The Human Carrot
A funny wingsuit BASE story by Douggs with a serious message...
So you're a newly qualified skydiver, wanting to start your progression to becoming one of those sky-gods. What's to stop you now?
Well for one thing, your budget! You need to start getting your own equipment, from wrist altimeters to helmets to your very first rig. At the same time, you need to start spending on coaching or paying for time in the wind tunnel. If you're not lucky enough to be earning loads of money on your day job, progression can feel frustratingly slow and expensive.
So here at AO(N²), we decided to do our bit to make this sport slightly less expensive. Most audible altimeters are expensive, usually US$200 or more. They have advanced features such as jump logging, speed detection, swoop alarms etc. So for the newer skydivers, if they don't need these features they simply forego having an audible altimeter at all.
However, many people want an audible that just beeps at the correct altitude to improve their altitude awareness. We did a survey and found that many people didn't change their audible settings very often - or given the difficult user interfaces on most audibles, just didn't know how!
So we started designing and test-jumping. What we came up with is Brilliant Pebbles, an easy-to-use audible that's less than half the price of the standard audibles!
How did we manage it? First, we did away with a screen and buttons, and replaced it with a single button. To change the settings, we decided to make it usable with smartphones, tablets and laptops. We put a lot of effort in creating an easy-to-use Android App, as well as a PC and Mac app.
We also made its usage like an AAD: turn it on in the morning, jump all day, and it switches itself off 16 hours later.
We put in one of the most accurate barometric sensors on the market, and a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery with estimated 2 months battery life on standby, into a small, durable case, lots of testing, and voilà! Audible awareness more affordable for everyone.
Brilliant Pebbles is the no-frills audible people have been looking for: set alarm altitudes (up to 20 of them!) and the audible will beep at those altitudes, using 9 different tones to choose from, accurate to within 1 metre (3.3 feet). Brilliant pebbles doesn't detect speed or whether you're under canopy or not, it's merely an assistant for altitude awareness.
Using a smartphone or laptop had side benefits: you can set weird altitudes (say, alarm at 37 metres) or altitudes up to 30,000ft. Most audibles max out at 9900 feet, and of course most of them have fewer than 20 alarms available!
Sure, this audible isn't for everyone - if you change your settings frequently, or you want to use it as a logbook (Brilliant Pebbles only has a basic jump counter, but it might do more in future firmware updates *wink*), or of course, if you already have an audible . But if you're looking for an audible or know someone who is, we'd be very grateful if you gave us a chance - you can purchase them from this link.
However, this isn't our first altimeter - in December 2015 we launched one of the most beautiful and unusual altimeters on the market, Tritium. It's a very unique altimeter with very limited availability, and may be the subject of another article in the future. Blue skies!