment):

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    An interesting video explaining the Starlink Dishy:

    Thanks. Very interesting.

    It’ll be an adventure. There are two places where there’s a remarkably wide-angled view of an unobstructed sky, even before I get to the top of the barn roof where, let’s be clear, I’m not going right now (although it’s the absolute best spot). The app tells me both of them are no good. OTOH, my phone is so old (go figure) that it won’t scan the sky automatically so I have to put the app in “guided” mode and then wave the phone around until SL thinks it has all the data and compiles the results. I mistrust those conclusions on general principles; but we’ll see.

    The terrain–hilly and wooded–isn’t ideal. However, I’m not cutting the trees down and living on the blasted heath for the rest of my life just to see if it makes a difference. Can’t do much about the hills.

    Much of the buzz in the chat groups is that the “obstruction” algorithms are quite overblown, and based on the sort of Internet use I can’t envision for myself, ever. So I think I’ll set it up temporarily, perhaps on top of a fence post for now, run the cable into, and set up the router in, the barn, and just see. It it doesn’t work any, or much, better than what I have now, I’ll be mildly disappointed, but I’ll survive.

     

    An advantage of cutting trees down is you can then see the scenery.

    • #24
  25. She Member
    She
    @She

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    An interesting video explaining the Starlink Dishy:

    Thanks. Very interesting.

    It’ll be an adventure. There are two places where there’s a remarkably wide-angled view of an unobstructed sky, even before I get to the top of the barn roof where, let’s be clear, I’m not going right now (although it’s the absolute best spot). The app tells me both of them are no good. OTOH, my phone is so old (go figure) that it won’t scan the sky automatically so I have to put the app in “guided” mode and then wave the phone around until SL thinks it has all the data and compiles the results. I mistrust those conclusions on general principles; but we’ll see.

    The terrain–hilly and wooded–isn’t ideal. However, I’m not cutting the trees down and living on the blasted heath for the rest of my life just to see if it makes a difference. Can’t do much about the hills.

    Much of the buzz in the chat groups is that the “obstruction” algorithms are quite overblown, and based on the sort of Internet use I can’t envision for myself, ever. So I think I’ll set it up temporarily, perhaps on top of a fence post for now, run the cable into, and set up the router in, the barn, and just see. It it doesn’t work any, or much, better than what I have now, I’ll be mildly disappointed, but I’ll survive.

     

    My brother tells me that the cables are pre-made and can’t be extended in the usual way (i.e., with RJ-45 connectors and a crimping tool). I’m guessing Starlink sells various lengths, or perhaps an extender cable; I’m also guessing that you’ve already taken that into account. ;)

    Yes.  It ships with a 75 foot.  There’s also a 150′ that you can buy.  Should it work, and should I get it into the correct position on top of the barn roof, it’s about 100′ into the house, so eventually I’ll need the longer one.

    • #25
  26. She Member
    She
    @She

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    An interesting video explaining the Starlink Dishy:

    Thanks. Very interesting.

    It’ll be an adventure. There are two places where there’s a remarkably wide-angled view of an unobstructed sky, even before I get to the top of the barn roof where, let’s be clear, I’m not going right now (although it’s the absolute best spot). The app tells me both of them are no good. OTOH, my phone is so old (go figure) that it won’t scan the sky automatically so I have to put the app in “guided” mode and then wave the phone around until SL thinks it has all the data and compiles the results. I mistrust those conclusions on general principles; but we’ll see.

    The terrain–hilly and wooded–isn’t ideal. However, I’m not cutting the trees down and living on the blasted heath for the rest of my life just to see if it makes a difference. Can’t do much about the hills.

    Much of the buzz in the chat groups is that the “obstruction” algorithms are quite overblown, and based on the sort of Internet use I can’t envision for myself, ever. So I think I’ll set it up temporarily, perhaps on top of a fence post for now, run the cable into, and set up the router in, the barn, and just see. It it doesn’t work any, or much, better than what I have now, I’ll be mildly disappointed, but I’ll survive.

     

    An advantage of cutting trees down is you can then see the scenery.

    Oh, I can see the scenery just fine.  Southern aspect is down the hill, across the little sheep fields dotted with crabapples, dogwoods and a couple of elderly hardwoods, to the creek, and then into the woods and up the next hill.  Nary a house nor a road in sight, and very little, once you’re away from the house, in the way of obstructive trees.  That’s why I say that I actually do have a pretty good expanse of clear sky, although the app is–so far–begging to differ.  The trees around the house serve the dual purposes of shade and privacy.

    • #26
  27. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    An interesting video explaining the Starlink Dishy:

    Thanks. Very interesting.

    It’ll be an adventure. There are two places where there’s a remarkably wide-angled view of an unobstructed sky, even before I get to the top of the barn roof where, let’s be clear, I’m not going right now (although it’s the absolute best spot). The app tells me both of them are no good. OTOH, my phone is so old (go figure) that it won’t scan the sky automatically so I have to put the app in “guided” mode and then wave the phone around until SL thinks it has all the data and compiles the results. I mistrust those conclusions on general principles; but we’ll see.

    The terrain–hilly and wooded–isn’t ideal. However, I’m not cutting the trees down and living on the blasted heath for the rest of my life just to see if it makes a difference. Can’t do much about the hills.

    Much of the buzz in the chat groups is that the “obstruction” algorithms are quite overblown, and based on the sort of Internet use I can’t envision for myself, ever. So I think I’ll set it up temporarily, perhaps on top of a fence post for now, run the cable into, and set up the router in, the barn, and just see. It it doesn’t work any, or much, better than what I have now, I’ll be mildly disappointed, but I’ll survive.

     

    My brother tells me that the cables are pre-made and can’t be extended in the usual way (i.e., with RJ-45 connectors and a crimping tool). I’m guessing Starlink sells various lengths, or perhaps an extender cable; I’m also guessing that you’ve already taken that into account. ;)

    “BRING ME THE CABLE STRETCHER, BOY!”

    • #27
  28. Henry Racette Moderator
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    BDB (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    An interesting video explaining the Starlink Dishy:

    Thanks. Very interesting.

    It’ll be an adventure. There are two places where there’s a remarkably wide-angled view of an unobstructed sky, even before I get to the top of the barn roof where, let’s be clear, I’m not going right now (although it’s the absolute best spot). The app tells me both of them are no good. OTOH, my phone is so old (go figure) that it won’t scan the sky automatically so I have to put the app in “guided” mode and then wave the phone around until SL thinks it has all the data and compiles the results. I mistrust those conclusions on general principles; but we’ll see.

    The terrain–hilly and wooded–isn’t ideal. However, I’m not cutting the trees down and living on the blasted heath for the rest of my life just to see if it makes a difference. Can’t do much about the hills.

    Much of the buzz in the chat groups is that the “obstruction” algorithms are quite overblown, and based on the sort of Internet use I can’t envision for myself, ever. So I think I’ll set it up temporarily, perhaps on top of a fence post for now, run the cable into, and set up the router in, the barn, and just see. It it doesn’t work any, or much, better than what I have now, I’ll be mildly disappointed, but I’ll survive.

     

    My brother tells me that the cables are pre-made and can’t be extended in the usual way (i.e., with RJ-45 connectors and a crimping tool). I’m guessing Starlink sells various lengths, or perhaps an extender cable; I’m also guessing that you’ve already taken that into account. ;)

    “BRING ME THE CABLE STRETCHER, BOY!”

    No, you can’t stretch them, because that lowers the frequency of the signal passing through the wire — which eventually pushes the satellites farther away and messes everything up. Try it and you’ll have an unmarked Starlink van at your door within a week. It isn’t pretty.

    • #28
  29. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    An interesting video explaining the Starlink Dishy:

    Thanks. Very interesting.

    It’ll be an adventure. There are two places where there’s a remarkably wide-angled view of an unobstructed sky, even before I get to the top of the barn roof where, let’s be clear, I’m not going right now (although it’s the absolute best spot). The app tells me both of them are no good. OTOH, my phone is so old (go figure) that it won’t scan the sky automatically so I have to put the app in “guided” mode and then wave the phone around until SL thinks it has all the data and compiles the results. I mistrust those conclusions on general principles; but we’ll see.

    The terrain–hilly and wooded–isn’t ideal. However, I’m not cutting the trees down and living on the blasted heath for the rest of my life just to see if it makes a difference. Can’t do much about the hills.

    Much of the buzz in the chat groups is that the “obstruction” algorithms are quite overblown, and based on the sort of Internet use I can’t envision for myself, ever. So I think I’ll set it up temporarily, perhaps on top of a fence post for now, run the cable into, and set up the router in, the barn, and just see. It it doesn’t work any, or much, better than what I have now, I’ll be mildly disappointed, but I’ll survive.

     

    My brother tells me that the cables are pre-made and can’t be extended in the usual way (i.e., with RJ-45 connectors and a crimping tool). I’m guessing Starlink sells various lengths, or perhaps an extender cable; I’m also guessing that you’ve already taken that into account. ;)

    Correct. The cable is actually PoE (power over ethernet), not the usual vanilla ether cable. I suppose you could extend it with the proper knowledge and equipment, but there’s the issue that Dishy can at times draw 75 watts or so, in the winter to melt off snow. (Check the net for memes of cats huddled up on Starlink antennas.)

    If you will be stuck with a very long run from Dishy to your primary usage area, there are a couple of options. Starlink sells mesh WiFi nodes ($130 a pop) that will seamlessly integrate into the network and extend it.  There’s also a wired ether adapter that can be attached to the primary router. From there you could do a longer wired run to either an Ether switch if you don’t mind being on the wire, or to a secondary WiFi network with its router running bridge mode so Starlink’s is doing the DHCP/NAT business.

    • #29
  30. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    She (View Comment):

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    An interesting video explaining the Starlink Dishy:

    Thanks. Very interesting.

    It’ll be an adventure. There are two places where there’s a remarkably wide-angled view of an unobstructed sky, even before I get to the top of the barn roof where, let’s be clear, I’m not going right now (although it’s the absolute best spot). The app tells me both of them are no good. OTOH, my phone is so old (go figure) that it won’t scan the sky automatically so I have to put the app in “guided” mode and then wave the phone around until SL thinks it has all the data and compiles the results. I mistrust those conclusions on general principles; but we’ll see.

    The terrain–hilly and wooded–isn’t ideal. However, I’m not cutting the trees down and living on the blasted heath for the rest of my life just to see if it makes a difference. Can’t do much about the hills.

    Much of the buzz in the chat groups is that the “obstruction” algorithms are quite overblown, and based on the sort of Internet use I can’t envision for myself, ever. So I think I’ll set it up temporarily, perhaps on top of a fence post for now, run the cable into, and set up the router in, the barn, and just see. It it doesn’t work any, or much, better than what I have now, I’ll be mildly disappointed, but I’ll survive.

     

    Check out this site: 

    https://www.starlinkhardware.com/

    It’s unofficial, but has a lot of technical and folk wisdom on how to set up Starlink, etc.  As far as obstruction goes, the most important view is to the north.  There’s an article on that site that elaborates (lost the direct link).  Because we have large trees to both the east and west sides of the house, I was worried I’d have to set up a mast or do a long wired run from an outbuilding, but I was able to find an unobstructed north view and all is well.

    The app is more conservative that the reality. I got it down to a few percent obstruction on the initial survey and just went ahead, but actuality is zero or a tiny fraction of a percent. The system is smart enough to map obstructions as it runs, and apparently alter its connection strategy to avoid using satellites in those spots when possible. A limited amount of obstruction will probably just cut down the redundancy and may cause very short outages.  The redundancy will get better as they complete more satellite shells.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.