Hacking the Rectangular Starlink Dishy Cable
These are are some notes I put together on butchering the rectangular dishy cable.
FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES AT YOUR OWN RISK. I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DAMAGE OR INJURY YOU SUSTAIN FROM FOLLOWING OR NOT FOLLOWING THESE GUIDELINES.
Disclaimer: Don't do this
In general, if you can get away with using the original 75' cable (or the official 150' long replacement cable), then that is ultimately preferable to doing any of this stuff. If you don't already know why you would want to do this then you definitely shouldn't do it. If you run into trouble, the first thing Starlink Support is going to ask is if the cable between your dishy and router has any modifications, and for good reason.
Despite the connectors being proprietary, the underlying technology connecting the router and the rectangular dishy is gigabit ethernet with non-standard PoE(The orange and green pairs are positive, the blue and brown pairs are negative). The cable itself is plain stranded STP CAT5e, suitable for outdoor use. The router acts as a 48V, 2A PoE power supply, so 96 watts are available at the port the router.
Stick with the original router (and possibly the ethernet port dongle) unless you have a good reason to try something else. You cannot power dishy with a standard PoE injector, but if you are enterprising enough you can rearrange the wires (swap blue/green, terminate as Type-B) going into and out-of a passive 4-pair PoE Injector and get it working with a sufficiently large 48V or 52V DC power supply.
Note that most 48V 2A power supplies on Amazon are insufficient! I recommend this 52V power supply, as I have confirmed that it works and I am using it on my own 200+ft run.
Resistance is the primary limiting factor you will run into. As you increase the length of the cable and add additional terminations/connectors, resistance increases. If the resistance is too high, the voltage at the dishy will (perhaps only occasionally) drop too low, causing it to spuriously reboot or not boot at all.
The exact maximum round-trip power resistance that the cable can have before Dishy's stability suffers isn't immediately clear, but 1.8Ω round-trip (~88 watts available for Dishy) appears to be stable while 2.5Ω round-trip is just barely unstable. (neither value includes the resistance of about 20 extra feet of the original CAT5e that is used in my setup)
If you cannot easily measure resistance, you will need to be as conservative as possible:
- Keep the length of your entire run as short as possible and your connectors as few as possible. Continuous runs are almost always preferable to runs with connectors.
- Use outdoor-rated cable for outdoor runs. If riser cable is all you have, paint it.
- Don't directly bury the cable unless it is rated for direct burial. Otherwise, water intrusion will eventually make your connection unreliable. The original cable is NOT rated for direct burial.
- Use 23AWG (or larger) CAT6/CAT6A cable, which will contribute around 0.03Ω/meter for a continuous run.
- The original cable was only 24AWG, so if you are using 23AWG cable then the less length you use from the original cable the better.
- It would appear that connectors will each contribute ~0.02-0.1Ω to the round-trip resistance, but more research is required.
- Avoid unnecessary use of patch panels, they introduce additional connectors and add resistance.
- 150' is likely the most distance you are going to get without changing your approach (like splitting out the power into larger guage wires, etc), but if you use a specialty low-resistance cable (like this) then you might be able to almost double that with some careful terminations.
- Once you get everything set up, try turning on snow pre-heat mode:
- If you can run a few speed tests in a row without problems, then you are likely golden.
- If your dishy reboots (either immediately or after running a few speed tests), your cable resistance is too high.
For longer runs you may need to use a power supply with a larger voltage. I can confirm that the rectangular dishy works fine on 52V.
With a longer run, proper grounding and surge protection becomes more important. Dishy must be grounded in some way. With the unmodified original cable, that grounding comes from the router. Since we are cutting that wire, we need to make sure that we provide that grounding.
- At least the the first RJ45 termination on the dishy side should be a grounded RJ45 plug.
- Use a high-quality, grounded, PoE-compatable ethernet surge
protector at the termination closest to your dishy.
- If you do this at your "service entrance" (where the wire enters your house), then you won't need a shielded ethernet cable after that point---but you might want it to be shielded to reduce RF interference.
- If you do use a shielded cable after the grounded surge protector, make sure you don't have a continuous ground between your surge protector and your Starlink router---that would create a ground loop, and you don't want that. If there is a ground fault, some of the surge current could go through your shielding!
- Alternatively, you could forgo the surge protector and use shielded cables, connectors, and plugs for the entire run and ensure continuity between the starlink router and dishy (presumably the router has some amount of built-in surge protection).
The screen shots aren't there, so far as I can see. This is a cable continuity problem; "no cable connected" means one or other pair is intermittent or open circuit or maybe the channel pairs are swapped.
In this case test end-to-end, or rather end-to-middle. I.e. use an ethernet cable connector from the Neutrik to the RJ45 that goes into the McCown and make sure it's showing the right connection. In this case that is 1-2, 7-8 straight through and 3-6/4-5 swapped; the tester needs to be one of the ones that shows the actual connections, not just pass/fail. Then check from the McCown data in/out RJ45 back to the RJ45 that goes to the router; the connections should be identical to those on the other side. A simply way of doing this in one shot is to take the RJ45's that go into the McCown and plug them into an ethernet pass-through connector. Then the two ends (Neutrik-router) should show straight through. The shield should be continuous in all cases.
Most likely this will be fine; if it isn't fix the problem by testing segments of the link. My original design was like yours; I swapped blue/green pairs before and after the PoE. I came to the conclusion that I don't like this because the wiring of the PoE connections to the antenna is just plain deadly for any normally wired passive PD so I am moving to swap blue/green as soon as possible out of the antenna (that would be the cable to the Neutrik in your case) then back again immediately after the data in/out port of the injector. That's just so much safer.
You can also check the McCown jumper setup; for some reason mine was shipped with the StarLink power arrangement so it had to be changed for "normal". If you plug the McCown in with the PSU disconnected then use a tester on RJ45s at each end (e.g. plug the end RJ45 into the RJ45 port on the NF-488 and do a continuity test) you should see each pair shorted. If you pull all four jumpers off the McCown that should be the only shorts. With the jumpers in the correct positions IRC 1236 should be shorted together along with 4578 (so both pairs are connected in each channel). Once again don't quote me on this - check very carefully!
If you have a good straight-through connection all the way then you need to suspect that the SPX connector into the antenna is fried. This is what happened to my original 75ft cable; I've split and tested the thing all the way back to within 10cm of the connector and orange is shorted (30ohm) to ground, apparently somewhere inside the connector at the cable end. My test kit consists of a broken open StarLink ethernet dongle with the cable cut and an RJ45 plug crimped onto the thick wires. I can plug the SPX connector from the antenna end into this then take the RJ45s on the two ends and do a continuity/cable test. Once again the connection should be straight through in your setup; in mine it is too but that is because I have both RJ45s with blue pair/green pair swaps.
I had cabling problems all the time I was doing this; my error mostly. I found that I can verify the cable setup correctness by plugging the RJ45 that goes into the router into a switch. If everything is wired correctly the switch detects a 1000MBit connection to the antenna about 5s after the power is connected. In fact the router can then be plugged into the switch and it should all work; the switch gives you access to 192.168.0.0/16 so it's possible to see what is out there...
You can also check the resistance of each pair while connected to the antenna with a suitable breakout RJ45 and testing with the PSE disconnected. This helps if there is some poor connection in there. I can't find the core resistances of the Wurtz electromagnetics but you should see each pair with a resistance just a few ohms. When I measured I was seeing maybe three ohms across correctly connected pairs. You should also see a low resistance between the two pairs corresponding to + and the two corresponding to - and around 30kohm between + and -
That sounds exactly like my original problem! My 75ft cable antenna connector was fried and the router was fried. With a new cable, a new dongle and the original router I had an internet connection but no ethernet on the dongle. Somehow the short in the SPX connector had killed something in the router that makes the dongle work. Once again plug the RJ45 from the dongle into a switch and see if the lights come on. It took me about 2 weeks to persuade StarLink customer support to send me a new router. At the end I'd already bought a new cable and they didn't respond to my request to refund that cost.
The SPX connector is pretty much garbage. In my case I plugged it in in summer and it failed in winter. I can only assume that the very small amount of water vapour in the sealed chamber that is created when the plug is inserted condensed and shorted enough out to fry the plug. The jack in the mast can apparently be pried out; I'm very tempted to pull it out, cut it off and solder cable directly to it with a swapped RJ45 at the end.