ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Making You Own Instructions

Updated on May 18, 2015
neildabb profile image

Neil got interested in amateur (ham) radio in high school. He currently holds a General Class license.

Even a sketch on a scrap of paper is better than nothing when it comes to instructions for a DIY project.
Even a sketch on a scrap of paper is better than nothing when it comes to instructions for a DIY project.

The assembly of a project is a different creature than the use of the project. Even projects that just sit there will likely need some sort of directions showing the user the project’s purpose and how to use it. A Popular Science article lamented the lack of instructions, and users manuals as a dangerous trend.

http://www.popsci.com/instructions-not-included?tuhyyFyAUwZAY1KV.01

Creating the instructions for use is just as important as creating the instructions for assembly. Don’t leave out this important step.

The Maker Movement, DIY (Do It Yourself), and in the lingo of Ham Radio - Homebrew, all refer to building things at home. Usually this is done by “amateurs”. Unfortunately, the one thing many amateurs leave out (to the dismay of those who might inherit those projects in the future) is the instruction manual. There is an old saying, “when all else fails, read the instructions.” With the internet as a resource, finding the instructions to commercial kits and equipment is not impossible, but for home-brew kits and projects, there may be no instructions to find.

You don’t have to be a technical writer to create usable instructions. You may be the only one to ever use them, but if the project sits for any length of time, there is a good chance the designer (you) will have forgotten what each little part is for or how it goes together. The trick here is to make the instructions clear enough that someone with similar skills (the kind of person who might inherit the project) can understand.

The first step is to begin with the chart, schematic, or sketch of the project. Then, note any places that need watching with respect to assembly and repair. This is the bare minimum for documenting how anything is put together, but with a sketch I can show something that would take a small book to describe.

Next, create parts list from the chart or schematic and make a cut list for carpentry projects. If you take this list right off of the chart or schematic you are less likely to forget something, and making the list ensures that you have all of the parts for the project. When making the list specify values of components, colors of floss, or dimensions of lumber. Without these specifications it will be impossible to finish or rebuild the project without having to redo much of the design work.

Assembly instructions, if needed, should come next. This will include such things as component orientation, assembly order and appropriate tools for the job. Finally, make sure there are operating instructions! If the finished project does anything beyond sitting on a shelf and looking pretty, it needs instructions so that when it is pulled off the shelf (after who knows how many years) it can be used. Include power up and adjustment instructions, as well as how to do routine maintenance on the project so that you (or whoever inherits the project) can fix it if it falls into disrepair.

The instructions may be no longer than a single sheet of paper, but the value of that single sheet will be apparent after the first time the project has been left for more than a few days. When all else fails, read (make sure you’ve written) the instructions.

qed.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)