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Offline djQUAN

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Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« on: September 18, 2017, 10:40:40 PM »
Hi guys,

So, we are going on a trip to Europe (London, Germany) next month along with a large group for a tour and I wanted to bring my device on hand carry with me to keep me entertained during the flight and possibly record my trip.

The device is a simple arduino based GPS receiver that shows speed, altitude, course, and records max speed, max alt and distance. It is just a small black box approx 3" x 3" x 1" with an LCD and buttons and is fully self contained powered by a cellphone battery.

More details about my project here: http://www.quan-diy.com/projects/gps/plaything.htm

Reading about similar topics online makes me lean towards it could go unnoticed. Safest bet would be to check it in but where's the fun in that?  ;) So I'm hoping for other opinions from here with their experience going through airport security with similar devices. (PS: no, I won't go waving it about during flight. Just keep it around for me to look at it once in a while, while it logs the distance traveled.)
 

Online Jeroen3

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2017, 11:01:04 PM »
What percentage do you score on the "randomly selected" scale?
I'd say you'll be escorted to a room to demonstrate the functionality of your device at every airport.

Remember what happened to the kid that made a clock?
 

Offline djQUAN

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2017, 11:07:03 PM »
I'm probably in the "usually ignored" side of the scale. I'm asian but not with the really small eyes.  ^-^

When I'm not bringing anything like this device, I usually breeze through airport security without issues. (been to US, Japan, Singapore, China, Thailand to name a few)

Only times I had been stopped was in Thailand where my 8 cell powerbank got checked for capacity as the limit is 33,000mAh. The cheap powerbank (I filled it with genuine panasonic cells) was labeled as 30,000mAh so it went through fine after the inspection.
 

Online Jeroen3

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2017, 12:08:45 AM »
I guess that if you power it from alkalines you'd have a chance at getting on.
But you're not allowed to bring electronics that have traces of tampering or modification. (missing screws, panels, gaps)
« Last Edit: September 19, 2017, 12:11:07 AM by Jeroen3 »
 

Offline djQUAN

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2017, 12:34:39 AM »
It is already a completed unit, powered by a cellphone cell and recharged via usb so there is little chance of it getting changed to alkaline.

Not sure about tampered electronics. First time I have heard about that. The powerbank I have mentioned has been modified though. It has a small TP4056 PCB module installed as the original charging circuitry sucks. Still passed airport security fine for my carry on.

Also thinking of bringing a few gadgets along to divert their attention from the GPS thing and make it blend in but not sure how well that would work :-//
 

Online Brumby

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2017, 12:49:47 AM »
Things get X-rayed - and if it's not something with a familiar X-ray profile, expect some attention.  That attention is going to be from people who are focused on safety - not understanding technology.

I wouldn't like to speculate on how you might go - but expect anything from a cursory glance to an interrogation.
 

Offline djQUAN

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2017, 12:58:50 AM »
Yeah, that was my initial concern which is why I made the second version which is arranged and wired more neatly and put in a more transparent case (in x-ray) rather than the first one which has the modules stuck all over the place in a case made from blank PCB material.

I read lots of instances with people bringing in arduino stuffs and modules without problems so I was hoping the same thing although this might be different as it is a complete device with onboard power.
 

Online Brumby

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2017, 01:01:08 AM »
Yes......  a powered device does take things to another level.....
 

Online xani

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2017, 01:31:22 AM »
I think it would look way less suspicious if it was powered by some li-ion battery(ies) like 18650 that were stored separately from it.
 

Offline macboy

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2017, 01:55:54 AM »
Even if you make it through security and onto the flight, think of the attention you will attract when you pull this thing out to "play" with during the flight.
I remember a news story about a guy a few years ago who pulled out a commercially made GPS, and propped it up to the window (for better reception). Passengers took notice, and thought he was up to something. He was promptly arrested when the flight landed. He ended up with a rather large fine, not because the device wasn't allowed, but for basically doing something that caused people to think that he was planning/attempting something. Basically disturbing the peace. I can't find the article now. Maybe my memory or my google-fu is failing.
 

Offline djQUAN

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2017, 02:06:05 AM »
Even if you make it through security and onto the flight, think of the attention you will attract when you pull this thing out to "play" with during the flight.
I remember a news story about a guy a few years ago who pulled out a commercially made GPS, and propped it up to the window (for better reception). Passengers took notice, and thought he was up to something. He was promptly arrested when the flight landed. He ended up with a rather large fine, not because the device wasn't allowed, but for basically doing something that caused people to think that he was planning/attempting something. Basically disturbing the peace. I can't find the article now. Maybe my memory or my google-fu is failing.

Yes, I do have concerns about that which is why I mentioned in the PS in the OP, I won't go waving it around, just leave it "running in the background". Reception is pretty good as per testing so I don't think I have to prop it up the window  :)
 

Offline WZOLL

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2017, 04:08:55 AM »
I once got a kit made Geiger counter through security and took it out on the plane to measure radiation levels at altitude. The tube and circuit was stuffed into an inconspicuous clear cassette tape case. I didn't have any problems but I wouldn't recommend it.
 

Offline buck converter

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2017, 05:45:17 AM »
MAKE: ran an article about those stopped by TSA (the airport security at US) when trying to bring DIY electronics :bullshit: on flights.
Just me and my scope.
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2017, 05:54:02 AM »
Assuming you get it through security and onto the plane, you're going to have another challenge. GPS reception in the tin can is not going to be very good. At best you'll have a very restricted view of the sky through a window.  You might be lucky and see one sat?

You might need to talk to the airline and ask them if you can mount an antenna on the outside..    ( good luck )
 

Offline richard.cs

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2017, 06:30:42 AM »
When I've tried GPS on commercial flights I have struggled for usable signal on a phone (which admittedly would not have the best antenna) with it pushed hard up against the window, so security aside I don't see you getting it to work very well.

Security - wise something that looks professionally made (i.e. like you bought it somewhere) would probably not raise too many questions, but at least expect to be asked to turn it on and show what it does. But as others have said if you get the wrong person a huge overreaction is possible. 
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2017, 06:36:29 AM »
I think it would look way less suspicious if it was powered by some li-ion battery(ies) like 18650 that were stored separately from it.
Absolutely not!!!! It is expressly prohibited to carry LiIon batteries that are not installed in a device!
 

Offline Beamin

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2017, 06:45:20 AM »
Did you hear about the guy with a nixie tube watch and shoes that didn't fit? Or did you hear about the would be suicide bomber with a detonator watch and shoes that he was going to fill with explosives who was doing a trial run? This is what the TSA does to justify its existence since it has never caught any terrorists. Why would a suicide bomber do a practice run? That's about as dumb as testing to see if a gun was loaded by pointing at your head and pulling the trigger. Yes some one has died from that too. Watch the "wonderful Whites of boone county" to see the dumbest people in America. I wouldn't bring it. I did once bring a circuit board from a TV on an airplane but I put it in clear zip lock bags and labeled everything so the TSA couldn't arrest me for terrorism. Or you could bring it and dust it with fertilizer and black powder.
 

Offline Cyberdragon

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2017, 12:31:07 PM »
Did you hear about the guy with a nixie tube watch and shoes that didn't fit? Or did you hear about the would be suicide bomber with a detonator watch and shoes that he was going to fill with explosives who was doing a trial run? This is what the TSA does to justify its existence since it has never caught any terrorists. Why would a suicide bomber do a practice run? That's about as dumb as testing to see if a gun was loaded by pointing at your head and pulling the trigger. Yes some one has died from that too. Watch the "wonderful Whites of boone county" to see the dumbest people in America. I wouldn't bring it. I did once bring a circuit board from a TV on an airplane but I put it in clear zip lock bags and labeled everything so the TSA couldn't arrest me for terrorism. Or you could bring it and dust it with fertilizer and black powder.

Trying to avoid getting too political, but a real good airport security should have people that know about weapons tech to know exactly what to look for and how to handle it if something dangerous is found. If they suspect something might be some sort of weapon like a bomb, they should at least know to use those explosive sniffing machines or bomb sniffing dogs. The last thing we need is some total noob being all "Oh my god, it's full of wires! I think it's deadly, we need backup" because that shows ignorance to the exact thing they should be experts in, next thing you know they might be like "Oh, what pretty red candles you have there...ok, move along." :clap: I mean that's an exaggeration, but the sad thing is this is the reality of alot of places...and to think we trust these people WITH OUR LIVES. :scared: I mean, if they don't know how to properly identify weapons, what are they going to do if they actually did find a real bomb or something? :-//
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Offline tooki

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2017, 12:36:11 PM »
You would think so... but as you know, airport security seems to largely be designed around Hollywood renditions of bombs and terrorism, not the real deal. (Like seriously, has any terrorist bomb ever made actually beeped and had large LED 7-segment countdown timers??) Yet as anyone who's ever used a real computer knows, Hollywood's interpretations of technology for the screen aren't exactly realistic. (If real computers made as many noises as Hollywood ones, and had such annoying gigantic PASSWORD INCORRECT dialogs...)
 

Offline djQUAN

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2017, 12:50:34 PM »
I have used in the past an android app that does some of the things that my gadget does but is somewhat inaccurate hence why I made this.

If anyone could point me in the direction to a decent app that does speed, altitude, total distance, logs max speed and location where it occurred, max altitude and where it occurred would be perfect and I won't have to bring this gadget along and won't have to worry about airport security.
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2017, 12:57:50 PM »
I have used in the past an android app that does some of the things that my gadget does but is somewhat inaccurate hence why I made this.

If anyone could point me in the direction to a decent app that does speed, altitude, total distance, logs max speed and location where it occurred, max altitude and where it occurred would be perfect and I won't have to bring this gadget along and won't have to worry about airport security.
I've never been able to get a fix on an airplane with a smartphone. I'm not sure how much of that is due to being inside a big Faraday cage vs how much is due to the fact that phones use Assisted GPS, which requires a data connection to download the GPS almanac.

But from what I hear, standalone GPS receivers have trouble on aircraft, too, so it's probably the Faraday cage issue. (GPS signals are extremely weak.)
 

Offline sokoloff

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2017, 01:15:27 PM »
I think it would look way less suspicious if it was powered by some li-ion battery(ies) like 18650 that were stored separately from it.
Absolutely not!!!! It is expressly prohibited to carry LiIon batteries that are not installed in a device!
They are barred from checked luggage, not from cabin carry-ons.
https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/hazmat_safety/more_info/?hazmat=7
 
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Offline djQUAN

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2017, 01:17:26 PM »
I was able to get a fix via mobile and it worked. The inaccuracy I mentioned was when I compared them back on the ground side by side. Speed was fine but altitude was off by a hundred feet. But when I compared my gadget vs a garmin unit, they were pretty close.

Maybe others have a better experience with a free app that they could recommend :)
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2017, 01:25:17 PM »
I think it would look way less suspicious if it was powered by some li-ion battery(ies) like 18650 that were stored separately from it.
Absolutely not!!!! It is expressly prohibited to carry LiIon batteries that are not installed in a device!
They are barred from checked luggage, not from cabin carry-ons.
https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/hazmat_safety/more_info/?hazmat=7
Ack, sorry, you're right! I had a brain fart there...  |O
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Bringing a DIY battery powered device in flight?
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2017, 01:30:32 PM »
I was able to get a fix via mobile and it worked. The inaccuracy I mentioned was when I compared them back on the ground side by side. Speed was fine but altitude was off by a hundred feet. But when I compared my gadget vs a garmin unit, they were pretty close.

Maybe others have a better experience with a free app that they could recommend :)
What about a standalone, off-the-shelf GPS logger? Like the kind some photographers use for geotagging photos when their cameras have no internal GPS. They simply create a time-stamped log file in a user-selectable interval, saved to a common format like NMEA or GPX.
 


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