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Old 07-28-2022, 07:04 PM   #1
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Starlink on a Helmsman

There is a terrific and long thread on Starlink on the forum that will answer more questions than you can think of. But I have one for Helmsman owners who have Starlink.

We got our RV Starlink today. I set it up in the backyard in Davis in 15 minutes and got blazing download speeds and pretty slow upload speeds, which is apparently normal. So far so good. We will try it out next week on what is hopefully the last cruise on our RT29-CB in the Salish Sea before adopting our 2020 Helmsman 38e late in August.

So now the hunt begins for how to best install or just manage the Starlink. At this point, I am not ready to do the technical challenge of powering it with DC. And I will be cautious about drilling holes, of course.

I am just wondering what folks with Helmsmans do about the antenna, whether you just set it up each time and somehow snake the cable into the cabin (short of leaving a door or window open, can't see how this is done) or if you have drilled the necessary holes to get the wiring inside and where did you mount it. We will have a mast, rather than an arch, with radar and VHF antennas.

Just fishing for ideas because if this works as planned it solves a whole lot of work from the boat problems, which I still have to do to pay for the boat.

Jeff
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Old 07-29-2022, 04:38 AM   #2
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Run cables through ceiling tiles up into the mast chase way and Mount antenna on mast spreader. I’m curious to know if the antenna will effect the AIS antenna in any way
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Old 07-29-2022, 08:19 AM   #3
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Thanks. That has been plan A since I ordered the antenna, but it will take ordering a bracket for installation (easy to do, although I am worried it may not hold up in the salt) and more importantly, figuring out how to position it on a pretty crowded mast. Might have to relocate one of the VHF antennas. And I wonder how it will impact the radar.

One idea was to simply mount it on the rail on the starboard side near the stern and drop the cable into the cabin from there. Obviously that is not as elegant.

Another idea was to mount it forward on the pilothouse roof behind the horns. Starlink makes a roof bracket that adjusts, so with some kind of quick release you could "stow" the dish (those who have one know what I am talking about) and lay it relatively flat while underway.

Much to decide. Will report. Gotta get the boat first, but who among us is so disciplined they aren't thinking about this kind of stuff before they have the boat?



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Old 07-29-2022, 09:32 AM   #4
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Interested to see what you come up with. While not elegant, I’m leaning towards mounting it on the stern starboard fly bridge railing with a penetration near the tv box.
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Old 07-29-2022, 11:23 AM   #5
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I mounted mine on the stern port rail of the boat deck on my NT37 and routed the cable through an existing hole that had been drilled for a portable satellite TV antenna into the back corner of the salon, and from there into a cable run in the bilge and forward to my electronics bay above the pilot station. It all looks reasonably clean IMHO. I have not had any issues with interference from the radar in that location that some have reported when mounting their dishes on or near the radar mast or arch. I’ve decided not to drill any new holes until it becomes clearer where SpaceX is going with providing an antenna that is specifically designed for recreational boat/RV use.
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Old 07-29-2022, 11:43 AM   #6
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i have not read the whole starlink thread so excuse if it was answered there.

I am assuming we are talking about the RV version of starlink right?
the maritime version seems costly.

If so, does the orientation of the antenna has to be changed to point to a certain location in the sky which would render it useless while moving through water.
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Old 07-29-2022, 02:13 PM   #7
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i have not read the whole starlink thread so excuse if it was answered there.

I am assuming we are talking about the RV version of starlink right?
the maritime version seems costly.

If so, does the orientation of the antenna has to be changed to point to a certain location in the sky which would render it useless while moving through water.
We are talking about the standard residential dish which is also used for the RV service. Only the plans are different. The equipment is the same. The antenna doesn’t need to point to track the satellites. Tracking is all solid state. Some brave souls have disabled the motors so that the dish points straight up all the time and reported more consistent service in motion and while turning at anchor as a result. With the motors enabled, the dish will orient and reorient itself every now and then so as to avoid obstructions and/or avoid pointing south where it could interfere with geostationary satellites orbiting over the equator using the same bands. This doesn’t happen too often even at anchor or underway in my experience.
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Old 07-30-2022, 05:59 PM   #8
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Seeing if I can pull off embedding pictures:
So here is one option that might be appealing. Starlink makes an adjustable roof mount for the dishy. This is what it looks like:





I am thinking about mounting it on top of the pilot house roof and dropping the cable into the boat from there. Somewhere near the front, right behind the horn?




Then, when I want to "stow" it, I give it the stow command and it aligns itself with the pole. I then adjust the pole so that the dishy lies down on the roof, keeping a low profile.



I have to admit that this will look dumb when operating, but a cleaner look when underway if it is flat. And as you can see, there is not a lot of room on the mast for putting the dishy, even though this would be the cleanest way to wire it into the boat.



I really do wonder how these things, including the cable connections, are going to hold up under a barrage of salt water, however.

Just musings.


Jeff
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Old 08-03-2022, 09:38 PM   #9
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I think it is a good idea to wait to see if Starlink comes up with a boat version of theRV/residential unit. I will order one this fall, and will probably set it up on the pilot house roof temporarily with suction cups. I will run the wire through a window. I won’t use under way, so taking ups nd putting down won’t be a big issue temporarily. Two issues with the mast/arch.

The dish is 24” long, so if it does turn vertical to any degree, a large swath of the vertical space will be taken up. The “best” solution would be to have it above everything on the arch, including the steaming and anchor light, but that will add height to the boat.

I think the pilot house roof is probably the most logical spot, but there will need to be some measurements to keep it out of the radar beam. The 12.5 to 15 degree angle will cause the radar beam to just skirt the horn location if my measurements were correct. Again, the vertical clearance will come into play.

I would think that Starlink may create a dish that doesn’t rotate, or angle up and down, but may have more curvature to catch more of the sky. If they do, then having it on the Pilot House roof or the arch would work more easily. They move quickly with innovations. Will be interesting to see what they do.
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Old 08-03-2022, 11:06 PM   #10
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All good points. The suction cup idea is very intriguing and would not be hard to do. Tonight on our RT29CB (soon to be someone else’s…fingers crossed) it took me a whopping five minutes to set up the RV dishy on its stand, bring the very long, cumbersome wire back into the boat, plug in the router, and start the search for satellites. And it will take a whopping five minutes to take it all apart when we head to Gig Harbor tomorrow.

So there is the possibility that I am over-thinking this (my wife would confirm this on so many things). But the nagging problem is stability. I am pretty sure that in a very brisk wind (40 kts) the dish might blow over. If this happens next to your RV, no big deal. On your boat, this could become a big deal. So suction cups are an excellent idea.

I read here or on Cruiser Forum where some folks have forced a straight up view from their dishy by just placing it in a bucket. Very clever idea. Add weights and you have a pretty stable base.

So until I want to run this thing while underway, I will probably just get it out and put it away a bunch.

Will report when I get my hands on the 38e.

Jeff
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Old 08-03-2022, 11:15 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Hydraulicjump View Post
All good points. The suction cup idea is very intriguing and would not be hard to do. Tonight on our RT29CB (soon to be someone else’s…fingers crossed) it took me a whopping five minutes to set up the RV dishy on its stand, bring the very long, cumbersome wire back into the boat, plug in the router, and start the search for satellites. And it will take a whopping five minutes to take it all apart when we head to Gig Harbor tomorrow.

So there is the possibility that I am over-thinking this (my wife would confirm this on so many things). But the nagging problem is stability. I am pretty sure that in a very brisk wind (40 kts) the dish might blow over. If this happens next to your RV, no big deal. On your boat, this could become a big deal. So suction cups are an excellent idea.

I read here or on Cruiser Forum where some folks have forced a straight up view from their dishy by just placing it in a bucket. Very clever idea. Add weights and you have a pretty stable base.

So until I want to run this thing while underway, I will probably just get it out and put it away a bunch.

Will report when I get my hands on the 38e.

Jeff
One other way to secure it would be to run a line from the rail on one side to the rail on the other and zip tie to it.
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Old 08-08-2022, 12:45 PM   #12
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I thought the approved marine installation was $10k for gear and $5k per month?
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Old 08-08-2022, 01:05 PM   #13
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I use a very simple system on our Nordhavn…place the Dishy on a large square of DriDeck & ziptied the legs. Doesn’t go anywhere.
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Old 08-08-2022, 01:40 PM   #14
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I thought the approved marine installation was $10k for gear and $5k per month?

That is set up to market to the commercial maritime market. It encompasses two satellites.


What most cruisers would opt for is the RV portability dish. On the Starlink facebook group, there was a comment from someone who had their dish stop working. Starlink purportedly replied that the dishes are not built to withstand a heavy rainstorm. They offered a refurbished replacement for $200 or so dollars.

The durability of the current RV version is a concern for me particularly in a high moisture environment (with salt in many cases) and why I am waiting to see what happens as we move forward through the winter.

I could see the Starlink folks coming out with a dish that has a motor designed for more movement than the portable version, and some protections for a marine environment, that perhaps fits the 1" 14 antenna standard. The cost will be higher for the satellite, and that may end up being a market issue that they are unable to overcome.
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Old 08-08-2022, 01:44 PM   #15
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Thanks for the Dry-Dek recommendation. That’s a KISS solution worth trying out. And to the previous question about a marine installation, I am using the RV antenna and package, taking it down whenever I move. It is working great even though upload speeds are low. But still high enough for video conferencing.
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Old 08-08-2022, 02:20 PM   #16
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We love our starlink, we simple remove a webBoat that was on stainless 6" high mount with 1.25" marine antenna threads mount, and used this stainless adapter and works amazing and looking great as well...plus it is removable (which we do, I purchased a 2nd cord and remove and use on our RV as well....just plug in dishy on hard top and router on the wall mount (also found on Esty) take less 5 minutes....

https://www.etsy.com/listing/1271753...search_click=1
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Old 08-08-2022, 02:42 PM   #17
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starlink inside dummy dome

I have a question as to whether the Starlink Dishy can fit and operate inside of an empty KVH M7 Dome. One of the 2 domes on my arch is empty and just there for a symmetrical look. The TV dish is 24 inches in diameter so it would seem the Dishy would fit inside the empty dome. I have no idea if it would work in there, but one would think since the TV dish can follow a satellite the Dishy should be able to "see" their satellites. Anybody tried this? Any thoughts? It would sure be a clean install that way.
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Old 08-08-2022, 03:13 PM   #18
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No real advantage here in OZ at the moment as it's not much better than mobile phone reception range wise.

It's got me stuffed why people need unlimited data and 250mbps speeds

I've survived fine for the past 15 years on 100gb
(100gb a month is equivalent to 100 movies or 25 full seasons of a series)
And for the past 6 years on the water full time using mobile data , speeds have been no more than 10mbps and that's been more than satisfactory
(That will have a movie downloaded in several minutes)

Limit me to the above specs but as a tradeoff give us 150nm offshore and I'm in.
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Old 08-08-2022, 07:46 PM   #19
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Starlink

Twice I have seen people mount the antenna tube in a fishing of holder.
I recently delivered a catamaran from Riviera Beach, Florida to Brunswick, Ga.
The owner had Starlink onboard..in a fishing rod holder, with temporary wiring.
It worked fantastically.
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Old 08-09-2022, 08:37 PM   #20
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I have a question as to whether the Starlink Dishy can fit and operate inside of an empty KVH M7 Dome. One of the 2 domes on my arch is empty and just there for a symmetrical look. The TV dish is 24 inches in diameter so it would seem the Dishy would fit inside the empty dome. I have no idea if it would work in there, but one would think since the TV dish can follow a satellite the Dishy should be able to "see" their satellites. Anybody tried this? Any thoughts? It would sure be a clean install that way.
The dish is 20” long by 12” wide and mounted on a post that allows it to rotate. Lots of folks have disabled to motor so it can lie flat. If my geometry is right, that rectangle would barely fit into a 24” diameter dome. So I think the answer is yes. That would be an elegant big boat solution.

Spent a bunch of time on the hopefully to be purchased 38e (a lovely boat, I might add) and noticed that one wing on the mast head platform has a wifi booster antenna on it. The Starlink would make that superfluous. That would be a very logical place to mount it and easily run the cable into the cabin. Still, the fishing rod holder is a simple, easy install with the ability to remove it. TBD!
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