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In December 2007 I installed a satellite Internet connection via the IPStar satellite. It came with an interface box, alternately called “modem”, “terminal” or “consumer box” marked “iCON Satellite terminal IPX-3200”. It's one of the most broken pieces of technology I've seen in a long time.

Interfacing to the box

According to the pitiful excuse for documentation, this box supports “Windows” XP/2000/ME/NT (no mention of Microsoft) and Linux, but apparently not Microsoft Vista, nor the Apple Mac OS X which I had to tick to get support from the ISP who sold it to me.

The modem administrative interface is via a web browser, which is normal enough nowadays, but this one only works in conjunction with Microsoft “Internet Explorer”. With other browsers, even under Microsoft, the results are just plain wrong:

Image Image

The first is with “Internet Explorer”, the second with firefox. Clearly the second is completely broken: most of the text is missing. Mac OS' Safari has the same problems as firefox. This means that, effectively, you have no interface to the box unless you're running Microsoft. The text “Print \ Apply Settings” at bottom left of the windows confirms this Microsoft-centric view of the world.

That wouldn't be that much of a problem, except that I need to monitor things, because, effectively, it doesn't work. At the time of writing (30 December 2007) the satellite has been installed for 10 days, and I can't keep the connection up for more than two hours before it stops relaying TCP SYN packets. The ISP is working on the problem, but it's clearly IPStar's problem, and they're not very cooperative in solving it. Many more details are in my diary entries for 22 December 2007 and 26 December 2007.

Powering the box

The documentation goes into surprising lengths to describe the supply of power to the device, including the requirement that it be connected via UPS with at least 750 VA capacity. Coincidentally, I do have it connected like that, but I'm sure I'm in the vast minority, and this is for a box that is supposed to use 278 mA at 220 V AC (not a valid mains voltage anywhere in the area in which it is used), or 61.16 VA (as I suppose they would write it).

It also includes diagrams referring to a DC powered version, not mentioned elsewhere in the document, claiming to be two different ways to connect power to the box:


The JPEG artefacts in the image are in the original, not from the scan.

From what I can see, the difference between these two connections is that one has power and the other doesn't.

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