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Thread: Remote Cabin / Portable High Speed Internet Beta - Tesla in the Sky - Starlink

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    SJ's Avatar
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    Remote Cabin / Portable High Speed Internet Beta - Tesla in the Sky - Starlink

    First, if you go to your remote cabin, hangar, or other "happy place" to escape technology or the internet, then you need read no further. Keep on keepin on!

    But, if you are living remotely and paying a lot of money for laggy old school satilite internet,cellular with huge data caps, or something else, you might want to check out Elon Musk's Starlink.

    This is the string of satellites you see zipping across the night sky from time to time. There are going to be a lot more of them.

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    Your thoughts about whether or not having 1200 more satellites in the air is really not the point of this post, more to let you know that if you are interested in some seriously high speed satellite internet, it is availalbe.

    I signed up for the Starlink beta a while back and got my equipment a week or so ago. Super simple to set up and was pumping out 160mbps downloads and 50mbps uploads in a few minutes.

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    The kit consists of a router, a power box, a really really long cable, and a motorized dish to track the satellites. It takes about five minutes to set up. I literally just stuck Dishy McFlatface as it is affectionatly known in the back yard with no thoughts about obstructions, etc (which it will tell you have if you need to move it), and have fast solid internet from it for 23 hours a day. If I put it on my roof it would be 24 hours.

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    The hardware cost was $500. Right now the service is free while it is in beta, but we expect it to be around $100 per month when it goes out of beta. A really cost effective option if you can't get wires run to your house, or are just sick of cable or DSL internet.

    I was able to get the beta here in Arkansas, but I don't think they send it everywhere. Alaska seems to get a lot of betas. You can sign up at http://starlink.com

    Oh, and in the near future they will upgrade the software so you can have one of these on top of your motorhome and it will supposedly track while you are moving. Pretty cool.

    Happy to answer questions if anyone is interested.

    sj

    P.S. Yes, I posted this with Starlink...
    Last edited by SJ; 04-23-2021 at 08:07 AM.
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    My nephew in Colorado received his equipment about a month ago. So far it’s been fast when he gets it, but coverage has been sketchy (as expected until more satellites are up).

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    Iím in rural Alaska. Internet has never been cheap or reliable. First was Starband..then Hughesnet.....then now GCI.....Months ago I tried to sign up for Starlink. Couldnít do it. No physical addresses here...so no joy! Today tried again using the post offices physical address. All post offices in rural Alaska have the same street address...... 1 Main Street, your city, Ak. Zip. They took my money...but wonít receive the equipment until 2022.... Iím really not happy paying $300 a month for internet...100 gig. Plus overage charges...bill is usually greater than $450 a month.. hope Starlink is better..


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    Utah-Jay's Avatar
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    160 MBPS is pretty darn good, especially for under a $100

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    For us in rural Alska, as Mark says, it is going to be an insane improvement. Like 100 times faster, or more. And less that 1/4 the cost, if cost is as they claim it will be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SJ View Post
    a motorized dish to track the satellites.

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    So does that dish move during the day... as in tracking the satellite in real time? If so, how would that work in snow and ice?

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    SJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kg View Post
    So does that dish move during the day... as in tracking the satellite in real time? If so, how would that work in snow and ice?
    It sure does...
    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
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    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Any issues with outages due to weather?

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    cubflier's Avatar
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    Do you happen to have to power specs on the dish? I'm curious what kind of solar power it would take to keep it alive.

    Jerry
    If it looks smooth...it might be

    If it looks rough...it is!!
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    I paid my money a few months ago and am told to expect my equipment sometime this summer. I live in rural Nevada and getting any service is a challenge, and stupid expensive, so I'm very hopeful it will work out well. I'll let y'all know as soon as I do"

    Note - Yes, all you Alaska types, I realize that "rural" here is darn near urban to you guys. But - by the standards of the lower 48 - we're "out there."

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    Dave Calkins's Avatar
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    Am glad to hear yu are signed up SJ.

    will be checking this thread often to see how it is going.

    A friend who is heavy in Tesla product ownership has been raving about the possibilities for a year. and has planned it for his Baja, Mex second home.

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Calkins View Post
    Am glad to hear yu are signed up SJ.

    will be checking this thread often to see how it is going.

    A friend who is heavy in Tesla product ownership has been raving about the possibilities for a year. and has planned it for his Baja, Mex second home.

    Thanks
    I'm out of Fairbanks and have had Hughes net for the last 3 years.$9.95/month. 2g & 5g. Weather news etc and satellite pictures or any app from apple. When I watch stuff on HULU I do get the commercials . I could pay more and have live streaming on Hulu but I need bathroom breaks. Hulu is also $9.95/month.
    Only time it is a problem is when there is a big lighting storm between me and the Satellite . I bought the dish outright or you can choose to make payments.
    Sandy

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    Dave Calkins's Avatar
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    Had HughesNet at the lodge. I recall it was reliable but not fast. Lodge is on GCI now. The big box looks expensive

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    SJ's Avatar
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    115 watts @ 120v seems to be the consensus
    Quote Originally Posted by cubflier View Post
    Do you happen to have to power specs on the dish? I'm curious what kind of solar power it would take to keep it alive.

    Jerry
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    Mattpeed's Avatar
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    This freaking rocks!! Going to try this ASAP!


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    Matt

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    I signed up in Feb., supposed to be available here in FL late this year.

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    It's available to me but I have not yet ordered the equipment. I likely will as soon....

    With respect to operating in snow/ice....

    I understand it has a heating element to prevent freezing.

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    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    I just checked in Palm Beach County. Say mid 2021. Monthly $99. They want $99 now. I get about 110 down from broadband at $70.
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by SJ View Post
    115 watts @ 120v seems to be the consensus

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    That is a substantial load, assuming it's 24/7, for an off grid solar system, make no mistake. Right off the bat I'd check the power supply and see if the end use is DC, and if so what voltage, which could mean no AC inverter would be needed, that'd save 10-15% right there. Then I'd see what the repercussions would be to shutting it all off when not in use, versus a lengthy boot up time. 28 years of off grid taught me it is many times more cost effective long term to reduce the load needs rather than build the system up bigger. Quite likely it could still be practical with a smallish off grid system if it was set up right.
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    Iím a beta tester in central Ontario, Canada. Itís definitely better then what we had and is improving. Still a few issues. Even though you get crazy speeds (230 Mbps ) it still doesnít like real time apps like Microsoft meets, FaceTime and zoom. My son games online (Call of Duty) and he lags out what seems like frequently with his whining haaa.
    Netflix , YouTube and such ...no issues because of buffering. If you join some Starlink forums you learn that you can avoid a lot of these issues if you just connect your own good router. The one they supply is pretty basic. I havenít done that YET as I still want to contribute to the beta testing analytics.

    A side note... this winter we didnít get any ice buildup as the dish is heated... this trip up to camp I noticed bird crap on the dish . I guess the active robins like a nice warm spot to perch??


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    Quote Originally Posted by courierguy View Post
    That is a substantial load, assuming it's 24/7, for an off grid solar system, make no mistake. Right off the bat I'd check the power supply and see if the end use is DC, and if so what voltage, which could mean no AC inverter would be needed, that'd save 10-15% right there. Then I'd see what the repercussions would be to shutting it all off when not in use, versus a lengthy boot up time. 28 years of off grid taught me it is many times more cost effective long term to reduce the load needs rather than build the system up bigger. Quite likely it could still be practical with a smallish off grid system if it was set up right.
    Might be a way to turn off the heater that melts the ice to save some wattage as well... of course, then you would have to figure out another way to clean off the ice/snow.

    sj
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    courierguy's Avatar
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    One example of how it can pay to avoid a load: I installed a small (400 watts) PV system at the ski patrol shack at the top of the ski area behind my place. In the 5 years since it's inception, I have ridden herd on it, (the view from the cabin is very familiar to me, but usually I'm flying, nice to be just standing there to fully appreciate it) and this year I saw that some patroller had brought a small microwave up. Thing is, just being plugged in 24/7, it's clock was keeping the AC inverter booted up, which uses much more power than if the inverter was in sleep mode. So I rigged them up a spring wound timer outlet, like a bathroom vent fan uses, so now when they want to cook something it auto "unplugs" the microwave after a few minutes. More reliable than and more convenient then physically having to unplug it every time. They also had a weather station, AC powered thru a black box, so a 24/7 load thru the inverter. Since it actually uses 12 VDC on the equipment end, and the shack system is 12, it's now wired direct. Same results, a lot less power used.

    Throwing a tarp over the dish when not in use would preclude the need for a heater, bit of a hassle though.
    I have one secret camp site, 8800' and with one of the best Idaho views imaginable, and I noticed a couple years ago it now has just enough of a cell signal to let me keep in touch with my day job crane service, which pays for the flying so I don't mind. Best of both worlds, away from it all but still available (to make money that is) if a call comes in.
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    The steerable antennas on our jets were under a dome.. I would think you could do something like that maybe?
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    Dave Calkins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by courierguy View Post
    One example of how it can pay to avoid a load: I installed a small (400 watts) PV system at the ski patrol shack at the top of the ski area behind my place. In the 5 years since it's inception, I have ridden herd on it, (the view from the cabin is very familiar to me, but usually I'm flying, nice to be just standing there to fully appreciate it) and this year I saw that some patroller had brought a small microwave up. Thing is, just being plugged in 24/7, it's clock was keeping the AC inverter booted up, which uses much more power than if the inverter was in sleep mode. So I rigged them up a spring wound timer outlet, like a bathroom vent fan uses, so now when they want to cook something it auto "unplugs" the microwave after a few minutes. More reliable than and more convenient then physically having to unplug it every time. They also had a weather station, AC powered thru a black box, so a 24/7 load thru the inverter. Since it actually uses 12 VDC on the equipment end, and the shack system is 12, it's now wired direct. Same results, a lot less power used.

    Throwing a tarp over the dish when not in use would preclude the need for a heater, bit of a hassle though.
    I have one secret camp site, 8800' and with one of the best Idaho views imaginable, and I noticed a couple years ago it now has just enough of a cell signal to let me keep in touch with my day job crane service, which pays for the flying so I don't mind. Best of both worlds, away from it all but still available (to make money that is) if a call comes in.


    If you had written “...small microwave OVEN...”, I would have read your post from a completely different perspective.
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    Thanks very much for initiating this thread, SJ. There seems to be a lot of interest.

    We are often at one of our two cabins. Neither has cell service. We're used to that, but I won't deny that it would be nice to keep in touch with friends via e-mail and Facebook.

    It would sure be nice to have contact with a mechanic if a problem developed with the airplane at our usual "middle of nowhere" locations, send pictures, Google a fix, watch a YouTube video, etc.

    Presently, I'm paying $84 CDN a month for a cell-based internet package of only 20 GB. I don't know what the speeds are, but I'm sure it's SLOW! Beyond 10-miles there's no service.

    I will sign up for StarLink as soon as it's available to me. I understand that it is quite portable and I could take it with me to either cabin, in the 'plane, boat or on the snowmobile.

    Like others, my main concern is power consumption: 1) Will it run from 12-volts DC? 2) Can the heater be disconnected? 3) What's the "boot-up" time if I run it just a few hours a day?

    Of course, it will probably run fine from a small inverter - or will it? Some devices don't like the "modified square wave".

    For my Inreach Mini I made a little "radome" from a plastic peanut butter jar to keep the rain off it. I'm sure the same thing could be done (on a larger scale) for the StarLink dish.

    Larry

    Edit: One of our cabins has an 80-watt panel, 2 x 8D batteries and a (so-called) 750-watt inverter. The other (more remote) cabin has 2 x 50-watt panels, 2 very good deep-cycle batteries and a little 175-watt inverter.
    Last edited by NunavutPA-12; 04-24-2021 at 02:38 PM.

  26. #26
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    Or live where it doesn't snow!!
    Quote Originally Posted by SJ View Post
    Might be a way to turn off the heater that melts the ice to save some wattage as well... of course, then you would have to figure out another way to clean off the ice/snow.

    sj
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

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    iF it needed AC power, I'd use a Morningstar brand 300 watt pure sinewave inverter. The sat systems load would be in the sweet spot of the inverter, .most of which are most efficient at 50 to 85 percent of their rated capacity. No name Chinese rebranded inverters are to be avoided, not a Harbor Freight item. Buy a name brand US supported one from a reputable supplier, Morningstar is such a one. The most expensive inverter will be the cheapest long term
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    Quote Originally Posted by McAlpine View Post
    Netflix , YouTube and such ...no issues because of buffering.
    Interesting. I know netflix utilizes HDD banks across the USA to keep the streaming reasonable. I wonder how this works for starlink.

    Tim

  29. #29
    SJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by behindpropellers View Post
    Interesting. I know netflix utilizes HDD banks across the USA to keep the streaming reasonable. I wonder how this works for starlink.

    Tim
    There are also going to be some kind of ground stations eventually.

    sj
    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
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