Dec
05
2021
0

How to Build a Starlink Satellite Detector

Beacon signals from multiple Starlink satellites received by an LNB sitting on a table

With an old satellite dish you can build your very own Starlink satellite detector. A Github user called Derek has published a guide on how to do it.

home made diy starlink detector

It’s fascinating how you don’t even need the actual dish to do this, just the LNB. That fact says something about the coverage that Starlink will provide.

Starlink beacon waterfall plot

Here’s a list of everything that you’ll need:

  • An SDR capable of tuning to 1600 MHz with at least 1 MHz bandwidth – An RTL-SDR V3 or equivalents can be used for this without issues.
  • A Ku-Band satellite LNB – The same kind that is used for satellite TV. The LNB needs to have a local oscillator frequency around 9.75 GHz, this is what the vast majority of the universal (“Astra”) LNBs use. The polarization of the LNB does not matter (most universal LNBs are linear V/H and will work for this fine).
  • A DC power injector – This is a crucial component needed to power the LNB once it is connected to your SDR. You can buy one cheap intended to power terrestrial TV antennas.
  • A 12-18VDC power supply – Most satellite LNBs require 13 or 18 volts to operate, however 12 volts should be fine as well. You will need a way to deliver the direct current to the power injector. Can be a USB port/power bank with a step-up DC-DC converter, or some power injectors come with their own 12v AC-DC adapters.
  • An F connector adapter – Pretty self-explanatory; satellite LNBs and (good) power injectors use F connectors, so you will need to find a way to adapt it to your SDR. The cost of this adapter can be offset by the low price and availability of 75ohm coaxial cables with F connectors that you will then be able to use to hook everything up (instead of adapting everything to SMA only).
  • An active Starlink satellite – This may sound stupid but obviously you won’t receive anything if the satellites aren’t actually transmitting anything. Since the signals appeared in my area a relatively long time after the Starlink beta service began, it is possible that in some areas of the world without Starlink service or different frequency regulations the signals may still not be present.

Check out the guide on Github

If this project is too hardcore for you you can track them using apps so you know when they are passing over you. Here’s a guide on how to do that.

Starlink satellites as seen from space