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Travelling (in VK) for SOTA

I’m sure this has been discussed before, but I thought I just include my experience in activating SOTA on a recent trip by aircraft. There are really only two issues - the squid pole and the batteries.

For the squid pole I made a transit case out of 40mm PVC pipe with a screwed joiner. This reduces the possibility of your lovely squid pole being smashed to pieces in transit, but it does mean you have the hassle (not much) of having to lodge it at special baggage.

Spare batteries, i.e. those that are not contained within equipment with an on/off switch, must be carried in carry on baggage. I think you are allowed up to 100Wh without any issues. My battery is a 63Wh LiFePO, so there were no issues. Anything over 160Wh is not permitted. The battery terminals must be insulated. It seemed important that the battery was less than 15 volts - don’t know why. You must tick yes to Dangerous Goods, and have it inspected at the check-in desk.

I have a haversack with my portable kit, so I just carried that as my carry-on. Going through security expect a detailed inspection of your carry-on - the X-ray looks pretty interesting. Once I said “portable radio” I was sent on my way.

I activated VK4/SE-059 & VK4/SE-094 yesterday. WX was bad so I was lucky to get the 2 activations in. Thank you to all the chasers. Apologies for the APRS debacle - beaconing was turned off. Drat.

I’m going through the battery thing with a planned trip to Ireland with Emirates. The last time I looked the regulations said maH now it is Wh. I have a Tracer 10AH which is 120Wh, luckily it says on there what it is.I have checked the airline policy and I’m good for up to 160Wh. So hopefully everything will be ok. Thanks for the tip on dangerous goods, I hadn’t thought of that, I’ll make sure I follow correct procedure as I travel through.

On the Squid pole I just bought one of those mini 17 section 10 metre ones from HyEndfed that fits in the case. Cheaper to buy them on line and get them shipped to Australia than it would have been to get it posted to Ireland. NO VAT to pay and shipping is cheaper than VAT and Postage to Ireland.

73 John VK6NU

[quote=“VK6NU, post:2, topic:11046, full:true”]
I have checked the airline policy and I’m good for up to 160Wh.[/quote]

Make sure you pay very close attention to the airline policy. Every airline I’ve travelled with is “OK” with up to 160Wh, but you need to get permission to fly with batteries ahead of time if they are between 100Wh and 160Wh (stated in the fine print). This seems to be the IATA policy which most airlines follow. A simple call to the customer service desk will be able to let you know.

Also, the bigger the battery, the more likely security is going to get interested in what you are taking on board. Dubai security is, in my experience, particularly interested in what you are carrying. When travelling with the wife, this makes for an interesting exercise in eye-rolls and mutterings.

I stick to the 55Wh 4.2Ah 13.2V LiFePO4 batteries, and have never had any problems, other than repeated security screenings and explosive checks of the battery at some airports (Dubai springs to mind :wink: )

To Marc’s point, I always take the battery out of my carry on luggage (along with my work laptop), and place it, battery label up, in the same tray as the laptop. I carry it in a ziplock bag too as that’s a TSA approved way of carrying the battery (I tape the terminals as well for good measure!). Since I started doing this, the amount of extra screening has dropped dramatically.

My blog (http://vk3arr.wordpress.com/) has a post titled Travelling with Lithium Batteries which is the most popular blog post of all time for that blog (excepting perhaps the VOTA post). It covers a range of strategies based on extensive SOTA travel.

(Currently in China where battery issues are moot as importing a radio without a permit is illegal!)

Hi John, concur with Adrew’s comments. From what I recall of the Qantas policy, less than 100Wh per battery was not an issue, between 100-160Wh was at the airlines discretion and over 160Wh was a no go.

I travelled with Emirates on the way over here and had no issues with my 3S LiPo 2500mAh even in Dubai (went through screening on two occasions) - left the two batteries in my carry on luggage for screening. Incidentally I purchased a 10m travel mast from SOTAbeams (thanks Richard - was excellent service) just the other day, hopefully to be tried out on the weekend from Aurthurs Seat in Edinburgh if the weather is good.


Thanks guys, from what I looked at on Emirates website, I’m good to take up to 2 160 Whour batteries. Cathay Pacific have the same rules. Can’t find the info on Emirates site just know but did find it last week. I’ll delve in and print a copy when I find it so I have it in writing.

73 John VK6NU

Carry and have readily available all of your airlines battery policies plus a coppy of your licence. No issues on this trip other than a query in Vancouver as to what all the electronic equipment in my back pack was. I explaied and offered to produce the said documentation but all was deemed ok.
No shortage of gear in there. KX3, lifepo battery plus internals, gps, TomTom, phone, tablet, vx74r, speaker mic, head phones - noise canceling essential for long haul travel plus various usb cables. Mag loop is perfect for travel neatly fitting in the suit case and easy to set up, particularly in areas where space is at a premium. Cheers Tony KL7/VK3CAT where it is 2300 hrs local and broad daylight.