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Starlink

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brucehoult:
I'm surprised there's been almost no mention of Starlink on eevblog forum. The only two things I could find were a note more than two years ago of the 2nd Falcon 9 launch carrying Starlink satellites, and another 1.5 years ago in a post complaining about poor conventional internet speeds just casually mentioning Starlink as a possible future solution.

The first members of the public started to get Starlink about eight months ago when it went into "beta".

I'd have thought some members of this forum would have it by now, but I can't find any discussion at all.

After being homeless (staying with relatives) for almost two months in NZ's awful housing market at the moment, on January 3 I was told I was the successful applicant to rent a rather rural house north of Whangarei. Apparently there is no phone line at all -- certainly there are no sockets anywhere. Vodafone and Spark signal is good, but they both say they don't do fixed 4G wireless at this location, and in any case speeds are pretty low on those. My relatives on the edge of Whangarei have Spark 4G and get 25-30 Mbps down and 5-8 Mbps up.

I went on the Starlink site, entered my upcoming address, and was informed I could put in a full order right away at a cost of US$499 for the equipment. I did so. The actual charge was NZ$913 including shipping and GST. Once connected, the monthly charge is NZ$159 including GST. The service is unlimited.

After ordering on January 3rd, the equipment shipped from Long Beach CA on January 7th, and arrived on January 14th and I briefly tested it the same day. I moved into my new place on Saturday January 22nd.

In the box is the 60cm dish permanently attached to a mounting tube a bit longer than the dish radius and to a 30m fairly rugged ethernet cable, which I believe you can extend if you need to. There is a power brick / PoE injector with an IEC connector and standard NZ power cord, an ethernet socket for the disk, and an ethernet socket to your home network. There is also a Starlink-branded WIFI router with one spare ethernet connector labelled "AUX" (with a rubber plug in it). You don't have to use their WIFI router if you don't want to (except maybe for setup?) Anyway, I'm using it at present. Lastly there is a low tripod for the dish. The feet of the tripod have holes to allow you to screw it down to something. The tripod should be mounted more or less horizontally, but a typical home roof slope is ok. Mounting it on a wall or bargeboard would not be -- you can buy other mounts for that (or make one yourself).

Unusually, everything comes in the box already cabled together. You can simply click the dish into the tripod, put it out on your lawn, and plug the 3-pin plug into the mains, and you're ready to go. You need an app on your phone to do a little configuration (mostly SSID and password).

Out of the box my dish took one minute to boot up and position the dish horizontally (it has internal motors), ten minutes to get an internet signal, and another ten minutes to get a stable internet signal and tilt itself to its final working position: in my case at an azimuth of -176.6º, and elevation 66.3º. I'm at -35.5 latitude but the elevation seems to be similar everywhere -- just north or south azimuth varies (always away from the equator, except perhaps at > ±53º latitudes).

I've done a few speedtest runs on my iPhone SE and M1 Mac Mini. The results are attached. The summary is that download speeds are normally between 250 and 300 Mbps. I've never had less than 190, and I've had one result of 399. Upload is normally between 25 and 30 Mbps but I've had as low as 9 and as high as 58.

Ping time is mostly around 75ms to servers in Auckland (which speedtest chooses automatically), BUT they are more like 50-55ms if I manually choose a server in Sydney. The signal actually goes from me up to the satellite, down to a ground station near Whangarei, Wellsford, Auckland, or maybe even Christchurch (depending on which is closest to the satellite I'm using at that time), then to Starlink's POP in Sydney, then back to NZ if that's what speedtest chose.

Speeds seem to correlate quite well with how far away and what azimuth the satellite is at. The fastest results were when starlink.sx showed a satellite passing close to directly overhead.

There are lines of roughly equally-spaced satellites travelling roughly SE (in the same orbit / plane) and lines of satellites travelling roughly NE. You pass under one SE plane and one NE plane about every 5 min 25 seconds. One satellite in each of those planes will pass fairly close to overhead you, the others up to a few hundred km either side. You might get a satellite from each plane overhead you at the same time, or they might be spaced out in that 5 1/2 minute period -- this depends on your exact latitude. But wherever you are there will be a general pattern of passing satellites that repeats fairly closely (not exactly) every 5 1/2 minutes.

brucehoult:
Wow, really no one has anything to say!

* brucehoult slinks off

rhodges:
I got in line in April 2021 after my AT&T wireless was shut down. They just turned off the 3G service I had been using for a decade or so.

When I got the Starlink email last week saying my system was ready, I placed the order just 12 minutes after the email was sent. The kit arrived yesterday. I had a location picked out that seemed so-so for obstructions. Ideally, the dish would be best on a mast just above the top of the house, but that's not happening soon.

The kit had the dish mounted on a bit of pipe, a short mount with four feet, the router, and a big coil of cable. I started unrolling the cable from the wrong end, and I had to endlessly pull the cable out of knots as I unrolled it. I should have put a plastic bag around the cable end in case it fell in the snow, but I was lucky and it stayed dry.

The router is nothing like what the pictures and videos showed. Apparently in November 2021, they changed the dish (now square) and the router. This new model has a large glass front with some kind of graphic and what looks like status lights. I plugged in the dish cable and power cable, and waited for the lights. No action. I went away for a few minutes and when I came back I looked at the dish, and it was now horizontal. Great, something is happening. But still no status lights.

I will note my annoyance that the new router does not have an ethernet interface. It is wifi only. But for only $20, I can order the external ethernet adapter. It goes between the dish cable and the router. Okay, what's another $20? And it is available... in March. So I set up a WRT54GL access point with OpenWRT as a wifi client for the Starlink router. It works for my wired network.

The first couple hours were very rough, more down time than up. But it got better, and now on day 2, I am seeing downtimes of a couple seconds here and there. I must have been lucky with my dish location, as the Starlink app reported only two obstruction downtimes, with a total of  5 seconds. Plus 10 seconds of "network" and 13 of "unknown" down time.

I am getting great speeds (up to 40 megabits/s over my 802.1g wifi) and the Starlink app usually reports about 40ms of latency. The app bandwidth tester did three tests, and they ranged from over 100Mb/s to over 300Mb/s.

Overall, I am very happy with my initial experience compared to my AT&T wireless LTE 4G service (which has a 100GB/month limit with harsh penalties for going over).

brucehoult:
Cool! Thanks for the report.

A lot of people seem to be getting the square dish now. Mine came just three weeks ago but is the 2nd gen round dish.

I don't like the lack of information and configurability of the supplied router compared to what you normally expect e.g. client lists, setting up DHCP ranges and DNS, routing inbound ports to particular computers etc. But it works fine -- the range and speed are good. The Starlink router has an ethernet socket with a rubber plug in it, which I guess I could connect to a switch, but I believe you can also simply not use their router at all and just plug your home network directly into the power brick / PoE injector.

I just moved to this house haven't got all my computers or a home network set up yet, so working with the supplied WIFI router has been ok so far.

radar_macgyver:
I set up a Starlink dish at my work site which is in a rural area. Existing data is through a wireless link to hop the ~10 km to a nearby location through which we get a connection to main campus. The link is symmetric 20/20 Mbps, and has some reliability issues which I hoped to solve with Starlink. I use an Edgerouter Pro with a dual WAN configuration to do a failover link between the wireless and Starlink, and share it with my workgroup. I've had it going since May 2021.

I measure 150-200 Mbps down, between 10 and 25 Mbps up, it's possible this is because of my router configuration. On occasion, the downlink gets choked, maybe it's switching satellites? The statistics page tells me how many dropouts there were in the last 12 hours, most days its a couple of outages that are a few seconds long, the reported cause is often "network issues". I have the first generation Dishy (round, not square), and I don't use the included router, just the PoE injector brick. We've had several snowstorms recently, and the antenna does a good job melting the snow away. I still have the included tripod stand, mounted on top of a shipping container and weighted down with some concrete blocks. In our location, we often have high winds, and it hasn't blown away yet. I have a pole mount on order, to mount it firmly to a communications tower. That will also discourage any cats from seeking warmth too :)

I've been very happy with the setup, it's a huge improvement over the previous arrangement in terms of speed and uptime (recent snowstorm knocked out power at the remote end of the wireless link, Dishy kept on going). I do wish the Ethernet cable to Dishy was removable, it makes cable routing simpler and I'd be less worried about the cable getting cut.

They do not currently offer static IP addresses, they do CGNAT so you get a 172.x IP. As far as I know, they don't support IPv6, but I haven't tested it.

Starlink as a company is pleasant to deal with as an individual, but if you are trying to buy service for, say a government site, things get difficult. One of the things I do for work is deploy radar systems on field campaigns around the world, this was one of the reasons we tried out Starlink. However, I can't figure out how to get them to send a quote for service, or establish a service contract outside of me as an individual paying for it with a credit card. Hope this changes soon, it'll be a game-changer for the science community to have high bandwidth data in the field for our instruments.

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