Author Topic: Visiting UK with HackRF One + Portapack: is it advised/legal to bring it with me  (Read 655 times)

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Offline Bicurico

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Hi,

I bought a second HackRF One, but this one as a complete kit with a Portapack and aluminium case. It was on offer at Banggood at a reasonably low price (around 165 Euro).

It arrived this week on Monday and I really enjoy this piece of equipment so far. It can be used stand-alone with the Portapack or put into the regular HackRF One mode, so that it works with a PC.

Sunday I will be travelling to UK (work lated) and stay there alone for 4 days. Ideal to play with this new gadget after work.

However, I wonder if UK is a good place to carry a HackRF One with Portapack? I will need to go through airport security and customs. And as most of you know, the Portapack CAN be used for illegal activities and almost all transmissions that it can do violate the law (it would require a confined space to not emmit outside the house or the use of filters for whatever frequency you might want to use it).

On top of it, the device does have a martial look to it, so it does draw attention - especially with a connected antenna sticking out.

I do have a amateur radio license (in Portugal, of course) and my intention is not to transmit whatsoever.

Still, I wonder if "hacker" laws in the UK are indeed more strikt than in other EU countries and if I would get into trouble taking the device with me.

I know that I can alternatively take a play RTL2832U based DVB-T dongle with me (I have several), which can be used as a RX-only SDR. But they only offer 2MHz bandwidth as opposed to 10MHz.

Also, I am not considering operating the HackRF One with Portapack during the flight (though that would be very tempting, considering the possibilities of "line in sight" reception frequencies...

Regards,
Vitor

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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I wouldn't be at all concerned - I've travelled with all sorts of wierd stuff.
 I would suggest unplugging everything so it doesn't look like a random assembly of connected boxes, and if you have hold baggage, put it in there. If you're super paranoid take it out of tht case -nobody will know what a bare PCB assembly is.
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Offline fourfathom

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I also carry lots of weird electronics bit and pieces when I fly international.  Carry-on or checked luggage, never had a problem.  Occasionally I get to have a friendly chat with one of the inspectors, but it's always been friendly, and no slower than the typical bag-check.
 

Offline olkipukki

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I've travelled with all sorts of wierd stuff.

I also carry lots of weird electronics bit and pieces when I fly international.

Did you try to carry a solder iron in a cabin luggage?  >:D

I've been witness to a show where a guy was arguing with the security officer and called for a supervisor since they do not allow him to bring it into  :palm:
 

Online nali

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I've not had a problem either. Last time was with me just carrying a holdall containing a Coda test jig covered in LEDs & switches (it was a one-day visit so I didn't need clothes or toiletries). As a precaution I spoke to one of the security staff before going through the check at Gatwick to tell them I had some electronic test gear, they just said no problem just take it out and put it in a tray.

YMMV of course.

The one time I WAS stopped, I had earlier been on a decommissioned bus to remove some equipment. The airbag had been deployed - which I presume was why I triggered an explosives alert at the airport security check on the way home. That was a fun 10 minutes  :scared:



 

Offline fourfathom

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Did you try to carry a solder iron in a cabin luggage?  >:D

I've been witness to a show where a guy was arguing with the security officer and called for a supervisor since they do not allow him to bring it into  :palm:

Ah, that would be one of the highly illegal "thermally enhanced stabbing weapons" clearly prohibited by the regulations.  But no, I've not attempted to smuggle a soldering iron onto an airplane.

What I have carried was lengths of coax cable, ham transceivers, various SDRs, single-board computers and controllers with wires hanging off, EPIRBs and PLBs (sailing emergency transmitters), tiny metal boxes with BNC and SMA connectors, home-built circuit boards with preamps and filters, and a rats-nest of interface and charging cables. And that's just a sampling.

It actually makes me even more skeptical of the efficacy of Airport screening.  Any of that stuff could have been a bomb.  Oh well.
 

Offline Bicurico

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Hi,

I had the bomb alarm set off once at Frankfurt airport... They had forgotten to use a clean sample tissue, but it caused me 10 very nervous minutes and I got no apologies, despite the officer being told by his uperiore something in the lines "you forgot AGAIN to change the tissue".

Anyway, my converns are not just the airport control, but in general owning such a device in the UK:

https://www.rtl-sdr.com/hackrf-receives-negative-press-in-the-uks-dailymail-newspaper/
https://www.reddit.com/r/RTLSDR/comments/abz7ed/trying_to_justify_trying_sdr_in_uk_after_reading/
http://www.m6mdr.co.uk/banning-hack-rf-one-similar-products-knee-jerk-hype-reaction/
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4503762/On-Amazon-hacking-gadget-car-thief-s-dream.html

Then there is this case:
https://www.rtl-sdr.com/united-nations-expert-arrested-in-tunisia-for-using-an-rtl-sdr/

So what are the chances of entering the UK with said device and drawing the attention of law enforcement? Am I allowed to own and operate this device within amateur radio frequencies?

Regards,
Vitor

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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It is not illegal to own any piece of radio kit in the uk.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2019, 09:24:02 am by mikeselectricstuff »
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Online Illusionist

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To echo what others have said, there's no reason law enforcement will be interested. At worst you might have to explain to border officials that it's a radio receiver. Tell them you're a licensed amateur. Put it in checked in luggage to avoid even that possibility.

Yes, you can use it legally provided it's used within the UK amateur permitted use (frequency/power etc., as I'm sure you're aware) or for other permitted use like receiving commercial radio broadcast. I'm a full license holder here.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2019, 01:06:03 am by Illusionist »
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Offline G7PSK

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SDR's are sold here in the UK, would not worry about anything the Daily wail has to say they are just trying to stir shit again.
This company sell a range of SDR's as do others. https://www.hamradio.co.uk/
Just bring it with you and last time I looked Portugal was a signatory of CEPT  as is the UK.
Buy one of these https://www.amazon.co.uk/Autel-Diagnostic-Diagnosis-Functions-Including/dp/B07TY3J711/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?keywords=Autel+canbus+reader&qid=1567871450&s=gateway&sr=8-2-fkmr0
and you can use it to program a new key fob, start the engine and do all manner of things with an to a vehicle once you are inside.
The first person to get into trouble in the UK over radio communications was a scout leader during WW1 when he was charged under the telecommunications act with possessing receiving equipment namely two tent poles and a length of wire, if government wants to get you it will , but on the whole unless you do something stupid such as record a member of the royal family being indiscrete and sell said recording to the press you wont be touched as most likely they wont even know you exist.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2019, 03:58:33 pm by G7PSK »
 


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