I am wondering if any Tailscale users have used Starlink in their network setups.
I am planning to implement a remote-controlled HamRadio station at my northern Ontario Island cottage. The site is ideal for HF radio communications, unlike most urban locations, as there is absolutely no interference from RF pollution that bugs the reception of weak signals. Until recently this would not have been feasible but with the advent of Starlink-provided internet and Tailscale, (to avoid routing and static IP address issues), I believe this project has now become possible.
I am at the planning stage at the moment as I can’t access the island until late May. Initial testing using cellphone-connected data and Tailscale shows promise. I welcome any feedback from Starlink-connected Tailscale users.
Thanks for any feedback
I am wondering if any Tailscale users have used Starlink in their network setups.
This should work.
Consider getting a network-controlled PDU so you can toggle power on your radio or even PC remotely. Consider installing the tailscale client on a router to get better uptime than running it from a PC. If you also have a PC at the station, ensure it’s set to boot when power is applied. I would consider also installing the tailscale client on the PC. Should you need to update tailscale remotely, you could use the tailscale client on the PC to allow you to request an update to the tailscale client on the router. And if you need to update the client on the PC, you could use a “tailscale subnet router” on the router to give you remote desktop access to the PC.
Simulate an internet or power outtage by disconnecting the LAN cable to the starlink modem or the master power cable to verify that your system comes back up when you’re done. Test the router rebooting process and the PC rebooting process as well.
And make sure to test it operationally from town. Starlink speeds vary wildly over the course of a few minutes.
I’ve used Tailscale over Starlink intermittently; I have Starlink as a back-up to my primary ISP at home. In doing some testing, it seems to work. However, unlike most other ISPs I’ve used Tailscale with, I seem to be more likely to be stuck using a DERP relay node.
I just did a test, and with a host behind Starlink and doing a
tailscale ping foo command, a ping or two will go by way of a DERP relay and then direct to “foo” when “foo” is a host on the public internet with a routable address.
When I do a
tailscale ping cellphone command and “cellphone” is on T-Mobile using their… interesting… CGNAT solution, that path is stuck using a DERP relay.
So it’s worth checking the various use-cases to see if it works with your application. I was going to suggest that the added latency jitter of using the DERP relay might be something to consider if you’re going to be forwarding audio to and from the HF transceiver; but the latency jitter you’ll see on Starlink is much worse in comparison, regardless of Tailscale being in the picture or not.
Thanks, Joel for your useful feedback. I do plan to use a PDU and a PC setup to do the routing to my radio which has a built-in server. I have been testing this unit to ensure it will boot correctly from power on. Your suggestions regarding RDT at the site are a good idea. I am ensuring good control of everything with a failsafe strategy to ensure no unintended transmissions. A watchdog timer that shuts everything down in the event of coms failure is part of the design
My Starlink connection has been pretty good and is currently able to stream good video from the site with no apparent dropouts. I am hoping that streaming audio will be less demanding.
Thanks for your feedback Imamakos.
Very good comments and I suspect it will come down to actual testing on-site before I know whether it’s going to be workable. There are two key aspects that give me some optimism.
The control software has some reasonable caching /buffering which should help with audio streaming.
The second is the nature of Amature Radio contacts. They are not full duplex. I listen then I speak and so most communication can cope with pretty bad latency.
I will do some Tailscale pinging tests via cell data but the real test will be later when I get on site and can use Starlink again.
I will repost to this thread when I have concluded some tests, which due to the remote location will not be until June.
Thanks again for your feedback.
I’m not in a Ham Radio scenario but I have Starlink and Tailscale installed at my off-grid, solar powered cottage in Quebec Laurentians. I log all my solar system activity. I use it to access my system at the cottage and also to automatically pass logged data back to my “mothership” in Ottawa. I also manage my brother’s system too. I implemented it using a raspberry pi at each site and, enabling sub-router on that node, I can access all devices at the cottage. Same with my brother’s. I’ve using this since July 2021. I’ll be opening at the end of April for this season.
Thanks for this feedback. It’s exactly what I was hoping to hear from an existing user. I have built a Linux pc running AlmaLinux and configured it with subnet routing. It’s probably overkill so later I may simplify to a Raspberry PI, but as you know they are rather hard to find at the moment.
I will be running a Raspberry PI based, Flight Aware feeder as well so there will be a PI on site!
My plan is to use trips to and from the cottage to fully test the configuration and hopefully, I will be able to use it remotely thru next winter…
I use Tailscale over Starlink - works great. I can monitor live video streams without any issue, use ssh and anything else. It’s especially fast when both ends of the connection are on Starlink, but right now I’m on hotel WiFi and have easily been able to check live and recorded video at home over Starlink/Tailscale.
So it should work fine for your intended application.
I’ve been using TS Subnet Router with Starlink to access my ham station and other devices for about 6 months. I had it running on a headless Pi but suddenly it stopped. I thought it was a problem with the pi, so I disconnected it and created another server on a desktop. It worked for a day but or two, then stopped. I know enough about networking to be dangerous, so I’m at a loss as to what is going on. I’m going to repost this as a new post but I thought I’d tag it on here as well since this is the OP intended use as well.
Thanks, clydeps and Don for additional encouraging feedback. The ice should be out soon and then I will be able to make some progress on this setup. I will post to this thread how I get on.
Don, I hope you are able to resolve your problem however as it worked for six months you at least know it should be fixable.
My fear is that SL has done something.
I have been doing remote for decades now. You got some great advice above. Feel free to email me directly at my call via ARRL or QRZ if I can help.
Have been using TS and Starlink for years now. If you install the clients on all machines, it is a very simple and stable setup. It might become troublesome when you do subnet routing over a dedicated TS client, as TS and Starlink use the same subnets (CGNAT, 220.127.116.11/64). So if you do your static routes wrong you’re in trouble. I have a setup with a Unifi USG-3P as the router, and it also runs Tailscale on it. It’s a little bit tricky to setup, but when it works, it works in a very stable way.
Thanks. Unfortunately I need access to devices that TS can’t be installed on
As said, that shouldn’t be an issues, I have the same setup here. All I say is that if you do NOT use your standard gateway to be the TS subnet router, you will have to set a static route in your network so that 18.104.22.168/64 goes to the Tailscale router/client. This will interfere with the Starlink routing as it uses the same CIDR block. There are more advanced options to solve this in such cases (your TS router could route to the standard gateway for everything that’s not a TS destination).
I suggested in an earlier post that I would come back and report my experiences when I have something to report.
I am happy to say that I have been able to use Starlink and Tailscale to successfully operate my ham station remotely. The Icom RS-BA1 software reports a round trip latency of 75ms on average which is better than I expected and more than adequate for normal use.
I have a Linux server on-site running as my gateway and a WebPowerSwitch to control power to various items at the station. Most of this extra stuff is more about ham radio and not relevant to this TailScale site but the key thing is it works great.
Thanks for everyone’s interest and comments.