Starlink, cellular, WiFi setup for catamaran

Hello, I would like to install a network onboard to connect to Starlink, cellular and marina WiFi. Being a sailboat, antenna mounting points are some distance from the location where I’d like to put the router. The antenna cable distance has me leaning towards a dome. My initial setup was going to be a BR1 Pro 5G with two 20g antennas, Starlink, sim injector, TP Link switch, and a AP One AX. But incorporating the dome has me a little confused. Do I need a router with a 2nd WAN port to accommodate the dome? I am not a particularly tech savvy person, but have done a few setups using MikroTik router boards and Ubiquiti bullets to link onboard instruments to on deck tablets. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Hi @valteris,
You mention considering a dome, but then also mention the BR1 Pro 5G which is a traditional router device. Are you thinking of having both? And just to confirm, you considering a dome like the Peplink HD1 Dome Pro?

Hi Steve,
I’m totally open to recommendation’s. I wasn’t familiar with the Dome until I read some posts on your forum. I am looking to create a system like you’ve suggested with Cellular as the primary connection and WiFi as WAN and Starlink as the failover sources. I’m on a sailboat, so distances to antennas are a concern, which is why the HD1 Dome Pro sounds appealing. I was looking at the Maritime 20g and mobility 42g antennas, so the BR1Pro 5G seemed like a good choice. Other than two Starlink dishes, I don’t have any of the equipment, so I am not committed to any setup. Love to have your input and happy to consult formally.
All the best,

I have the same setup you are discussing. I have a BR1 Pro 5G, a 42G, and a Starlink. I connect the router and the Starlink through an unswitched Ethernet hub, and have a TMobile business SIM card in the router. I have the 42G close to the router, and both are underneath the fiberglass helm. I was concerned about reception of a cell signal there, but so far, that hasn’t been a problem, at least that I have noticed.

For your antenna, if you plan to place that some distance away from the router, you will need to get extension cables. The unswitched Ethernet hub is also used to connect the radar, and chart plotters to the boat network. I used shielded Ethernet cables which was recommended to me.

This setup has worked flawlessly for me so far. I use marina wifi when available, also.

Great information! Thanks, mate.

One big decision that will influence dome vs router is this: how important to you is cellular compared to Starlink?

I have the bigger brother to the BR1, the BR2 Pro 5G, and while I have cellular SIM cards, I only use them in the event that Starlink is not working - essentially in a disaster recovery case.

Some people use cellular underway or while moving as they have a version of Starlink that doesn’t work while underway, or they prefer to use cellular overnight or in situations where they are saving power by not running Starlink.

If cellular isn’t the primary thing you are going to be using, then don’t spend as much money running antenna cables, buying domes, etc. and stick with a solution that focuses more on Starlink.

Domes are very expensive - $2800 for the current HD Dome Pro. The Dome itself has some challenges when it comes to using it with Starlink. Because it only has one ethernet port, you would need an actual managed switch somewhere inside the boat with VLAN support in order to use the Dome with Starlink in a routed configuration. Or another router like the BR1, and now you’re getting even more expensive and complicated. It’s not unachievable - I have several customers who wanted this setup because of the need for high quality cellular and remote WiFi, but it comes at a cost.

If none of those things are important, then starting with the BR1 + Starlink is a good choice. You can even use it with the factory cellular antennas, or a smaller all-in-one antenna located within 5’ of the router and try it that way before investing a lot more in cabling, antennas, domes, etc. If cellular is being used as the secondary source of internet, that might be good enough.

Happy to have an actual consulting call and go through specific distances, boat materials, and more.

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It just so happens that someone documented the Dome + Switch + Starlink setup in Peplink’s forum:

It requires a switch that supports VLANs and some moderately technical setup, but it would provide you with an excellent outdoor cellular + WiFi router plus the ability to use Starlink using that same router. The only other thing I would probably add would be an access point inside the vessel off of the switch instead of trying to rely on the dome WiFi.

This would still be the most expensive solution at $2800 for the dome, plus $600 for the Peplink 8 port switch (you could get a non Peplink brand one for less, but probably still $300) plus an access point at $300 which brings you to $3700.