In this Review of N6FN’s Nifty Mini-Manuals I will cover construction, and use. I am always looking for a good portable manual to take with me on trips for the two meter rig, or some piece of hardware. My wife and I recently took a three week trip to Arizona. I decided that I should take the manuals for all the mobile rigs with me in the event I got things set up wrong… So I dutifully took my PDF files of all the manuals I needed and sent them to my Kindle for use if needed. After I got them uploaded to the Kindle I took a look at them. While the Kindle will display PDF files, it does not display them like an eBook… The entire page is presented on the small screen. One has to expand each part to see the text. This runs the text off the edges, and forces one to not only expand, but scroll horizontally to read anything in PDF format. All in all the PDF presentation of the Kindle was not too good… I thought about copying the pages of the manual I might need, and bringing them with me… I thought about bringing the manuals with me… None of those solutions really appealed to me as I did not want to bring several notebooks of manuals with me on a three week trip…
I remembered I had the Nifty Mini-Manuals for my Handheld, the TH-F6a, (see review of TH-F6a), so I looked around until I found the Nifty Mini-Manuals. I looked the Nifty Mini-Manuals over and decided that I would just take the card and Nifty Mini-Manual with me.
It turns out that I really did not need to use the Nifty Mini-Manuals on the trip, however my Icom 2720 did get into an odd mode. Now if you have ever owned a 2720, you will understand why this is a problem… The 2720, while a really nice rig, is a real pain butt to operate beyond changing the channels you have preloaded… Everything is menu driven, and everything is hidden, and everything is three menus deep… I wished I had a Nifty Card for the 2720 while in Arizona, I had left it home… We returned from Arizona and I decided to purchase a few more Nifty cards and Mini-Manuals.
I ordered the Nifty Mini-Manuals for my 756 PRO III, and my MFJ-259 Antenna Tuner. They arrived within a few days, so the shipping times were good. I ordered them from the vendors web site. The Nifty Mini-Manuals, are spiral bound, full color, laminated, thick sheets, about seven inches by four or five inches, printed on both sides of each page, showing the operation and setup for various items hams use. They are much smaller than the stock manuals the device maker includes, and will fit in the glove box of the car. The lamination keeps them clean, and dry… Well if you get them wet, you can dry them off, and they are none the worse for wear. The lamination is
well done, and so far the Kenwood TH-F6a card has not delaminated. I have had the card for several years now and it has seen a lot of beatings, so this is a good sign for longevity.
The Nifty cards are are about four inches by six inches folded, laminated, color printed, cards that fold up to about the size of a business card. They fit in a shirt pocket, and seem to hold the folds and don’t expand out until you open them. I submerged my TH-F6 card for about two minutes as a test, after drying it off all was well, and it showed no changes. I was a bit worried that the cards would come apart at the folds after a few years of use, but they don’t. They seem to be laminated with something that does not break as it is folded and unfolded. I have had my Kenwood card for a few years now, and used it a lot, the card still looks new. The cards are waterproof as are the books.
Like many aids I suspected that I would not really use the Nifty Mini-Manuals… Turns out I was wrong, the cards are handy to have in the car, as well as the books. I keep the Kenwood card on me when I take out the HT, and the book for the 2720 in the glove box of the car. The fonts in the Nifty Mini-Manuals look as if they were selected to be readable, and the use of bold for headings, and non bold for the actual information is well thought out. Major categories are in bold red, while sub categories are in bold black, while the actual data on how to do something is in normal black text, all on a white background. All in all it looks very much like an index in a book, and is easy to follow. For instance, in the Kenwood card, the section on Memory programming is titled “Memory Programming”, in red, under that are 6 steps, (in blue), each step further broken down into actions, (in black), covering exactly how to program the memories. It sounds complicated, but if you look at it, your eyes just go where they need to… Very well thought out, and very easy to use.
The Nifty Mini-Manuals are set up the same way with regards to colors, layouts, and steps. The books are larger than the cards and use the extra space to expand on what the cards cover… Diagrams, and tables, all layed out in an easy to read black, or color on white font. The Mini-Manuals really contain an expanded set of data and instructions from the cards. The fonts used in the Mini-Manuals are the same size as the cards, so the vendor is not just giving you the same information in book format, the vendor is actually giving you additional data, tables, and information. The Mini-Manuals are easy to read, and as I mentioned above, they fit in the glove box of a car, which makes them good for leaving in a car.
- Easy to read
- Long lasting
- Well thought out
- In color
- The corners are sharp and can stick you.
I use the Nifty Mini-Manuals often. Every time I look at one, I learn some new little fact about the rig it covers… I use my 756 Pro III everyday, but I discovered something about it the last time I looked at the card. All in all I really like the cards, and the Mini-Manuals better than the included instruction manuals which come with a rig. The Nifty cards and Nifty Mini-Manuals cover 99% of what I need to do with a rig, I don’t have to drag the manual around, and they fit in the glove box of my car, or in my Go-Bag, so I can take them with me. They are a very handy addition to any persons tool set.