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Hardware Hacking Transportation Build

Forrest Mimms On Modern Air Travel With a Bag Full of Electronics 169

Evidently even Forrest Mimms isn't famous enough to fly without hassle when carrying a briefcase full of electronics; he writes at Make about his experiences, both before and after 2001. A relevant slice: After police were called when I was going through security at the San Antonio International Airport and after major problems going through security in Kona, Hawaii, I finally realized the obvious: Most people who don’t make things have no idea how to evaluate homemade equipment. Some are terrified by exposed wires and circuit boards, maybe because of bomb scenes in movies. So I gave up. Now my carryon bag is only half stuffed with electronics; the rest is shipped ahead via FedEx.
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Forrest Mimms On Modern Air Travel With a Bag Full of Electronics

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  • To be fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 24, 2015 @05:50PM (#51180137)

    To be fair, I'm a nerd whose been reading Slashdot since 2000, and I have no idea who Forrest Mimms is either.

    • by MobileC ( 83699 )

      Hand your nerd card in at the door.

      • Re: To be fair (Score:5, Insightful)

        by darkain ( 749283 ) on Thursday December 24, 2015 @06:36PM (#51180347) Homepage

        And you're apart of the reason why geeks and nerds are always looked down upon and constantly viewed as elitist self-centered asshats. Obligatory XKCD as reference: https://xkcd.com/1053/ [xkcd.com]

        • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

          Yeah, because geeks and nerds are never looked down upon by elitist self-centered asshats who play sports or do other non-nerdy things.

          • Re: To be fair (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Thursday December 24, 2015 @09:04PM (#51180797)

            I have found out that often by the time jocks are adults they end up being more polite than nerds. This is because the jocks had coaches that kept teaching about sportsmanship. Many nerds on the other hand had no mature mentors and so they think that teabagging your opponent is the height of wit.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              No, it's because they peaked. When they're at the top of their game, they're the worst of the worst. After high school and no sport scholarship they don't have much choice but to become amicable.

            • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

              Well of course. Unlike the nerds, they were likely well liked and had their natural talents encouraged by the group. Jocks have their own insecurities, too, but they had nerds to use as shitkickers when they were feeling down. In many cases, it's the coaches that encouraged this (esp when they had to double as gym teachers) as they saw the nerds as sacrificial lambs to reenforce team bonding.

              It's really hard to fault the nerds in this case, but as you have helped show, society always tries its hardest to d

        • by MobileC ( 83699 )

          And you're apart of the reason why geeks and nerds are always looked down upon and constantly viewed as elitist self-centered asshats. Obligatory XKCD as reference: https://xkcd.com/1053/ [xkcd.com]

          Yep, that's us.
          I'm also a budding grammar Nazi.

        • And you're apart of the reason...

          Grammar-nazis assemble! \o/ "apart"?

      • Re: To be fair (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday December 24, 2015 @07:00PM (#51180423)

        Hand your nerd card in at the door.

        There are many flavors of nerdism. You can be a software nerd without being a hardware nerd. I remember buying books by Forrest Mimms from Radio Shack when I was a teenager, and those books got me started in electronics. But quite a few software oriented people don't even own a soldering iron, and have no idea what to do with an oscilloscope. They are still nerds.

      • by CBravo ( 35450 )
        But I didn't know either...
    • Re:To be fair (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 24, 2015 @06:12PM (#51180221)

      Forrest Mimms is the man who wrote the book that got me started in electronics. Getting Started In Electronics. The greatest beginner electronic book EVER!(In my not so humble opinion.) He also wrote the Engineers Mini Notebooks that sold in radio shack to teach us about opamps and 555 timers and all the other things we needed to learn before ardweenies hit the world.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Forrest Mimms is the man who wrote the book that got me started in electronics.

        What a coincidence! Forrest Mims also wrote a book on electronics. Wonder if they're related?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Of course not, his name is Forrest Mims:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      • You seem to be suggesting that dimothy can't even spell the guy's name right, despite actually linking to an article that has it in the URL.

        Withdraw that insidious libel, sir, or there shall be fisticuffs.

    • Re:To be fair (Score:5, Informative)

      by astrojetsonjr ( 601602 ) on Thursday December 24, 2015 @06:19PM (#51180257)
      Co-founder of MITS, the company that built the Altair Computer, the first real hobby computer. I still have that January edition of Popular Electronics. I sort of doubt that without his actions across the year you wouldn't have your nerd card.

      Now hand in your nerd card, it's important that nerds have a basic understanding of Nerd History.

      • Co-founder of MITS, the company that built the Altair Computer, the first real hobby computer.

        ... which wasn't available in my country.

        I still have that January edition of Popular Electronics.

        Which I've never seen on a news stand in this country. And indeed, doesn't seem to be available here.

        Now hand in your nerd card, it's important that nerds have a basic understanding of Nerd History.

        Actually, I've got a pretty good understanding of Nerd history, I just don't pay large amounts of attention to foreigners

    • I'm sorry, but if you don't know who Forrest Mimms is your probably shouldn't be on Slashdot. BTW unitll about 2011 was still possible to buy an electronics kit with two manuals[(Basic Electronics and Digital Logic Projects) written by Mr. Mimms. https://drive.google.com/file/... [google.com]
      • Re:To be fair (Score:4, Insightful)

        by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Thursday December 24, 2015 @09:43PM (#51180897) Homepage Journal

        To be fair, a lot of people have written a lot of books, that Slashdot readers should have read. Not remembering a name, other than the context "guy who carries lots of electronics with him", is perfectly acceptable.

        The electronics kit you're referencing is too new for some of us. My kit was from the late 1970s or early 1980s. I say that because that's when I used one of those "### in 1" electronics kits. I haven't seen mine for over 20-some years. I have no idea who the author of the accompanying book was.

        If you pretentious enough to say anyone worthy of being here should know Mr. Mims [forrestmims.org], you should also be aware that you're spelling his name wrong.

    • To be fair, I'm a nerd whose been reading Slashdot since 2000, and I have no idea who Forrest Mimms is either.

      No, you are not a Nerd. (From my TV Typewriter)

    • To be fair, I'm a nerd whose been reading Slashdot since 2000, and I have no idea who Forrest Mimms is either.

      Maybe that's because his name is Forrest MIMS, not "Mimms". Apparently, timothy couldn't be bothered to do the most basic job of an editor, which is to make sure a proper name in a headline is spelt write.

      And thank god Forrest Mims III is a white man, because if he was hispanic, black or muslim going through an airport with a bag "half-full" of electronics, he's be under the jail.

      Merry Christmas ev

    • by irving47 ( 73147 )

      Yeah, we can tell you're a frakin' n00b by your SEVEN digit user ID #!
      Hahaha. Back to the A/V room with you! :) J/K :) Merry Christmas.

      Forrest Mimms wrote some very cool books that explained a lot about electronic components, how they operated, and what you could build with them. I had some of those pages memorized.... Some of them still over my head, though, sadly.
      I think the most advanced project he drew that I built was a small 1-transistor oscillator that made nearby AM radios receive some clicks or buz

    • To be fair, I'm a nerd whose been reading Slashdot since 2000, and I have no idea who Forrest Mimms is either.

      Neither did I - and, even after clicking on the link, I am still not sure why the submitter thinks this guy should be known to the average person. We're not exactly talking about Steven Hawking here.

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Someone less famous than Ronnie Pickering.
    • okay im just going to assume that you have never even held a soldering iron or looked at any of the common (via RadioShack) project books and leave you
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • Who? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Good Reverend ( 84440 ) <michael@mic h r is.com> on Thursday December 24, 2015 @06:01PM (#51180173) Journal

    "Evidently even Forrest Mimms isn't famous enough to fly without hassle when carrying a briefcase full of electronics"

    Who?

    I looked him up, and have no idea how anyone who isn't really into his books would know who he is (and probably not even then). He's literally not famous at all.

    • Forrest Mims is the most widely read electronics author in the world. His sixty books have sold over 7.5 million copies and have twice been honored for excellence by the Computer Press Association. His "Engineerâ(TM)s Notebook" series of books for RadioShack are entirely hand-lettered and hand-illustrated to re-create the look of Forrestâ(TM)s own laboratory notebooks.

      http://www.forrestmims.org/bio... [forrestmims.org]

      • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Thursday December 24, 2015 @07:43PM (#51180569)

        No offense to Forrest Mins -- I know who he is and I admire him -- but selling 7.5 million copies total of 60 titles (average of 125,000 copies per book) is hardly major bestseller status. I just checked Wikipedia's list of books which have sold over 10 MILLION copies, including authors who have multiple popular books, and there are a number of authors on there whose names I wouldn't recognize.

        Basically, if you're into hobbyist electronics or at least read some about it, you may have heard of him. But GP is right -- if you aren't within that small group (probably MUCH less than 1% of the population), you likely won't know his name or what he's known for.

        • Darns autocorrect... Mims is what I meant, obviously, but to be fair, TFS also got his name wrong.
      • in the world

        Or in America? There is a difference. For example, Radio Shack is IN AMERICA.

        • Or in America? There is a difference. For example, Radio Shack is IN AMERICA.

          There were formerly 338 rat shacks in the UK. Well, Tandy stores. Their bankruptcy filing earlier this year did not not include the company's more than 1,000 stores in 25 other countries, stores operated by its Mexican subsidiaries, or its Asia operations. (quote courtesy daily fail)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by TigerNut ( 718742 )
      Hand in your 5 digit Slashdot ID... I pulled out my heavily earmarked copy of his "Engineer's Notebook" for my kids a few months ago to illustrate Boolean logic. I can see where the average Joe wouldn't know of him but if you were into early personal computers and the electronics hobby, especially in North America, it would have been hard to avoid Radio Shack and hard to miss his book(s) on display.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Hand in YOUR ID. A real nerd wouldn't need a book to teach anyone about Boolean logic.

        • Hand in YOUR ID. A real nerd wouldn't need a book to teach anyone about Boolean logic.

          Hey AC, do YOUR kids believe anything you say if it's not written down somewhere else?

          ...My first computer was a ZX-81, and my geek card is probably stuffed inside an extended-functions slot on the HP-41CV I used to get through school. Now get off my lawn.

      • There are many flavors of nerds/geeks/computer lovers who weren't tinkering in the early 1980s, or weren't buying books at Radio Shack. And there are plenty more who don't pay a lot of attention to who's writing their tech books.

        As evidenced by the other comments here, plenty of us have no idea who he is. He's certainly not "get recognized in an airport" famous.

        • As evidenced by the other comments here, plenty of us have no idea who he is. He's certainly not "get recognized in an airport" famous.

          I agree with that. I'll note also that other than the book I bought at RS 'way back in 1980 or '81, I hadn't heard much of him in the intervening 30-plus years. Good to know, though, that he has stayed in the electronics amateur/enthusiast space and is still doing somewhat relevant publishing on the Web and elsewhere. I think that for those that were in the hardware side of circuits and computers in the pre-electronic-databook era, there are a bunch of authors whose work was instrumental in conveying the e

    • He's from the generation where 'experimenting with computers' involved building and tinkering with them, not ordering prebuilt parts from NewEgg and plugging them together.

      • He's from the generation where 'experimenting with computers' involved building and tinkering with them, not ordering prebuilt parts from NewEgg and plugging them together.

        First computer I owned: CDP1802 project from the Popular Electronics article, expanded to 8KB of 2114 static RAM, serial I/O (AY-5-1013 chip), and integer BASIC in two 2708 EPROMs, everything hand-wired on perfboard. Used a model 33ASR Teletype that I got broken from a local highschool (repaired it myself) as the terminal, and loaded the I/O for the integer BASIC interpreter from paper tape. Good times..

      • Cool story. Now why would the average TSA agent know or care? Not everyone lives in your nerd bubble.

    • The nerdi-chlorian count is exceptionally low in this one.
    • I've apparently done some of his projects and I had no idea who he was either. It's not exactly a name worth remembering from my childhood.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have traveled numerous times, both domestic and international, carrying all manner of electronic prototypes. Including systems with a 12V lead acid battery, which looks, on the xray, like a dark blob with 2 wires going to it, which has to look as much like a bomb as anything else. Or a backpack with a bunch of boxes, cables, and radios.

    I occasionally get a question about "what is it?", and then a "ok, move along". I occasionally (25% of time) have to get it swabbed for the ion-mobility tester.

    I have ne

  • as well as others things. carry only today's needs.
  • Yep, I took a LittleBits Synth Kit with me on a flight earlier this year, got pulled off for extra screening and had to explain the thing to them.

    • I've had that happen before as well. They ran the same device through the X-ray machine about a dozen times at different angles before even asking me what the device was or how it worked. Granted it did look like an electronic detonator to fire off blasting caps. They were pretty understanding once I told them what it was and how it worked. They thought it was cool and asked if they could take pictures of the device so they could send it in to TSA HQ for training materials on 'benign electronic devices.
  • I was flying from LA to New Orleans to VFX supervise Big Momma's House 2 (ok, not the best film ever.) Among the things I brought with me was a pelican case of LEDs and batteries, we used to put tracking marks on walls and other things. I'll admit that seeing it go through the x-ray machine, it looked a little iffy.

    The TSA agent then took the case, and extended his arms as far as he could, closed one eye, before slowly opening the box and peeking inside. Which, of course, I found insulting. No respect.

  • Fuck the Patriot act
  • by Bueller_007 ( 535588 ) on Thursday December 24, 2015 @08:16PM (#51180655)

    Unfamous enough that even the submitter didn't know how to spell his name. "Mims", not "Mimms". Kinda undermines your point.

    Why is this news?

    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      Slashdot has enough old farts who recognize the name, can pull copies of the electronic books off their shelves, and scream "Get off my lawn!" to all the young whippersnappers who can't tell a soldering iron from a hole in the ground.
  • I know it's anecdotal, but I have never had an issue carrying custom made hardware through checked or carry on. RF brass boards, PCBs, test equipment, etc. I've had baggage scanners wipe EPROM's, and TSA dump an $80k VNA out of it's Pelican case, and another TSA who said those micro-hook probes looked "painful", but never a security hassle. Go figure.
  • Traveled from Austin to Breckenridge for the holidays but decided against taking my Raspberry Pi I got for Christmas and other assorted cables and hardware for this very reason.

  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @12:40AM (#51181143) Homepage Journal

    He's not the first to discover the uses of the commercial shipping companies like Fedex, etc. At least since the mid 90s, people have been doing just that. Part of it was in response to all the airport security that was being developed using poorly-paid, and thus unqualified examiners. The other part was the airlines' growing limits on "excess" baggage, plus their tendency to fly your luggage to some place remote from where they were flying you. People reported that handing it over to the package-shipping people to deliver to your destination did an end run around the airlines' lost luggage issue and the government's incompetent security theater. And the cost was often less than what the airlines would charge for the excess luggage. Others read those reports, tried it, found that it worked, and switched to the same process. And on arrival, they had just the one carry-on bag, didn't have to deal with the airlines' slow luggage-delivery schemes, and could just grab a ride to wherever they were headed, where their luggage, equipment, etc. would be waiting for them.

    The airlines should just say the hell with it, convert the bottom of the plane to a second deck of seats, and subcontract the luggage delivery with the folks who know how to do it right. Lots of the frequent-traveller crowd does it that way already.

    • The other part was the airlines' growing limits on "excess" baggage, plus their tendency to fly your luggage to some place remote from where they were flying you. People reported that handing it over to the package-shipping people to deliver to your destination did an end run around the airlines' lost luggage issue and the government's incompetent security theater

      You're actually more likely to have your packages lost [amazon.com] than have the airlines lose your luggage [travelandleisure.com]. A loss rate of 0.5%-1.2% for package delivery v

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For the last 4 years, ever since selling my software start-up, I have had incredibly easy international flights and always have a wonderful seat. Now, if I could just do something about the fuel costs and the luxury tax on my private jet.

  • Before a holiday flight (I think Germany to Switzerland), I was put aside behind X-ray screening for some extra checks and questions. The reason was, that I was carrying -among other things- a point'n'shoot digital camera and an extra battery (smallish 1500mAh) for my smartphone in my bag. The extra battery and the camera's image sensor happened to overlap in the first X-ray screening pass, triggering some false positive detection.

  • In my opinion a toolbox on board of an airplane is more dangerous than a gun.

    • In my opinion a toolbox on board of an airplane is more dangerous than a gun.

      Your opinion clearly isn't worth much.

    • by neminem ( 561346 )

      Necessary quote: "For a job like getting rid of the drug dealer next door, I'll take a hardware store over a gun any day. Guns make you stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart."
      - Michael Westen

  • Sheeeeeit. You want to get a bomb on a plane? Just fly out of Maccarran after DefCon is over. I stay until the end; by the time I fly the out (with all my exposed-wire-paraphenalia) TSA's collective mind is more completely blown than usual. They don't even look twice.

    There's always some lovely stories at the talks about attendees' experiences at their origin airports, though. I can't imagine what those guys must think.

    And, to all you naysayers: Forrest M. Mims is indeed the man, and quite famous. Jus

  • We know they infect stuff you send on the mail and that they mess with checked up luggage. The ONLY "safe" way to take electronics around, in or out the US is to keep it ALL in your carry on, and if you lose visual contact with it while they are passing the x-ray, you just dump or sell it without ever connecting it again to your personal stuff. They even let you take overweight carry on if you explain it is very expensive.

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