How to get an 817 through customs

Here’s the simple way to get an FT817 through customs and onto a plane… get my XYL to accompany you.

Put 817 + laptop +rubber duck into carry on luggage. I fitted the internal NiCd for the 1st time and tuned the 817 to BBC R2. Fit antenna press power… bleep followed by music. Obviously nothing suspicious at all here. The short 5m pole, walking pole, HF antenna, key and DIY LiIONs went into the checked luggage.

As we went through X-ray I expected “issues” hence the R2 charade. As I stood waiting for my trouser belt and stuff to come through they stopped the belt and 2 staff looked at the monitor. Oh heck I thought. But not me, Sarah had left a tube of hand creme in a pocket of her carry on bag and the security staff ignored me and went for her. I got through without a question! It’s always easy when someone creates a diversion :slight_smile:

Some activations later this week I hope.


In reply to MM0FMF:
This is interesting! Although I’ve recently only got my Intermediate Licence I am aiming at my Full in a few months. I was planning to activate abroad and didn’t give a second thought to travelling with legitimate amateur radio equipment.

What is the problem with travelling with radio gear?

2W0GDA (was MW6AQU until a couple of weeks ago)

Congratulations Gerald on getting the Intermediate Licence.

Jimmy 2E0EYP

In reply to MW6AQU:

Amateur gear is not what 99.99999999999999999999999% of people take through security. It’s not what they are used to seeing, It does not conform. Therefore you are a terrorist and the radio must be confiscated. Seen it happen.

But yes you can keep your phone with you :wink:


In reply to MM0FMF:

Therefore you are a terrorist and the radio must be confiscated. Seen it happen.

Scary!! Can you not get a letter from somewhere? Take your licence??

Now you have got me worried.


In reply to 2E0EYP:
Thanks Jimmy - you were one of my last contacts on my MW6 call sign. I’d passed the exam the day before, but had to wait a few days for the new licence.


In reply to MM0FMF:
Actually, come to think of it I had a single burner Camping Gaz type lightweight backpacking stove confiscated once about 5 years ago when passing through Liverpool Airport. But this was from my hold luggage - a backpacking rucksack. (I was off to do a section of the Pyrenean High Route)

I said “it’s just a stove, no gas?”. The rather unhelpful security man said “is it used?”, I said “yes”, “ah”, he said “it’ll have residue on it and it’ll be dangerous”. “What on earth do you mean?” I asked. “Just following instructions sir. Can’t fly with any used stoves”.

If it had been empty liquid fuel bottles I could have just about accepted that it might have had some vapour inside, but not a gaz stove with no fuel. Anyway it was give it up or don’t fly, so I left it and I was able to collect it when I got back. Had to buy a replacement while I was away, which of course I used and then flew home with… ridiculous.


In reply to MM0FMF:

Recently traveled and at the airport they were training a new person on the X-ray screening machine. He had never seen a rubber duck on the machine before and didn’t know what he was looking at. I was wearing a shirt which has my callsign on the chest. The person assigned to search the baggage to a look at the image and at my shirt and figured he knew what it was, but still had to go through the motions of physically look at the antennas which were not attached to the radios in both my bag and my wife’s bag. The person who was doing the physical screening is involved with a Scout troup which is getting ready to at least do some learning about radio and perhaps study to get licensed, so he recognized my callsign.

At the same airport, which is a small airport, I have been asked what was in my pack before. It was my 817. I think that day the person on the X-ray machine was just trying to understand what they were seeing. They didn’t appear to see anything of concern, they just saw something they hadn’t seen before and wanted to know what it was, but they did not do a physical search.

I am of the opinion that it is easier to get through security at the large airports without questions than it is the small airports. Perhaps this is because the people at the large airports have more experience seeing “strange” things.

Doug, N7NGO

In reply to MM0FMF:
I have taken my 817 on many flights. The smaller the airport the more they check! Never had to do the radio 2 thing! Recently I was going to Corsice. I was stopped… they were not at all interested in my radio gear (FT817, VX6, PFR3 plus cables and LiPo batteries) they were interested in 30 meters of 8mm rope plus 10 quick draws (carabinas in pairs on a short sling) said I might tie up the captain! However because of the other climbing gear in the bag they thought I was legitimate so let me through!

Please note that they now require all LiPo batteries be carried in hand luggage, you must not put them in your hold luggage because of a fire risk…?

So if you can’t take Andy’s wife try some assortment of climbing hardware to divert their attention!!



In reply to MM0FMF:

Great news about the creation of a Madeiran Association and your presence there - I love that Island. I hope I am at home when you get on the air this week.

This message is a bit off topic but if your 5m pole is the same as mine (the “5m Travel Whip” available on e-bay - 57cm when telescoped) they are great for travelling. However, they are very weak in use as they are thinner walled than the 7m type we commonly use. I used mine to support a very light 17/20/30m dipole on a recent trip abroad and it needed very little tension from one end of the dipole to fracture the pole just above the half way point. It was repaired with insulation tape and is still usable if I tape the ferrule each time I use it. These travel poles are probably more suited to supporting a vertical aerial where there is no tension.

I’ve been trying to find a stronger, thicker walled pole which will fold down to less than 60cm and is 5m long in local fishing shops without success. The 57cm telescoped length makes these 5m travel poles ideal for flying as they fit inside the average holiday suitcase, whereas the 7m poles won’t as they are too long.

On to LiPOs which I have used for a few years but have not yet flown with them. My plan when I do fly with them next year is to discharge them completely, and carry them in hand luggage with the terminal wires elastic banded and securely apart from each other on opposite sides of the battery casing.

73 Phil

In reply to MM0DHY:

Likewise I have taken my 817 and amateur kit around various parts of the world, with the biggest problem ‘stateside’ airports.

The most interesting was a trip to Alaska and en-route back from Sitka (a small airport and old Russian capital) to Juno (a slightly bigger smallish airport and American state capital) I was stopped by two security guards. The airport was fairly quiet and I think the lads had time on their hands. They were fascinated by this little ‘box’ that could communicate around the world even more so this ‘morse’ thing. They had seen films where strange noises were made with what they had perceived was a morse key. You should have seen their faces when I brought out the Palm Paddle and proceeded to give them and other bemused passengers a demonstration of morse produced by a little black ‘boxy-thing’. I still felt though that something didn’t quite compute in their minds. ‘C’est la vie’


Jack (;>J

In reply to G4OBK:

Hi Phil, Im no LiPO expert, but Im sure Ive read that you should never completely discharge them as it ruins them. 73 Steve (still lugging SLABs around).

In reply to G1INK:
Im no LiPO expert, but Im sure I`ve read that you should

never completely discharge them as it ruins them.

I can confirm this :frowning: I left one attached to an FT-817 for a month and it was ruined. An expensive mistake.



In reply to G4OBK:

I carried my Li-Pos in a Tupperware box in hand luggage when I travelled to the USA last year, it allowed them to be easily viewed and protected them from damage, I was only challenged once about them. I transported them in a “normal” state of charge so they were ready to use. Li-Pos should never be allowed to drop below their minimum voltage, it will damage them. I inadvertently allowed one of mine to get too low and it only showed that it was damaged when I recharged it. It is quite disconcerting to see a pregnant battery on the kitchen worktop!

As for breaking your 5m pole why are you using dipoles? When 5m is the perfect length for a 1/4 wave vertical on 20m.


In reply to G4OBK:

On to LiPOs which I have used for a few years but have not yet flown with them.
My plan when I do fly with them next year is to discharge them completely, and
carry them in hand luggage with the terminal wires elastic banded and securely
apart from each other on opposite sides of the battery casing.

If I ever discovered that another passenger was carrying LiPOs on a flight that I was booked on, I would refuse to fly!

I say this, having experienced a LiPO spontaneously burst into flames in my car whilst I was driving down the steep hill from the Long Mynd to Church Stretton!

Walt (G3NYY)

In reply to G3NYY:

Hi Walt

So you will never fly again?

Li-Pos are in laptops, e-readers, mobile phones, to name just a few, they are carried on planes.


In reply to G6WRW:

To get further information about Batteries on Aircraft see:

go to: Pack Safely → Airline Passengers and Batteries

73 de Franz ON9CBQ

I recently flew from Manchester to Munich and took my FT-817 and a small sealed lead acid battery as hand luggage. At Manchester I had to take out radio and battery for re-scanning but no problems. In Munich along with my laptop, I took out the FT-817 for individual scanning and was asked to switch it on for an official but again no problems.

Nick G4OOE

In reply to G4OOE:

In reply to G4OOE:

I think Jack signing a message KL7/GM4COX from Alaska nicely out ranks my African CT9/MM0FMF. Iain’s VK3/MM3WJZ would outrank that but it’s a work trip and they don’t count! :slight_smile:

The reason I packed the LiIONS rather than carrying them is they are homemade and look dodgy, I was going to heatshrink wrap the assembly and stick a laser printed label on them but couldn’t find a suitable size heatshrink before departure. So in the hold they went.

As for no flying with LiPo cells, well Walt you’ll be ground bound as the pilot on my 757 had an iPhone he was using from the cockpit whilst we were waiting to start engines, Nearly everyone had a phone and there were many Kindles in use. If there were less than 150 LiPo packs in the cabin I’d be surprised! However, once you’ve landed at Madeira you’ll never worry about LiPo packs as they are pathetic on the scary-scale compared to that approach and landing :frowning:

I know yours caught fire but it did that on charge not when just sat there.


In reply to MM0FMF:

The alkaline or lithium AA cells are easily available from almost anywhere, so no need to carry any special batteries in my case. Usually I leave the 8 batteries at France when I fly to Finland and vice versa.

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL