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Re: 3/30: open loop open loop open loop open loop

At 7:45 PM -0500 3/29/02, Nemoguitt@aol.com wrote:
>anyone flyin regularly?.....i hate to bring anything when flying, 
>how do they react to little boxes when you try to get on the 

Interesting question.  I assume you mean small electronic devices in 
your carry-on luggage.

My recent experience is that anything that looks like a cell phone or 
a PDA gets passed through the scanner without comment. Laptop 
computers get a visual inspection and will probably need to be turned 
on to demonstrate that they actually are functioning computers and 
not empty boxes with weapons inside.

If you are carrying a rack bag or the like, containing looping and 
processing gear, you'd best be prepared with a friendly manner and a 
convincing explanation of what the stuff is. And be prepared to turn 
it on and demonstrate the blinking lights.

Sometimes you get reasonably intelligent security staff and sometimes 
you get idiots. A few years ago (WAY before 9/11) I tried to board a 
plane at SFO with an attache case full of adaptors and patch cords. I 
was detained because "there are wires in there, and we don't know 
what it is."

On the other hand you might get a normally intelligent one who is 
nevertheless overly conscientious. Just a week ago I was single out 
for a close inspection and the screener found a tiny jeweler's 
screwdriver in my pack. It was pronounced a potential weapon because 
it was "sharp" and I had to check my bag or else throw away the 

Of course if you do check your equipment as luggage you will run the 
risk of loss or damage. The bigger and heavier the rack or trunk the 
more likely this will be. I've watched a footlocker full of my gear 
drop to the pavement because the luggage handler was presumably 
reluctant to chance a hernia.

ATA shock-mount racks aren't even a guarantee of safe passage. I've 
had face plates twisted out of shape by the shock of a drop. If the 
rear of a racked device is not supported both below AND above it is 
vulnerable. Don't assume that because it's at the bottom of the rack 
that it is supported. Experience shows that if there is an air space 
above any racked unit, the rack will be dropped upside down from at 
least three feet.

Even if the gear don't get dropped, smashed, or run into it can be 
damaged by vibration or moisture. On at least two occasions I've had 
DOA equipment due to internal connectors working loose, or circuit 
boards come undone so they flop around on their standoffs. On another 
occasion I was assisting an artist whose rack had an audible rattle. 
When we opened it up to reattached the loose power supply we also 
discovered a puddle of water inside the case.

One final thing:  Always turn your equipment over and listen for 
loose parts before you plug it in after a trip.

Richard Zvonar, PhD
(818) 788-2202