As many of us, including myself struggle to find a reason to drop $180 on Amazon’s Echo, plenty of people have already done so and most seem pretty happy with their purchase. And although I have yet to see one compelling reason to own one, I do grudgingly acknowledge that the world does not in fact rotate around me and not every product has me in its cross-hairs. Of course if you can’t justify spending that much on a glorified Bluetooth speaker that can order you some diapers and detergent, and are of the DIY persuasion, Amazon has been kind enough to post detailed instructions on how you can build your own Amazon Echo for a fraction of the cost using a Raspberry Pi 2 as it’s brain, and a few cables and plug-in parts that Amazon will of course be happy to sell you.
The instructions on Github are thorough and no one should be scared off by the necessary warning that you will need “basic programming experience and familiarity with shell.” The emphasis is on the “basic” part and the steps provided along with links to further explanations are enough to practically anyone through the process.
The only parts you will need are:
- Raspberry Pi 2 (Model B)
- Micro-USB power cable for Raspberry Pi (included with Raspberry Pi)
- Micro SD Card – To get started with Raspberry Pi you need an operating system. NOOBS (New Out Of the Box Software) is an easy-to-use operating system install manager for the Raspberry Pi. The simplest way to get NOOBS is to buy an SD card with NOOBS preinstalled – Raspberry Pi 8GB Preloaded (NOOBS) Micro SD Card
- An Ethernet cable
- USB 2.0 Mini Microphone
- A USB Keyboard & Mouse, and an
- External HDMI Monitor
- (optional)USB keyboard and mouse if for some reason you can’t “SSH” into your Raspberry
- (optional)WiFi Wireless Adapter
After putting it all together and booting it up, there is simple but lengthy process of registering the device with Amazon services and setting up as an Alexa Voice Service but here again, don’t be intimidated; all the steps with helpful and detailed images are provided.
The only caveat is that due to the TOS in Alexa Voice Services, it will not be in “always listening” mode and you cannot activate it using a trigger word. With the regular Amazon Echo, you simply address it with an “Alexa” vocal command but with the DIY, you have to include a physical button to wake it and launch the voice recognition, making it similar in function to the Amazon Tap. However, unofficial workarounds for this already exist with the use of a sound activated relay (if you want to go that route).
This is not the first time that a DIY instructions for an Amazon Echo have appeared but these are official, much simpler and very detailed, taking you through every needed step.[button link=”https://github.com/amzn/alexa-avs-raspberry-pi” icon=”fa-external-link” side=”left” target=”blank” color=”285b5e” textcolor=”ffffff”]Source: GitHub[/button]
Last Updated on March 26, 2016.