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Douglas C. Smith

 Address:  P. O. Box 1457, Los Gatos, CA 95031
 TEL:      800-323-3956/408-356-4186
 FAX:      408-358-3799
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Technical Tidbit - May 2010
A Travel Tip for Engineers and Technicians

Plastic bin with bags of cables and connectors

Figure 1.
Plastic Bin With Cables and Other Tech Hardware

Abstract: Engineers and technicians who must travel with technical hardware know that having such hardware in carry-on luggge can slow down the airport experience significantly. A tip is described that can significantly speed progress through the airport screening line.

Discussion: Figure 1 shows a plastic bin with a number of cables, connectors, and other electrical hardware mostly contained in plastic bags. On most of my airline travel, I usually have to carry a lot of technical hardware for my seminars or consulting work. In the past, I just packed the various pieces in my Pelican case roll-aboard and in my computer bag. A problem occurs because I have so much of this hardware that the security screeners at the airport security checkpoint cannot get a clear picture on the x-ray and want to open the bags and remove all the contents. Needless to say, this can cause a significant delay. I have experienced delays as much as 45 minutes, a lot of that time repacking the bags from scratch.

One way to speed the airport experience is to pack as much of the hardware as possible in plastic bags, quart and gallon size. I put the plastic bags in my luggage in a way that is easy to access, such as in the slots of my computer bag (the computer is actually inside my Pelican case). I remove enough, although not necessarily all, of the hardware and put it in one of the plastic bins available at the security checkpoint so a clear x-ray picture can be taken of my bags. The bin is positioned on the x-ray machine belt in front of the bag(s) from which the material was taken. Often the screener will look through the bin carefully. I have had security screeners thank me for doing this as it makes their job easier and minimizes the delay for others in line. And minimizing problems at the airport is a good thing.

Over the years I have gone from being stopped to have my bags inspected almost every time to only a small fraction of the time. This technique is one of the things I have learned that help improve the airport experience.

Summary: Engineers and technicians who must travel with technical hardware can speed their airport check-in process by putting cables and other small pieces of hardware in plastic bags and placing them in a bin by themselves.

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EMC Lab Techniques for Designers
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Copyright 2010 Douglas C. Smith