Starlink: August Through October Update

Published Friday, October 29, 2021 by Bryan

I skipped my Starlink update posts at the end of August and September. I wrote a draft for August, but was never happy with it. One of the firmware updates changed the format of the dishGetHistory fields I was using to chart my connection quality. So, it wasn't really the data-driven kind of article I like to write.

But also, it was harder to write about good news. Throughout August, the only thing I could say was, "Wow, this is great!" Between the quick-change satellite connection that was enabled for me in July, and the last of the satellites getting into place in early August, my connection reached a realiability it had never seen before.

Throughout September and October, I have never connected to my backup WISP. Every FaceTime call I've made has been over Starlink. It hasn't been perfect, and some weeks were better than others, but it has been good enough. In fact, it has been so good, that I finally reduced my WISP subscription to its lowest (cheapest) speed available.

No, I didn't completely cancel my backup connection yet. There are two reasons for that. The first is that my wife still uses it occasionally, as it is still just a little bit better for workday presentation video conferencing. The pauses that my remaining obstructions cause Starlink are tolerable for social FaceTime connections, but frustrating for business Zoom. Fortunately business hours are when the WISP is most likely to be up and offering a near-expected upload/download rate.

The second reason I haven't canceled the WISP yet is that Starlink is still only offering a "better than nothing beta". I've been burned by technology betas canceling themselves too many times. I'm not willing to risk my connection to the internet on something that explicitly tells me to not set any sort of expectations for it.

But there's also something about a "beta" with thousands of satellites in orbit that feels different that a "beta" with a few cloud instances. So, I've made one additional move to relying on Starlink: I finally made the cable routing semi-permanent.

Starlink cable now runs through PVC buried underground.

The 58ft (17.68m) run from the tower to my house is now running through 1 1/4in (3.17cm) ID PVC pipe buried 12+ inches (30cm) underground. I had to pass closer than ideal to some trees, so instead of using a trenching machine, I dug with shovels and hands, leaving as many large roots as I could. In one case, the trench even becomes a 2ft (60cm) tunnel under a close-packed group of maple and pine roots. Once the cable reaches the house, it enters a surge protection box outside, with its own grounding wire running to the ground stake for my electrical service. From there, a short (less than 10ft (3m)) shielded CAT6 cable runs through the side of the house (forget drilling for that giant ferrite ring!) and into the PoE brick.

I'm so excited to be able to properly close the window that the cable ran through all winter and summer. I'm excited to be able to shovel this winter, and mow next summer without fearing for the cable's safety. I'm excited to have some peace-of-mind on lightning tolerance.

And I'm excited that more dishes have been shipping to people, and that more satellites are headed up soon. Starlink has come a long way in the last nine months, and this helps demonstrate they intend to keep improving.

Categories: Starlink