When I first mentioned I was going to demo the early prototype of the STM at the Open Science Summit, everyone who had actually seen the thing asked me (worriedly) how I was going to get it through the security checkpoints at the airport.
Looking for advice, I brought the prototype to Steve Y., the experienced head of security at my office, and asked what he thought I should do. “Well, what you have here doesn’t look great, but it’s not bad. Here’s what I’d do: put it in a nice box, put some official labels on there, put some kind of identifying label on there, and then send it through the X-ray machine alone. You’ll be fine.” With this pattern to follow, here’s what I did:
When I got it home and cleaned it off, I added an ESD sticker from one of my parts purchases and hot glued a lining of anti-static foam (also from parts purchases). I also added a few strips of Velcro to the top area in case I want to have a tool or something stuck on the upper section of the box in a later incarnation.
Once that was done, I used a label maker to create a few labels:
- “Fragile Prototype” – on the front
- My name and phone number – on the front
- “Fragile” – on the back
Packing the Electronics:
I put the electronics in the box with a little extra padding to prevent things from bouncing around.
The only thing in the box is the prototype and padding – no tools, extra parts, batteries, additional devices, or anything else. That stuff can all go somewhere else.
At the Checkpoint:
At the checkpoint, I simply went through as normal, except I took the electronics box out of my bag and placed it on the conveyor belt alone. In my two passes through security checkpoints, no one said anything to me, so I guess this was a success.
I had just one wire break during transport, so next time I’ll pack it a little more carefully (or just get better at breadboarding).
The overarching philosophy I followed with this project was, through my actions, to tell as transparent (geddit? x-rays? transparent?) and simple a story as possible about what I was carrying.
The more objects and cruft near the electronics you’re carrying, the more misunderstandings and inspections you’ll have to deal with.