The Importance of The Manuals

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  • Updated 5 days ago
I was once accused of not being a "real ham" because I have always read the manuals for my equipment.  I started with Flex with a 1500 and have been with them ever since.  I have had a 6700 for a while now and recently received a 6600.  The 6600 is about to replace my aging IC-910H for satellite work.

But a Flex is not just 'another radio."  I have come to think of it as a server, now two servers,  on my network that know how to handle RF.  Flex has published an excellent set of manuals for their hardware and software.  With each set I have downloaded it to a memory stick, taken it to Staples and have had them produce for me  a spiral wound volume for the hardware and the software..   That works the best for me - I can lay it open on the desk as I explore all the things the Flex can do. 

Give it a try - it works great and for me answers any number of questions without a call to support or a post to the community.  The community is still here if I need it because I just can't figure something out.  But most of the time, it's in the manual.

John K4SQC
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John Kludt

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Posted 7 days ago

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Bob Craig, K8RC

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Actually, John, amateurs generally don't read manuals but I assure you the professionals do.

I was a broadcast engineer for over 48 years and capped my career by installing a couple of brand new digital TV transmitters. In both cases, the manufacturer sent the documentation months before the transmitters were built and delivered.

I have no idea how I could have kept my job, let alone gotten the transmitters installed, if I hadn't read the instructions.

Keep up the good work.

73, Bob, K8RC
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Ernest - W4EG

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I fully agree with your assessment on the importance of having a PRINTED manual that is accessible to use.
Many of the questions posted on this forum are so repetitious; always blaming  their mistake on the Company. However, that it's do to the quality of hams that we have today. I blame the FCC for the lack of electronic knowledge necessary. 
I could go on and on but we just have to live with it.
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Jay - AJ6AZ

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Great idea - I plan to do that as well.  I did see a post on the forums just in the last week or so that they recommended holding off printing any of the manuals if you were about to do so because they have a new revision coming out.
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Bill Carnett

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agree.  FR manuals are well written and very helpful.  I wish other manufacturer manuals, read antennas, were written half as those cases, even the "high end" ones are marginal at best.  Thanks for the extra effort to make these well written....even for computer idiots.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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While I regularly advise people to RTFM (Read the Flex Manual) I must admit that I have never read any of them myself and being a 21st Century sort of person rather than stuck in the 20th, I detest hard copy printed manuals because they are difficult to use to find information, invariably out of date and hard to update.

Don't get me wrong.. I have written a lot of manuals myself, understand that they are absolutely necessary for many people, and understand that for many people searching through electronic copies may seem difficult.  

However for me, the fun of new toys is to figure out how things work on my own without a manual telling me how it is supposed to work ... I sometimes find surprising features/bugs that way that were not envisioned by the designers.... in fact, I get to play with a lot of beta stuff before the manuals are even written...and when possible I love to get serial #1 versions of things.

Ultimately -each person has his own way of learning how to do things. 

BTW... I totally agree that likely 80-90% of the problems posted here could easily be solved if the poster had bothered to RTFM first

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Craig Williams

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It's harder to read something on the iPad when on the pot.
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Love IT!
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Craig Williams

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When I was an IT Consultant I told my clients the only reason I knew more about their programs than they did  was because I read the manual.
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Bill Roberts

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As a guy who will soon order either a 6600 or 6400 to replace my 6300 (which replaced my 5000), I agree that with a server as complex and powerful as a Flex 6000, we owe it to ourselves and to the Flex HELP Desk to read the manuals.  However, I must admit that I find online manuals a lot easier to use than printed versions.  If nothing else, documents on my PC or Kindle Fire are searchable.
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Martin Ewing AA6E

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I also thought about getting a nice bound copy from a local print shop -- about $60 as I recall. Trouble is that with a new software release, there are changes sprinkled in various places, so you'd want to reprint it all. That's work and money.

In the good old days, you'd get a loose-leaf manual, with update pages that you'd have to insert. Lots of fun.

I bet there are lots of fine points deep in the manuals that you'd never figure out on your own. I intend to read mine real soon now.

73 Martin AA6E
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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‘You definitely reminded me of the BAD OLD days When we had paper manuals in looseleaf binders. I remember having to assign staff for hours to change out the change out pages.

It was a total PIA.

To make matters worse you could never find anything in a paper manual as it was almost impossible to search it. With the advent of electronic manuals searching is now easy with a click of a button
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Michael Walker, Official Rep

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My comments (as a Ham, not as the Tim stand in :) ).  

I print one every Version and for the most part, it does me well.  I go over to Staples and for about $30, I can get it done up in a nice Spiral ring which makes it easy to write on.  But, I do mostly what Howard does.  Try it and then look it up.

However, as a Flex Representative, I have to be correct all the time, so I have to go look it up first.  Dave does a TON of work to make it as amazing as it is.  
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Michael Coslo

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Funny about the "real Ham" contest. By the time all of the Qualifications are met, there is no such thing as a real Ham. 

I like both printed and pdf manuals. Printed are best to browse through - especially at first, but there is nothing like doing a search for something in a .pdf file. Most manuals today are too in-depth and big to  memorize the whole thing.

This is probably why many outfits make a "quick start" manual and a full manual. 
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John - WA7UAR

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If new manuals are in the works then I’m hoping that they will include a good index too. Table of contents remains important but I think a good index just makes life easier. And keep the PDF version searchable.
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Rich McCabe

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If you guys are paying $50 to $60 to print a manual, I would wait.  I know there are updates being made. I sent Tim a half dozen corrections that I ran across which were mostly carry over from the Maestro that did not apply.anymore.  Nothing serious but none the less that is a lot of money to spend on something that needs/will be changed.

I am a PDF guy. I toss all manuals when I get them and keep a copy on the PC if its something I need. If its an unimportant item (like my Icom) I just download from the site when needed :)

I will say I find it easier to read and comprehend something that is printed but I cant justify the cost to continually reprint something that is ever changing .

I agree with Howard too. I like to figure it out/tear stuff apart. That is how I have rolled since I was kid.

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Jim Osterling

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I'll have to check the download page again, the last time I checked manuals for the current version of smart sdr and the 6600 weren't available.......

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Rich McCabe

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Still not available.
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Well no wonder I can’t find it!! The 66M manual does help however. W8XO
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Tim Ellam

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Goodreader on IOS. Bookmarks, hi-lighliting etc. I have the manuals on Goodreader and bookmarked for the relevant sections.


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Dan -- KC4GO

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I don't mind PDF Manuals.. I like them indexed for easy search. I also like the new sticky notes to add my own notes and Highligher. Writing in the margins. If I look up something more than once I'll copy that section and past it into OneNote so it's easy to find later. Most Tech manuals have lots of OSHA safety stuff and all the warnings and other stuff.
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Michael Walker, Official Rep

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Like Tim Ellam said.  I love Goodreader on an iPad too.  For those exact reasons.
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Gary Johnson

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One "Advantage" of having to send my radio back to Flex was the opportunity to print out, tab, and read the 6600M manual.  All kinds of good stuff in there.  I liken it to the day I tested for my Tech license.  Also took test for General and missed getting it by 1 question.  Since I hadn't studied at all for General that was a very important question for Ham Radio.  Had I passed the General I probably would not ever actually studied the material.  Good for my knowledge and good overall for Ham Radio.  Prepping for my Extra test as we speak.
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