Engineer Ken Keiter lately got here into possession of 1 SpaceX Starlink person terminal, the satellite tv for pc dish that SpaceX nicknamed “Dishy McFlatface.” But as a substitute of plugging it in and getting Internet 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 would love to actually test out the [Starlink] service and clearly I didn’t get a chance to, as this went a little bit further than I was 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 staff’s work. “It’s rare to see something of this complexity in a consumer product,” he stated 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 first 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. “A lot of people have been asking why you can’t replace the cable on your own, ‘why can’t I just have a jack that I plug my own cable into in the back of Dishy?’ Well, there’s a really interesting reason for this and it has to do with power delivery,” Keiter stated.
Power 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 information and the required energy with out over-heating, he stated.
Dishy suffers hurt
Inside the satellite tv for pc dish, Keiter discovered Dishy’s PCB and phased-array antenna meeting, multi function giant disc protected by a metallic defend. “This is the entire brains of Dishy and look how thin it is. it’s insane,” he stated. He additionally famous that “there are really good RF reasons for having a massive shield over the whole back of it.” The metallic defend was hooked up to the PCB by a number of glue, and Keiter needed to harm the defend in an effort 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 “appears that the antenna is a self-contained computer of sorts, complete with ARM processor and RAM to run the software that aims the phased array. Speaking of which, it should come as no surprise to find that not only are the ICs that drive the dizzying array of antenna elements the most numerous components on the PCB, but that they appear to be some kind of custom silicon designed specifically for SpaceX.”
Generally talking, Dishy clearly isn’t user-repairable. But Keiter stated he can think about some folks placing the PCB and antenna array into a unique enclosure. “You could design, realistically, your own base for Dishy pretty easily and I’m guessing that is in fact what some people may choose to do,” he stated.
With a Starlink beta having lately begun, SpaceX is looking for US permission to deploy as much as 5 million person terminals and is already approved to deploy 1 million. SpaceX is charging $499 for the person 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: