TSA: "Red is the Bad Color"

Thought I'd share a story others may find interesting. At work, a large part of my focus is stereo vision. Well, a while back a coworker and I needed to attend a three day training seminar, which we expected would be quite boring. So, we grabbed a pair of cameras, secured their baseline by attaching them to a small metal beam, zip tied the beam to a 12V power supply, and shoved the whole thing into a pelican case so we could continue working on interesting things while we were there.

To the unfamiliar, stereo vision works with two cameras taking frames in sync with each other. In order to faciliate syncing, with these particular cameras, you call one camera the "master" and the other the "slave," having the slave trigger frames when the master says to do so. This requires the cameras being connected in a sync circuit involving a 1.6K resistor. Each camera has a wiring harness included with it, which was used to connect the cameras to the power supply (black and red wires), and the master camera to one end of the 1.6K resister (yellow wire) and the slave camera to the other end of the resister (green wire). The sync circuitry needed to be powered as well, which was another red wire.

All of these wires were connected by way of an admittedly messy rail, with crescent connectors crimped onto the wires. I mean, come on, we just threw the thing together. The power supply we used was I guess fairly interesting-looking: black, covered in heat sink blades.

So: We checked the pelican case, and flew to our training with no issues. We messed with stuff for a few days, made no real scientific breakthroughs, and then flew back, checking the case again. When we got back to the lab, we cracked open the box to find a "TSA has inspected this" tag, and all of the red wires clipped off. I'm not kidding. The green wires weren't touched; the yellow wires were fine; the black were also left alone; every red wire was cut.

Seriously TSA? You were so scared this thing was going to explode that you flashed back to your days watching 24 and decided to cut the red wires? If this WAS a bomb, do you really thing it would have defused after you started slicing through it?

Word to the wise: If you check electronics for a flight, make sure your wires aren't red.

Published on 12/08/2012 at 07:53 under . Tags , , , ,

  • By Old NFO 11/14/2013 at 23:38

    YGTBSM!!! Sigh…


  • By Kyle 11/15/2013 at 18:31

    @Old NFO: Unfortunately not. Isn’t it scary? Not only were the red wires clipped, they didn’t even do me the courtesy of clipping them near the power rail so I could just crimp on another connector– they clipped them near the cameras, so I was forced to splice on another wire just to get it long enough to reach the rail again.

    I mean… I can give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this wasn’t a bomb-defusing atempt. Maybe they were just trying to be douchebags.


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