Tuesday, July 29, 2008


TSA Really Wreck The RepRap Child

On the return journey from OSCON, baggage handling found themselves outclassed. Instead of simply smacking the box around a few times as had happened on the outbound trip, the TSA dismantled the custom hard-case for the RepRap by removing the 16 bolts securing the top panel rather than undoing the 8 bolts marked "Open".

Unable to fit the panel back on again - it was not meant to come off so the nuts were not captive - they simply sent it on its way with the panel detached. I retrieved it from the conveyor - as opposed from the fragile/outsize section despite clear "Fragile" stickers on every face - being shipped in the

h w
i a u <==
s y p

configuration. Bits were still spilling out of it. Two of our suitcases were badly damaged, my daughter's hard suitcase on a separate return flight was also destroyed. It was replaced by Air New Zealand with an apology for circumstances genuinely beyond their control.

I recommend that anyone, anywhere shipping any equipment of value by air goes out of their way to avoid having it pass through the United States of America. Otherwise their badly-trained insecurity chimps and box-throwers will wreck it for you.

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unreal.. it's like they hate you...

Welcome to Bush's America... don't let the door hit you on the way out.

sorry, man.
No worries, Dan. I understand that Americans themselves mean no harm and are just struggling to keep up with the edicts of Bush & co.

I'm sure the airlines too would like to concentrate on running reliable and safe airlines rather than a security circus.

Vik :v)
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Sheesh! Bush's America, indeed. IIRC, it was the Democrats that insisted that most of the TSA security jobs be reserved for unionized civil servants, who could only be depended on draw their pay and vote Democratic. :-/
I remember sitting in the lounge at LAX during a stopover and watching baggage chimps at work.

Watching one guy try and fit a surfboard into a baggage wagon by slamming it in 4 or 5 times until the end of the board broke off. "That, sonny, is how you make it fit"
Sorry Forrest.. Bush isn't the only bad guy... allow me to rephrase.

Welcome to The Politician's America... If we can't break it, it's already broken.

Looks like travelers going through America will have to fly naked and reprap their luggage at the destination;)
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dan b:

"Welcome to The Politician's America... If we can't break it, it's already broken."

Works for me. I'm pretty much non-partisan in my loathing of American politicians.
I'm really shocked! I thought you were mostly having bad luck but it's actually more accurately described as a quite deliberate molestation of your property.

Now, I understand it if people are afraid of flying. Add to the regular, not-so-rationally-rooted fear, the real fear of losing all your valuable stuff to those baggage 'handlers'. The terror that all those travelers must be in. There should be some sort of anti-terror measures taken... :S

With all those lawyers in the US, wouldn't the airplane industry have a hard time with all this damaged property?! If they're not gentle by themselves that should be an incentive. Perhaps they are forced to work faster because of the financial strain of all those luggage lawsuits.

Okay, I'll stop speculating now. I'm just a little mad an puzzled here.

Vik, last time, was your Darwin child (also a good book b.t.w.) able to heal some of its parts, or did you not find the time for that?
I think what we know now is that Darwin doesn't travel well, fully assembled and crated, through American airports. One thing to keep in mind is that TSA employees are not exactly bright and capable people ... if you all haven't figured that out already. When they see a large crate like Vik built, they take it apart. Being in a hurry, they don't open it properly. What you might not know is that an awful lot of airport employees on the west coast aren't American and many have not that good a grip on English, spoken or written. As an example, San Jose airport, which I use regularly has a large, Lord save us from our own stupidity, Somali contingent working there.

Americans are so deathly afraid of being accused of any of the "isms" to the point that they'd rather risk massive loss of life rather than get accused of not having been absolutely fair and unbiased in their every dealing.

One comment on what I could see of the packing of the child, however, is that it had, as best as I could see, zero padding to ameliorate g forces. I mention this because in the US, PC's are regularly shipped by manufacturers like Dell through the same airports that Vik was using.

What I take away from this is this...

1) Vik got trashed by the TSA and should file for a damages claim at the very least.

2) Darwin doesn't ship very well fully assembled.

Perhaps we need to be thinking about this as a design consideration for the next design generation of Reprap.
Note 1:
If you suspect a package is a bomb, you don't open it on the side labeled "Open".

Note 2:
Us silly Americans know to ship everything that is fragile or of value via UPS or similar, with the proper insurnce.

Note 3:
It was absolutely imparitive that you endured this lesson. All US citizens have been given Citizen Directive 212. It is our job to prove to ALL foreigners that we're headed toward 3rd world status in more ways than just economics.

>> Note 1: If you suspect a package is a bomb, you don't open it on the side labeled "Open".

Yeah, proper procedure says shut down the city and blow the device up without further investigation. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Boston_Mooninite_Scare) This applies to anything that has any flashing LED's and exposed wires.

Also, body piercing jewelry is dangerous too. At least Vic (hopefully) didn't have to go thru something like http://edition.cnn.com/2008/US/03/28/nipple.ring/index.html#cnnSTCText

>> Note 3: It was absolutely imparitive that you endured this lesson. All US citizens have been given Citizen Directive 212. It is our job to prove to ALL foreigners that we're headed toward 3rd world status in more ways than just economics.

You mean foreigners' don't already know this? And by 'headed towards', you mean been there for a while, right?


Would wrapping the entire structure in plastic wrap have helped? I'm thinking if you did this, the compressive forces from the plastic wrap would have held everything together a bit better, assumming that they wouldn't go to the bother of cutting or unwrapping it (as long as they had access to the interior without having to remove it.) Maybe it's time we figure out how to add a hot wire cutter so RepRap can make it's own styrene foam shipping crates.
Beagle! Where have ya been? :-D
intimidation 101 by the world's most assinine organized crime entity.

We've had dhs send a commando team trained for hostile encounters to strip balls from childrens' hands and tell them they are the most bad humans on the planet.

the school and community group still has a full time psych councilor for that.

then there is always the simple process of hazmat cleanup and containment that is oh-so-simply-automated-cough-union-labour-cough downwindofWTC http://bluenorway.org

welcome to america.
"Note 2:
Us silly Americans know to ship everything that is fragile or of value via UPS or similar, with the proper insurnce."

Unfortunately, insurance money is only really useful if it is possible to buy a replacement for whatever was lost or broken, which clearly doesn't apply to reprap at the moment.
Fortunately, the very nature of a RepRap means that it can be repaired in much the same way as it was made to begin with. Still, it's not quite the same. This was, after all, RepRap's first-born.
That's why many business travelers send their luggage via FedEx or UPS to their hotel.

If you want to protect your equipment, buy a starter pistol. You are allowed to check unloaded firearms but must declare. So put the gun in your bag then tell them at the counter. Because of the "threat" the bag must be hand carried by a manager.
beaglefury: As it happens, I was wearing large-gauge nipple rings, but these were not detected.

I also just found I had neglected to remove a craft knife from my carry-on. It passed through all the security points undetected on all 4 flights, and I only found myself after an internal fight in NZ.

Everyone feel safer now?

Vik :v)
The airlines have lawyers of their own... read the fine print on your ticket about compensation for damages...
I'm so sorry, Vik. :-(
I'm sorry that happened to your stuff, but TSA rules are clear. Your baggage has to be easily openable by them (yes, by a chimp!)

Requiring opening bolts to open travel bags doesn't strike me as very simple. You're lucky it was let on the plane at all.

I'm glad they opened your baggage, because I want to know the baggage travelling on my planes has been checked out and is safe.
Adrian - is it possible you live in a completely different dimension than the rest of us do? and that some kind of cross-dimensional interference/transference occurred which led you to comment on this blog?

Because in the dimension I live in, TSA's inspectors routinely sneak fake explosives, guns and knives on board both domestic and international flights without being intercepted by the TSA reps or baggage handlers monitoring those flights, in both checked and un-checked luggage. Thank god that "baggage travelling on my planes has been checked out and is safe."

It seems unlikely that a terrorist organization would attempt to transport an explosive device in a large case with "opening bolts" if they intended to sneak it by our ever attentive baggage handlers.

It does, however, give me great comfort to know that in at least some dimension of existence, all this nonsense is keeping someone safe.
It is a man's patriotic duty to mess up every equipment after it doesn't seem to pose threat.

Although one may be able to disassemble a device, only a terrorist would re-assemble the device as it was brought in.

He was a civilian, but a patriotic one. Would he have been a soldier, he would have deficated in that parcel as well.

Packing in with the wrong side up is the correct methode to deal with possible wmd's.
You see, because it isn't a bomb NOW, doesn't mean it can become a bomb LATER, like during the flight.
It's because of all them al-quida particles. The fall down as radiation and collect in bomb-like items.

By storing your dangerious-looking apparatus sideays, all them terrorist particles fall out of the device you see. That way it can't transform into a bomb.

ahhyup... We're all save with ol' double you in control. We even gots ways to trick em terrorists too. We got a form you need to fill out when entering ahmericah. It asks: "Are you planning to blow up stuff?". Smart eh? Instead of ask'n if they is terrorists, we trick em with a different question.

"Requiring opening bolts to open travel bags doesn't strike me as very simple. You're lucky it was let on the plane at all."

Who let Dick Cheney on this blog?
Gnnnf. Really sorry to hear about this :(

TSA is just one of the not-so-little ways in which we seem to have handed the Terrists (sic) their every wish on a freaking plate.
Probably would have been better if it hadn't been allowed on the plane. That would suck, but the thing would be in one piece.
Referring to Adrian Bowyer...

"Who let Dick Cheney on this blog?"

The way things are going in eighteen months there will be so many Darwins around that the best efforts of ALL the TSA gorillas will not be able to keep the numbers from growing. :-)
I doesn't matter who is in control - no one i sin control. The world has gotten to the point where the original attackers of WTC (1 and 2) the Cole, the Underground, embassies around the world, etc. wanted to get to - where we are so afraid of our own shadows (and luggage) that we automatically assume everyone and everything is out to get us. I do believe it's called "Game Over" (add you best WarGames-like computer voice here)
dems didn't deamnd crap as the extreme minority in the republicians lead congress went he tsa was set up.. Spin it a bit more man.. they were int he minority for 12 years.. you cant spin your way out of that.
We can finger point about how the TSA got the way it is till the Sun goes cold. The point is that it is asking for trouble to send delicate instruments, like a Darwin, assembled and packed like it was by air through the US.

Poor Vik has found that out the hard way and the first child Reprap printer, which will be historically important, got seriously damaged as a result.

There are going to be a lot of other Darwins moved around and through the States in the next year or so till we get Mendels and other speciation of Darwin going. The problem before us is to figure out how we can avoid this sort of problem in the future, not to get into a big food fight about who it was in the political food chain in the US created the situation.
Yeah we are in Hitler's germany over here...through the 1990's we were made to believe and trust the government "bridge to the 21st century and all that".."abercrombie, brittney spears..." how can the majority of minds not give in. But alas...here we are in 2008 and the bridge the the 21st century leads to fema camps being built while the department of homeland security amps up their cops so much they taser 85 year old people in wheel chairs. Just make sure somebody saves us one day ok world?...American's are good people I swear we just want to be happy like everybody else!
Sucks that they did what they did. I take equipment and art on planes, and I always worry about the inspections, but I also always make my cases latchable, or use things like Anvil cases which have latches. It's sad, in a way, but latches they "get", anything else frustrates and even angers them. If you can, and this goes for everyone, put your stuff into ATA approved cases, or build yours to look like ATA cases, and your equipment will generally go through just fine. Here's one example. http://www.janalcase.com/ I'm in no way excusing their actions...it's all a big game, so make your stuff look like what they want to see and they'll probably leave it alone.
Let me start by saying it sucks that your property got damaged and I feel for you and hope that the airlines or someone at fault makes it up to you.

But I don't understand it, you post a "rant" about how your property got damaged by TSA so you claim. Then people instantly reply with "BUSH DID IT" "ITS BUSH'S FAULT". How is this anyones fault but the incompetent person that destroyed your property?

The Bush administration created the TSA... he is ultimately responsible for that completely useless bunch of idiots. The destroyed RepRap and the moron who destroyed it are just symptoms of the disease.

The "security" provided by the TSA is an illusion costing the American people untold millions of dollars and providing a negative return on investment. Allowing untrained and apathetic idiots to handle valuable cargo is the fault of those in charge... I'm sure this wasn't the first day on the job for the idiot who did the damage... it's a systemic problem starting at the very top with frat brother George.
Aman who goes by Deviant gave a great talk at The Last HOPE a few weeks ago called 'packing & the friendly skies'. Essentially, in america you can pack a firearm in your luggage, and suddenly they arent allowed to search it. It doesn't even need to be a real gun, airsoft & props count as well.

The video isnt online yet, but you can check out the slides on his site http://deviating.net/firearms/
Last night I found a love note from the TSA in my luggage after arriving in Uganda. That, and they stole my camera.

God bless 'em.


But at least it wasn't anything like you're experience. And I've been wanting a new camera.
That's truly unreasonable. Hopefully there is someway for you to claim this back, I really hope that you get every thing that you can from this one.

If enough people claim their dues back presumably the policy of "as long as the bag is open that's ok" will be changed to one which doesn't take so many liberties with people's property.

It seems strange that they've not dealt with the opening or the fragile labels at all, it almost sounds like destruction for the sake of destruction.
Just this month I went to pick my 81 yr old father and his girlfriend from Ontario Intl Airport (SoCal). Despite rush hour traffic, I arrived there just after his plane landed. Knowing I could not park or wait curbside, I crept along looking for him through the baggage claim window. When I saw him, I stopped and honked. He turned around and headed towards me and the automatic doors (he was 25-30 ft away). At that same moment an airport TSA officer tapped my driver side glass. I rolled down the window and he said I was not allowed to park or wait here. I pointed to my father who was nearly to the vehicle and said, “There he is” and popped the trunk as I exited the vehicle. My father and his girlfriend looked on distressed wonder how this was going to turn out.

After loading his luggage, I turned back to the officer who kept flipping pages of his ticket book in an irritated fashion. He started to list all the laws I was breaking (including Federal) and that my biggest mistake was not “respecting his authority” when told to leave. I said I thought my actions complied with the “passenger loading/unloading” rule but that I was sorry that I did not understand the ordinance. He said that they have to be curbside ready to get in the car immediately. I again apologized. With a look a disgust you would think was reserved for a driver who had just mowed down a group of school kids in the crosswalk, he closed his ticket book and walked away.

LESSON LEARNED: Think of airport curbside as a ‘hot’ LZ. Insertions/extractions must be done as if hostiles are ready to pounce, with the full weight of all local law enforcement and the Federal Government behind them. “Warnings” won’t even feel like warnings.

This other DHS/TSA type encounters post 9/11 have been:

* Upon being notified by the pilot that we’d be landing in 25 minutes, I skipped a final rest room break seeing that the line was pretty long, and we’d be down in bit, and the need to go wasn’t really strong at the moment. Turns out it took more like 50 minutes to land. Once we landed however, we sat on the tarmac for almost an hour. I considered using my water bottle for relief but thought to at least make an attempt being worried about being charged with a lewd act. I was 6 feet from the lavatory when the rear seat flight attendant said, “return to your seat or I’ll have Federal Marshalls arrest you.”

On the walk of shame back to my seat, many others (including elderly) asked in distress what she said. I simply made a gesture as if my hands were in cuffs and shook my head. When I finally made it to the restroom in the airport, I barely got unzipped before I broke loose. In retrospect, I should have pissed my pants there in the plane as they could not have said sh*t about a biological emergency and at least their people could have enjoyed being part of the clean-up as well.

LESSON LEARNED: Use a toilet, go to jail!

* Being told to step back behind the white line or be arrested by the guy who wipes bags with the cloth pad that indicates explosive traces because I tried to show him how to work the latch without breaking it.

LESSON LEARNED: TSA needs no help breaking your stuff.

* Having the checked luggage set off the spectrum analyzer at LAX (it looked like I won on a game show with bells and flashing lights - no balloons or confetti though) while an officious-looking man with surgeons gloves and a look of giddy expectation strode up with a small cardboard box to empty to contents of my suitcase into. I probably also looked guilty (sweating) as I had been without sleep the night before the flight as well as worried that a bag I’ve had since the early 70’s might have had something tucked away somewhere that I had overlooked.

At some point I was convinced I would be whisked away by DHS leaving my travel companion wondering what had happened (and she was travelling on business). I was still convinced that I would be taken into custody upon arriving in NYC.
As it was, there was the little card left in the luggage that TSA had done a secondary inspection (reminded of the hotel that leaves a mint on the pillow) and that ALL my single-use eye-drop applicators had been opened and squeezed dry. I saved all the TSA notices as mementoes and found they did exactly the same thing for the return trip.

LESSON LEARNED: (a) If your luggage ever carried incriminating materials of any kind, make sure you’re squeaky clean. (b) Don’t waste your money packing eye-drops; buy them at your final destination.

Despite all this, I don’t feel any safer. In fact, considering the intrusions, the rudeness, the storm trooper mentality, and the shredding of the Constitution elsewhere, I feel much more vulnerable.

Adrian, it's completely beyond belief that the actions of these bozos make you feel safer. First, it's completely impossible to assemble a binary explosive in flight, so the whole liquids thing is a sham. Second, announcing that you are hijacking an airplane is committing suicide. Nobody these days is going to allow a hijacker to live. So the whole weaponless thing is a sham. The only way to hijack an airplane is to have a weapon which can kill people at a faster rate than they can kill you. Even a bomb won't help you with that, because you'll have to convince everyone that it's a real bomb AND that you have a plan which doesn't end in everyone dying. Good luck with that.

Alternatively, you could just try to blow up the airplane. But that's stupid. There are many other much software targets. For example, any state fair is crowded and insecure. If you REALLY want to kill people and create terror, attack the places of enjoyment.

We would be just as safe if the TSA gave up and went home.
I looked for you at OSCON last week, but I wasn't there the right day.
Sorry about our goon squad.
The way TSA works is that it's contracted out to our most benevolent Security Industrial Complex (TM), where jobs are given to the least common denominator for the lowest possible wage, but taxes pay something like a 1000% markup to the company.
This works out great for the well connected relatives of our politicos, whom are often the principal investors in these companies.
Keeping us all scared to death and providing incompetent security is the best game in town until the American people catch on, which at this rate will occur in early 20-never.
Long story short: we need a collapsible, "suitcase-reprap", ideally something small enough to count as carry-on luggage so as to minimise the amount of time it spends as the plaything of the baggage-monkeys. If you can fit a nuke in a rucksack, surely you can fit a reprap in a small attache case!
RE Russel: "First, it's completely impossible to assemble a binary explosive in flight, so the whole liquids thing is a sham."

I know, but that will not stop several people in the UK going to jail for a very long time for being duped into trying. The FACT that it is impossible has been refuted by chemists in heavy protective gear making an explosive device out of common liquids and making a video for the prosecution in which they only showed the explosion. They never established HOW that explosive device could be successfully manufactured on board a flight without alerting security to the length of time it took to construct, or the smell it would give off. In real practical terms, it was an impossible plot. Heck, many of those arrested for it never even had passports, let alone tickets for any flight, BUT HEY what publicity for foiling an IMMINENT PLOT!!! Shock Horror!

The chemists used by the prosecution are more useful idiots that merely give credence to outlandish and bizarre plots and conspiracy theories about hordes of Terrorists trying to kill us infidels. When in truth, there has been ZERO bombs or plots discovered by the TSA at all.

The whole war on terror has been a crock since before 9/11!
Hey! Here is a good site to tell your story...
They are working on making flights more humane.
And thus, with the death of RepRap's firstborn, began the eternal war between the geek-machine alliance, and the reactionary elements of humanity.
Well, sad to hear this. Remember the golden rule:
"Don't let the bastards get you down."

If we end up using that numbering system I saw proposed, is a whole branch going to be pruned here? (Like the 1.1 series or something... or is it the 2? I can't remember how the system works now...)

I s'pose it might act as a memorial in a weird geeky sort of way.
When we have these things perfected, you'll be able to program them to recognise when they are about to be wrecked and to immediately make two clones of themselves by recycling material in their immediate vecinity.

Pretty soon the entire mass of the baggage handling area of the passenger terminal will have converted itself into RepRap clones and the handlers will be powerless to stop them.

<cue_music name="The Magicians Apprentice"/>
My sincere condolences for your exasperating experience traveling through the land of the coddled, and the home of the timid.

Personally, I travel the friendly skies of my good old US of A naked, it saves considerable time and effort disrobing and re robing in and out of insecurity check points. What I consider baffling is the wide variety of security methodology in every airport, they each have their own dimwit rituals you are supposed to have memorized.

When threatened with body cavity searches for my frequent insolence, I put a big smile on my face and inquire if they want to do it at their place or mine, they then promptly send me on my way unmolested.
Unfortunately TSA seems accountable to no one. And if you ask for a complaint/comment form, they demand your ID, photocopy it, etc.

There is a PDF of the standard TSA complaint form at http://www.thousandsstandingaround.org -- no ID is required!

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