Diy Satellite Internet – How to Build Your Own Internet Satellite Receiver
Feel like building your own satellite internet connection? The idea might sound very complex but its execution is fairly simple. All it needs is some ingenuity and a little bit of elbow grease.
Building your own satellite receiver can work as a measure to get internet in some remote area or rural areas. These remote locations often lack dependable service or even internet providers.
So, knowing your way around setting up satellite internet can be very helpful for connectivity and convenience.
Understanding Satellite Internet Basics
To simplify things, let’s consider satellite internet being similar to satellite TV. Service providers send satellites into orbit and users connect to the these using a receiver dish.
The dish is typically mounted on the roof of a home or workplace. Although it’s useful anywhere it can get a clear and unobstructed view of the sky.
The signal from the dish travels to a modem which translates the data received and sent to the satellite.
In most cases, you’ll have to keep the satellite dish powered. Satellite internet isn’t only about receiving information from the sky. The receiver dish also needs to send information to the satellite!
Satellite internet is usually slower than cable or fiber internet. However, it’s available pretty much everywhere and can provide connectivity to rural or isolated areas.
Viasat and HughesNet are the current dominant players in the satellite internet space.
This may change soon as Elon Musk’s Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper take to the skies (and orbit).
Things You’ll Need To Connect To A Satellite For Internet Connectivity
The basic things you’ll need are:
- A Satellite Dish
- Power supply
Other tools needed may include a tripod or mount for the satellite. A drill, screws, and similar tools might be needed for setup. You’ll also need an account or service with a satellite internet provider.
Occasionally, you might face a situation where buying a dish might not be convenient. In such a situation, you could take the DIY route and make the receiver.
Let’s get into the details.
Making A Basic Satellite Internet Receiver On Your Own
Taking the DIY route to build a satellite internet receiver is a quick and simple solution.
This isn’t the most elegant way of getting a dish up and running. But if you ever find yourself in a fix, this should be enough to get satellite signals flowing.
Things You Need To Make A Satellite Dish And Receiver
Before starting on the build, you’ll want to gather the necessities to make things more organized. Here’s what you’ll need.
- A stainless steel strainer, colander, or small wok, about 12-16 inches in diameter. Those with a handle are preferable.
- A drill.
- Long coaxial cable to connect the satellite dish to the network.
- Network requirements: Computer, USB hub, modem.
The stainless steel colander or strainer will become the dish for this project. The tripod will work as a mount for the dish to hold it and keep it in position.
Your choice of cable and its length will decide how far the dish can be from connecting network equipment.
Step-By-Step Process For Making A Satellite Internet Receiver
Once you’ve got everything ready, here’s how you can proceed with the build. It will require some precision, so be deliberate with your actions rather than trying to rush things through.
Here are the steps to follow.
Step 1: Use the drill to make a hole in the center of the colander (or strainer). A half-inch drill bit should be sufficient for this purpose.
If you’re using a USB cable, be careful to make enough room for the connector to come through, but avoid overdoing it.
Step 2: Secure the wire with glue so that it’s stable and the connection is sturdy. Two coaxial cables will run from the receiver to the dish, remember to make room for both.
Step 3: Now it’s time to run the wire to the modem. If you’re using a USB cable, it might be useful to connect the wire and the modem through a USB hub.
Step 4: Secure the dish on the tripod, but allow it enough movement so it can point towards the satellite.
Step 5: It’s time to properly align the satellite dish. Adjust it to a 30-degree angle, pointing towards the open sky. There shouldn’t be obstacles like trees, tall buildings, and mountains to obstruct its line of sight to the satellite.
Step 6: Secure the dish in this position for a stable and reliable internet connection.
So did you get your Starlink dish but need another way to manage the mount?
The company offers a well-made and stable mount for easier setup. However, their popularity means there is a huge demand and waitlist for their gear.
The box includes a small mount, but it may not be sufficient for everyone. If you need something bigger or taller, going the DIY route or buying alternate mounts is a good option. In case your order is delayed or currently unavailable, this temporary DIY Starlink mount should fill the gaps.
The option discussed here is a tower mount, which is best employed when your roof or wall aren’t suitable. Remember, there are simple towers available to buy from various sellers. But if you’d prefer to DIY, read on!
Here’s What You Need To Make It Happen
- 5 pieces of 2x4x8 lumber.
- 36 pieces of 2.5-inch wood exterior screws.
- 4 pieces of 4-inch wood exterior screws (or you could skip the 2.5-inch screws and use these throughout the build).
- 4 pieces of fender washers (¼ inch x ¼ inch).
- Clamps and clips.
- Impact driver.
- Measuring tape.
A Guide On Building The Mount
As we see, the required supplies are fairly simple but there is some skill involved in setting this up.
Let’s see the quick list of the steps involved.
Step 1: Start with making cuts on the 2×4 lumber. For two blocks, make cuts of 65-14-14 inches. For two blocks, the cuts are 65-20 inches. The remaining lumber gets cuts for two 20-inch boards.
Step 2: For the header and footer, line up the 14-inch boards on either end and place the 20-inch boards between them. Secure with some 2.5-inch screws.
Step 3: The 65-inch pieces will serve as legs. Attach them to the header and footer and secure them with screws. You might have to angle the screws to get a better hold.
Step 4: Place the Starlink dish at the top of the header and fix its legs to the wood with the screws.
Step 5: Now, put the mount in the desired position. Remember to secure it with external support for stability. Something like a deck would do.
Step 6: If you’re installing this in a geographic location susceptible to high winds or particularly bad weather, do put more effort into proper supports and securing the mount.
Starlink is a great solution to going online, the dish is pretty expensive so being extra-careful pays.
How To Connect To Satellite Internet Service
The first step, of course, is to have an account with your satellite internet service provider of choice. Though obvious, this step is important for getting an internet connection through satellites.
You don’t just need an account, you’ll need specific hardware that connects to the satellite internet system.
This hardware usually includes a satellite dish, cables, and a modem. Keep in mind, this modem is different from the hardware provided by conventional cable internet services.
The need for specialized equipment often results in a significant bump in the initial cost of connecting to satellite internet services.
However, if there are no conventional cable internet providers near you, satellites might be the only option available.
Usually, the company will offer installation, but in many remote areas, customers may have to do the work themselves.
Working with the dish is pretty similar to setting one up for TV. In the USA, the dishes generally face towards the southern sky for the best signal. Knowing the expected orientation can make setup easier.
Set up can vary by company, but usually, the dish has two coaxial cables running to the modem. One of the cables goes into the “Sat In” connector, while the other goes to the “Sat Out”.
A modern modem is likely ready to access the internet and might have Wi Fi built-in. However, if that’s not the case, you’ll have to use an ethernet cable to connect it to a router or computer.
Going with a wireless router is the smarter option since Wi Fi is more convenient. You could use the wi fi signal to conveniently use multiple devices like the computer, mobile phones, and more.
Before going online, you should install any necessary software provided by the ISP for configuration and account settings.
Practical Expectations For Your Internet Connection
Having reasonable expectations from your internet will make things a whole lot easier. Due to the very nature of this technology, download and upload speeds have inherent limitations.
Even with a good signal, hitting the maximum upload or download speeds will be rare. Technically, that’s true for any internet connection, but it’s especially relevant in this case.
Even if you get a 100 Mbps connection, expect the actual speed to be much lower, even with excellent service.
Going online is one thing, but the service and speed depend on several factors, including weather conditions.
Clouds and rain will have a significant effect on internet performance. Data transfer will also depend on whether the connection is established to satellites in low earth orbit or higher orbits (like geosynchronous orbit).
Also, as with most options, this internet type too has limitations like data caps.
To be clear, even with its limitations, satellite internet is one of the better rural internet options. It definitely beats old-school DSL that many zip code locations still use to stay connected.
What equipment do you need for satellite Internet?
Receiving satellite internet requires a satellite dish, modem, and connecting wires.
Depending on the setup, you may also need other equipment like ethernet cables and wi fi router.
Does satellite internet require a special router?
Most setups need a modem specifically built to manage satellite internet. These usually need two cables for “satellite in and out” connections.
Since the setup uses a technology different from conventional internet offerings, it’s only natural that its modem or router be different as well.
What is the average latency for satellite internet?
Latency on satellite internet is usually higher than internet types.
This is largely because of the distance between the satellite and the earth. As such, the satellite orbit affects latency too.
If the connection is established in low-earth orbit, you can expect a lower latency. Satellites in higher orbits (like geosynchronous) will see a higher latency.
On average, the expected latency is about 600ms. However, this is likely to reduce substantially in the coming years as low earth orbit systems gain more prominence.
Can Viasat and HughesNet handle gaming?
Though conventional providers like Viasat and HughesNet can handle decent internet speeds, There is a limitation on their use in online gaming.
Both these providers have a latency of around 600ms, which isn’t suitable for most online games.
Though if you’re into games that don’t require quick reaction times, the higher ping won’t be much of a bother.