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Starlink dishes go into “thermal shutdown” once they hit 50°C

Summary

A Starlink beta user in Arizona said he lost Internet service for over seven hours yesterday when the satellite dish overheated, demonstrating one of the drawbacks of SpaceX's broadband service. When the user's Internet service was disrupted, the Starlink app provided an error message saying, "Offline: Thermal shutdown." The dish "overheated" and "Starlink will reconnect after cooling down,"

 

Quotes

Quote

The user, named Martin, posted a screenshot of the error message on Reddit. He contacted Starlink support, which told him, "Dishy will go into thermal shutdown at 122F and will restart when it reaches 104F." Martin decided to give the dish a little water so it could cool down. He pointed a sprinkler at Dishy, and once it cooled enough to turn back on, "I immediately heard YouTube resume playback," he wrote yesterday.

Quote

Officially, SpaceX has said that "Dishy McFlatface" is certified to operate from 22° below zero up to 104° Fahrenheit. Temperatures reached about 120° yesterday in Martin's town of Topock, near Arizona's border with California, he said. Though Dishy doesn't go into thermal shutdown until it hits 122°, the dish can obviously get hotter than the air temperature.

My thoughts

I don't live in Arizona but in a cold climate and during summers when the sun is out there is no problem for surfaces to reach these temperatures here, so I imagen it is much worse in hot places like Arizona. This is seriously a big design flaw. 

 

Sources

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2021/06/starlink-dish-overheats-in-arizona-sun-knocking-user-offline-for-7-hours/

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13 minutes ago, Murasaki said:

Maybe it can be fixed if the dishes get coated with some reflective layer.

the dish is already completely white there is not much more to be reflected than that, they probably need active cooling for this problem.

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5 minutes ago, Pixel5 said:

the dish is already completely white there is not much more to be reflected than that, they probably need active cooling for this problem.

Many white materials still absorb infrared which is the majority of the sun's energy we receive. It takes special stuff to reflect that too

 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Kilrah said:

Many white materials still absorb infrared which is the majority of the sun's energy we receive. It takes special stuff to reflect that too

 

 

 

yea but still this is not a problem due to the sun this is a problem because the dish itself also produces heat which needs to go somewhere.

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41 minutes ago, Murasaki said:

Maybe it can be fixed if the dishes get coated with some reflective layer.

It's probably not the dish itself (the parabola) that overheats, it's the electronics at the focal point of the dish. Coating the dish with even more reflective material would only send more heat energy to the device, not less. 

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27 minutes ago, LWM723 said:

Why are'nt other satellite dishes affected by temps?

Because other dishes are passive, just metal and wire. This one is a phased array antenna which need active electronics to work, which are in the dish. Think of leaving your phone outside in the sun in the same weather. It would overheat too.

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is there a material similar to aluminium, as aluminium doesnt really conduct heat, only issue is that aluminium deflects signal

#Murica(butinternational)parrotgang

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Most surfaces in the sun in Australia (even the lower states) will easily hit 50c.    This seems to be a big problem,

QuicK and DirtY. Read the CoC it's like a guide on how not to be moron.  Also I don't have an issue with the VS series.

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Even CPU's can handle in excess of 100C.

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Imagining it's one of two problems:

- the signal processor is frying inside the sealed antenna (there's an aluminum shield on the back, but it can't effectively dump heat out).

- the heat is enough to screw with clock skew and make the phased antenna array stop working correctly.

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That's, bad..

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1 hour ago, LWM723 said:

Even CPU's can handle in excess of 100C.

 

1 hour ago, Loote said:

50C seems really low, I wonder if that's being overly careful or something really can't deal with such temps.

You are thinking junction temperature not ambient temperature. 50C ambient is on the upper end of normal electronics. The dish uses about 100 watts it needs to be able to passively dissipate most of the heat, the rest is the actual RF signal it transmits, in a 50 C environment.

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1 hour ago, Alexsheff93 said:

is there a material similar to aluminium, as aluminium doesnt really conduct heat, only issue is that aluminium deflects signal

Aluminium is one of the most thermally conductive materials...

 

https://thermtest.com/thermal-resources/top-10-thermally-conductive-materials

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3 hours ago, Spindel said:

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Officially, SpaceX has said that "Dishy McFlatface" is certified to operate from 22° below zero up to 104° Fahrenheit. Temperatures reached about 120° yesterday in Martin's town of Topock, near Arizona's border with California, he said. Though Dishy doesn't go into thermal shutdown until it hits 122°, the dish can obviously get hotter than the air temperature.

So... Make one rated from, say 32ºF (0ºC) to 140ºF (60ºC). Climates closer to the Equator dont need freeze protection, so make a "Dishy McHeatface"

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7 minutes ago, Alexsheff93 said:

I was thinking about tin foil its made from aluminium and when put in an over it deosnt heat up you can touch it bare skin after being in over for an hour @ 200 degrees

That is because in aluminium foils case the foil is thin and thus have a low mass. When you touch it with your hand when it is hot the amount of energy transfered to you is quickly dissipated in the mass of your hand/finger because the mass is so much greater than the mass of the foil. 

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4 minutes ago, Alexsheff93 said:

I was thinking about tin foil its made from aluminium and when put in an over it deosnt heat up you can touch it bare skin after being in over for an hour @ 200 degrees

Tin foil made from aluminium is called aluminium foil.

 

The reason why aluminium foil cools off so quickly after removing it from heat, is a function of the high surface area to volume ratio and the high conductivity of Aluminium.

 

Basically, the thinness of the foil results in a low volume, and therefore a relatively low amount of stored energy. That low amount of energy is very quickly dissipated into the environment by the high surface area and high conductivity of the aluminium.

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If they moved the electronics from the dish to inside the home and have it linked to the dish with a cable, that should solve the issue I'd think. But would probably make installation a bigger pain than it should be.

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8 minutes ago, TetraSky said:

If they moved the electronics from the dish to inside the home and have it linked to the dish with a cable, that should solve the issue I'd think. But would probably make installation a bigger pain than it should be.

I don't think they can, this is not like a satellite dish for TV that only receives signals. It is build for two way communication and you need to have a sender connected to the dish/antenna. 

 

Still think this is a serious design flaw since the temperature we talk about here aren't in any form of extreme range for something that is out in the sun on a summer day. I mean I live on a latitude of about 59.3 and still can see this during the summer.  

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