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Great News! Starlink Gen-3 is here, and it has RJ45 connectors!


Snackchaser

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The new Starlink Gen-3 system is out, and it works great!  I got one early because Starlink did a special invitation for Gen-1 users only, but now they are available for mobile accounts too.

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So here are my thoughts on some of the great new features and disappointments that are important for mobile users:

1.  Gen-3 uses RJ45 connectors, and it works perfect with the Oliver installation described in my “Don’t cut your Starlink Cable” post.  I  had previously, and incorrectly,  assumed that all Starlink’s systems used RJ45 connectors because thats what my Gen-1 dishy and Gen-3 router had.  But alas, the far more common Gen-2 systems did not.  Hmmm… that explains why Gen-2 users can’t use the upgraded Gen-3 routers.

2.  The Gen-3 dishy is bigger than Gen-2 and it has a wider sky view.  I’m not going back on the roof to measure it, but the shipping box is 25 x 15.5 x 3.75 inches to give an idea of the size.  I’ve heard complaints that it’s bigger and harder to stow when traveling.  In my opinion it’s way easier to stow because It has a convenient fold-up kickstand that eliminates the bulky tripod that came with older dishy’s.  I really hated that tripod, it took up as much room as my BBQ.

3.  The Gen-3 dishy has no motors or other moving parts, which should be more robust for the rigors of mobile use.

4. The Gen-3 power consumption is 195 watts per the label.  That’s higher than Gen-1 (185w) and Gen-2 (about 65w.)  This is not great news for boondockers.

5. Starlink still doesn't have a DC power option as many hoped.  It has a separate 110v AC power supply with a 57vdc output (3.42amp) and a standard DC power connector.  I’m sure someone will soon come up with a 12 to 57vdc volt power supply that can handle that wattage.

6.  The Gen-3 router has longer WiFi range and it supports Mesh Node.  Of course, the farther away from the router you get, the weaker the WiFi signal gets, and slower the internet speed gets.  The Gen-3 router really helps with that.  I’ve had a Gen-3 router on my Gen-1 dishy for a few months now and it made a huge difference in internet speed throughout the house.  The Mesh feature allows you to add Nodes, sort of like radio relays, that give even further WiFi range, which is a good way to make new friends at camp.

7.  The Gen-3 dishy comes with a built-in fold down kick stand designed to sit on a level surface.  A pole mount option can be bought separately.  You have to use the Starlink App during set-up to get it manually pointed in the right direction.  I put mine on the peak of my roof facing West, and tilted it on the sloped roof to approximately match what the kickstand tilt would be if placed on a flat surface.  The Starlink App liked the direction it was pointed, but it made me adjust the tilt a few degrees upwards before it would connect to the satellites.  I don’t know if there is a work-around for that, but it might be a concern for fixed flat surface mounting such as an RV roof, and for the direction the vehicle is facing.

From my almost 3 years of RV experience with Starlink, a fixed dishy mounting is not ideal.  You need the flexibility to move the dishy around to find a clear sky view, so its going to be sitting on the ground a lot of time if you want to get a satellite signal.  In conclusion, with its wider sky view, built-in kickstand, and the ability to lengthen the cable with a store bought RJ45 cable, I like the Gen-3 despite it’s short comings.

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We don't have nearly the experience with Starlink as @Snackchaser, in fact we're still in our "personal beta testing mode."  As I'm writing this, our SL is being powered by our 2kw inverter at our boondock location in North Texas.  

So let's try measuring the actual SL energy usage....  

Condition 1:   Our Victron SmartShunt reads our current values at 76% SOC, current draw is -0.55A, power usage -7W (with all electrical components off except for Fridge in GAS mode, Microwave LED clock on, SL off, and normal phantom draw).  It's wall-to-wall sunshine now at about 0725  - solar modules are adding about 2.80A/36W into the BB's.

Condition 2:  Same background current draw as in Condition 1, but we energized the 2KW inverter.  This bumped up the current draw to 1.08A and power usage to -14W.  So, roughly, the inverter itself draws 0.53A or 12.7Amp-Hrs daily - just idling with no AC appliances being energized.  Good to know number, IMO.

Condition 3:  All the same as above, except we energized the Starlink system.  Current draw now up to -7.57A and power at -98W.  The SL literature notes the unit will draw approx. 65W of power.  Clearly, in our configuration, it's really more like 84W and pulling 6.5A.  

Without the SL energized, our phantom current draw is usually around 0.15 - 0.45A/-2 to 7W that's with the Fridge in the GAS mode and MicroWave in LED clock mode, and Smoke/LPG/CO2 detectors and various Victron components drawing a few 10ths of Ampere's.

 

We're not that sad about the SL power consumption, however we're preparing to convert it over to a 12vDC system after this trip to save even more battery bank energy while boondocking.  More on that upgrade later.

Here are the screenshots of the 3 test conditions, FYI:

Condition 1:

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Condition 2:

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Condition 3:

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If your "RV-style" of on the road needs reliable access to the internet like our's does (due to D's work requirements) the Starlink system is a viable option, IMO.  It's been Uber-fast in cloudy/rainy conditions both day/night. 

Here's a screenshot of a speed test from this morning:

Screenshot2023-12-27at09_13_20.thumb.png.a6590be23551c2f763e37a6f9730b921.png

More info to share later...

Cheers!

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Art, Diane, Magnus & Oscar (double-Aaarrf!)

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