Engineer Ken Keiter just lately got here into possession of 1 SpaceX Starlink consumer terminal, the satellite tv for pc dish that SpaceX nicknamed “Dishy McFlatface.” However as an alternative 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 machine. “I’d love to truly check out the [Starlink] service and clearly I did not get an opportunity to, as this went just a little bit additional than I used to be intending,” Keiter stated 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 crew’s work. “It is uncommon to see one thing of this complexity in a client product,” he stated in reference to the machine’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 may’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 cause for this and it has to do with energy supply,” Keiter stated.
Energy over Ethernet is normally restricted to about 30 watts, however new requirements enable for higher energy supply that may meet Dishy’s want for about 100 watts, Keiter stated. Dishy makes use of a thick, “well-shielded” Ethernet cable that may ship knowledge and the required energy with out over-heating, he stated.
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 protect. “That is all the brains of Dishy and look how skinny it’s. it is insane,” he stated. He additionally famous that “there are actually good RF causes for having an enormous protect over the entire again of it.” The metallic protect was connected to the PCB by a number of glue, and Keiter needed to injury the protect as a way to detach it:
PCB and antenna array
After eradicating the protect, 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 laptop of types, 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 seek out that not solely are the ICs that drive the dizzying array of antenna components essentially the most quite a few parts on the PCB, however that they seem like some type of customized silicon designed particularly for SpaceX.”
Usually talking, Dishy clearly shouldn’t be user-repairable. However Keiter stated he can think about some folks placing the PCB and antenna array into a special enclosure. “You might design, realistically, your personal base for Dishy fairly simply and I am guessing that’s in reality what some folks might select to do,” he stated.
With a Starlink beta having just lately begun, SpaceX is in search of US permission to deploy as much as 5 million consumer terminals and is already licensed 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 may watch his video right here or on YouTube: