The Recreational Vehicle (RV) subscription for Starlink satellite communications had become a very popular option for cruisers lately.
UPDATE: Early May, notices were sent out instructing subscribers “to ensure uninteruppted service on the ocean” to take action by May 9 and update Roam service plans from Standard to Roam Mobile Priority – 50GB / 1 TB. This is the Only option offered for “ocean access, in-motion connectivity, and global use” unless you change from the Roam service to the Maritime services marketed to commercial and mega-yachts which utilizes different hardware as well. Note the options are changing daily. The Roam service titled Mobile Global is only for land based global service. It’s just best to check the Starlink Roam webpage for options as things are moving fast on this front. When I originally wrote this blog, Starlink RV was rebranded Starlink Roam, with an monthly cost of $15 to $150/month; it was unclear what happened after you use up the priority data.
Sailors make do with a patchwork of connectivity as they sail from country to country. Usually, a local country SIM card provides a reasonably priced data plan to augment folks home country cellular plans, while also providing additional international calling options. Having installed Starlink a couple of months ago, it has worked pretty flawlessly, and much better than the local SIMs, marina wifi or any of the other solutions.
Don found a company, Star-mount Systems, that builds among other things, a Flat Mount Low Profile for Starlink Dishy, eg a waterproof box for the dish. The box comes with very detailed instructions on how to remove the back of the Dishy motor entirely, and Dremmel off the back of the dish. As Don installed it, he also cut the wires and created his own Ethernet cables so we could connect it to a 12V system. To do that, we had to add a 12V to 48V buck booster transformer, and a Tycon POE Injector 1000 to put power over Ethernet to the dishy. By getting rid of the Starlink router, the whole system runs on 12V and we don’t have to run it through the inverter. We’ve reduced our power utilization to around 37 watts, reused our wifi router and have the flexibility to run bonded connections over 4G, wifi and starlink, or failover between them as needed.
To do so, we drilled a hole in the Port side coach top that ended up over the salon microwave area, and then fished the line across the entire salon ceiling to the Starboard salon area where we connected it the POE injector and then through that the Peplink router. The transformer lives now hidden behind the wall. We are quite pleased with the end result.
Researching installation options
Walking the docks
Before installing it this way, we walked the docks looking at a range of options for installing the antenna, installing it on the legs shipped with the dish, in fishing rod holders, in custom stainless tubing attachments to a range of places like solar arches and hand rails, and even in the old VSAT domes that some of the larger yachts are starting to replace. Each option has its strengths and weaknesses, like periodic shading of a solar panel, potential breakage or loss due to temporary installations, and worse, getting in the way of lines and egress. But, they all work and have made a huge difference in the sailing community.
Note that some of the videos and sites below had other solutions, we did not use the ethernet adapter (probably should have) and just cut the Starlink cable and rewired as the Starlink-X version going into the Tycon POE. Two helpful videos were: Everlander’s DIY Starlink Flat Mount RV Roof Adapter Powered by 12 Volts and Off Grid CTO’s Starlink on pure DC power.
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