Engineer Ken Keiter lately got here into possession of 1 SpaceX Starlink user terminal, the satellite tv for pc dish that SpaceX nicknamed “Dishy McFlatface.” However as a substitute of plugging it in and getting Web entry from SpaceX’s low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, Keiter determined to take Dishy aside to see what’s inside.
The teardown course of destroyed parts of the gadget. “I’d love to truly check out the [Starlink] service and clearly I did not get an opportunity to, as this went a little bit bit additional than I used to be intending,” Keiter mentioned towards the top of the 55-minute teardown video he posted on YouTube final week.
Keiter, who lives in Portland, Oregon, was impressed by the Starlink staff’s work. “It is uncommon to see one thing of this complexity in a shopper product,” he mentioned in reference to the gadget’s printed circuit board (PCB), which he measured at 19.75″ by 21.5″.
Let’s check out what Keiter discovered inside Dishy.
The primary layer
With the satellite tv for pc dish face down, Keiter pulled off the again panel and located the motor meeting that Dishy makes use of to reposition itself to get a direct view of SpaceX satellites:
Keiter was intrigued by the Ethernet cable. “Lots of people have been asking why you possibly can’t exchange the cable by yourself, ‘why cannot I simply have a jack that I plug my very own cable into behind Dishy?’ Nicely, there is a actually attention-grabbing motive for this and it has to do with energy supply,” Keiter mentioned.
Energy over Ethernet is often restricted to about 30 watts, however new requirements permit for larger energy supply that may meet Dishy’s want for about 100 watts, Keiter mentioned. Dishy makes use of a thick, “well-shielded” Ethernet cable that may ship information and the required energy with out over-heating, he mentioned.
Dishy suffers hurt
Contained in the satellite tv for pc dish, Keiter discovered Dishy’s PCB and phased-array antenna meeting, multi functional giant disc protected by a metallic defend. “That is your complete brains of Dishy and look how skinny it’s. it is insane,” he mentioned. He additionally famous that “there are actually good RF causes for having a large defend over the entire again of it.” The metallic defend was connected to the PCB by plenty of glue, and Keiter needed to injury the defend with the intention to detach it:
PCB and antenna array
After eradicating the defend, Keiter examined the PCB and antenna array:
As Hackaday wrote in an article on Keiter’s teardown, it “seems that the antenna is a self-contained pc of kinds, full with ARM processor and RAM to run the software program that goals the phased array. Talking of which, it ought to come as no shock to search out that not solely are the ICs that drive the dizzying array of antenna parts probably the most quite a few elements on the PCB, however that they seem like some type of customized silicon designed particularly for SpaceX.”
Typically talking, Dishy clearly will not be user-repairable. However Keiter mentioned he can think about some folks placing the PCB and antenna array into a distinct enclosure. “You may design, realistically, your personal base for Dishy fairly simply and I am guessing that’s actually what some folks might select to do,” he mentioned.
With a Starlink beta having lately begun, SpaceX is seeking US permission to deploy as much as 5 million consumer terminals and is already approved to deploy 1 million. SpaceX is charging $499 for the consumer terminal and $99 a month for broadband service.
For the total teardown expertise, together with Keiter’s evaluation, you possibly can watch his video right here or on YouTube: