How to Repair a Damaged Starlink Cable
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How to Repair a Damaged Starlink Cable

Apr 28, 2023

Starlink internet service is excellent for providing high-speed access to parts of the world previously cut off from modern connectivity. One of the biggest concerns with it, though? Parent company SpaceX doesn't maintain local installers or technicians you can call when you need help installing the dish or mounting it with a needed accessory. Even worse, you're on your own when you need repairs due to a broken or damaged part. And if Starlink's your lifeline to your job or income? That's a big deal.

Imagine this: You're all set to enjoy a day off of work, looking forward to staying inside as winter temperatures drop below freezing, when you discover that your own sweet dog has chewed on the cable that connects your Starlink dish to the Wi-Fi router inside. This cable provides power to the dish—not to mention, all of the data for your home internet connection.

Sadly, this isn't hypothetical: My dog ate my internet. The culprit may be cute, but she can be destructive at times, and chewing on a cable that carries power isn't just disruptive, it's dangerous. What's worse: My dog was at risk of electric shock, and the cable became a fire hazard, as the chewed portion actually smoldered and smoked. Obviously, I hadn't taken proper precautions against this sort of behavior. (Oh, I have now: That cable's now well out of pooch reach.) But once the damage was done, the more pressing concern was obviously, "How do I fix this?"

Here's the good news: Even though Starlink uses a proprietary cable between dish and router, with distinctive plug ends and no compatibility with other systems, the cable itself is actually based on a Cat 6 networking cable. You will need a couple of specialized tools and parts, but they can all be found at your local tech and hardware stores. Here's how I tackled the job.

Wire cutter

Wire stripper

Crimper (here's a well-regarded one from Klein Tools(Opens in a new window); it's also a cutter and stripper)

Cat 6 jack ends

Wire nuts

Cat 6 coupler (a single-unit example from Amazon(Opens in a new window))

Outdoor enclosure (if needed; these are an example(Opens in a new window))

Step one is to make sure the cable is safe to handle. Unplug your Starlink router and disconnect the cable from the router, taking a moment to check the cable and connector just in case that's the source of the problem. You can now safely handle the cable without fear of electrical shock or power running through the cable.

Check the length of the cable for any visible signs of damage or wear, and be sure to check the entire length of the cable to make sure that you've found all of the damage. Remember that cable issues aren't solely caused by animals chewing on them, or exterior chafing; watch out for any part of the cable that may have gotten kinked or pinched. That can also damage the internal wires, without the jacket of the wire being pierced or torn.

Also, don't forget to examine the cable ends. Though the plug ends are designed to keep out moisture, a wet plug is bad news once live current is applied, so make sure that there's no damage or corrosion to the plug or internal pins.

Remove the damaged section of the cable by snipping the Starlink cable with a pair of wire cutters. Be sure to leave enough cable to have the needed length after reconnecting the repaired ends, but try not to clip too close to the visible cable damage, which may extend a bit farther up and down the cable than you can immediately see. (I added an inch on either side of the damaged stretch to provide the necessary margins.)

Use a wire-stripper tool to carefully strip off about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of the outer jacket on both sides of the cut cable. Inside, you'll find four pairs of twisted wires, a light blue foil and plastic shielding layer, and a bare metal grounding wire that runs outside of the shielding. Be careful not to damage these internal cables as you remove the plastic outer cover.

That layer of shielding foil and plastic encases the twisted pairs of wires. This can safely be peeled back and torn off by hand, or with a tool, to expose the wires. Remove the shielding while being careful to keep the twisted pairs and the grounding wire intact.

The four pairs of wires inside the cable need to be untwisted before you can work with them. Untwist and straighten the wires as much as possible.

This might take some time, since untwisting twisted wires doesn't magically give you straight wires to work with. Don't rush it: Get the wires straightened out so that you can work with them.

Once done, strip the untwisted cables with your wire stripper, removing a quarter-inch of insulation from each. Repeat for all eight of the paired wires. Leave aside the ground wire for now.

Arrange the stripped internal wires in the correct order, so that they're inserted into the Cat 6 plug end in the correct positions. The most common wiring scheme for Cat 6 cables is known as "T568B," and both ends of the repaired cable need to be arranged in the same order, or the repair will not work. Again: The ground wire stays apart from these eight.

The T568B wiring position (under ANSI/TIA-568-C wiring standards(Opens in a new window)) for correctly inserting the wires into the plug end is as follows, from left to right:









Here is a visual of how that is laid out, courtesy of TrueCable(Opens in a new window)...

I will explain exactly how to insert the wires into the plug end of the cable in the next step.

On the end of your cable, you need to attach an 8P8C modular connector, the clear plastic plug that looks like any other Ethernet or phone cable (also called RJ-45).

Inside the plug is a row of holes for the eight wires. Following the T568B wiring used above, the wires should match that wiring order going from left to right, with the plug retainer clip facing down.

Feed the wire ends into those holes, being careful to maintain the correct order. It's easy to have them shift positions on you, so this may take more than one attempt. The ground wire stays outside the connector, as shown.

With the wires inserted into the plug end, use your crimp tool to firmly seat the wires into the plug for a permanent installation.

If you've removed a damaged section in the middle of your Starlink cable, you'll need to repeat this process for the other half of the cable. Repeat steps 2 through 10, taking care to make sure that you follow the same wire order used on the other half of the cable when inserting them into the other plug end.

Once you have successfully put plug ends onto the two halves of your cable, it's time to connect them to each other. For this you'll need a Cat 6 coupler(Opens in a new window), which gives you two end-to-end sockets to plug into. Plug each end into the coupler to reconnect the cable.

You're almost done! But since the Starlink system powers the dish over the same cable that sends your internet data back and forth, it has an additional ground wire that needs to be connected.

Ideally, I would have left enough length in the grounding wire to simply connect the two ends, but it didn't quite work out that way once the coupler was in place, and given the cable damage. Instead, I stripped out part of the ground wire from the damaged section of cable, verified that the wire was unbroken, trimmed it to length, and connected the two loose ends using wire nuts.

This may not be necessary if the repaired cable is indoors, but for any repair that's out in the elements, you'll need to keep moisture from getting into the coupler or plug ends.

For this, I used a weatherproof extension cord plug cover. Made to go over the joining plugs of two extension cords, the inner compartment had enough room for the plugged-in coupler and wire nuts, but not much else. It uses tight rubber seals at either end of the cable to keep rain and water out of the box.

Once it's all closed up, you're good to go!

Plug the cable back into the router and reconnect the power cable to see if your repairs did the job. Ideally, you would be able to check the cable integrity before finishing the repair, but we don't all have network field-testing equipment. But if you've done everything right, this fix should work.

And so, with a couple of plug ends and a crimping tool, you've successfully reconnected your Starlink system, in spite of whatever your dog, nature, or Murphy's Law has thrown at you.

However, this may not be a long-term solution. You'll still want to replace the repaired Starlink cable with a new one when you get the chance. But if you need to stay connected for a few weeks while Starlink gets the new gear to you, this repair is a doable way to get by in the meantime.

Speaking of which: If you haven't already, now is a great time to order a new cable or anything else with the help of our guide to Starlink accessories. Bet on it: I'm picking up a backup cable!

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