Installing the New Starlink Flat High Performance Dish


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Sometimes, I wind up doing RV mods a second time.  Case in point right here:

 

If you’re thinking I just did a Starlink install not too long ago… You’re right!  Just a few weeks ago, we posted a video on our Starlink install.  And then, literally just days after we posted that, Starlink and Winegard announced their Flat High Performance Dish for RVs.  This is a dish that’s meant to be permanently mounted on your RV’s roof, and frankly, it’s what I would have installed in the first place had it been available.  It’s about four times more expensive than the original dish that I had installed, so why did we opt for this one?

  • Well first, it stays mounted on the roof.  I’ll be honest, even though I never really had to do it much, I was dreading the deploy-and-stow process for putting out the older dish.  I know us, and often times, we roll in someplace late at night… too late for me to go outside and start messing with poles and cables in the dark.  Not only that, but if we needed to use the internet at a highway rest area or on the side of the road or something, there was a zero percent chance I would have ever deployed the dish in that scenario.
  • Second, it’s got a wider field of view than the regular dish.  If we were to park in trees or something, this dish has a better chance of getting a view of the sky than the smaller dish on the pole.  Granted, I could always move the smaller dish around, but that requires motivation…
  • Third (and perhaps most importantly), it’s approved for actual in-motion use.  Basically, this gives me a good shot at getting service while I’m working and Stef is driving.

Our previous Starlink install was removable, so I removed it, and sent it back for a refund.  A few days later, the Starlink Flat High Performance Dish for RVs arrived from Winegard.  You’ll see the process I went through to install it in the video.  But a few notes here bear repeating.

Minor Gripes

While I was initially impressed with the intricate cable entry gland provided, I wound up wishing I hadn’t used it.  Just using some ManusBond and a grommet would have been far quicker and ultimately just as effective.  I kind of go off on this in the video, but the plastic parts are finicky and easy to break (I know, I broke both of them).  And asking people to drill a large hole in a rubber stopper with a piece of brass tubing just seemed rude.  I think most people (like – anyone without a drill press) are likely to injure themselves while trying to get that done.

Similarly, I didn’t totally love the stands and mounts provided for both the power brick and the router.  The router stand was particularly puzzling.  It was meant to mount to a wall… but the cables exit out the back… literally into the wall.  Either that, or you really have to bend them kind of too much.  And the power brick stand was something that you have to slide the brick into from above, so the clearance needed to mount it was more than I could spare.  I wound up using neither of the mounts.

Finally, the setup process needs some work.  I realize I was one of the first to get one of these, and that the process will likely get better.  But there is no way to add a dish purchased through a third party (Winegard) to an existing Starlink account.  The process to activate a third-party purchased dish works only one way, and that’s through setting up a new Starlink account.  So now I have two.  They’ll probably fix this in the future, but that’s how it was on the day I activated.

First Impressions

But even with all these minor gripes, we’re actually digging the dish.  A few observations from our “dish shakedown” trip.

  • It’s been our experience that the tree thing isn’t as big of a deal as we had been led to believe.  At least for western trees that’s the case.  I guess if I went into a swamp or something the trees could be more of a problem.  But we’re not really swamp people.  We’re desert/mountain/canyon people.
  • Speaking of canyons, even parked up against our house with 180 degrees blocked off, our dish has no issues maintaining service.
  • We’ve already driven ourselves into a situation where we had no cell service and needed to use Starlink to find an alternative campsite, so not having to set up the dish is already coming in handy!
  • I’ve been told by Starlink that our dish software is due for an update, so things should get even rosier soon.

We’ll have more details as we get more experience with our Flat High Performance Dish, but for now, we’re giving it a thumbs up.

Any more questions, ask away in the comments!



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    37 thoughts on “Installing the New Starlink Flat High Performance Dish

    1. Bill C

      Hi, loved your In motion install video. I was hoping to see the cable ends of the power brick. One drawing on the SL site shows what looks to be a display port labeled Starlink and what looks like an HDMI port labeled Ethernet. I also found another picture on their site with the Ethernet port just labeled network. One other question is have you tried it using someone else’s router? I want to plug mine into a Max Transit cellular router’s WAN port. I really don’t have much space and both the SL devices power&router look like they are physically sized to resemble 1989 hardware..

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I have tried using the Starlink with another router. It works just fine, once you put it in bypass mode to skip the Starlink router.
        We’ve been using a Netgear Orbi with good results. I suspect you’d be fine with anything else as well.

        Reply
        1. Bill C

          Are you saying their router much be connected? The network cable from the power supply cannot go into an Ethernet port on someone elses router?

        2. James - Post author

          Their router should be connected for initial install and setup.
          After that, you put it in bypass mode.
          Then you can remove the Starlink router and plug the cable from the power supply into an ethernet port on whatever router you choose.
          That is what we have done.

      1. James - Post author

        It’s a Starlink dish, just purchased through Winegard.
        Winegard had the available a month or so before I would have gotten one from Starlink.
        (Strange but true.)

        Reply
    2. Chad

      Great video and thanks for the detail. I would love to see more about your router setup and wondered if you are thinking about connectivity with your home when not traveling. I was thinking of sending the connection to my house and dropping the cable connectivity when we are not on the road.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, right now, we’re using an Orbi LBR20 – which has a cellular backup for when the Starlink is powered off.
        I haven’t seriously considered going with Starlink for home service.
        The Flat High Performance Dish is only offered for RV use, so it’s always de-prioritized. That would seem to make it not a good fit for home internet.

        Reply
    3. Brian

      Nice video – I know not directly related to the Starlink install, but it would have been helpful to see how you wired the outlets and mounted the junction boxes. I It looks like in addition to the outlet for the power supply and router, and the box for the switch, you have a third box in there now. Was that needed to add the additional outlet in the other cabinet?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        There are 120v outlets in both cabinets and directly underneath (for AV equipment). All connections are inside boxes. Not exactly how I would have done it if I were wiring from scratch, but I had to work with what was already there from Winnebago.

        (As an aside, re-using one of the WGO supplied 120v outlets is nearly impossible. They require some kind of tool I don’t have – and I have a lot of tools. It’s easier just to cut those parts out and rewire with standard 120v electrical parts.)

        Reply
    4. Graham Smith

      Something I have found is that the portable Starlink will have interruptions quite frequently if you don’t have a clear view toward the horizon, particularly to the North. It may not stop it from working but you will see pauses in streams (like the conference I was in yesterday). I’m camped in a clear area with the exception of a tree about 25′ away which partially blocks my view in that direction. Unfortunately that direction is North so about once a minute there is a brief “hiccup”. Is the larger flat panel you now have less prone to that?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I don’t know if it’s any more or less prone to dropouts than the standard dish, because I didn’t have them both running at the same time to do A/B tests – and we never had the standard dish that long to begin with.

        I can say that – compared to what I feared from reading all the online commentary – this dish is less susceptible to dropouts than I expected. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s certainly not a problem for my work. Do remember, we live in the southwest. Trees are smaller and more sparse than in other parts of the country.

        Reply
    5. Patrick McCuen

      Any concern with trapping heat n the server closet? 200W power brick + the router and anything else that sneaks in. Clearly not a winter problem, but come summer you may wish there was some ventilation.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Yep. You’re right.
        It will be a simple matter to add some venting to that board should I decide it’s necessary.
        There’s already a hole on the floor of the server closet that comes stock. And adding something like this near the top of the front cover would handle it I think.
        https://amzn.to/3ERB1bL

        Reply
    6. Tim Stark

      Do you feel there might be issues with not using the mount that it came with? I just received mine yesterday and planning the install but wasn’t sure why they say to have the lower end facing the front of the vehicle and why the mount lifts one end up so much.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I don’t really think so. I really do think the slope is mainly just for water runoff.
        I don’t expect Starlink or Winegard will assume any responsibility for my install hardware though. So maybe that’s a consideration for you.

        Reply
        1. Tim stark

          How did you get the piece of panel out of the server closet initially. I see yours had screws before you added magenta but don’t see any screw in mine. I’m just afraid of breaking what feels like a very thin piece of panel while trying to wrestle it out.

        2. James - Post author

          Interesting. Ours always had screws – even before I replaced the original piece with the yellow one.
          Could yours be glued? Stapled? I don’t know.

          As additional info:
          You can see in the video, that panel is screwed to a piece of plywood that’s mostly cut away. That was also screwed to the cabinet, with some stub tenons anchoring it into the floor below. It wasn’t structural, and only served to be something to screw the front panel into. So I removed it.

        3. Tim Stark

          It looks like mine has a lip on the top and bottom so maybe I just need to remove one of the side panels and it will slide in and out. I’ll give that a try.

          Also I loved your idea of being able to turn the satellite on and off to save power. I believe I’m going to go with these remote controlled outlets (https://amzn.to/3gXT1t6) instead of the toggle. That way I can do the same thing for various outlets around the RV and just attach the controller to the wall in a central location.

          Thank for all of your help. I just picked up my Ekko a week ago and have already spent way too much money buying mods from your videos. Getting ready to tackle the camera next. Also since I’ll have the starlink I’m thinking about installing cheap wyze cameras on all four sides of the roof rack so I can check in anytime I want.

    7. Scott Zuppan

      James ,
      Not quite sure why you did this HP dishy with its associated cost. Is in-motion now a requirement for you? If so OK. But, Star-mount systems has done a tremendous amount of R&D on the standard and HP dishy mount as well as usage (I know not in agreement with the SL ToS) on in-motion use. They have proven that that standard dishy is still effective in-motion just with-in the last week or so on the Baja 1000 race live streaming. The HP dishy gives you no better up/down load as an RV system your still a “best-available” vice “priority service “with SL. But, if in-motion isn’t a requirement/need, why spend the additional $$ (approx $2500??)??? Also, given the additional electrical load 2X + vs the standard. Again the question why?? I do enjoy your videos…..but this one gave me a humm????? But, it was as always enjoyable.

      Scott

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, with our battery capacity, I’m not too worried about the electrical load.
        The two main requirements for me were:
        1. I don’t want to go outside and set up hardware if I don’t have to. And now, I don’t.
        2. I wasn’t really interested in even partial disassembly of a dish and operating outside the terms of service.
        I realize I could have gotten past #1 with a third party mount. But I really didn’t want to mess with #2.
        The high performance dish is also better rated for exposure, etc.
        And the in-motion use is a nice bonus!

        Reply
        1. Scott

          James ,
          Yes, with your power reserve it won’t be an issue. But, you could have disclosed to everyone else who may not keep such track the the power consumption is almost 2x over the std dishy (STD: 50-75 watts vs HP: 110-150 watts)
          But to:
          1- totally understand not wanting to setup the equipment every time one stops neither do I.
          2- Star-mount does not violate ones ToS with SL. Just if you decide to use it in motion. Even Elon Musk has bragged how well the std dishy works in-motion. So don’t think they will be enforcing that anytime soon. Maybe just an appeasement disclosure for the FCC??? To-date no one has been cut off of in-motion usage….but, one never knows. The Star-mount does void ones warranty for the dish (holes, cutting almost all the backing away….yep, warranty voided)
          And as far as not wanting to mess with modifications……REALLY??? You bought a brand NEW EKKO (approx 200k) then immediately started to to tear it apart with your modifications. YEP, no warranty issues there either. LOL.

          The STD v HP differences are actually kind small:
          Field of View:
          Array size:
          Power usage: HP double v STD
          DC conversion would save almost 30-40% on STD but HP will only lead to about a 10-20% savings
          Snow melt: But really 3″/hr
          Any way just yanking your chain……everybody has their limits. This is one that appears to be yours.
          As I said before enjoy your videos…..just wanted to comment and engage on this one. Safe travels

          Scott

        2. James - Post author

          I realize me saying I don’t want to avoid a warranty comes off a bit odd. lol.
          But if I bust the EKKO, I can fix it! I’d be up a creek trying to fix a dish.

          I was keeping tabs on our power usage during a shakedown trip. It wasn’t as much as I had feared. There were even times when the dish was on and our overall 120v consumption was less than 80 watts. So clearly, the consumption of the dish wasn’t as much as I thought.
          (Although, you’re right, with our battery capacity, we don’t need to track it that closely.)
          I think the best thing I can do there would be to put a kill-a-watt on it and let it sum up usage for a whole day while I work. That would be an interesting and potentially meaningful number. Next trip.

    8. Scott

      Great and helpful install video. Always much appreciated. I just received my Starlink flat high performance and I am planning on mounting it to my Winnebago Revel. Question: using the wedge mount provided with the kit would put the dish up slightly higher and at more of an angle vs. mounting the dish directly to the roof rack. I know you opted not to use the mount, but do you think doing so would allow for better “view” of the satellites?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Actually, I think flatter is better.
        You can’t always choose the direction you park in. With a more slanted dish, it could wind up pointing more directly into a canyon wall or something. Flatter seems more “satellite direction agnostic”.
        The reason the wedge mount is sloped is for – I believe – rain and snow runoff. A higher slope sheds water and snow more quickly.

        Reply
    9. Steve

      Really enjoy your videos and the detailed installation instructions you provide with them.

      We have an Ekko and we’re very pleased with it. We’re retired so our need for connectivity is sort of like Will’s.

      My question is not about the Starlink install but the finish of the small overhead cabinet between the beds. You made a plywood insert that magnetically attaches. (Cool solution) Where did you get the finish material for the plywood that matches the existing cabinet doors?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We actually got that from Winnebago.
        If you call customer service, there IS a way for you to get the stuff. But be prepared for sticker shock!
        It’s more cost effective to go to the “EKKO Owners and Wannabes” group on facebook, and get the recipe for the paint code that matches.
        Or, just embrace a different finish (which we may ultimately do anyway).

        Reply
    10. Graham Smith

      The gland that comes with that appears to be a knock-off of a marine CableClam, which is better designed. As to speed while driving, I have read that the larger dish has multiple internal antennas which point in different directions. That’s what allows it to connect to multiple satellites and switch between them without having to move the whole dish. While in motion, the service can jump from one satellite to another and there will be drops in speed when that is going on. This is all pretty bleeding edge stuff – the whole concept of a network of low orbit satellites is new and there’s a chance it will fail spectacularly. Still, for now, it’s the smart new kid on the block with the best answers.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        In-Motion use is kind of a bonus – I’ll take what I can get.
        So far, Starlink has exceeded our expectations for speed and connectivity. The experience of others led me to believe we’d experience abject failure if there was a tree within ten miles. That has turned out NOT to be the case – even when parked directly under a tree.
        Could be a “East Trees vs West Trees” thing, but still. Way better than we expected.

        Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hmmm. Hadn’t considered that.
        No roof rack on the pop top. And very little roof space.
        I’m sure someone will eventually figure out a way to do it, but without one to play with… I’m stumped!

        Reply
    11. Will

      BTW, there are some elegant stainless steel and plastic “cable seals” (pass throughs) sold by marine stores such as West Marine or on-line via Amazon. I default to marine quality stuff for my RV as often as possible as it tends to be much better made and engineered. Check out Seaview, Scanstrut, Blue Sea, and Ancor cable seals.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        If this cable pass-through fails, you can be certain I won’t be getting another of the same thing.
        I agree that the marine accessories seem to be built to a different standard. (And a different price-point!)

        Reply
    12. Will

      Damn fine install but I worry about you being a connectivity junkie!!

      The more time we’re on the road the more we want to be DISconnected. There’s nothing like a boondock campsite in the Wind River Range in Wyoming with zero internet. It’s just us and our books and no worries about what’s going on outside our little slice of heaven.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I hear you. And one day, I hope to be able to join you!
        But for now, I still have a day job, and that requires me to be connected, sadly.

        Reply

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