Internet connectivity in remote areas can be a challenge, but recently SpaceX’s Starlink has emerged as a viable solution for many spots on the globe — including the Ukrainian frontlines. Unfortunately, in 2021 Starlink released a new version of their hardware, cost-optimized to the point of losing some nice features such as the built-in Ethernet RJ45 (8P8C) port, and their proposed workaround has some fundamental problems to it. [Oleg Kutkov], known for fixing Starlink terminals in wartime conditions, has released three posts on investigating those problems and, in the end, bringing the RJ45 ports back.

Starlink now uses an SPX connector with a proprietary pinout that carries two Ethernet connections at once: one to the Dishy uplink, and another one for LAN, with only the Dishy uplink being used by default. If you want LAN Ethernet connectivity, they’d like you to buy an adapter that plugs in the middle of the Dishy-router connection. Not only is the adapter requirement a bother, especially in a country where shipping is impeded, the SPX connector is also seriously fragile and prone to a few disastrous failure modes, from moisture sensitivity to straight up bad factory soldering.

For a start, [Oleg] has cracked the original adapter open and shows us the internals, even reverse-engineering the schematic and the SPX pinout! The adapter itself is a fundamental failure point to be tackled, so that’s where the next two hacks come in. First, he shows us how to add a LAN port without requiring the adapter. This requires you to tap into some test points or even QFN pins and add your own Ethernet transformer, but once you do that, you can get rid of the adapter for good. He shares breakout boards you can order and assemble to make this job way easier, and shows how to integrate the LAN connector into the shell.

What if the SPX connector has failed you completely? You’re in luck, the last of the three write-ups is about getting rid of the SPX connector even for Dishy wiring purposes, and that is a way simpler mod. All in all, the three articles are full of diagrams, tips and tricks, so whether you’re looking to learn more about hardware you own, mod it to improve convenience, or perhaps even repair a broken SPX connector, you’re in for a treat! Before the conflict had [Oleg] take a plunge into the Starlink repair depths, we’ve seen him build a wideband SDR station, reverse-engineer Tesla car LTE modems and Bluetooth speakers alike, and there’s much more to bee found at his blog.


About The Author

Ibrar Ayyub

I am an experienced technical writer holding a Master's degree in computer science from BZU Multan, Pakistan University. With a background spanning various industries, particularly in home automation and engineering, I have honed my skills in crafting clear and concise content. Proficient in leveraging infographics and diagrams, I strive to simplify complex concepts for readers. My strength lies in thorough research and presenting information in a structured and logical format.

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