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I have two questions:

  1. What are the antenna parameters of Starlink dish antennas (like antenna gain, directivity, etc)?

  2. Is there any way for me to know which satellite my Starlink dish is communicating with moment-to-moment?

Thank you for your help. Here I provide some information that may make it more clear why I need this information. I am trying to come up with a calculation scheme for the bitrate of satellite uplinks. While the calculation of such a scheme is well documented in many sources, I have a problem with validating my results and simulations with actual constellations. I appreciate it if you could suggest anything for this.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was going to suggest sticking an accelerometer chip and a compass chip on the motorized dish & track el/az & correlate w/ predicted sat posns from TLEs but then realized motorization is just for gross orientation and the passing satellites are tracked electronically from the phased array (also visible in the teardown links in that link). I suppose you could use TLEs to track the Starlinks over your location and guess which one its talking to based on which passes are most favorable, but that doesn't seem satisfactory for your purposes. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 6 at 3:30
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    $\begingroup$ Could you create another separate question for your first "antenna parameters" question and leave the second "Is there anyway for me to know..." question in this question? (Assuming that no one else besides me has submitted an answer when you read this?) This question currently includes multiple questions in one. It should focus on one problem only. (see space.stackexchange.com/help/closed-questions) $\endgroup$
    – phil1008
    Jan 6 at 7:53
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Noticed your comment when I was reviewing my answer - looks like we had the same idea. $\endgroup$
    – phil1008
    Jan 6 at 8:00
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh: The dishes haven't been motorized for a couple of hardware generations now. $\endgroup$ Jan 6 at 16:21

1 Answer 1

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This is an answer to the question

Is there any way for me to know which satellite my Starlink dish is communicating with moment-to-moment?

I took a close look at the information available under "Advanced->Debug Data->Copy Debug data" in the Starlink app. It does not look like it provides the end user with any information on which satellite the dish is currently communicating with.

However, you can see which satellites are close to your dish using a satellite tracking site, such as this one.

satellitemap.space

Click on settings...

enter image description here

...then expand "Home"

enter image description here

...and then enter the location of your dish.

enter image description here

Then if you zoom in, you should be able to see which satellites are in range of your dish.

enter image description here

The altitude, elevation, and azimuth of each satellite are plotted beside the satellite, and you can click on a satellite to see additional information.

enter image description here

You can also download this data via the "three dots" menu...

enter image description here

You can further narrow down the "short list" of candidate satellites by monitoring ping latency. For best results, make sure that there is no other traffic on your dish, and do your data gathering in the middle of the night to reduce the likelihood that your traffic will be placed in a queue with other customers' traffic. If you can measure ping latency accurately enough, then you might be able to observe changes in latency when the dish switches satellites. With this additional data (and some good filtering algorithms) you might be able to make reasonably good guesses as to which satellite the dish is connected to at any given time. You might also be able to determine when you have high confidence that you've narrowed it down to a single satellite.

You could use only those connections that you have high confidence in to validate your results.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh cool! The round-trip time to a satellite will be somewhere around 3 to 8 ms. But are you sure that one can ping the satellite, and not some distant server back on the ground somewhere else? What would be the syntax for doing so? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 6 at 9:19
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    $\begingroup$ I had no idea there were SO MANY Starlink satellites in orbit... $\endgroup$
    – Nzall
    Jan 6 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ The ping will go through the satellite to a ground station and then to a server. For best results, it would help to ping a server in the nearest Point of Presence (PoP) to the ground station. There will be a signal-to-noise challenge here as there other sources of latency besides the round-trip-time to the satellite. There may also be "latency glitches" when the dish transitions between satellites. $\endgroup$
    – phil1008
    Jan 6 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ @phil1008 I see; it's not so straightforward, thanks! btw from Community FAQ see How do comment @replies work?. If you don't use the @ feature, the other person does not receive a notification that you've replied to their comment. It's just by happenstance that I saw your comment just now. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 7 at 1:58
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Ahh, noted - thanks! $\endgroup$
    – phil1008
    Jan 7 at 4:19

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