WiFi HotSpots in jail?

Wednesday, May 26th, 2004
The voice of experience: Do not try to drive a remotely piloted vehicle through an LAX Airport security checkpoint.  If you must, be sure to keep it covered with a blanket at all times. Here's a brief account of my recent near run-in with Homeland Security.

In January, I took some time away to work on the restoration of my HERO 2000 Robot. Among other things, one of the things that I did was to meet with 4 other robotics enthusiasts, all of whom own vintage HERO 2000 robots.  We've been calling ourselves the Los Angeles Robot Resurectionists Society and we meet several times a year to work on our robot restoration projects.

Image:WiFi HotSpots in jail?
What can I say? Some people restore vintage cars, we restore vintage robots.

My family dropped me and HERO off at a friend's house, near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The day went well, and thanks to Kevin, my HERO 2000 now has a working arm again.  

Image:WiFi HotSpots in jail?Image:WiFi HotSpots in jail?
I should probably point out that HERO is about the size of a large child and twice as heavy. When I transport him in the car, I buckle him in with a seat belt and restraints, and I cover him with a blanket so that he will not fall out or call attention to himself.

Image:WiFi HotSpots in jail?Image:WiFi HotSpots in jail?
Kelly and I load HERO into the car

On the way home, as the jets flew overhead, I realized that my younger children had never seen or heard an airplane up close, so I decided to drive to a nearby parking lot at the end of the runway so that they could watch the planes land.  After several minutes of this, we decided to drive through the airport. As we  approached LAX, we could see police cars everywhere, generator powered lighting trucks illuminating the streets, and officers with dogs, search lights, and mirrors (for under-car inspection).

As we approached the security checkpoint for our lane, which was attended by at least a half dozen security agents, I realized that I had, in my car, a remotely piloted vehicle, complete with cameras, antennas, and remote console -- not the kind of thing that one usually brings to an airport. Further, if asked, I had no real purpose for even being at the airport -- no one to pick up and no tickets to go anywhere. It was too late to get out of the security lane and doing so would have only attracted more attention.

Image:WiFi HotSpots in jail?
HERO 2000 Actively scans the horizon with his Sonar

I told the kids to be quiet and to keep the robot covered with the blanket.   We rolled down our windows so that the security officer could look into our car. Despite the obvious occupant hiding under a blanket, they did not say anything.  We also have an unusual cargo carrier attached to the back of our car. It has an enclosed storage unit about the size of a 55 gallon drum.  No one seemed to notice or care.  After a minute, they waived us through.

Sorry, I did not think to take any pictures at the security checkpoint. :-(

So, while it was tense for a moment, it was a relatively uneventful inspection. I was surprised, even disappointed, that no one checked any further. At the same time, I was not about to pull-over, unload a 100 lb robot, and remotely pilot it back to the security checkpoint just to show them what they had missed.  That would have made for a more eventful evening.

I bet they don't have wireless HotSpots in jail.

Discussion/Comments (9):

Oh wow, A Heathkit HERO 2000!

I was just a wee thing of 6 or 7 when I first saw a Heathkit catalog. My parents weren't too keen on the mail order thing, so they went to Radio Shack and got me an electronics learning kit for my age range. It was very educational and useful (That summer, I used it to build motion detecting buzzers to annoy the neighborhood cats.)

The second time I saw a Heathkit catalog, I was a teenager of 14 or 15, experienced with breadboards and simple electronics, and becoming proficient in PC computer programming for fun and with my eyes opening to the possibility of future profit. That's when I saw a HERO 2000.

I wanted one so bad, but my parents would not budge. They had just given me half of the cost towards the computer system of my dreams (for 1984-85), and another expensive and big toy would not be possible for a few years, they said.

At any rate, nowadays I play with grid computing clusters, microcontrollers, motes, and wearable computing for a living and for play, so I can say I'm way past HERO 2000s and the like ...

NOT! I've been missing out for like 18 years! I still want one real bad! :-)

Thanks for the fun memories (of not having one). Maybe I'll do something about it now that I don't have to ask the folks for money. LOL

Posted at 06/03/2004 16:28:59 by PJ Cabrera

Hero 2000 for sale

Hi there

does any one know any one that is selling a Hero 2000 Heathkit Robot, as I have been looking to find one for some time and I can not find any thing out there.


Alex K.

Posted at 01/23/2006 11:04:05 by Alex Krystalowych

Heathkit Hero 2000

I'm selling my ASIS Heathkit Hero 2000. It's been sitting in box for several years, never completed servicing it.

Posted at 11/29/2007 14:44:41 by robert

WiFi HotSpots in jail?

Do you still have the 'bot for sale? What are you asking for it?

Posted at 01/14/2008 10:29:23 by Brain

re: WiFi HotSpots in jail?

Brian, I do not have a HERO 200 for sale, but I do have a few robot arms. Contact me off-list. You might want to join the HERO groups on Yahoo Groups to see - several of the folks there restore and sell HERO 2000 robots.

Posted at 01/14/2008 11:01:00 by Eric Mack

WiFi HotSpots in jail?

yeah i'm looking for a HERO 2000 for sale as well. then maybe come up w/ some add-ons.

Posted at 05/04/2008 11:14:30 by Cole

WiFi HotSpots in jail?


I just want to let you know I have a Hero 2000, books, the arm, even some additional pieces. It was my husband hobby. He was an electronic enginneer but he died a few years ago. I kept the robot and never find someone interested.

I'm happy to hear there still some people having fun with this collection item.

Posted at 09/11/2009 10:22:56 by Mildred Luciano

WiFi HotSpots in jail?

Received a Hero 2000 from a local university doing an IT asset disposal for them. It is available to interested parties. Can provide photos upon request.

Posted at 03/04/2010 9:41:32 by John

Hero 2000 4 sale

Looking for my own hero 2000


Posted at 10/11/2010 5:49:41 by Kyle

Discussion for this entry is now closed.