Automotive, Electronics, hardware, Networking, Reverse engineering

How to power Starlink terminal from 12V without PoE injector and DC/DC converters

Today it has become popular to convert rectangular Starlink terminals into a flat “automotive” version.

There are tons of projects like this one or this. People cut the terminal case and pack it in a custom flat housing. Typical usage: RV.

An essential part of such modifications is the change of the power scheme.

In the automotive version, powering the terminal from 230/110 AC is inefficient. Power supply modification includes a custom PoE injector and DC/DC converter (12V – > 48V). I propose an even more efficient power supply scheme without additional voltage conversions.

Please note that most information below applies only to current rectangular rev3_protoX terminals.

Rev3 terminal PoE circuit

Let’s look at the PoE schematic on the board.

Here we can see Ethernet/Power connector, PoE transformer, current measurement circuit (0.05R shunt + AD8541 opamp), and primary DC/DC converter L3751. Plus, the PoE detection circuit and PD controller.

Here is the block diagram:

The primary internal power bus is 12V. All other Dishy’s voltage regulators feed from this bus. Thus we can bypass the input voltage regulator and provide 12V directly to the primary bus.

To protect the primary voltage regulator from reverse current, we need to disconnect it from the 12V bus. This can be done simply by removing the big inductor and feedback diode. You can see them in the picture below.

I do not recommend removing L3751 IC or MOSFETs. It’s more complicated, and there is a risk of messing up.

You may have noticed that we are also bypassing the current measurement circuit. This is okay. The Dishy firmware doesn’t care about zero consumption in runtime.

12V connection

After the components removing it’s safe to connect external PSU wires directly to the board. The most optimal connection point is the output ceramic capacitors array.
I highly recommend connecting an electrolytic capacitor in parallel.

(-12 it’s just a zero point or ground. Not some negative rail)

The minimal capacitance is 470 µF when you have relatively short wires from the 12V source. If your wires are a few meters long, you can use a 2200 µF capacitor. I tested with 5 meters 12AWG cables. The capacitor voltage rating should be 25V.

Ethernet cable connected directly to a host/custom router with 8P8C/RJ45.
Don’t connect the reworked Dishy to any PoE power supply or Gen2 Starlink router.

Measurements

I connected my shelf multimeter to the 12V rail and used the ut-reader to collect and plot current measurements.

As you can see, Dishy jumps to 7A, and the median consumption is around 5-6A, depending on the operation. The values can change very quickly, so your power supply must be able to handle sudden surges in consumption. When stowed, Dishy consumes a constant 1.1A.

The minimum supply voltage is 10V, and the absolute maximum is 15V. Please, do not exceed 15V value. It might damage your Dishy.

Please note that powering the Dishy from the car’s 12V line might be dangerous when ICE is running. The voltage levels might be pretty unstable.
Also, Tesla’s low voltage line is 16V instead of 12V (Li-ion low voltage battery). Consider this if you plan to power your Dishy from the modern Tesla car.

Thanks for reading.

 

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77 thoughts on “How to power Starlink terminal from 12V without PoE injector and DC/DC converters

    1. Also any possibility to add a photo close up of the output ceramic capacitors array and removed inductor pads, to show where you connected 12v+ and 12v-(Ground)?

      1. I agree! A clear picture of the 12v, capacitor connection would be appreciated very much. I will do this conversion this weekend if the pic is supplied. Thanks mate.

        1. Conversion complete, working beautifully.
          Averaging a power usage of 20-45W at 13.52V (Starlink data plan currently paused).
          Dishy SW version: e055302d-93ee-44c0-9f18-4d927a6ee54e.uterm.release

          Very impressive. Thanks for the research and info 👏

    1. It’s way more complicated. There are two identical PoE DC downconverters inside. They work in parallel powering different parts of the PCB. I tried the same trick with the HP, but it’s not starting. I think some “ENABLE” signal is required. More research is needed.

  1. You mention “When stowed, Dishy consumes a constant 1.1A”
    What is ‘stowed’ state?
    Is this on but no data transfer, or something else?

    1. This is the state when you press “Stow” in your mobile app, and Starlink is actually “stowed” to the transport state 🙂
      The satellite link is not active in this state.

      1. Ok, thanks 👍
        Such mode is obsolete in my specific scenario. Flat mount, RV install. Will be using your 12v mod.

  2. Hi Oleg. I followed your instructions and cannot get the router to see dishy now. I am getting a “no wan connection” error from the router…I tested the ethernet leads, and they are all good. I attempted to revert it back to original, and I damaged one side of the miniature feedback diode! Any idea why the router can’t see Starlink, and what type of diode could be used to complete the repair?

    1. Hello. Unfortunately, the original part number is unknown. You can try to put SOD-323 Schottky there, like this one: https://eu.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Diodes-Incorporated/BAT43WS-7-F?qs=m%2FDc%252BknW%252B3niQrMOMf2TDA%3D%3D

      About Ethernet. Make sure that you use the t568b pinout.
      Also, verify that your PSU is capable of providing enough spike current. A typical problem is when PSU cannot provide enough current and Dishy restarts on boot/Ethernet startup.

      1. Update! The problem seems to have been the termination of the ethernet cable! I was sure that I had followed your instructions to the letter, but error are always a possibility. Thanks for the reply, and a great hack!

      2. I have finally hooked up a 3rd party router to the modded Starlink and I am getting an orange (cable issue) internet LED. Is the main cable from the starlink board supposed to be t568b pinout as well?

      1. Do motors have external logic board, or it that second connector are dummy bidirectional lines feeding two motors?
        I was wondering if we could utilize that second connector to feed 12V through it, if those 12V are magically at the same bus.
        Otherwise…
        Is there a much better location to solder in “-12V/ground”? Is it should be almost everywhere? No?

        Another idea, in theory I could utilize POE with dummy passive 12V injector (for analog cameras), just need to push enough Amps, let’s pretend the ethernet cable will be super short to handle all the power correctly without overheating or loses, etc. Antenna needs 48V via fat power wires just because 12V will never make it through 75 feet.

        Of course, I have to “redirect” the power to the new soldered point. Just +12V? or -12V/ground also? Or some bypass modification could be done easier? that soldered input just doesn’t look so stable and solid at all.

        thanks

        1. Do motors have external logic board, or it that second connector are dummy bidirectional lines feeding two motors?

          There is no additional board. Motors are just simple DC motors: https://www.ecutool.com/products/mercedes-benz-bmw-porsche-peugeot-toureg-folding-rearview-mirror-motor?VariantsId=11310

          I was wondering if we could utilize that second connector to feed 12V through it, if those 12V are magically at the same bus.

          You can’t use this connector to feed the 12V. This is the output of a DC motors driver IC.

          Is there a much better location to solder in “-12V/ground”? Is it should be almost everywhere? No?

          Technically, you can connect to any 12V bus point, where you can see a bunch of ceramic caps. But the input point is the most convenient.

          I could utilize POE with dummy passive 12V injector (for analog cameras), just need to push enough Amps

          There is a different pinout, and your PoE injector will not be able to sustain more amps. You will burn your Starlink and/or PoE injector.
          You can use only approved Starlink PoE injectors: DishyPowa, AB Production, Boondocker, or Yaosheng.

  3. Pardon my ignorance and lack of electrical engineering knowledge/understanding. With this modification you have totally eliminated 48v for the dish? Does the dish now function completely on 12v? I am trying to understand why SL would require 48v if everything can work on 12v. So, now you supply 12v to the dish and then you connect from the dish via ethernet cable to a router (not the original SL router).

    1. Hello. The internal Dishy primary voltage is 12V, but the PoE voltage is 48V. It’s all about the power and length of the cable.
      They need to transfer much power with less current over the long Ethernet cable. 12V can’t provide enough power unless you use a massive amount of current, which might be dangerous for the cable, Ethernet transformers, and connectors.

  4. Olá, aprendi muito com suas engenharias reversas nas starlink, obrigado. Estamos cortando e colocando as antenas nos veículos. Uma delas voltou para conserto, com um sintoma estranho. Ela funciona o dishy normalmente, mas não conecta. No aplicativo no modo depuração, ele mostra em vermelho a opção “sinal fraco” e ao clicar em informações ele fala que o ruído está acima de 3 dB. Eu não faço idéia do que está causando este ruído. Pode me dar uma dica ?
    Abraço

  5. I find your solution with a single 12V supply very clever! Now, how about putting a DPDT relay in the mix, which activates when external 12V is available and switches the inductor and diode out of the circuit, and if no 12V is present, relay is de-energised and inductor and coil are re-connected via the changeover contact pair? This would allow to use either external 12V or PoE, with 12V having override priority. What do you think?

  6. Hi, Oleg, this is brilliant. I plan to use this in a manned balloon where minimal power consumption is paramount as we fly for many days. There are some questions I have that I didn’t see answers for:
    1. What improvement in power consumption (or efficiency) is realized by avoiding the 48V->12V? How about the 12V->48V?
    2. Are the heaters on the 48V circuit (thus disabled) or are they on the 12V circuit & functional?
    3. You mention the PSU not providing enough spike current. Is that what the electrolytic cap is for? If using a LiFEPO4 battery, would that be sufficient with short (18 inch) battery leads?
    Thanks very much for sharing your wisdom!

    1. Hi Noah,

      1. 48V->12V is about 5%. Not so much, but it might be noticeable.
        12V->48V depends on type of your PSU/injector.
      2. On the current square Dishy, there is no separate heater. All heat is generated only by ICs using lower internal voltages.
        In the case of older round Dishy and high perf Dishy, there are heat traces that run from 12V (round Dishy) and 49V (HP).
      3. It should be ok without the capacitor.
  7. This is awesome and perfect timing for my project. I am planning to supply 12v power to this from my van, but also have a LiPo battery bank supply power when I need the portability. 12v will be much easier for me.

    Do you know if there is any 5v power on the board that I could tap into to run a small wifi router (microUSB)? This would allow me to have everything built into a single enclosure and would be perfect.

      1. Thanks for the response. I ended up using a small 5v converter tied to the new 12v leads that I soldered on the pad and capacitors as you detailed. Thank you for the great write up, the hack went smoothly and I should have it finished tomorrow when the taller enclosure pieces print.

        1. I am wanting to power my starlink from a custom battery pack made from 18650 cells, would you recommend the 3s (11.1v) or 4s (14.8v)configuration? I could always add a buck converter to ensure it doesnt go over 12v, but wondering if you had an opinion on this.

  8. Hello, nice information

    I have one question, you said “Please note that powering the Dishy from the car’s 12V line might be dangerous when ICE is running”, what do you mean by “ICE”?

    Thank you

  9. Hello, could Oleg put the main voltages of the antenna for conference and possible problem detection? when you have time

    1. The l3751 is not easy to find around here, do you have any tips on how I can replace it? Is there a way to put another regular stepdown separately to make the 5v and 12v that is on it?

  10. Oleg,

    Awesome work mate, Ive modified mine and has been solid for 2 months. ive now just changed my wifi/router and im getting disconnected and booting sequence over 5~10 mins . Ive checked the current and on initial powering on is 80 mA then ramps up to 450mA real fast but hangs there for a long time still showing disconnected. ? it gets to orientation, connecting then disconnects.
    I will be trying some other fault finding but just reaching out to see what your experience has been.

    1. It’s possible that your Dishy turns on the heating. This creates a power spike that your PSU or wires can’t handle for some reason. You can try to play with the capacitor value near the Dishy.

      1. Thanks , sorry I didn’t explain in connected to directly to a 12v deep cycle battery and the cable run is only about 7 meters. What value of capacitor should I consider. I’ve used your suggestion of 2200uf 25v

  11. Thanks to Oleg Work, I just finished the modification to feed the Starlink Terminal with 12V (without Motors) because is a flat dish now.
    I also Feed the Starlink Router with 12V, and add a Battery for both devices to have the posibility to work completly offline.

    The modification works perfectly. Is at 3.5 to 4 Amps with the Router included.

    I have to ask if there is a way to have an ethernet port when there is only 12v?

    I have the Starlink Ethernet adapter, of course doesent work beacuse I don’t have POE.

    Excelent Work Oleg!

    1. Hello. You can connect any suitable 3rd router directly to the Starlink Ethernet. The Starlink router is not mandatory.
      Just cut the cable and crimp RJ45 as T568B. Your router should be configured to run in DHCP client mode. It will get an IP as soon as the Dishy goes online.

  12. Is it possible for me to use it with a reworked starlink router, being powered only on the 12v line and leaving the 48v line without power?

      1. I followed your tutorial but dish is stuck on startup, I’ve left it on for more than 20 minutes, in the starlink app in debugging data it appears with increasing uptime, but it gets stuck on startup.
        I followed your tutorial to the letter, the only thing different is that I used a 16v 1500uf capacitor, I tried to use two capacitors in parallel but the problem persisted, do you have any tips?

          1. I undid the modification for testing, the antenna booted normally.
            What I can add is that dish is not activated and is also outdated, it is a new starlink.
            In the debugging part it showed GPS ok, only the signal that showed weak in red. Could it be something related to updating? Should I update it before redoing the change?

          2. The Dishy firmware version is important. It does not depend on this rework, so you can leave it as is. But if your firmware is quite old, connecting might take longer. In the case of really old firmware (>= ~1.5 years), you may need to contact SpaceX support and ask them to push an update on your Dishy. Sure, don’t tell them about any mods.

  13. Friend, I’m from Brazil and I would like to have your contact to send you some videos and references of Starlinks that can be found in my store. Do you know where the ID is in the Starlink board?

  14. Oleg, excellent to share your work repairing the Starlink terminals, I read your web page but can’t find the information, so I ask:
    What kind of glue do you use to put together the terminals once repaired?
    Thank you for your time

  15. Hello Oleg,
    thank you for your work, it is very helpful, is there a Hardware way to deactivate permanently the Snow Melt function on Dish Gen2?
    Best Regards

  16. Hello Oleg
    your work, it is very helpful, my starlink reboot every 2 minutes ,and the inductor 4R7 very hot, the volt in output capacitor rail is 11V, i need your advise . Thank you very much .
    Best Regards

  17. Hello Oleg!
    “Please note that powering the Dishy from the car’s 12V line might be dangerous when ICE is running. The voltage levels might be pretty unstable.”
    can this be fixed with a 12v regulator? im planning on using this setup on my truck for long travels, if not what other solutions can you recommend, thanks! and great work!

  18. Доброго дня! Олег підкажіть будь ласка, в старлінк потрапила волога, я його розкрив, вичистив изопропанолом, висушив, використовував ваш метод 12в живлення для перевірки працездатності антени, але якщо використовувати повноцінний метод живлення то напруга скаче від 3в до 49, що не дає можливості антені запуститися, не підкажете які варіанти можуть бути?

    1. Вітаю. Напруга скаче через те що не запускаеється головний регулятор 49->12. Роутер не бачить споживання з боку тарілки та вимикає 49 вольт. І так по кругу.
      Перевірте весь шлях напруги з верхніх конденсаторів, через резістор до входа LM3751. Нижня точка. Дуже часто бувае так, що ця лінія відгниває і мікросхема не стартує.
      Якщо всі напруги доходять до компонентів, але схема не стартує то це означає вихід з ладу LM3751, або силових MOSFETs.

      1. Доброго дня, 2 мосфета цілі, lm3751 замінив зняв з антени вночі як раз на деталі добавилася, бризнув фрізера, тепер ситуація дуже цікава, з роутера приходить 1.5-3.0 в, на lm така ж напруга приходить згідно як Ви мені схему свою надали, виходить все під заниженою напругою, та спроби переключити на пое живлення пропали, куди ще можна подивитися!?

        1. Замінив нижній мосфет ситуація повернулася до старого моменту від 0 до 48 в стрибки,на 12 в шину нічого не приходить, може бути питання в схемі ідентифікації пое живлення?

          1. За ідентифікацію відповідають резистори позначені на фото (“детекція тарілки”) та два транзистора під ними.
            Схема там така: роутер подає 3 вольта, спрацьовує ця схема, роутер це бачить та подає вже 48 вольт. Далі йде мониторінг струму. Якщо схема тарілки починає споживати забагато, або ж навпаки – нічого не споживати, роутер вирішує що щось не так та відключеє живлення. Напруга знову падає до 3 вольт і далі цикл півторується. Це ви як раз бачите.
            Якщо по лінії 12 вольт нема КЗ то все ж таки не стартує схема на lm3751. Відповідно нема споживання і це призводить до циклу переключень напруги.
            Якщо впевнені, що мікросхема та мосфети цілі – уважно перевіряйте, що всі компонент навколо цілі, що ніде не відгнило нічого. Буває резістори та конденсатори втрачають контакт, хоча виглядають просто трохи потемнівшими.
            Власне не запуск lm3751 це єдина проблема.

      2. Олег вітаю! За допомогою ваших інструкцій повернув живлення(проблема в живленні 3751 а саме знизу куди приходить 48в поряд 2 нога на неї через резізстор приходить 1.75 в, береться це все с тієї ж шини 48в )до норми, роутер побачив антенну, приводи працюють, з цим наче порядок, теперь з’явилася проблема в додатку відображається booting і антена через де який час перезавантажується, не направите мене знову куди копати!?

        1. Вітаю. Треба дивитись через додаток Star Debug на що саме скаржиться тарілка. Там буде видно статуси.

          1. Вирішив дане питання, заміна мікросхеми MP N9 8795, був вістуній вихід 1.87 в, якщо Вам треба буде фото “заводського” варіанту автомобільного старлінку разом з частиною роутера в одному корпусі та живленням від12 в можу поділитися, потрапив якраз на такий розбитий та на льоту пофоткав, відпрацював 6 місяців в хлопців, злетів з криші та розбився просто

          2. Так, коли бачити у Star Debug помилки ініціалізації модулей анти – перш за все перевіряйте живлення на всіх 4 групах MP8795. У кожній групі по два регулятора. Один видає 1.8V, а другий – 0.9-1V. Якщо хтось вийде з ладу (типова причина – волога) то будть помилки.
            Також таке буває при механічних пошкодженнях антени – тріщинки, відвал чіпів, тощо.

            Фото не треба 🙂 Я знаю всіх виробників та що там та як 🙂

  19. Oleg, I have open some Starlink Dish Gen 2 terminals, but some times is a very clean opening some times not, I use first a cuter to open a slight canal, then a knife point with a wood hammer to slide open, do you have a method or a tool you use for open the dish better? Thank you for your time

    1. I always use a piece of utility knife and pliers instead of a hammer. I carefully hammer a piece of the knife into the gap, loosen it a little, and hammer it next to it. And so I walk around the perimeter. Requires a little patience but always opens well.

  20. Вітаю! Стосовно High Performance версії ще немає інформаціі по аналогічній доробці? Раніше Ви писали, що потрібен Enable для запуску схеми в HP-версії і це потребує додаткових досліджень.
    Також питання по підключенню зовнішньої GNSS-антени в HP-версію – немає інформації, як це зробити?
    Маю розібраний HP FLAT, можу заміряти що треба, вольтметром або осцилом, або скинути фотки, які потрібні.
    Дякую!

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