Feel free to skip forward to the next step where we will start the build...
I recently had the misfortune to stay in a hotel - a good quality hotel that I had stayed in multiple times before - and had my first bedbug encounter.
I knew a bit about bedbugs because my Mom's apartment had bedbugs several years ago (they had crawled in from a neighbor's apartment). It took her almost a year to get rid of them - several whole-apartment pesticide sprays, repeated laundering of all her clothes and bedding, replacing the bed, etc. I did not want to have them in my home!
When I travel, I normally check my hotel room pretty thoroughly when I arrive (see http://bedbugger.com/2006/10/19/faq-how-can-i-avoid-bedbugs-while-traveling/ for tips) but this time I missed their little hiding place and woke up in the morning with bloodstains on the sheets (yuk! and it was my own blood!).
So now I had my luggage that's been in a hotel room with bedbugs for several says and I needed to be certain that I wouldn't be carrying them back to my home.
I bought some large trash bags on the way to the airport. When I got home, I unpacked in an empty bathtub (so I could see if any bedbugs had escaped), all my washable items went straight into a hot wash and dry, I stripped off and washed all the clothing I was wearing, and then I sealed my suitcase in two knotted trashbags and had a shower.
Bedbugs can live without feeding for up to 18 months. So now I had a suitcase with various non-launderable items including my favorite leather jacket inside that I won't be able to use for 18 months until the bedbugs inside starve to death.
What to do now?
I found a device called a "Packtite" for sale on the 'net: http://www.usbedbugs.com/PackTite-Portable-Heating-Unit_p_6.html
which looks like it would do a reasonable job - but it's over $300, and I didn't want to spend that kind of cash on this problem.
Various sources around the 'net state that you can kill bedbugs and their eggs with a temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
This instructable is my attempt to produce a heater for luggage that could be built simply and easily to raise the internal temperature to 125 without destroying the luggage itself. Read on for the rest!