Clear Rubber E-Gear Bags

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About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of www.zcorp.com, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific...

Intro: Clear Rubber E-Gear Bags

They're great for carrying jumbles of electronics through airport security xray machines and capsized boats.
The rubber is limp, quiet, and doesn't develop pinhole leaks as much as stiffer materials.
It's quick to look through the side of the bag and see what exactly is in it.
I prefer them to a bulkier laptop case. If I want more padding I wrap a shirt around it.

I made these two bags for a trip to Indonesia a few years ago and have been carrying them ever since. The original plan was to protect my computer and electronics from moisture and humidity. To seal the bags up I rolled the ends up and tied them with a strip of the same rubber they're made of. I brought a kilo of reusable desiccant with me. The wet side of the big volcano in Bali was especially humid. It felt like it was raining off my eyebrows most of the time. I didn't end up spending too much time in super-humid areas and gave my desiccant to people who did.

None of my gear died on that trip, and from there I went on an outrigger canoe sailing trip in New Zealand. These bags were great dry bags for camping gear and food.

Now I carry them with me all the time. I don't bother sealing them, I just fold the ends over unless I expect boat troubles. One bag has my laptop in it and the other has my misc electronics.
I mislaid one of them recently and missed it a lot.

This project is pretty simple, but you can't buy bags like these and they're really nice to have.

Step 1: Cut, Fold, and Weld the Rubber Sheet

I used 12 mil clear urethane rubber sheet from API inc. A friend bought the material for kitesurfing bladders, but it turned out to be way too heavy for that. If you don't mind PVC you could use your grandma's couch cover, or a clear shower curtain. Urethane is better than vinyl because it's more flexible and maybe less toxic to the planet. Polyethylene is too stiff, cloudy, and prone to fatigue. Don't use it.
Seattle Fabrics sells lots of coated fabrics that would work for this, and they specify which ones can be welded.

Some types of material will need to be washed with soap before you can weld them.
Cut a rectangular piece big enough to make the bag you want.
Fold it over and weld the edge with a hot iron.
Keep it from sticking to the iron by putting a piece of kapton (high temp plastic sheet) or tinfoil over and under it. Experiment with scrap material til you get the iron to the right temperature and get the knack of it. Rub the kapton on your nose to make it greasy and keep it from sticking.
Put a narrow stick under the edge you are welding on to keep from welding too far into the bag, and so you can put more pressure on the edge.

This is the same process (and picture) from Make Your Own Waterproof Camera Enclosure

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    29 Discussions

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    pascals17

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry to be a spoilsport, but as a chemist, I worry about people melting polyurethane. Upon heating, the carbamate linkages can decompose into isocyanates (the compounds from which they're made), which are one of the leading culprits of occupational asthma. Thermal decomposition of urethanes can also generate other nasty things like hydrogen cyanide. It's a cool project, but the worrywart in me compelled me to give you a heads up!

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    frosty1433Patented

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    you can sneak a small knife through a metal detacter by wrapping a lot of electrical tape on it.

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    gamerfrosty1433

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    thats bull. the only way to pass a without it looking like a knife in the x ray, and metal detectors is by camoflageing it, putting tape on it will not help in any way, shape or form.

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    frosty1433gamer

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    how do you think they smuggle weapons into prisons? they wrap it in tape, and kiester is. sometimes they'll have females stick it up their vaginas.

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    gamerfrosty1433

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    like i said, wrapping it in tape will do nothing, they have metal detectors in prisons. they make the weapons once theyre in the prison, they dont take them in. if they do, they bribe the guards.

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    gamerfrosty1433

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    if you see something in a movie, please dont just say it like "ya, im sure and i am ready to bet on it", do a little reasherch on the subject first.

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    frosty1433gamer

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    actually, I remember now... I saw it on the History Channel on a show about the Aryan Brotherhood.

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    lol this is why instructables is blocked at my school. -_- it says that this is a terrorits/militant group or something ahhaha :-)