With audibles from other manufacturers costing in excess of £160, it's nice to see the development of one that brings the price tag down to well below the £100. At the time of their release they were priced at an introductory £65 (regular retail price £75)
So if you're looking to buy an audible and your on a budget, we'll guide you through the ins and outs of this device, leaving you free to decide if it's the right one for you!
The device currently comes in three flavours or colours; Neon Pink, Neon Orange and Neon Green.
We do suspect that there are also purple, blue and black \ grey - but that's just out intuition...
The flamboyant colour schemes are actually rather useful, as it's nearly impossible to drop one on the grass and for it not to be noticed. We all know someone who has lost some gear at some point and black plastic audibles facing down can even be difficult to find on a desk or packing floor... but you'll be hard pressed to miss these!
Dimensions: 44mm x 34.6mm x 13.5mm
For comparison to a popular audible such as L&B's SOLO, OPTIMA or QUATTRO - The Pebble is not as tall or wide but has a greater depth. The L&B devices are 56mm x 41mm x 11mm.
You should find that this device still fits into almost every mainstream helmet used in skydiving, although those with an already tight fitting helmet may notice the presence of the audible pressing against their head. A difference of 2.5mm (depth) isn't very noticeable, so if you don't even notice something like the SOLO, you have a good chance that this one will be a comfortable fit too.
AO(N2) state that their devices operating range on this device is from 0 meters to 11,000 meters (0 to 30,000ft) with a precision of ±1 meter or 3.3 feet.
So yes, this device is expected to function on those high-altitude jumps, although we've not had the chance to put them to the test.
The manufacturer makes no claim that the product is waterproof or even water resistant. The hole for the beeper and connection port are unprotected, so we can safely assume that if you plunge it in water, you're more than likely to kill it.
Out of the box, the device comes with 4 pre-set altitude alarms, but up to 20 can be configured, and this includes ones for canopy piloting too. There are 9 different "tones" to select from which are comprised of 5 high pitch, 2 medium pitch and 2 low pitch tones.
The high pitch ones were ear piercingly loud and came through clearly the thin padding of a helmet, thankfully though they can be made quite brief (all alarms can be configured to last from 1 second upwards, in increments of 1 second)
The medium one was a lot less invasive bit still audible and the low-pitched ones were nearly missed in freefall, but were a very comfortable level when flying around under a parachute.
We would suggest that the Medium alarms are used in short durations during freefall for pre-warning heights, and the high-pitched ones used for alarms to notify the user that they are lower than they originally intended. The low pitch alarms are in our opinion perfectly suited as canopy alarms, and could be used as a reminder to a Tandem Instructor to pick up the secondary brakes or to canopy pilots alerting them they are at a pre-set altitude.
The manufacturer suggests that the volume can be changed, however this doesn't yet appear to be a function of the audibles we tested.
AO(N2) state that it has a rechargeable Lithium based battery that will last for around two months. What they don't state is how many times the device can be used (number of jumps) before needing a recharge. Also, there is no screen or other method for obtaining a reference on how much battery life is left in the unit.
One of the most used Brilliant Pebbles is used by a tandem instructor making between 50-60 jumps per week who reported that the device only required charging twice a month!! If you want to read that article, click here.
To keep the battery in the best operating condition, don't over charge it. Here's a handy guide from the guys over at lifehacker to extending battery life, so well worth a read (opens in a new window)
The device is charged via the USB socket, and has both a manual and automatic shutdown to conserve power. Automatic power off occurs 16 hours after it is turned on (like an AAD) and manual shut down is achieved by holding the power button until the beeping stops. (The unit status light will flash to indicate the device is on) Pressing and releasing the power button will reactivate the device.