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Flying with a Modular
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author Flying with a Modular
Montag
I'll be playing in Europe late April and was wondering how people get their modular around via air these days.

I'm trying to bring two wood LC A-100 suitcases, as well as two mini-cases... My current plan is to take out the modules, bubble wrap them, and bring them in my carry-on bag, then check the wood cases wrapped in bubble wrap and surrounded by my clothes.

I'd rather not take all my modules out though... Anyone have a brilliant solution? How do you travel with your gear?
wetterberg
is getting "proper" flightcases an option for you? Perhaps some with suspension, even?

My plan is to get a flightcase that's so big it can't be thrown around, hehe.
surachai
If my interpretation of your abbreviations are correct, you're brining two low cost cases and two beauty cases? I would strongly advise against your proposed plan as those cases aren't very sturdy and the throwers who manage your bags are. The only way I travel is with a portable suitcase with me through carry on, though I would do some research into the new 3U portable. Also depending on the gig, you can ask the promoters to ship your stuff over. I'd trust that over checking them in on a plane. If non of these are options, I hate to say it but you may consider consolidating your setup.

Also don't forget about the power conversion while you're over there!
parasitk
wetterberg wrote:
My plan is to get a flightcase that's so big it can't be thrown around, hehe.


Careful with that, they will still find a way – in fact you likely stand a higher chance of it being dropped/broken.

I did some research on this a few years ago (general rack/gear - not just modular) and read some horror stories that made me: eek! eek! eek!
wetterberg
parasitk wrote:
wetterberg wrote:
My plan is to get a flightcase that's so big it can't be thrown around, hehe.


Careful with that, they will still find a way – in fact you likely stand a higher chance of it being dropped/broken.

I did some research on this a few years ago (general rack/gear - not just modular) and read some horror stories that made me: eek! eek! eek!
trust me, I've read the same stories... and yes, eek! eek! eek!

Fact of the matter is though, if you're bringing too much to carry on you *need to check it in* - which means we'll need solid cases that CAN be checked in... we need to move past the "shit gets fucked up" phase and into the "alright, that's the lay of the land, what do we do about it?" phase. Soapbox

My first move will be full insurance coverage for my rig... like; FULL. Like, get-to-the-other-coast-shit-is-broken-buy-a-new-rig-while-there full. wink

To provide another alternative to Montag; I totally agree with Surachai (thx for cracking the abbreviation, Sur!) Get shit racked up and ship it ahead of you by UPS or similar - they certainly provide more options in terms of handling and speed, right?
futuresoundsystems
wetterberg wrote:
by UPS

They'll be just as bad as the guys at the airports... don't touch them.
wetterberg
futuresoundsystems wrote:
wetterberg wrote:
by UPS

They'll be just as bad as the guys at the airports... don't touch them.
again, my point was more "let's try to find solutions instead of complaining about the current state of affairs"...
chimologic
yeah I always try to figure out what modules I am going to use for the gig and just bring my portable case as carry on. This is not the best solution but at least is guaranteed to work.

I imagine checking them in would be fine if you can super protect them somehow. in some kind of instrument case/pelican case or a big box with tons of bubble wrap might work? you might end up paying overcharges depending on weight and/or size. Also be aware that if you have any flights inside of europe rules are usually very different for those flights. sometimes they even charge per kilogram you check in.


However one horror story:
back in the day (1999 I think could have been 2000) I played guitar/electronics in a band and I went to play in Japan and had one of those Novation synths as part of my gear and checked it in inside one of my suitcases completely protected by my clothes. but when it got there it felt like it was literally really really cold when i touched it and something got fucked up in the electronics and kept slowly dying for a few hours after I plugged it until it was completely gone. thankfully those few hours were enough to 'sample' the stuff I played out of it live. I am still not completely sure if it was something the bag handlers did or simply it happened because the stuff you check in in a 13 hours flight freezes over during the flight.....
wetterberg
chimologic wrote:
However one horror story:
back in the day (1999 I think could have been 2000) I played guitar/electronics in a band and I went to play in Japan and had one of those Novation synths as part of my gear and checked it in inside one of my suitcases completely protected by my clothes. but when it got there it felt like it was literally really really cold when i touched it and something got fucked up in the electronics and kept slowly dying for a few hours after I plugged it until it was completely gone. thankfully those few hours were enough to 'sample' the stuff I played out of it live. I am still not completely sure if it was something the bag handlers did or simply it happened because the stuff you check in in a 13 hours flight freezes over during the flight.....
sounds like condensation had formed on the synth during the flight (that is, when coming in from the cold, like a frosty beverage).

Leaving the synth on may have been what killed it :-( I remember reading a guide to avoiding gear-death in such cases, I believe it involved slowly "thawing" the kit out?
futuresoundsystems
wetterberg wrote:
futuresoundsystems wrote:
wetterberg wrote:
by UPS

They'll be just as bad as the guys at the airports... don't touch them.
again, my point was more "let's try to find solutions instead of complaining about the current state of affairs"...

USPS? Fed-Ex? There, better solutions (I think...?) w00t
BananaPlug
I've seen all kinds of really exotic electronics arrive in fine condition after being handled by UPS etc. The most survivable packaging strategy appears to be this. Pack the gear in a box not much bigger than what you are packing and immobilize any loose parts. For instance in a modular with boards supported at one edge by panel parts, carefully stuff wads of bubble wrap or something between the boards so they won't move around and make stress at the point where they join the panel. Add a final wrap in big-bubble bubble wrap to bring the bound up gear up to the size of the box. After that box is all snug and taped up, put it inside another box such that it's got about 3 inches of packing peanuts all the way around it (start with some in the bottom of the box). That's the shock absorber for when they drop it off the back of a truck. The pros sometimes have foam blocks made up that go around the corners of the inner box instead of using messy packing peanuts. Yes, this is a tedious method and you need boxes that are just the right size but it sure does seem to work.
panda30y
I would agree w/ BananaPlug on the packing and shipping. I work for a company that sells high end recording equipment, and we often will ship our equipment as such, as do many other manufacturers as well. Many of our shipments go over seas and arrive in great condition.

But on the other hand, I've seen how some of the fedex guys handle their shipments and it's scary to say the least. eek!
But this is how we pack many of our shipments, and if it's of any comfort to you, most do end up in excellent condition.

In the end, it's just best to get a fantastic flightcase and see if you can get by w/ carry-on. Otherwise I would trust the ups guys over the luggage handlers, just take care to pack it well. There is no such thing as excessive packaging, only better packaging.
Montag
I really appreciate all the suggestions so far. I think the festival could probably ship my gear over, but I'm still considering other options. So do you think it's generally a bad idea to cary-on all my individual (bubble wrapped) modules in my personal handbag, and just check the empty cases and power supply?

I'm a bit afraid the airport would see open backed electronics as a threat when carried on the flight, and think they'll also freak if I ask them in advance. I do plan on bringing the insurance documentation though.

And re: consolidation: if I could I would, but unfortunately I have too many large modules. If anything, I could probably ditch the mini-cases though.
sb
Montag wrote:

I'm a bit afraid the airport would see open backed electronics as a threat when carried on the flight, and think they'll also freak if I ask them in advance. I do plan on bringing the insurance documentation though.


I used to think the same about open backed electronics but the scanning machines can obviously pick the difference between something harmless and an explosive device. I've traveled through Europe (Germany, Spain, UK) and Australia with a small Doepfer modular + ribbon controller as hand luggage without any interest whatsoever from security. Its been through the scanning machines on each occasion and i've never even been asked what it is. If you managed to keep your setup down to a carry on case I don't think you'd have any problems.

If you can be bothered taking all your modules out of their cases for the flight(s) and carrying them on then I don't see why this wouldn't work either provided you make sure the cases themselves don't get damaged when checked in..
JohnLRice
Just FYI in case these would work for you:

www.audiopile.net is a great place to buy EWI cased from! Very reasonable prices, great sturfy quality and the peaple are a pleasure to deal with. I own 5 of their standard racks but the shock racks are also low priced:

Standard Racks:
http://www.audiopile.net/products/Cases/RE_series_roadcases/RUE_Case_p roducts_page.htm


Shock Racks:
http://www.audiopile.net/products/Cases/AUE_series_shockracks/AUE_seri es_cutsheet.htm
surachai
As long as your electronics are not a threat, then the security won't care.
I remember I was in Belgium and there were two security guards - An older seasoned security veteran and a young green chap earning his wings. I throw my case onto the x-ray belt and the younger guard approaches me and begins to ask what my modular is and I generally reply "instrument" which gets security off my back but the green guard keeps pressing, "where are you going? how long were you here?" I can tell they're about to open my case which isn't a big problem but I'm half asleep and getting agitated. The older vet pushes the younger guard aside. He sizes me up by looking at my appearance and in my eyes. He says pretty loudly "he's a dj, let him through!" I give the old guard a laugh in his direction and he says to the young guard "amateur!"
Another time in Paris the young woman checking me in notices my Moog sticker and she says "oh, Moog's are just the best". For the entire flight I waited in the bathroom compartment butt naked with the door unlocked waiting for her to come in. Or did I?
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