In order to have even a chance of a clear view of the sky, the Starlink antenna must live more than 100 feet from my house, probably something more like twice that distance. The antenna comes with a hard-wired 100 foot cable.
The design of the system is this. The PoE antenna connects to the power supply and the PoE router connects to the power supply. If more distance than the supplied cables is required, SpaceX recommends extending the router side because it uses standard PoE and can be as long as 100 meters while the antenna side uses non-standard PoE and is intentionally limited to about 30 meters.
I’ve determined though testing that extending antenna’s cable is probably not going to work well for me. Whether it’s my particular Starlink hardware kit, obstructions, or something else specific to my environment, or whether it’s a more widespread phenomenon, I’m in the unlucky camp that sees connection failures when extending the antenna’s cable (low voltage reboots even with very high quality 23AWG cable.) This is probably at least some of why SpaceX doesn’t recommend it. It certainly does work for some but may not for others.
I’ve also heard loud and clear from people on the Starlink forums that I don’t really know but seem knowledgeable and from people I know and trust here that the better solution is to just do the work to bring power to where I need it and get a nice weatherproof enclosure for the power supply. It’s not that difficult. It could be useful for other projects. And most importantly it’s most likely to give me a better Starlink service experience.
So, I’m pretty sure now that what I’m going to do is run underground conduit and power to the base of the tree where the antenna’s going to be mounted about 100 feet up. (What about direct burial of AC wires? Easier? Harder?) I’ll screw or strap a vented weatherproof enclosure to the tree which will house the Starlink power supply. Then I will, in a separate existing conduit, run a high quality ethernet cable from the router, which will live inside my house, out to the power supply enclosure on the tree.
By extending on the router side of the power supply rather than the antenna side, I won’t be adding any additional downtime to the system because of an unadvised hack. Instead, I’ll have power to an interesting location in the yard (with an enclosure that could also house an AP that would be well positioned to bring wireless connectivity to more of our property, including our little office/bedroom cabin on the creek which is currently not connected.)
But before I do the hard work of laying the conduit — where I’d have to tear up some landscaping (including moving some very large and heavy flagstone slabs) I’m thinking about prototyping the system to make sure it actually works by running an extension cord from my house to the foot of the tree and housing the power supply there in a piece of tupperware or something like that. We won’t get any significant rain again until October so I’d have time to do the work of building a more permanent solution while in parallel testing out that rest of my mount plans are even working. (Still not sure what obstructions will be like 100 feet up this Doug fir. There’s no good place to get a view until we’re at the top of the tree and we may find other taller trees are still obstructing too much for that location to work.)
Thanks to everyone who helped me explore extending the antenna’s cable. It seems to work so well for some on the Starlink forum that it was definitely worth the experimentation. Thanks also to everyone who helped me decide on running power to the tree.
It’s going to take some luck for Starlink to work at all for me given my location under so many tall redwoods. I shouldn’t push that luck by deviating from SpaceX’s recommended installation path. And that means leaving the antenna cable at 100 feet and instead extending on the router side of the power supply.