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TSA and DIY intervalometer? Answered

Ok, so I finished my intervalometer project, and it works. Mostly :)
I wanted to get it finished before I left on a plane trip. I would love to get a time lapse on the plane out the window. 

The question is- will TSA confiscate my intervalometer? 
It is in a 3x2x1" project box. It is powered by 3 AAA batteries. 
It does have wireless receiver and transmitter. These are little RF controllers bought off of ebay. I would check them in the cargo luggage (the receiver is removable)

Other than that the box contains an arduino controller and 2 (really small) relays. And a lot of wiring..

I do not mean to cause any problems/hiccups when getting on the plane :)
Anyone travel a lot with DIY electronics?



Best Answer 6 years ago

If you just intend to travel with it. Just disconnect the batteries and make sure it is not transmitting/receiving.

If you intend to make a time lapse during your flight, the FAA is pretty strict on not using devices that transmit or receive during flights. You might be able to get away with it, but I would not suggest trying.

Many cameras now have built in intervalometers and would be much better suited for an in flight time lapse project.

thanks :)
The intervalometer portion of it doesnt transmit/recieve, but there is a wireless remote trigger. that I will not use

Regarding a video on an Ipod(r). When I first read of this from you, I had no idea what you were talking/writing about, and I naively assumed you were talking about a video about how to use the intervalometer.  I think I had totally the wrong idea of what you were talking about.

I realize now that you were talking about video, that is a product, a result, of what the intervalometer does.   Like the video with the clouds, you recently posted:

I think it would be a good idea to show this to the security gorillas.  I think their animal midbrain would find it soothing.  I know I do.  I like clouds. 

Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that.  Videos of clouds are good.  Fluffy clouds...

ok :)
thanks... lol about video, but it happens to the best of us,,,

Yes. Clouds. Pretty.... Fluffy.. Going past slowly..... (or fastly)

I'd post an HQ version but Instructables kicks me out if it is over 10mb.Hopefully tomorrow will be a good day for another try... I am working on getting my Kodak C663 to be triggered by the intervalometer too, because it has an external power supply jack I will be able to make longer videos..

for all here-

Brought the intervalometer with me. In a last ditch attempt I left the batteries and RF connected (I ran into some problems [shorting out, wires breaking] the night before departure, so I fixed them and hot glued the box shut).

Got to security- waited in line for a long time. Mom mentioned (I am a HS student, btw) that i had some "homemade electronics" in my bag (Nice choice of words, mom :) )

Security guy didnt blink and said "that wont be a problem", while checking some other guys ticket.

So we went through.... My bag went through, I thought, but they kept rerunning a bag (We think it was moms, because she didnt remove liquids from her bag)

So security pulled me aside, nothing. We did get chosen to go through millimeter wave scans (I think they were MW), but that is just because we got in the only line with the MW scanner. It found the gum wrapper in my pocket, but nothing else.

So not much difficulty :)


6 years ago

It wouldn't hurt to procure a no harm research letter to present to the authorities.
Also agree to avoid RF during lift off and landing.


What is "no harm research letter"?

Is that a real thing?

A Very Rare Document,  that might cause TSA to rethink think.

Are you a student of stream of consciousness too ?


Speaking of rare documents,  I have heard rumors of something called a "KMA card",  not the KMA that stands for "key management authority", but the other one, the KMA that stands for "kiss my asterisk", or something like that.  According to the legend, there are certain people in this world who when confronted by the authorities, e.g. pulled over a cop for speeding,  or snorting cocaine off the body of an under-aged girl (or boy) need only present the KMA card to get out of trouble, or need only to inform the officer of who he or she is, or who he or she knows...

Of course a trick like that works better on a lonely highway out in the middle of nowhere, where the conversation is just between the KMA-member and the officer.  I mean it would look strange to invoke that kind of privilege in a line at the airport, where everyone else in line would be able to overhear the exchange, and then mutter amongst themselves, "Hey!  That guy just used a KMA card!  How come I don't get one of them cardz?" 

Of course I don't think members of the KMA club actually use public transportation anyway, not even public airplanes.  Which means they have private ones, privately owned airplanes, which sort of gives you some idea of what kind of status is necessary to even apply for the KMA card.

On the same topic, a shiny badge of some kind, and the words "official business" may be able to function the same as a KMA card; i.e. if you can convince a cop, or TSA person, that you are also an officer of some kind, and that you are in the middle of conducting some "official business"  then this might work... provided you've got the shiny badge, and it is a badge that impresses this other officer... and the "official business" sounds believable...

Anyway, back to this rumor of KMA.  I wish I had a good easy web-link for this one, but no. 

I think I heard the phrase, KMA, uttered by Aaron Russo in a video interview.  It might have been inAmerica: Freedom to Fascism, or it might have been some other interview, but the topic was the so called "elites", and ways that they avoid the rules that ensnare the rest of us.  It might have been something Aaron picked up from his alleged friendship with Nick Rockefeller, an alleged card-carrying member of the KMA-club.

I'm not totally sure about stream of consciousness.   I'm not sure my consciousness has the speed necessary to support streaming. ;-)

you guys are *slightly* confusing me. meaning I understood all of half that ;-)

So I think I am just going to try and play it as safe as I can. Meaning take all unnecessary components out, batteries out, keep a copy of some build photos and an example vid on my ipod. Also keep the camera on hand and if they get really touchy about it, explain everything I can to the TSA people and ask the people if I could demonstrate it for them (not in an action movie, bomb-threat way). And if it gets taken away... oh well :(


idk, my plan was to remove the batteries, remote, and receiver.
Send the receiver/transmitter through checked luggage
Put AAA batts in a sperate pocket, along with some AA ones for a friends device (or, I have a flashlight that uses AAA batts, I could put the batterie in it and attach said flashlight to bag)

Place box alongside camera

It would not be hard to bring a few photos and diagrams along with it, just in case. And a written explanation of its use and function.
What do you guys think?

The words: professional, reasonable, intelligent, patient, helpful, understanding and kind, are adjectives which I would NEVER use to describe the employees of the TSA.

I strongly suggest leaving the homemade electronics at home, or shipping such items to your destination instead. I think the device you have described will just be too tempting for them.

Unless, you want to pick a fight with the TSA. And that might not be a bad idea. But, you know... be prepared to lose.