My Pebble, more PAN in Panbo

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

26 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    App support to display NMEA 2000 data pages would be very compelling.

  2. John Hinckley says:

    I’m curious as to whether the display is actually readable? There are some things I just don’t do on my iphone because the screen is just too darn small, even though it’s a 5. I’ve even refrained from an ipad and continue to stick with a procession of 15″ MBPro’s, where there’s room to at least zoom the text and still not have to scroll hither and yon to read something…
    For those of us with aging eyes, there’s a point where even glasses don’t help…

  3. Yme Bosma says:

    Can’t believe I never told you… ‘Pan’ was short for Personal Area Network indeed, but the ‘bo’ was short for Bosma, my last name… I originally registered the domain when I first learned about Bluetooth and its networking capabilities. In my vision (not only mine by the way), a watch would become a very important part of that network. And I had dreams of building one. That appeared too dificult at that time, so when I started this blog I still had the domain and used it. With this post I guess we are back at the beginning;-)

  4. Bill Bishop says:

    Very cool watch Ben. Do Panbots now dream of electric sheep? And thanks Yme, I always wondered where the name came from.

  5. Xavier Itzmann says:

    «a Pebble couldn’t eventually do much of what Garmin’s highly desirable Quatix does?»
    Are there industry standards so that if a device properly hooked into the NMEA 2000 net sends a MOB, all relevant N2K devices such as chart plotters and possibly autopilots will receive and display the MOB location from the third-party N2K MOB-sending unit?
    If this is were the case, then any properly programmed third-party devices, such as a Pebble, wirelessly connected to the N2K net through a gateway compatible to the device (such as a Digital Yacht NavLink Plus Nmea2000 to Wifi or a Garmin GNT-10 to ANT), should be able to execute this MOB function?

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Yme! And congratulations on your son Jesse (excellent name ;-), your marriage, and your catamaran adventure. Wow. Here’s hoping there’s more family boating in your future…with WANs, LANs, and PANs included.

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Interesting question, Xavier. I can’t find any mention of MOB or “overboard” in NMEA’s N2K database or the PDF you can download that includes field descriptions. However, the new 3.0 Edition includes a set of Alert PGNs that are supposed to be very powerful.
    I was mostly thinking that apps and WiFi/Bluetooth links could do the NMEA data streaming the Quatix does, maybe some of the sail racing features too (in conjunction with a phone app). But I suppose it’s vaguely possible that a watch like this might also do the active MOB detection that is included in the Quatix/GarminNetwork system.
    I noticed that at least one other smart watch has a link alarm so you know if it’s broken its Bluetooth connection with the phone. Active MOB is just the reverse alarm. I’m a little skeptical, though, and wouldn’t even count on the Quatix being usable that way until actually tested on one’s particular boat.

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    John, The Pebble display isn’t anything like any phone or tablet I’ve seen. It’s more like the Furuno FI-50 monochrome instruments, which seem to achieve maximum clarity in direct sunlight. Then again right now I’m only working with a low Maine sun that rarely comes out! Plus the fonts used for texts and notifications are pretty small (see Pebble Tides above).
    One neat thing about the Pebble’s backlighting is that you can turn it on by just flicking your wrist.

  9. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    By the way, the last photo also demonstrates the audio track title display and control app that comes in the Pebble. It works great with Google Music on the phone, and is easier to use for pausing or advancing tracks.
    Also PocketNow did a good video review of the Pebble:

  10. Alex says:

    Is it seriously waterproof? JIS7?

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:
    Q. Is it waterproof?
    A. Pebble is rated at 5 ATM, tested for both fresh and saltwater. You can swim with your Pebble and change tracks while in the shower.
    Depth Rating: 50 Meters – 165 Feet – 5 ATM
    Usage: A watch with this level of resistance is wearable around household sinks, while playing sports and while swimming in shallow water. Do not wear it while bathing, snorkeling or scuba diving.

  12. Paul says:

    How about fire hose conditions on the rail?

  13. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I’m just reporting what I read, Paul. Garmin seems to be claiming a similar 5-bar 50m rating for the Quatix. The rating style seems common for watches but not nearly as well defined as IPx1-7 type ratings.
    I’m not saying that the Pebble is as rugged as the Quatix; I doubt that very much. It might be interesting to compare warranties. Here’s the Pebble 1 year — — but I can’t find anything for Quatix.
    Sorry, but I don’t plan to point high pressure hoses at my new watch in the near future.

  14. Alex says:

    Fire hoses sometimes have the last word. It was a 69kt squall that killed my last cellphone. Being a sailor I did not have an enclosed cabin from which to navigate.
    I went to the site and found:
    “This warranty does not apply: …(iii) defects or damage caused by misuse, accident (including without limitation collision, fire and the spillage of food or liquid,… unusual stress…”
    This device, interesting as it may be, is not ready for maritime prime time as far as I can see. The warranty suggests it’s not ready for lunch with a two year old.

  15. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Have you compared it to other warranties, Alex? Here’s a general Garmin one with some similar language:
    But I don’t see how the Pebble language would absolve them if the watch fails when you do something like “swim with your Pebble and change tracks while in the shower” as claimed possible. But I do get how it wouldn’t be covered if you accidentally dropped a sizzling steak or lye-based cleaning liquid on it.
    Did you have your cell in a “waterproof” case during the squall?

  16. Yme Bosma says:

    There wil surely be more boating adventures in the near future. Now that we’ve sold the cat I’m in the process of designing and building an all electric and solar powered motorboat ( ). Full of WAN’s and PAN’s;-)

  17. Dadrock33 says:

    Thanks Ben for all the info and it’s so informative, and in so many ways . . love it.
    Hey Yme, take a look at and see how it compares with your concepts . . . looks like the sign of things to come . . . could prove interesting.
    Keep writing you guys . . . at least this is one newbie who loves reading and thinking about what could and can be . .

  18. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Dadrock, and I agree that Yme’s project is really interesting. Maybe I can get him to write about all those systems and why he chose them 😉
    And now a Pebble update. It’s been 8 days since I charged it and it’s finally showing a low battery warning, which is better than advertised. I still like getting caller ID, texts, and other notifications like WeatherBug on it, and I’m fairly convinced that a phone-connected watch of some sort will always be on my wrist.
    I did discover one issue with the Pebble, though. It’s fairly tall and my wrist is fairly small, so when I’m at a desk the watch is sometimes touching its surface, which means that the normally mild vibration to get my attention can become a rather startling “rat-a-tat-tat”.

  19. Yme Bosma says:

    Thanks Dadrock, I didn’t know about that project. I did have a look at the hydrogen/solargenerator concept before, but it didn’t really seem feasible nor efficient at this stage. The Independence 60 feels more like a concept study. But accoring to their website they were present at MIBS, you saw them there?
    Once the boat is finished I’d love to write a guest-blog Ben! Currently hard at work with different suppliers to make sure I choose the right systems.

  20. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Oh oh! Reader and single-hander Mike just told me about the Vaavud smartphone wind speed meter and now I’m a Kickstarter backer. But shouldn’t we encourage young sailors to get into marine electronics?

  21. Alex says:

    Awww, come on, liquid includes water, HOH, sometimes with salt in it, Ben. I find this site extremely valuable and well done. But consumer toys intended for impressing geek chicks at a latte bar just aren’t interesting. And as to Garmin’s warranty, if it says the same, shame on them.
    Back to sailing where water blows in the cockpit.

  22. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hey, Alex, I’m on the boat now and had my hands over the side last night cleaning fish. The Pebble survived!
    I’ve been thinking about that 69 knot squall that somehow killed your cell phone. I think I have around 20,000 miles under sail, and maybe half that under power, and much of it in open ocean…and I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced 69 knots of wind, not even close.
    So you may be pre-disastered (reference: Life According to Garp). Heck, you might be able to get away with a Mickey Mouse watch.
    By the way, I went looking for a watch rated to JIS7 like you want, and I can’t find a thing.

  23. Jim Archer says:

    I have ny Pebble on on my wrist as I type this! I can’t wait to get my hands on a descent SDK (programming environment) for this thing, as the possibilities are near endless. I doubt we’ll see it in time for anything this season, but hopefully well in time for next.

  24. madscientist says:

    I suspect Apple will wipe out these with iWatch.

  25. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Easy to say, but how exactly will that work? Will Apple make their watch compatible with Android, Windows, and Blackberry smart phones? Or will it be a standalone device?
    There are numerous ways to design a smart watch and personally I’m liking how the Pebble serves mainly as a simple extension of my phone (with the capability of simple apps). By the way, my Pebble is getting over a week between battery charges and has survived many dunkings.
    At any rate, it will be interesting to see how Apple plays it. Much speculation here:

  26. Jim says:

    For anyone interested, we just released a free racing countdown timer app for the Pebble. Its a 5-4-1-0 countdown with some nice features, including the ability to count down as all seconds. Freely available here:

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