With enough testing under the belt I figured it was time to make the installation more permanent. I measured the outside of the KVH dome and the diagonal length of the Starlink dish and base. The only question was how thick the dome was to determine if the Starlink dish would fit inside the KVH dome. Time to do some climbing.
The first thing to do was climb the mast remove the screws and take the dome cover off the KVH base. As it turned out the dome is super lightweight and only about 5-6mm thick. This is the first time I have removed the dome myself and was a little unsure how it would work. Very easy is my answer.
Fortunately there are only four bolts to remove the old hardware. Access required turning the old dish to remove. Once the dish was unbolted I removed the rescue tape from the coax connections and unplugged the communication/power cable.
The base of the old KVH dome had a slight taper and some ridges. I cut about 10mm off each leg of the Starlink dish support and wrapped with rescue tape to make the legs a little grippy. I reinstalled the four bolts that held the KVH dish and used them to zip tie the legs of the Starlink stand. This may be unnecessary but we have been in some rough water and more support is better than less.
When I removed the old cables I pulled some cordage through the pipe and left one extra just in case. I connected the cable back to Starlink and tested to make sure all was well. Then it was time to clean up the old dome and put in place.
I was paying $145 per month for Direct TV in standard definition via the KVH TracVision dome on the starboard side of the mast. Now I have full internet, wifi calling and streaming via Chromecast plus Google TV for $135 per month. Seems like a great deal to me.
I have heard that a Starlink dish inside a dome may create excess heat and send a warning. I have the snow melt heaters disabled and will check when the weather gets hot. It will be easy to install vents if necessary. At anchor if Starlink loses connection as we pivot I may need to disable the motors so that the dish looks straight up. Because Roxia doesn’t “sail” too much at anchor this may not be necessary. Both of these issues are easy to correct if they become a problem. For now I will test in the current configuration. In the dome with Starlink looking North in the direction of my mast Starlink shows no obstructions. So far so good!
Anyone need an old KVH Mini V-Sat system? Have I got a deal for you…
I have been following posts on the Nordhavn Owners Group for quite awhile now.
Background: When we purchase Roxia in Australia in 2017 two KVH domes were installed. One was for TV the other for Phone. We never paid for service for the phone/internet because it was cost prohibitive on our budget. For the most basic service that would work for us we were looking at $800 to $5,000 per month. When we got back to North America the TV would no longer work because the satellite inside the dome was using a DNB for Australia. We replaced that and with DirecTV were able to watch standard (not HD) TV and movies. We were able to stream Netflix etc from my iPad if the cell coverage was good enough. This service cost $143 per month because it required a commercial account on a boat. There are ways to reduce this amount but this is what we had. To be honest we hardly ever watch TV and used this service for more than two years for some news and a few Seahawks games.
Update: A week or so ago I ordered Starlink and was put on a waiting list until sometime in 2023. Within a day I received an email that Starlink RV was available with no waiting. The hardware is the same, the cost is the same as residential with portability, $135 per month. I changed to RV and the Dish arrived 5 days later. The problem was the box was crushed and the dish was cracked which would have allowed water intrusion. I didn’t think this would be good in the rain or on a boat. I email Starlink that night but thought I would have a problem. The next morning (less than 12 hours) I received multiple emails with apologies, return label, instructions to return, confirmation of a new dish sent, one month free service and expedited shipping. Ok that’s customer service. IBM used to say you don’t have a true customer until you have a problem and solve it. I am a true Starlink customer.
Installation: I am fairly technical but not that great. This had to be the easiest install ever. I did set it up in a temporary format and will explain permanent solution later. There are four items in the box. The dish with 75′ of cable attached, a one piece base, a router and short power cord. Installation is as follows: 1) snap the arm of the dish into the base. 2) set the base down. 3) plug the dish cable into the router. 4) plug the power cable in router. 5) plug the power cable into an outlet.
No matter how you look at it this is an easy installation. It took less than ten minutes including carrying the dish to the top of the pilothouse. After the dish was plugged in I used my iPhone to name the router and set a password. The satellites were found and I was online in less than five minutes. I received a message that the speed may be reduced because of the high traffic area at Port of Everett Marina. It was still fast.
After going online I logged into my smart tv and logged into all our streaming channels. Now everything is HD on the TV. The best thing about Starlink is since we don’t really watch TV the price includes the internet and phone through WiFi calling. This is a game changer in the industry. By the way the Dish was $599 including shipping. If I were KVH or Intellian I would be nervous.
Final thoughts: Where to mount the dish? I just happened to have a pair of 24″ domes that are unused. I can take the guts out of one or both and mount the Starlink dish inside. Is it a coincidence that the Starlink dish measures 23 ¼” diagonally? I think Elon had an idea. The dome will offer protection and already has bird detractors installed.