Instructions for Joy

A few of the more humorous instruction manuals we've come across lately.

Favorited Favorite 0

Very quickly, before we delve into our "Instructions for Joy," I want to mention that this coming Tuesday (that's August 17th) we will be hosting an SMD Soldering Class. Sign up for the class if you are interested in checking out SparkFun and learning how to solder the much-maligned surface mount components. You can do it, we swear! Ok, onward!

I read a lot of manuals. Any (good) electronics enthusiast does and anyone who has come across a vague or poorly-written manual knows it can throw a sedan-sized wrench into any development process. The worst are the manuals that are poorly translated from another language. One vague sentence can really ruin an afternoon's work or even cause project-ending frustration.

Sometimes, however, there are those manuals with details or mistranslations that end up being flat out hilarious. At SparkFun we have come across a few such manuals in the past few weeks and felt the need to share them with you. There are three. The first two are your standard funnier-than-average mistranslations. The third, however, is something that we've never encountered before: a product manual for a commercial product that is purposely funny. That's right, these guys did what I wanted to do in every science lab writeup and user manual I've ever written - they filled it with jokes. So, without further ado...

Number One Special Instructions for Joy: Music Baby Carrier

This particular manual came with the over-sized RC car that our CEO Nathan used to build his Autonomous Vehicle.

It's designed to carry, you guessed it, a baby (or any biped under 50 pounds in weight). You can honk the horn, blink the lights, and press a button that plays high-pitched Chinese pop music if that's the sort of thing your baby is into. It's simple enough to figure out without the instructions, but by not reading them you miss out on some translations that were obviously done by getting BabelFish drunk. Here are some of the greatest hits:

This phrase brings me multiple joys.

So it's either hot because it's working or it's hot because it's not. Got it. Either way keep a fire extinguisher around.

Wanna bet?

Sad battery = No hugs. Check.

Not joy?!...hmm... that makes me think of...

Sounds like a challenge.

Oh now you tell me.

Number Two Special Instructions for Joy: ...but do not consume...

The second bit of instructions is short but sweet. It's from a soldering iron. Most of the directions are well-written, but if you look close you find this little gem:

Fun! I'll keep this right next to my charging musical baby carrier.

Ultimate Final Special Instructions for Joy: PE-2 Super Dope Temperature Sensor

The last manual is from a laser temperature sensor that we sell. It's made by a company in Colorado called Pro Exotics. They developed it to quickly and accurately measure the temperature of reptile terrariums. A couple of weeks ago I was current-testing a chip (read: trying to blow it up) and I wanted to see a temperature curve. I pulled one of the temp sensors off the shelf and immediately threw the directions into the trash. I soon realized, however, that I didn't know how to make the device switch from Celsius to Fahrenheit, so I dug up the instructions. I then proceeded to laugh non-stop for an entire hour. I had a tough time actually figuring out how to change the units because by the time I got to that section of the manual I was laughing too hard to concentrate. For this manual, I didn't go through and pull out the good parts, I'll just let you read through it. Trust me, it's worth it. Submitted for your approval, The Pro Exotics PE-2 Temp Gun Operating Instructions:

Comments 29 comments

  • TimCole / about 14 years ago / 2

    Here are a few gems from an old Citoh printer manual (ca. 1983)
    "Printer not to be unloaded with less than two manpowers."
    "Locate printer in embrasure of a ventilative circumstance."
    "Ensure lamp of power is engaged."
    And finally, from the introduction:
    " function of printer to act as super shuttle diplomacy between cold brain of computer and warm heart of human being..."

    • Nice one!

      • BootHowTo / about 14 years ago / 1

        C.Itoh was a Japanese company manufactured early age Computer peripherals like video terminals and printers. I can reverse guess how the original Japanese instructions were written from the badly translated ones.
        The company had a sense of humor indeed. It manufactured video terminal named VTIO1 (donot get confused with VT101) which exactly looked like and worked like a certain US product.

  • SomeGuy123 / about 14 years ago * / 1

    I bought a can of peanuts that said 'may contain nuts' once.

  • Tycho Vhargon / about 14 years ago / 1

    A bit off topic, but can someone explain how the commenting system works? There's a grey outlined star, and a grey filled in star both with numbers next to them.
    Also, an email reply notification system would be really neat, because a lot of times I have a question, and want to be notified if it gets a response. has a really nice system set up.

  • HP / about 14 years ago / 1


  • haha / about 14 years ago / 1

    I am a chinese.
    My english also not good.
    My boss is a germany, he also laugh at me about english.

  • chromesitar / about 14 years ago / 1

    Wow...never expected my hobbies to crossover like this!
    Pro Exotics sells some nice reptiles to use those tempguns on. Now I just need to finish my touchscreen reptile thermostat project.

  • mman1506 / about 14 years ago / 1

    there is a toy sailboat at a toy store that read:
    this new sailboat was designed for many children
    and to bring much pleasure
    when used you and your child can have much pleasure together.

  • Econaut / about 14 years ago / 1

    haha, love it

  • Norm! / about 14 years ago / 1

    I still have the original manual for Turbo C. In the description for the DOS sound command is a short story about 7hz being the resonance frequency of the chicken skull and how a factory near a chicken farm wiped out an entire flock of chickens.

  • Honus / about 14 years ago / 1

    That made my day.
    When I worked as a bicycle designer I used to see some really good ones. My personal favorite was "It's the more wonderful than you can believe it. Quality is our best chasing. You can rely on this fairly."
    I also know of a bicycle chain company that was printing an ad for a German bike magazine and they wanted their ad copy to say "The missing link." When their German distributor proofread the ad he stated laughing and told them their ad copy said "The missing penis." It appeared that the German word they chose for link was slang for sausage, appendage, etc...

  • Scott14 / about 14 years ago / 1

    My all time favorite error message - well, not exactly a label but still you have got to love computer error messages -
    This one is from Linux - "Badness in Panic"
    aaah yea, that sounds bad. Of course I caused it, I admit it, I was messing with the kernel code - but still, got to love that whole concept.

  • eewestcoaster / about 14 years ago / 1

    Best. Manual. Ever.

  • AlexK / about 14 years ago / 1

    One of my favorites is the driveshaft-through-the-skull warning symbol (from a real car manual!)

  • theBecwar / about 14 years ago / 1

    The Mackie 24-4 mixing console has a manual like that. The block diagram made me chuckle.
    -Sorry about the PDF... I'm to lazy to extract the page with the diagram. It's Pg 60.-
    (link: )

  • Marcoose / about 14 years ago / 1

    "Drink for them colourfulfor them"???
    LOL, it's also "a best friend for you and your partner"

  • Andrew / about 14 years ago / 1

    sigh I'll always regret not making a copy of the manual for my high school's scissor lift. The text was pretty bland, but it was packed to the brim with hilarious illustrations of terrible things happening to stick figures who didn't follow the instructions.

  • numinit / about 14 years ago / 1

    Haha, I loved that third one. Apparently if you change the batteries while it's on, the universe will disappear.

  • tommy321 / about 14 years ago / 1

    Has anyone ever had the need to attach electronics to stained glass? If so, I have the soldering iron for you:

  • Kellsch / about 14 years ago / 1

    "Battery life: 40 hours of continuous use (with auto-off)"
    If it's continuous use then why does it need auto-off?

  • LFRanalog / about 14 years ago / 1

    Funny that this should come up...
    I bought the PE-2 a while ago, and I absolutely love that manual. It's actually hanging on the wall of my office next to my datasheets for the Turboencabulator and the Signetics Write-Only Memory (these'll provide another good chortle for anyone that regularly reads boring electronics datasheets).

    • TimCole / about 14 years ago / 1

      That Signetics WOM datasheet was pinned up in the engineering students' design room when I was still in university. Do you know where I can get a copy?

  • I'm glad we ended up posting this. Here are a couple I found at a store in Utah:
    "Drink for them colourfulfor them"???
    Remote control car:
    (same car)

  • R0B0T1CS / about 14 years ago / 1

    This may seem a bit of a reach for many of this audience, but have you ever read "Baby: An Owner's Manual". It's a guide to baby care written in the style of a lawn mower user manual. It also makes for a great first-time dad gift...

Related Posts

2 Open 2 Sauce

Recent Posts

2 Open 2 Sauce


All Tags