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Flying with our BlueROV2

Hi all,
I was thinking about bringing the bluerov2 on a plane for out of the country surveys. The main problem comes with battery, Turnigy 10000Mah has more than 100wh, so impossible to fly with us.
Does anyone have experience with 2 or 4 Turnigy High Capacity 6600mAh 4S 12C w/XT60 managed with 1 or 2 Seaview MBM-150 Multi-Battery Manager? Obviously with a bigger battery enclosure.
6600mAh 4S has 97wh, so good for a flight but low capacity.

Thank you in advance guys.

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Laws on this will vary country to country, so it’s hard to be specific. Also, it sometimes takes some digging on the airline/freight company website for the policy, as more often than not sales staff are unaware of the actual regs. However, in Australia (as possibly other countries), on most carriers:

  • you can fly with batteries >100Wh up to 160Wh as long as they are declared and they travel as carry-on baggage. Tape the terminals, use a fire-proof bag etc

  • you can fly with batteries >100Wh up to 160Wh WITHOUT DECLARING AND AS CHECKED BAGGAGE, if you get prior dangerous goods approval. This is generally only granted to companies (not private individuals), but this is what we recommend to all our clients as it makes travelling MUCH easier

  • otherwise send the unit ahead of time on a cargo plane, where the lithium restrictions are much more relaxed (typically up to 35kg of batteries)

We put together a quick video to assist with travelling with lithium batteries

Good luck!!!

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I’ve flown with 2 x Turnigy 10000mAh in my carry on baggage in Europe, the US and Africa. I keep them in flame-proof bags. Funnily enough, the only time I’ve had trouble in airport security was because of the ballast weights that I also had as carry-on - they didn’t care about the batteries at all, but wanted to keep the weights!

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The views I’m about to express about flying with batteries are based on pre-pandemic experiences, and solely my own. And I’m definitely not recommending this as a legal option, or one I would have any liability for if you have a bad experience…

I’ve flown with ROV batteries on numerous occasions. As gcelec points out, airport screeners care about what they could see that would be dangerous - very dense and heavy things. If you treat the batteries and weights like your laptop, and take them out and place them uncovered in a tray, you will likely have no problems.

I’ve been asked several entertaining things about the batteries. The most common: “does this battery have a capacity of more than 100 amp hours?” I reply truthfully too - it does not - as I’m not responsible or inclined to explain the 100 watt-hour legalities, or the difference between watt and amp-hours to a nice person at the airport.

I’ve also witnessed the kind of profiling that exists in such scenarios (unfortunately.) As a tall, white, confident male I have never had the batteries taken, and only rarely questioned. However I’ve repeatedly seen that any friends I may travel with who don’t look like me are much more frequently stopped, questioned for longer and in more detail, and have a lower success rate (70-80%?) - even if I go through line immediately before or after them.

The rules are what they are for logical reasons - 100 watt hours is a lot of energy if expressed in minutes or seconds. Nothing compared to jet-fuel of course! That said, I’d recommend traveling with batteries in this manner that are ideally discharged - not dangerously low, but not freshly topped off either. The 18650 cells used in the BR battery are about as bullet-proof (in-safety terms) as lipo cells can be made- nothing short of violent and repeated punctures can cause catastrophe. The flat rectangular pack style batteries, while the same chemistry, lack the sturdy enclosure and inline thermal fusing - and are much easier to pack.

Safe travels!

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BTW, here at SeaView Systems, we have a Power Upgrade Option for the assembled and tested BR2’s we sell, but are about to offer it as a kit. It consists of slightly taller side panels that allow you to mount two 3" battery enclosures within the frame (there’s room for three), one, 3" battery enclosure two extended battery power cables and one MBM-150 Battery Manager.

I have one of the kits that gcelec mentioned and can attest that it is awesome. I am often performing pipeline or cable inspections that require a fairly high continuous power output (200 to 300+ watts) and having double the battery capacity aboard absolutely transforms the vehicle’s usefulness. We’ve gone from typically doing ~45 minute runs between battery swaps to 1:30 to 2 hours. On the flip side, we were able to fight a really strong current and make headway for an hour at almost max power where we would have been limited to sub-30-minute runs with a single battery. Best Upgrade Ever!

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