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Topic: Electronics/Arduino in Carry-on Luggage (Read 18531 times) previous topic - next topic


Hey guys, I'm going to be  attending an engineering camp next week that is away from home. I want to bring my Arduino and a small box of components with me to show to other students attending and to work with over the course of the camp. I always carry-on my luggage because I pack light. Will this set off all of the bells and whistles in airport security? What are you guys' experiences with this? Thanks!


There is no way to tell how airport security will treat you. Most likely you will be fine, best explain it to them when they ask to look in your bags.
Just to be on the safe side make sure you are eating a ham sandwich as you clear security.


It's no problem. Bring 1-2 printouts of Arduino ads or something to show them this is a gadget just in case. In theory, you can also call the airline to let them know you're travelling with "electronic components" and get their recommendations on how to make sure this doesn't set off any alarms. Also show up early and go through security early to make sure you don't miss your flight -- just in case.

But I've travelled with much worse than what you're carrying in the past and had no issues.

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Just to be on the safe side make sure you are eating a ham sandwich as you clear security.



Firstly, what are you doing is not atypical so the need for concern is very low. When a bare pcb like the Arduino goes through an x-ray it doesn't look much different than a cell phone or other piece of electronics.

I fly almost every week with prototype PCBs and components made of exotic materials.  Rarely do I get questioned about what I am carrying.  In the few times it has happened, I simply explain "these are prototype products/projects."   For what it is worth, I also have an Arduino Mini Pro in my laptop bag.  It has never been an issue.

You should do as suggested, disassemble as much as you can and label everything. 

Lastly, your mileage will vary.  If asked questions, just be succinct:  "this is an prototype board for a project I am working on at blah-blah conference."  Some people try to be cute or deceptive, you have to decide if that is worth your time or not.  I have found it is not.
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I'd second all of the above advice. That said, I've never encountered a problem flying in the US with an Arduino or other prototype PCBs in my carry-on - never even been asked about them. The couple times I've been pulled out of line due to something in my bag, one was a bulky old Hi-8 video deck, and one was a (new in package) shower curtain! I also *almost* got grilled about an LED flashlight (it was obvious it was the examiner's first day or so on the job; another TSA screener came over and calmed her down). But, I've travelled with no end of bulky vintage computer equipment, and even the compressor out of a refrigerator stuffed into my carryon without a second glance - there's no rhyme or reason to what the TSA screener will find 'suspicious'.

A coworker and I did get a plane delayed once due to an electronics prototype in our checked luggage - by this time we were inside the plane and not around for questioning, but the pilot announced a series of delays before takeoff, first that they were "changing a tire" (this magically occurred without the plane lifting or otherwise moving), followed by "some paperwork" related to the tire changing. Afterward we found a TSA screener flyer in the bag and that the prototype had obviously been opened (e.g. bolts missing). To be fair though, this prototype consisted of a large (8x6x4 inches), heavy aluminum box with a PCB and a black cube full of accelerometers, sprawling with wires and liberal blobs of epoxy everywhere inside tacking them down :-) We had also made things easy by taping the appropriate Allen wrench right to the enclosure (mostly for ourselves though).


I've travelled with an Arduino and some loose electronic components in my carry on and nothing happened.

Now I think that the tip about taking everything apart is quite good and you should follow it. Also, be sure not to take anything that looks like a radio and a huge battery pack, since that can create some concern.
This... is a hobby.


I would suggest if you have batteries to go with your Arduino and parts that you pack the batteries far away from the electronics and most importantly, do not leave batteries attached to the electronics. I'm sure you can understand why.

Back before 9/11, when you could carry tools onboard, I mistakenly carried some spare parts for a customer in with my Fluke meter and tools. The X-ray of my tool bag got me pulled aside and searched from head to toe, twice over. The spare parts were six 1000 watt cartridge heaters wrapped in a nice neat stack. Looking back on the event, it was pretty funny, at least to me.


I had trouble with one of these:

once. With the slide all the way to one end and N connectors you can guess what it looked like on X-ray. And this was long before 9/11!


:D About a million years ago I carried-on a small toolbox with all kinds of "dangerous things" in it.    I don't exactly remember, but there were screwdrivers, probably a soldering iron...  I really don't remember if there was any kind of knife...  There could have been an X-acto knife or Swiss Army Knife.  I don't think it was illegal to carry a pocket knife on board in those days.   

But there was also a wiring harness with maybe 50-100 wires and connectors, and security did question me about that.    When I explained what it was, the guy let me through although he didn't seem too happy about it.

:D  That was also the 1st time I flew and I didn't know you were supposed to be there early...  I got to the gate about 5 minutes before the plane was scheduled to take-off...  I hadn't planned on cutting it that close but parking took longer than I expected.    I thought that was plenty of time!   I mean, if you're at the bus stop 5 minutes before the bus comes, what's the problem?   :D   


Just don't connect a battery to your arduino with button LCD Shield running a countdown timer...


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