(Can't see the video? Click here to view it on Vimeo)
Things are moving fast in Pebble land. We're progressing rapidly through our Engineering Verification test stages. We've been spending a lot of time in Asia working with our manufacturing team and the various vendor factories that are supplying parts for Pebble. Two weeks ago, we did a sample build of Pebble with the full assembly line. The output of that sample build was a few of the first assembly line manufactured Pebbles!
Pebble is not in mass production yet. These sample Pebbles are from an early pre-production test build. We only turned the assembly line on for one day to test the process.
One of the first Pebbles off the test assembly line. Check out the video above for a closer look!
A view of the test assembly line
Soldering the battery to the main printed circuit board (PCB)
David (tall guy from Dragon) examining the vibrating-motor-into-case assembly process
You can view the high resolution versions of all these images and more in this album.
Now that we have more complete sample Pebbles to work with, we're beginning environmental testing. This means putting Pebble through its paces and seeing how the hardware holds up in a variety of everyday (and not so everyday) conditions. Here are just a few of the tests that Pebble is undergoing:
- salt water test
- water proofing test
- UV aging test
- Drop test
- Twist test with bands
- Lens impact test
- abrasion test
- button reliability test
- tension pull test with wrist straps installed
We can confirm that the issue we were having with the antenna (Update 18) has been conquered! The latest samples have vastly improved range and meet all of our requirements. Originally, our design included a chip antenna (similar to this), a simple antenna that's easy to use. But after testing back in August showed degradation of the signal inside a test Pebble, we redesigned the radio-frequency (RF) path. We switched to a custom-built antenna solution that uses metal traces positioned to be higher above the bottom of the watch, allowing the RF signal to be clear of water-filled cylinder that is a human wrist.
2-3 test builds remaining before mass production
Before we get into mass production (ie manufacturing all 85,000 Pebbles), we have several more test builds to complete. A test build is when we get the whole assembly line into place and manufacture/assemble a batch (normally around 50-300) of Pebbles. These test builds give us the chance to test the end-to-end manufacturing process, catching problems, testing new solutions and eliminating bugs. These are our major opportunities to revise and fix any problems with the design or manufacturing process, so we're being extremely diligent and careful.
Testing different variations of batteries, vibrating motors and backlight modules
For example, we have several different vendors lined up to provide components for Pebble like the vibrating motor, battery and flexible printed circuit (FPC). In these test builds, we are qualifying each vendor's components and making sure that they are suitable for us to use. Having multiple vendors available for high risk components allows us to switch one component out for another in mass production if issues or delays arise with that specific part.
Check out the video to see a few samples of the color Pebbles. We aren't happy with the precise colors, so we're still working on tweaking the plastics. As soon as we're happy with the colors, we'll post high resolution photos in a future update.
Here's your chance to get one of our cool 'Meet Pebble' t-shirts that I was wearing in the video. All you have to do is tell us what you're planning on doing with your Pebble ("Checking email while paragliding" or "Skipping music tracks from the bath tub" or even "Writing an app to control the sun..."). Post your answer in the comments section below. We'll choose our 10 favourite answers and give the responder a red or grey a 'meet pebble' t-shirt (their choice).
Thanks again for backing us, Pebblers!
Eric + Pebble Team