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Thread: tpnl's idea - Brain Cell with rails

  1. #1
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    tpnl's idea - Brain Cell with rails

    While reviewing the 2014 Wish List thread in the "TOM BIHN News & Everything Else" sub-forum, I discovered tpnl's idea, quoting:

    Quote Originally Posted by tpnl View Post
    I would like to also see a checkpoint friendly solution for the Brain Cells - one that can be retrofitted to existing bags. I love the protection provided by the Brain Cells and use them as "personal' carry-on items. But it would be good to be able to easily put them in a TB Bag and slide them in and out.
    Cheers!
    To me, this suggestion seems to say "Brain Cell with Rails". Does it say the same thing to you? The Tom Bihn Brain Cell is still widely regarded as the best backpackable protective container for a laptop computer, even superior to that of a Cache. (At twice the price of a Cache, the Brain Cell had better be superior, of course.) Does anyone know if the concept of a "Brain Cell with Rails", essentially using the same technique of checkpoint-friendly laptop storage as a Cache with Rails, but with a Brain Cell instead of a Cache, to be a practical and doable thing? Has anyone asked for this kind of thing? Would there be interest in a Brain Cell with Rails? If so, would you support a poll or thread/communiqué asking Tom Bihn to produce such a product?
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  2. #2
    Registered User Melissa's Avatar
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    I may be wrong, but I thought that part of the "check point friendly" feature is that the computer can be x-rayed while in the cache. Is the brain cell "x-Ray-able" like the cache?
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    From the Brain Cell product page, list of materials used:

    • 500 denier Cordura® exterior
    • Heavy-duty stretch mesh pockets
    • Aplix® hook and loop closure
    • Plush brushed tricot interior
    • .375" / 10 mm open-cell foam padding in sling
    • .25" / 6 mm closed-cell foam padding on sides
    • .5" / 12 mm memory foam padding on bottom
    • Corrugated polypropylene front, bottom, and sides


    I doubt there's anything here that would in any way inhibit X-ray scans.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  4. #4
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    MtnMan
    That is exactly what I was thinking of! Thanks for the thread. There was also a similar one a while back with a picture of what it might look like by Maverick - rails for other bags? brain cell with rails?

    Melissa
    The Brain Cell is, in reality, X-ray-able enough to clearly see the laptop inside. I have put my Brain Cell many times with laptop inside through the x-ray machine with no issue. I have not read of any people with any issues doing this either.

    However, the Brain Cell is technically not fully checkpoint friendly. The part that does not comply with the checkpoint friendly requirements are the mesh pockets - pockets are not allowed. However, I find that because the pockets are mesh, they do not look like pockets and do not get any attention from the TSA people. Of course, the mesh pockets cannot have anything in them. Also, I think the mesh pockets are not an issue because I see many other Checkpoint friendly bags that have a zippered pocket in the laptop section which technically is not allowed.

    I would also further qualify my request - in addition to adding rails, could they make a Brain Cell without the pockets and substitute an O-ring (positioned not to interfere with x-rays) to hook an organizer pouch that would hold your power supply.

    What do you think?

    Cheers!
    Zephyr (Black/Steel), S25 (Black/Iberian), SA (Black/Steel), BB (Back/Steel), A45 (Black/Iberian), TS (Black/Iberian), WF (/Crimson/Steel), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), EB (Black/Steel), , CP (Black/Steel), Ego (Black/Steel/Indigo Stripe), Vertical Brain Cells, FS, Camera I/O, 400d Nordic PCBP/PCSB/TT, SE (Black/Iberian), Lead's Pocket, YSS

  5. #5
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    Neat idea. The pockets are of marginal utility anyway.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  6. #6
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    For me, the Brain Cell is a unique and innovative product. In fact, the Brain Cell was what originally led me to Tom Bihn products. It provides, IMHO, the best sleeve case type protection for my laptop short of a hard shell plastic case (e.g. Pelican briefcase). The TB bags that held the Brain Cells were a fantastic extra which I later learned to really appreciate too! I really love the concept of a double duty bag that is useful in another bag but can be used on its own – flexibility that the Brain Cell provides (together with the PCBP, PCSB, Side Effect, Co-Pilot and even the Pilot and Cadet, etc). I would sometimes carry my Brain Cell as a personal carry-on and have had comments on how slim and convenient it is to carry and use.

    So, when Tom added another laptop system - the Cache with rails and the rail loops - to make his bags TSA compliant, I wanted to see if I could get the rail system to work with my Brain Cells and make them TSA checkpoint compliant in the same way. I also wanted to retrofit my older TB bags to be compatible with the Cache with rails system so I would have the flexibility to use a Cache as well if I wanted.

    To do this, I needed to add webbing rails to my Brain Cells and add rail loops to my older, pre-rail system TB bags. In my case, I retrofitted my Vertical Brain Cells (Sizes 4z, 1 and 2S) and the backpacks I use them in - the Smart Alec and Brain Bag (you can also do the same modifications to any Horizontal Brain Cells and TB briefcase / luggage bag that would carry them). I am extremely happy with the results and the modifications blend into the existing webbing (i.e. it does not look strange when I carry the Brain Cell on its own). It was also simple and inexpensive to do. An additional bonus is that these changes do not interfere with using the original annex clips to attach the Brain Cell to TB bags. Also, when using the Brain Cell on its own, the new webbing can hold folders / magazines or a light jacket.

    I did 3 things (note that this is for Vertical Brain Cells – see bottom of this post for measurements on Horizontal):

    1) Sew in two 1” wide rail loops into my TB backpacks. The loops are 4” apart centre to centre and are centred on the top interior seam of the back wall inside the backpack
    2) Sew in two 1” wide webbing strips parallel to the existing webbing on the non-pocket side of the Brain Cell. The webbing strips are attached to the Brain Cell at the top and bottom and are also 4” apart centre to centre
    3) Purchase the Gatekeeper Rail Clips from Tom Bihn ($5 a pair)

    When done steps 1-3, attach the Gatekeeper Rail Clips – one end on the bag rail loops, the other on the Brain Cell webbing

    Below are three pictures of results on my Smart Alec (similar results for my Brain Bag)

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    In testing this setup, I found that the Brain Cell was easy to move in and out. This was a good surprise to me as I thought the size of the Brain Cell would make it harder. The other good surprise was that I could still use the Annex clips to securely attach the Brain Cell to the bag. That means both Annex Clip and rail loop systems are compatible with my Brain Cell.

    Other comments:

    As with the Cache rail system, if you have other items in the backpack on top of the Brain Cell, I found the best way to pull the Brain Cell in and out was with the backpack flat and upside down (shoulder straps on top). Also, having a partition like a Vertical Freudian Slip to create a separate laptop section and another for the rest of what is in the bag makes things easier.

    Technically, the Brain Cell is not completely TSA compliant based on the recommended characteristics to “check” in a bag because it has pockets. However, the Brain Cell does what the TSA requires – provide an unobstructed view of the laptop. I know this because I have never had an issue having it scanned with the laptop still inside. Many other forum members have also experienced no issues. Note that the pockets are mesh and see-through and should not have anything in them. In fact, the only problems I have are at the Canadian checkpoints (I am from Canada) because they say “we are not the TSA” and still have me take out my laptop (even if it is in a Checkpoint Flyer)! Finally, I do see other company’s bags in the market (e.g. Timbuk2, Tumi) that have TSA compliant bags that have pockets in the laptop section and roll-aboard slots (essentially a pocket with a zippered bottom). Based on the above and experience, I feel safe to say the Brain Cell is TSA compliant in reality if not strictly by the rules. Make of it what you will.

    It is debatable as to whether any TSA solution makes things any faster. But, for me, it is about keeping my laptop protected while going through the checkpoint and having it attached to the bag you are using so it is not separated from your other luggage and perhaps stolen.

    For those TB bags that use Horizontal Brain Cells / Caches, the two 1” wide rail loops in the bags should be 7” apart centre to centre as opposed to 4” for the Vertical Brain Cells / caches. I added the horizontal rail loops to my horizontal TB bags - Tri-Star and Zephyr and may add it to my Ego. Note that if you have a Horizontal Brain Cell that you want to modify, you need to sew in the two 1” wide webbing 7” apart centre to centre. I also thought about doing this for the Aeronaut but it does not have a dedicated laptop solution so I did not add the rail loops. Any suggestions on how to make a rail system work with an Aeronaut?


    Hope this is helpful to those with older TB laptop bags or Brain Cells that want to modernize them and keep up with the latest innovations. Thanks Maverick for suggesting it - rails for other bags? brain cell with rails? - and MtnMan for supporting it with a separate post on my behalf! Also, thanks to the TB Crew to letting me know the measurement details - how wide apart to put the rail webbing and loops, how wide the webbing is, etc. It truly shows their great customer support.

    Cheers!

    P..S. If TB would sell a version of the Brain Cell without pockets (similar to the older Monolith) and with the rail webbing, that would solve any TSA compliance issues.
    Last edited by tpnl; 03-09-2014 at 06:20 AM.
    Moose and UK-Limey like this.
    Zephyr (Black/Steel), S25 (Black/Iberian), SA (Black/Steel), BB (Back/Steel), A45 (Black/Iberian), TS (Black/Iberian), WF (/Crimson/Steel), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), EB (Black/Steel), , CP (Black/Steel), Ego (Black/Steel/Indigo Stripe), Vertical Brain Cells, FS, Camera I/O, 400d Nordic PCBP/PCSB/TT, SE (Black/Iberian), Lead's Pocket, YSS


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