Speedy

Since we switched to Starlink, not all that long ago, I’ve been quite happy with the improvement of my internet speed and connectivity. Especially the connectivity. That was the biggest issue with our old satellite provider. We were paying an awful lot for limited data, and the connectivity just kept getting worse and worse.

Now, my “office” is in the corner of my bedroom, where the external walls are log. Even with a wi-fi booster, just being set up where I am is probably the worst part of the house to get wi-fi. Plus, my desktop is rather old and having a harder time keeping up with the newer technology. Still, with a little booster set up, and the improved connectivity with Starlink, I was quite content with my desktop’s internet speeds.

My husband was not.

He also wasn’t satisfied with the bare bones router that came with the Starlink system. They actually upgraded while we were in line for it, so it’s not what people are getting now. One issue was that the router had only one port in it. My husband likes to have his computer wired directly, but we also need to connect our security camera.

So he ended up getting a NETGEAR Orbi Whole Home Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System (RBK852) – Router with 1 Satellite ExtenderΒ (not an affiliate link). The extender is set up in the living room; another wi-fi semi-dead zone.

Also, you can set up a payment plan. There was no way we could have afforded it, otherwise!

He got that set up, and was seeing huge increases in speed on his desktop. Plus, he could be directly wired in with his computer, and the security camera could be, too, though still with the original Starlink router. It won’t work with wi-fi 6. Too old. So we’ve got both running at the same time.

Me?

Meh.

In fact, when I first tried to log onto the new network, I lost all ability to do anything online. It turns out that I just needed to give it more time to set up in the background. Whatever. I wasn’t unhappy with my wi-fi, so I honestly didn’t care. I was good with what I had.

My husband was not.

The other thing he picked up was for my desktop. A new wi-fi card to enable me to get wi-fi 6. (also, not an affiliate link).

He just finished setting it up for m. I now have antennae sticking out the back of my tower. πŸ˜€ He also set me up with the new network.

So, of course, I did a speed test once I settled at my computer.

The results always fluctuate, of course, but right now, not only am I able to use the new router’s signal, but my speed is dramatically improved.

This is the history of speed tests I did today. Can you tell when the new card was installed? πŸ˜€

It turns out my computer is so old, it couldn’t read the installation mini-disk that came with the card. My husband had to read it on his own computer, download it onto a thumb drive, then use that to install the wi-fi card on my desktop.

What would I do without my awesome, techy husband? πŸ˜€

My phone consistently got better speeds than my desktop. While my desktop saw an improvement because of the new wi-fi card, this is what my phone got, just with the new router.

The download speed is about 50-60% improved from what I would typically get using my phone.

Yes, I was quite content with what I had, but I’m going to quite appreciate this upgrade!

The Re-Farmer

That was probably good timing

As much of an inconvenience it was to set up our new Starlink system in the winter has been, it looks like it was good timing. It looks like we’re all getting our OS updates, and with each of us having our own desktops, that would have done a number of our data limits!

My computer downloaded the update when I shut it down last night. When I started it up this morning, after doing my morning rounds, it spent the next while updating and restarting itself until it was done.

I did remember to get photos of the finished set up, this morning.

You can see where my brother ran the wire across, above where the old cables were. The one that’s hanging down was from the dish that was removed, which was the only one that had a connector. I’ll have to go back and tie it off so it doesn’t blow around in the wind, as soon as I can, until we can take it the rest of the way down.

Plus I’ll re-wrap the excess cable and make it tidier. My brother was a bit enthusiastic about making sure it was secure to the wall, so I’m not in any hurry to take out those screws! πŸ˜€ Hopefully, I’ll be able to use the same screw holes when I put it back, because I sure don’t want to make more of them!

I did a speed test on my phone while I was at the burn barrel in the outer yard. Not too shabby!

This is my desktop, taken just this evening.

We have better signal in the outer yard than I have in my office! πŸ˜€

It’s still pretty darn good. Especially when I checked checked the outage log on the Starlink app. There were just three of them in the past 12 hours. Not sure what could obstruct it up on the roof like that. One, shortly before noon, shows the signal was obstructed for 10 seconds. The other two were just a minute apart. One was “no signal received” for 3 seconds, and the other was “network issue” for 13 seconds.

We never noticed any of these.

The app has a visibility check, showing any obstructions it is picking up from its current location – which is handy, since we have no way to get up there and do a check with a phone – and there are just the tiniest bits of red showing in a few places on the edges. Most of it is clear view, in all directions.

Since we got set up, my husband has tested its limits. There were some games he was curious about and downloaded them, tried them, then uninstalled most of them. There was one game he’d tried before, but it was unplayable. He’s now able to play it. Even my daughters, who play Star Wars in the evenings, have had a number of problems they were having simply disappear. For my older daughter, it’ll mean she’ll be better able to upload files, which will free her up to do more complicated, data heavier pieces, such as her animations and videos.

So far, we all are really, really happy with the improvements!

The Re-Farmer

All set up

Well, my brother is just awesome.

And determined.

We were perfectly willing to wait until spring before setting our new Starlink dish up permanently on the roof, but my brother wasn’t. Not at all!

Of course, it turned out to be more difficult than even he expected.

One of the first things he wanted to do – while it was still relatively warm and the sun was bright – was seal the ridiculously large hole we had to make to fit the widest part through (I still don’t know what it’s called) with caulk. He even used his heat gun on it to cure the surface a little bit, before continuing. It’ll take longer to cure because of the cold, but at least tomorrow, we’re supposed to get above freezing.

Then one of the satellites was removed (except the part you can see on the roof), leaving the stand, which we were expecting to be able to use to hold the Starlink dish.

Well, it turned out to be much larger than the support post on the dish. My brother thought he could squeeze it to fit, but the metal turned out to be way too strong. He struggled for nearly an hour up there, using tools I’ve never seen before, before finally giving up. We would have to use the stand it came with. Which meant removing the existing tripod, first. We really didn’t want to make new holes in the roof, but there was no option available for us at the time.

Removing the original support required removing ice and snow.

The ice dam was about six inches deep in places, and he had to clear it all the way to the edge on one side, first to remove the coax cable that was already there – and affixed to the roof in a couple of places – then to be able to run the new cable across. Which also required moving the ladder.

This would have been a LOT easier in the summer!

My brother put most of the screws he took out, back into the roof after, to make sure there were no open holes for water to get in. In the summer, we’ll have to remember to fill them.

Once everything was clear, it didn’t take long at all to install it.

I didn’t get a good picture of the completed job, but once the stand was secure, the cable was run across the roof, then across the side of the house, before running down to where it enters the house. There was a huge amount of excess cable – it comes with 150 feet – which was quickly wrapped and secured to the wall. In the spring, I’ll take it down and redo it neatly, but for now, he just needed to get it up and tucked away, where it’s protected.

By the time he was done, it was starting to get dark, and he just dashed off home – but not until after he made sure the parts of the satellite dish were tucked away into the old basement! There is still one piece of the support attached to the roof, but there was no need to remove it, for now.

The unexpected thing is just how much the new dish is pointing north. Those tree branches are actually an obstruction! According to the app, we should expect signal interruption every 17 minutes. The app actually tracks that stuff. Looking at the log now, the last time we had an outage, it was because there was “no signal received”, and it lasted for only 2 seconds. It was happened more than 3 hours ago. In fact, looking at the log, the outages happened pretty much only during the time it was being physically moved around and frankly, I’m amazed there was any signal at all during some of those times. While my brother was working on trying to fit on the existing support, I had to pass the dish up to him several times. I had the base on the shelf against the sun room window, so I could safely put it down in between tests. Several times, the dish started to move, looking for a signal. This was almost right up against the house, and partly under the eaves. How it managed to get any signal at all amazes me. Especially considering the dish is facing North, and the house itself would have been obstructing the signal!

I do have to say some positive things about our Xplornet dishes. They are rock solid, they were installed very well, and we usually had decent speed on it. If we got enough signal strength for it. And that was the problem. We just kept losing our signal. Even when they had tech guys coming out, according to their equipment, we should have had a good clear signal, and they never did figure out why we weren’t. That doesn’t even take into account the problems we would have in high winds, or if there was bad weather to the south of us. The problem just kept getting worse and worse, too.

That will be the big test with this system. How does it hold out in bad weather? So far, we’re expecting things to get colder, the closer we get to Christmas, but there are no storms on the horizon, or even high winds. It might be a while before that test finally happens.

I suspect it will be just fine.

The Re-Farmer

Still working!

Just a quick morning update.

The kitties were quite happy for some fresh kibble this morning! Their heated water bowl was completely empty again. The snow it too packed for tracks, but I strongly suspect we have deer drinking it during the night.

Tuxedo Mask got his eye treatment, and we should be able to let him out tomorrow. His eyes are looking excellent.

I am happy to say that our Starlink is still working. πŸ˜€ It even moved.

The dish lines itself up to get the best signal. When we first set it up, it was pointing straight up. Now it’s facing North. I thought it might tilt a bit to the North, based on what I was finding online, but I didn’t expect it to tilt quite this much.

After finishing my rounds and checking the trail cam files, I just had to share this image of me the sign cam caught while I was about to switch out the microdisc.

Butterscotch was making the job much more difficult!

Clearly, I have been forgiven for trying to turn her into an inside cat.

With the trail cam on a mounting plate, it can move around while still on the post. I can put it upside down, to make it easier to remove the microdisc, though I do still have to be careful. The spring is surprisingly strong and shoots that disc right out, if I’m not careful! Still, it’s a lot better than trying to get it from below.

Except when there’s a cat in the way!

Meanwhile, I had updated my siblings about how things went with the Starlink set up. Just a little while ago, I got a call from my brother, asking if it’s a good time for him to come over.

He wants to mount it on the roof for us, using one of the mounts for the satellite dishes. He even has something that can fill that hole we had to make to put the cable through the wall. I was more than willing to wait, but having the dish sitting on the ground in the middle of the yard was driving him nuts. He knows we don’t have everything needed to mount it ourselves, and when I brought up about the ice, he didn’t care. He just wants it properly mounted!

So he is on his way over now and should be here in a couple of hours.

I have the best brother. ❀

The Re-Farmer

Linked!

Well, we’ve gone and done it!

I am now writing this post while hooked into our Starlink internet.

Oh, my goodness, what a difference!

It was not without issues, though.

The first thing I had to do was some shovelling.

I had to use the ice chipper to break up the snow before I could shovel a path to the corner, where the current cables enter the house.

We had talked about pulling one of these out and drilling the hole better, but they are well sealed, plus on the inside of the house, not very accessible. We decided to make the new hole higher.

Using their app, I found a clear spot off the path to the kibble tray under the shrine and dug it out.

Which got immediately claimed.

Before drilling a hole, though, we needed to pick up some more sealant, so a quick run into town and a visit to the hardware store was in order.

That turned out to be… not quite what we needed.

Once we had the inside parts inside, we set the dish itself up, so we could fuss with the cables.

I am going to be much happier when this is on the roof!

Then the issues started. Drilling a hole through the wall.

A log wall.

We have a long set of drill bits that go up to half an inch, which is wide enough for the end of the cable. It’s too bad we couldn’t just use the coax that was already there, but it is what it is.

Except…

Just a few inches from the end of the new cable, there is a wider part. I don’t know the name of it, but it’s wider than half an inch. Still, we did create a half inch hole through the wall, almost 2 feet higher than the other cables. This was a pain, because my drill sucks and the chuck key is stripped. We still needed a larger hole, though, and that meant a trip to the basement, were I remembered a set of spade drill tips we found when cleaning the basement out.

We ended up having to drill a 7/8th inch hole, from both sides, because the spade tips were not long enough to go all the way through.

That is a large hole!!

We still couldn’t get the cable through. So for the next while, we used the long bit to try and smooth out whatever the wide part of the cable was getting caught on, somewhere in the middle. Having to drill the larger hole from both sides caused a “bend” in the hole, and the wider part of the cable, which is inflexible, was too long to get past.

Eventually, it got done, and the cable made it through. My daughter pulled through a few feet of slack, then set up the inside parts. As soon as the dish had power, it set itself.

I foresee a problem! πŸ˜€

It’s only temporary.

While still outside, I used the app on my phone to set up our account, then my daughter and I tucked away the extra cable, until we can set things up permenently.

By the time we were finished fighting with it, I completely forgot to take a photo of the hole. It looks so ridiculously big for the cable that’s running through it. We’re going to need to pick up some sort of spray foam to seal it properly. For now, it’s got some fibre fill shoved in, on the inside, to keep the wind out.

After using my phone to set up the Starlink, I went ahead and did a speed test.

Not too bad at all!

Now, download and upload speeds were not something we had much to complain about. Especially my husband. His computer is set up right next to the router, so he can plug a cable right in. He hasn’t been able to use WiFi since his Windows OS updated a while back. This is what he got.

Which is just insane!!! Wow!!!

The girls upstairs got hooked up and immediately noticed a difference, though I don’t think they’ve got speed test software on their machines.

Once I was settled in and hooked up, I went to a few places where I knew I would see a difference, if there was any. Images on Pinterest, for example, which loaded without issue, or Discord, which has always been a huge problem for me. It also connected almost immediately.

I didn’t have speed testing software on my desktop, so I downloaded some and did a test.

Before I show you the test results, however, keep in mind that I am in what’s probably the worst place in the house for WiFi, even with a booster.

Yes. My download speed was 0.16mbps. My upload speed was faster at .23mbps

Out of curiosity, I did another test on my phone, while sitting at my desktop.

Yeah, even my phone’s WiFi sucks in my office corner.

I tested my desktop again, after waiting a few minutes, and it did improve.

Then a few minutes later…

Yes. This is an improvement.

There was, however, a different problem.

Once we got this set up, my husband called our satellite provider and suspended both our internet accounts with them. We will test the Starlink for a couple of weeks before we cancel our old accounts. We won’t need to switch from one account to the other, part way through the month, and we no longer have data limits. It all comes down to how stable and reliable the connection is.

Then, because our old router was still pushing out signal, my husband unhooked the old satellite routers (that will need to be returned when/if we cancel) and turned off our router.

Suddenly, I no longer had a live feed to our garage security camera. The one that lets me keep an eye on the driveway and gate. Because the camera is so far from the house, we have a set up that hooks into our internet system via the electrical wires, and is then plugged into our router, which has something like six ports on it.

The router the Starlink system came with had only one port available.

We talked about it for a bit, then my husband went looking. He found a fix for his computer, and was able to start using his WiFi, and was able to hook our IP camera to the Starlink router. I now have a live feed again!

My husband’s computer, however, has gone down to 158.49 mbps download and 12.65 mbps upload. I just tested my phone. It’s at 52.6 for download and 9.2 for upload right now. My desktop is…

… 4.78 mbps download and 0.71 mbps for upload.

Excuse me while I don’t feel sorry for him. πŸ˜€

You know what I think I’m going to do?

I think I’m going to make some popcorn, go online and watch a full length movie or something. At highest resolution.

Maybe even two of them.

And not worry a bit about data limits!

The Re-Farmer