Pal is a strap for Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel that features a high performance, independent GPS and Pebble battery extender.
About this project
Every Pebble deserves a Pal.
Hello, my name is David, and I have a passion for making great watchstraps! Along with my engineering colleagues, I’ve worked very closely with Pebble to create the world’s first GPS and battery extender Smartstrap for Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel watches.
The world’s first GPS and battery extender Smartstrap for Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel watches. It’s lightweight and durable — sure to be a great companion to your Pebble! The strap’s GPS is independent so you don’t rely on a connection to a smartphone and it features an extended battery so that you don’t have to worry about your battery — it provides true freedom while out on the trail.
It features a high performance, independent GPS that allows users to track speed, distance, elevation and route for up to 24 hours without the need for a Smartphone. Begin your activity as soon as you go out, no time wasted idly waiting for a signal. Pal uses industry leading GPS (Qualcomm SiRF), which provides quick signal pickup.
The Pal Smartstrap extends the life of Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel for up to seven days, serving as a backup battery so users spend less time worrying about their next charge. Also, the Pebble and strap share the same charger for hassle-free charging. In case of emergency, the Pal can be used as a battery back-up to the Pebble.
Pal’s companion app for iOS and Android offers instant access to GPS performance data, which can be shared with friends and family. Review the location log records from the GPS, and display the route and running information (e.g. pace, speed, lap time, altitude, etc.) on both Android and iOS. Users can even preset targets and measure performance against their goals.
Sharing: Users can upload records to their preferred social platform (e.g Facebook or Twitter) through shortcut keys in app so they can share their progress.
I’ve been in the watch strap manufacturing business for years and have witnessed smartwatch makers treat watch straps as a secondary component. The straps that I saw were procured at the last minute and with little engineering effort put into the strap design.
Pal started in 2014 with the question “Why don’t we make better use of straps for smartwatches?” I brought up the ideas to two other engineers – CC and Edwin, whose backgrounds are in electronics, mechanical engineering and the battery business. The three musketeers of Powerstrap put together a conceptual battery strap prototype and presented it to Pebble. They have been great partners in helping us identify what would be of most use to the Pebble community, best practices and gave feedback which helped us perfect the design.
The reason we named our strap “Pal” is because it’s a true and trusted companion to your Pebble!
Pal is comprised of a Qualcomm SiRF GPS module, a 250mAh Li-ion battery and a micro-controller unit that handles GPS data calculation, power management and active communication with Pebble. When Pal’s GPS is turned on, it consumes power only from its own battery and not Pebble’s battery.
Raw GPS data received from satellites are processed by Pal’s MCU and results are pumped to Pebble for display and storage. Through our efficient power management intelligence, Pal’s battery recharges Pebble’s battery only when the user manually activates the function or when Pebble’s battery drops to very low level and triggers auto-charging.
Connecting pins between Pal and Pebbles are surrounded by soft gasket. This structure makes Pal water resistant but probably cannot withstand swimming or diving. In any case, even if water goes between connecting pins, Pal’s electronic design has protection measure and it won’t be damaged.
GNSS support: GPS only
TTFF cold fix time: about 40 seconds under open sky. Location fix time can be accelerated by AGPS (working in progress with Qualcomm)
Location hot fix: within 10 seconds
Certification: planned to be done upon campaign success and product launch: CE, FCC, IC
Battery technical Specs: Battery capacity: 250mAh Battery chemistry: Lithium Ion Polymer Nominal Voltage: 3.8V Pebble Watch’s battery: can be charged from either PAL’s internal battery or external charging port underneath PAL Internal battery of PAL: charge up from charging port underneath PAL
Pal (even when combined with the Pebble watch) is 20% lighter and more compact than the average GPS while still offering enhanced functionalities.
In order to do this, along with providing optimal durability, flexibility and weight without compromising looks we used TPU. This material also allows us to engineer an ergonomic strap curvature to ensure that it fits comfortably.
The material is a TPU material, which is carefully selected for the right durability and flexibility without compromising on looks. Also offers an ergonomically engineered strap curvature to ensure that it fits comfortably without compromising on looks.
Excluding our Kickstarter costs, our campaign goal of USD 80,000 covers mass production tooling, procuring minimum-order-quantity of electronic components, first lot production cost and upcoming testing certification cost.
We have been working very closely with Pebble to provide the best strap for the amazing Pebble community since 2014. We have been diligently working on this and just need the last
Since day one we have decided to make Pal an open platform GPS strap. Our object has always been making the GPS strap as useful to most Pebble users as possible. We have been helping Pebble to refine its API related to GPS functions. We are expecting developers to look into our API and develop new app with Pal. If you have ideas, don’t be shy. Contact us at[email protected].
Powerstrap was founded in 2014 by three engineers headed by David Yeung. The team has strong development backgrounds and passion for watches, electronics, mechanical design and batteries. Inspired by the growing applications of smart watches that were originated by Pebble, the Powerstrap team immediately took note that there were limitations in battery power with most smart watches. Together, they pledged to resolve this constraint by utilizing the watch strap and buckle to provide the extra battery life sorely missing. Their initial battery watch strap prototypes had impressed Pebble and thus led to collaboration in developing Pal – GPS & battery strap for Pebble. Powerstrap will continue to explore solutions that will equip smart watches with more power and functions.
Risks and challenges
Risks and Challenges:
Pal has gone through the most challenging technical hurdles. Design for mass production tools are all set and will start cutting metal once campaign goal is achieved. We plan to start early and give ourselves more buffer in case of hiccups from now till delivery.
Design improvement vs time constraint:
We keep receiving feedback from developers requesting for additional memory or data format for their specific applications. While we want to cater as many developers’ suggestions as possible, we must carefully plan our design / firmware improvement, and constantly check our progress against the committed delivery schedule.
Supply Chain Risk:
We’ve kept good communications with component suppliers so far and have planned our procurement schedule accordingly. Final committed schedule of components from suppliers will only be effective after we place purchase order. Unexpected shortages of delay of particular components can occur, however, if that unlikely scenario happens, we will be sure to keep you updated immediately.
Upscale performance – AGPS support:
We haven’t received AGPS support yet, however, we are still actively pursuing it. Despite our design being catered to this capability, we need involvement from Qualcomm to make this happen.