What are the odds I can get this through TSA tomorrow?

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mesa
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So we have been working up a portable gamma spectrometer for monitoring for fuel leaks and the crud burst at commercial nuclear power plants. I am planning on taking it with me to the lab tomorrow to run it through its paces and had a thought; it would be fun to get some measurements at 30,000 ft:

1670195261301.png


So the question is, what are the odds are of successfully getting it through TSA? It appears that geiger counters are on the a-okay list according to their website, which this is basically what this is, sort-of 🤔
 

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  • #2
Vanadium 50
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So the question is, what are the odds are of successfully getting it through TSA?
You mean, now that you mentioned it and posted it in public?

First, this is FAA and not TSA. There may not be a "FAA" check, but the air shipment of hazardous materials is controlled by them.

If your unit has a check source, it is a hazardous material and is not allowed.

If your unit has certain types of batteries, specifically lithium with more than 100 W-hours of capacity, it is not allowed.

I would worry less about the probability of getting it through security and more about the consequences of not getting it through security. I hear Gitmo is lovely this time of year.
 
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  • #3
mesa
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You mean, now that you mentioned it and posted it in public?

First, this is FAA and not TSA. There may not be a "FAA" check, but the air shipment of hazardous materials is controlled by them.

If your unit has a check source, it is a hazardous material and is not allowed.

If your unit has certain types of batteries, specifically lithium with more than 100 W-hours of capacity, it is not allowed.

I would worry less about the probability of getting it through security and more about the consequences of not getting it through security. I hear Gitmo is lovely this time of year.
No check sources on the machine and the battery is just a standard Dewalt cordless drill unit - pretty common to bring in your carry on.

Any guesses as to what gamma peaks may be present?
 
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Vanadium 50
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I assume the sensor is CZT so you don't have cryogenics or high voltage?
 
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mesa
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I want to add CZTs for a handle/wand detector but I'm still fighting Kromatek on selling us stripped down versions (most the electronics removed so we can use our own without having to buy theirs - they are very expensive for what you get). These appear to be great room temperature detectors for resolution aside from their counting efficiency - but physics is physics.

Currently the LaBr3 is the best option for resolution - aside from cost (NaI are quite a bit cheaper for a much larger - and more efficient - crystal). This unit is running the the most efficient crystal - cheapest! If the software/hardware can successfully find the peaks we are interested, it will be a cinch with the better crystals.

Most of our work is on lab systems with HPGes, so we have excellent analytical software and very fast (and high resolution) ADCs. This unit is detuned since we have to run ARM based architecture to cut back on wattage, and room temperature crystals have MUCH slower gamma signals than cryo-cooled lab crystals.

The plan is to run a hybrid system and play with the software/analytics to see if we can get our proverbial cake and eat it too- by no means HPGe level, but should be interesting.
 
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Haborix
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Afraid I can't help with your question (and it is probably too late anyway), but I really want to know how it went.
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50
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We'll hear from the OP in 8 years, with good behavior.
 
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  • #8
berkeman
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We'll hear from the OP in 8 years, with good behavior.
Yeah, I'm wondering what happened today...

So we have been working up a portable gamma spectrometer for monitoring for fuel leaks and the crud burst at commercial nuclear power plants. I am planning on taking it with me to the lab tomorrow to run it through its paces and had a thought; it would be fun to get some measurements at 30,000 ft:

View attachment 318213

So the question is, what are the odds are of successfully getting it through TSA? It appears that geiger counters are on the a-okay list according to their website, which this is basically what this is, sort-of 🤔
So what happened? I guess if we don't hear from you for a while, we'll know how it went...
 
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mesa
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Afraid I can't help with your question (and it is probably too late anyway), but I really want to know how it went.
Well, the good news is I did manage to get the spectrometer/geiger counter on the airplane:

1670378881547.png


The bad news is it was a bit of a failure...

I forgot to reprogram the detector to run a long duration gamma spec and instead was set to the 'roll window' for the crud burst and failed fuel monitoring (only keeps a short window of activity so a user can 'spot' if there are isotopes 'popping up' without being buried in Compton/backscatter/peak areas).

The good part is I believe that the data was stored to the hard drive (it can hold several years worth of spectral data).

When I get home next week I'll take a look and post results if they are stored.

On a similar note, I did notice there seemed to be more activity just above the 500keV and around 1MeV areas. The lower energy may be a positron emitter which would be cool.
 
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mesa
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Yeah, I'm wondering what happened today...


So what happened? I guess if we don't hear from you for a while, we'll know how it went...
It went very smoothly. TSA did a thorough check on the device (as they should) and asked some good questions. Very professional and scored at least a solid B+ in my book. I travel often with a lot of strange looking equipment so usually my only dissapointment is when some of the checked bags are missing the TSA tape and cursory, "...we checked your bag for bad stuff" pamphlet inside the luggage.

I would like to add, I very much enjoyed the 3D slicing image going through the equipment and noticed a fuzzy spot inside the crystal - seems appropriate to run a planar gamma scan to look for defects when I get back; it was very cool.

So I don't over-post too many messages here, my favorite reply for 2022 is now from Vanadium 50.
 

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