take a home made stereo as carry-on?
February 4, 2006 8:01 PM   Subscribe

I tore apart a bookshelf stereo system and put it in a strawberry crate, as seen here. I love it. I would like to take it with me when I move to hawaii. Can I carry it on? It's nothing more than electronics that work. but i'm afraid TSA might just take one look and toss me into the clink. I realize safety is the TSA's priority but I do want to take this if possible. I've carry'd on my record player before. what's the diff?
posted by hurting.the.feelings.of.thechinesepeople to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
If you're worried at all about it, it's probably worth the cost of shipping it via UPS or some other delivery service.
posted by odinsdream at 8:14 PM on February 4, 2006

Looks like you've got exposed mains wiring there. ++uncool.

Other than that it should be OK: it demonstrably contains no explosives. They might ask you to power it up but that could be difficult since (I'm assuming) you won't be taking speakers and a source carry-on too. Why do you even want it carry-on anyway? Can you not box it up and check it?
posted by polyglot at 8:23 PM on February 4, 2006

Thanks for the responses so far!

1. sorry...what do you mean by "exposed mains wiring"? are you talking about the power supply? yep. i know.
2. I think i can test it on site since i can care my Ipod and some headphones (it has a headphone jack. I can also carry my remote!
3. I want to carry it in my computer bag becuase it will fit and I don't trust airlines to not break it, even if i wrap it in bubble tape extra nice.
4. UPS will NOT let you ship a stereo if it is not in its original packaging--and you have a receipt...

Best, Kevin.
posted by hurting.the.feelings.of.thechinesepeople at 8:28 PM on February 4, 2006

I have no idea what you're talking about UPS not wanting to ship something if it isn't in the original packaging. Pack your stereo in a box at home as cozy as you like, bring the package to a shipping store, and mail it off. I've never had any issue with the UPS folks wanting a receipt for the contents of my packages, and I ship things all the time.

As for the wiring, are there any capacitors exposed that could deliver a nasty charge if shorted? Look on the original case of the stereo for that sticker with UL on it. That sticker means someone evaluated the casing and determined it was a safe method of holding the electronics so that you wouldn't hurt yourself. I doubt your strawberry crate has similar approval. Just, be careful.
posted by odinsdream at 8:43 PM on February 4, 2006

um, UPS will ship anything you hand them or drop in a drop box. even the stuff you're not supposed to send, and this isn't one of those things.
posted by kcm at 9:03 PM on February 4, 2006

I can see the two solder pads where the mains cord is soldered to that PCB by the transformer. Someone touches them, there's a good chance of really bad heart issues and/or death. Most of the electronics dowstream of the transformer is relatively harmless, probably with max 30VDC or so at any point since it's a low-power amp. The supply for that glowing (vacuum fluorescent) display is a few hundred V though.

As for UPS, 'course they'll ship it.
posted by polyglot at 3:19 AM on February 5, 2006

I suggest you give it a go and then report back and let us know what airport security said.
posted by sour cream at 4:27 AM on February 5, 2006

On second thought, you could also just send them the photo and ask them in advance if they have any objections. Or let your travel agent do that for you.
posted by sour cream at 4:29 AM on February 5, 2006

This isn't on the list of banned stuff, and there's no explosives involved, so I wouldn't worry too much. If you're really worried and you want to be proactive, you can always call your airline, and write the Federal Security Director for your airport in advance.

If you have trouble on the day, do NOT argue with the first screener. Immediately request a supervisor (they have three gold stripes on their epaulettes). If you don't get satisfaction from the supervisor, ask for the screening manager (plainclothes) on duty, who is in charge of a whole terminal or airport. You can also ask for your airline customer service people or the local law enforcement officer to intercede.
posted by grouse at 4:30 AM on February 5, 2006

"Mains" is British English for line voltage. In Britain it's 220V so they have to be particularly careful of it. Your stereo doesn't seem to have any kind of lid or cover. It would be a good idea to put a housing or something over the high voltage bits, keep you from coming home to that distinctive smell of fried cat...
posted by Ken McE at 8:46 AM on February 5, 2006

IANATSA person, but I am married to an FAA agent, she says "They most likely would not allow him on the plane with it." She recommends two things:

1. Get hold of the TSA supervisor at your airport at least a few days in advance of your flight, explain your situation and let him/her know you would be happy to let them examine the thing.


2. Ship it UPS. (This is her area of specialty). Pack it yourself, very carefully, and ship it.
posted by generic230 at 9:24 AM on February 5, 2006

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