Watchdog Water Alarm teardown

Today we have a somewhat vintage teardown. Even though you can still buy this Watchdog BWD-HWA Water Alarm in home stores and online, the design itself probably goes quite a few decades back as we’ll see below. We’ll also learn a few things about low power design. Rumor has it these last forever on a nine volt battery!

Front view

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1mm pitch flex cable passthrough

By popular demand, the breakout/passthrough combination boards family now includes a 1mm pitch variant:

This version handles up to 30 signals which seems to be a practical limit of most 1mm FPC connectors. Each signal is numbered and brought to a 0.1 in spacing header for easy connection to your favorite logger/analyzer/scope. Continue reading

Flex cable passthrough breakout- 0.5mm


Front side

Front side

Here is a product whose origin lies in the pain and suffering of an actual development project. Imagine you have a shiny new display made somewhere out there in a world that comes with a demo board and some datasheets.  So you take a display, hook it up to your favorite development board and try to follow the documentation. Except nothing works. And yet a a demo next to you works well, but is very tiny, has no test points and not documented. So you poke at the fine pitch flex connector with a scope for a bit, and realize you need a better way to capture what’s going on. Off you go to the lab and cobble together what is essentially a pass-through: two FPC breakout boards back to back, with a 0.1″ header in between.

How it started

Now you can hook up your trusty Saleae Logic analyzer and look at what the demo board is actually sending down as opposed to what the datasheet says it should. This board is exactly that, but made into one neat package. It can handle standard 0.5mm pitch FPC connectors up to 40 pins wide.

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Rant: Our 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid (HCHII) troubles or how not to treat customers

Warning, long rant ahead!  As some of you know, we own a 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid, also called HCHII (second generation). Bought new, the car has been an absolute pleasure to drive, for about two years. And then all hell broke loose and  it’s been downhill since. In this post I intend to details my dealings with American Honda and the overall unhappiness with the situation. Where possible, I include screenshots or scans of the original documents.  I truly hope ACH will come to its senses and take care of the customers like myself, but if history is any indication it is not very likely.

The updated ending to this story is at the very end, if you want to skip to that. Otherwise read on!


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Solar- 6 months later

6 months performance report

It is now late June, time to take a look at how our solar installation has been performing over the last six months. To recap, the system is a 5.2kW rooftop installation using 22 240W Sunpower ACPV panels with integrated microinverters (see detailed writeup at It was turned on in early December of 2013 and has been pumping energy since then. So what did we produce so far?

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