Have PC, Will Travel (safe if by land, safe if by air)

Discussion in 'Quakecon FAQs' started by jex, Jan 30, 2017.

  1. jex

    jex Orbital Strike

    Jul 14, 2015
    I've seen more than a few threads this year about taking your computer in and out of the venue and in and out of an airport. I don't know if this can/should be a sticky but figured it would be easier to provide one thread with those details.

    Common Concerns
    A few things should be considered no matter your form of travel. Specifically weight, secure mounts, and impact/jolt risks.
    -If it's significantly heavier on one side than the other because of hard drives and things of that nature then it might be more likely to hit hard on that side if it falls off a dolly or from one conveyor belt to the next.
    -You are going to want to make sure that anything mounted internally is tightly secured both when it comes to screws and cables; something coming loose on the inside could damage your machine in transit.
    -It should be obvious but in most cases you're going to want to drain a liquid cooled machine; driving may be the exception.
    -Lastly if you've got spinning disks, a video card that provides a lot of downward pressure on your mother board, or something that could be damaged by shaking/vibrations then you may want to want to remove and carry it on your person if it's going to be traveling in a manner that could expose it to extreme movements.

    Many people will be flying to this event and while I've never done it...it can be done; people have even come from overseas.
    -The best way to do this is to build a machine that is capable of flying. Make it portable and small or maybe even a gaming capable laptop.
    -The second best way is to review the size requirements for carry-on for your airline and then get some good cases/straps for your stuff to carry it on the plane. It's a hassle but it's safer than trusting baggage handlers or shipping companies.
    -If you decide to put it in checked baggage then don't forget to secure everything tightly and remove anything you think would be safer in a carry-on. You're also going to need to verify with the airline of choice that computers can be transported via checked bag. Apparently some airlines have regulations against it.
    -If you plan to ship the computer then many of the same things apply as when you put it in checked baggage. Take care when packing it, make sure there's plenty of padding, and secure everything internally. Also, it's probably worth it to pay for shipping insurance in the event that you get that one guy in a warehouse somewhere who just had a bad breakup.
    -If you plan to take a computer through any security checkpoints then make sure you have allowed extra time to accommodate TSA requests. Attendees have reported having to open up a computer for inspection. As always, be polite if it happens so that no one feels the need to drop a flashlight onto your motherboard.
    -I repeat...drain your water cooled computers before putting it on a plane and expecting it to handle jostling and pressure changes.

    This is no big deal and most of us do this but my suggestions are:
    - Buckle it in, it's unlikely that it would get that shaken up in the car (depending on your driving habits) but it's just try to make it as stable as possible. This is especially important if you don't have cable management because small wires can get hung up in fans pretty easily so you might check for that before you power it on.
    - Make sure you can carry it and if not bring a dolly. Most of these events have been FAR from where you might park your car. In addition to that you'll be in line for a while even if you are the 10th person in line. It's good to be prepared to move your computer a few feet at a time and then long distances.

    -- Carts Etc. The Magna Cart is a favorite as it's fairly sturdy and doesn't take up much room. Just make sure to strap your items in so they don't slide off in transit. Whatever you get just consider that it has to fit into an elevator and through the security line without any issues.

    -- Monitor cases aren't always necessary but can be handy and many people like them. If you don't want one then I suggest wrapping a towel around it to keep people from scratching it if they bump into it.

    -- Computer carrying cases are fairly popular because while a monitor isn't usually that heavy the computer itself can often be a beast. Look around...there are a few other places online to get them but here are two.

    Tips (yes I've seen tragedy in every one of these situations)
    -Make sure when you stop with your stuff that you are not in the line of moving foot traffic and that you are on an even surface. The people around you are often also carrying a bunch of things and may not have the best view of what's under foot. I've seen more than a few collisions in the security/entry/exit lines.
    -Don't hesitate to use bungee cords and towels to avoid scratching your devices and especially your monitors. Just make sure you can easily get to a location on each the computer and the monitor for barcoding at the QuakeCon security checkpoint.
    -Don't set things down in line/in a hallway/at the security desk and lose positive control of your stuff. We all do the best we can to watch each other's backs but it's not the honest gamers you have to worry about. It's best to get your rig to it's BYOC spot and wire up in before you get too distracted. Identifying marks on popular items aren't a bad idea because it gives security what to look for when you leave your Xbox controller on a table somewhere.
    -Make sure your peripherals are secure. Every year I watch people struggle through the lines with a mouse, keyboard, and cables in hand along with all the rest of the computer stuff. I've seen people drop things because of it. A Wal-Mart bag or small cardboard box are both fine solutions. You might also remember that whatever you bring will have to be searched...453 mid sized pockets will just take longer.
    There's even a bag for this: http://www.geargrip.com/details_lanbag.php?UID=1169661877588e8af2f39ab

    Most of these tips are either from other people or from volunteering experience of watching someone break something. If anyone has anything else to add then feel free, as QuakeCon season is upon us I figured I would wrap it into one thread. I'll be happy to update it as necessary in case we want to give people a one stop shop.

    If you are looking for a packing list...there's a separate thread for that! :)
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
    Sirskippy, theBrayn and LionBattery like this.
  2. jex

    jex Orbital Strike

    Jul 14, 2015
    Updated the original post to add allowing extra time to go through security when flying. Can't believe I left it out the first time but this is definitely a big one if you plan to travel with an tower computer vs. a laptop. I'm not going to lie...even if you bring one of those big gaming laptops this is probably a good thing to consider. I've seen folks with the massive Alienware's get pulled aside so someone can swab their laptop for explosives.
    That triggers another good tip...don't eat your C4 flavored Pringles over the peripherals you plan to take on the plane.
  3. jex

    jex Orbital Strike

    Jul 14, 2015
    I added a section for common concerns that apply to most ways of travel and added more information for shipping your hardware.

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