Traveling with unassembled electronics

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by LaserPhile, May 9, 2015.

  1. LaserPhile

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 24, 2015
    Hey everybody,

    I was just wondering if any of you have any experience traveling with electronic components. I am an electronics hobbyist, and would like to bring my electronics with me when I travel. However, I have never tried it, and I am certain that airport security would not be happy seeing all of these questionable wires and ICs. If I were a TSA agent, that would scare the ever-living daylight out of me, no matter how nice the guy trying to get it through looked. Anybody have any experience with this?
  2. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
    Yes. They will inspect them and displace them some but generally that's all. They'll confiscate (steal) anything that looks like it could contain butane or propane even if it's new, sealed in it's original packaging and never been filled with gas so avoid butane tools at all costs. They also like to steal lithium ion tool batteries.

    Make sure to use TSA locks, organize things so they're easy for a moron to inspect and put back without damage and pack only minimal quantities of chemicals, all with factory labels. Expect losses despite these precautions.

    Consider sending your kit via a parcel service instead. I've had some success moving butane tools by air this way by demonstrating their uncharged, vented state to the agent before sealing the package.

    I once carried 85 pounds of steel brackets onto a plane in a carry on bag. TSA asked about them when they showed up on the X-ray but were satisfied with my explanation that they were for artillery targets. I had to make sure none of the air crew saw me clean and jerk that case into the overhead compartment but otherwise had no difficulty. :rolleyes:
    Last edited: May 9, 2015
    cmartinez likes this.
  3. DickCappels


    Aug 21, 2008
    I ferried components and hand-built circuits between the U.S. to S.E. Asia many times and never even saw a raised eyebrow (about those things).
  4. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    I've flows with some large assembled PCB that looked scary even to me. They were placed inside a lightly taped cardboard box and entered to checked baggage.

    No problems doing that.
  5. debe

    Senior Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    Just don't leave the parcel un attended. Someone left a circuit board wraped in bubble wrap at Adelaide airport. Airport was shut down & bomb squad called in.
  6. Kermit2

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 5, 2010
    I was stopped and questioned in Mexico city several years back about the digital projection head replacement parts I was carrying. It was a fully assembled sub-unit complete with frame and optics. My spanish is rusty but I know the word BOMB when I hear it and they were definitely curious as to what it was. I had the service manual, so I was able to show them what I actually had and was not delayed to much.

    just kiss the asses they present to you and you will be fine. Act in a contemptuous manner and you WILL be subjected to further #protection until such time as you learn your place and proper manners in the presence of your betters. :)

    God I love some good security theater, because #shut up, we're in charge here.
  7. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
    When still going at sea, I tried to have some on board but it was cumbersome and still recall a stupid (or was idiot) guy from our Coast Guard fingering throught them playing the suspicious man.

    Same fingering when crossing from France to Germany in the train. But if you must do it, not in the hand bagage. Make sure also that any metric tape goes also there...(Been there...)
  8. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
  9. djsfantasi

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 11, 2010
    Once got shaken down when a large electrolytic capacitor was found in my bag...
  10. MaxHeadRoom


    Jul 18, 2013
    I once flew down to the US to service a machine and the security camera picked up my Weller solder gun in the carry on bag, after opening the bag and checking it the officer waved me through saying he didn't see me bringing the plane down or a threat to the flight crew with it.:rolleyes:
  11. AnalogKid

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 1, 2013
    Be careful about hand tools. Anything over 7" long, even something non-pointy like duck-billed pliers - gone. I now travel with a combo screwdriver with a removable reversible shaft and two reversible bits. I take it apart and put all the pieces in a zip bag, no problems.

  12. ian field

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 27, 2012
    Radio Hams have to follow a few extra rules to get their kit through security relatively unmolested.

    There may well be some Ham forums about with some insights into that.