Alexa Everywhere (remote mics and speakers)

alexa
dot
echo
microphones
project_voice

(I got a hair cut from Alexa) #1

Some of you may remember when I put the headphones on an Amazon Echo, so I could tell Alexa what to do or say through the house speakers. At that time Big Talker and Vlc Thing would whisper into Alexa’s ear and get her activated and talking. This project is an extension of that, where I’ve put speakers and microphones around my pool so I can talk to Alexa, listen to music, and hear any crucial announcements. I now use two Amazon Dots, they have a nice audio out jack. One dot is for inside the house, the other is for the back yard.

The microphones are inexpensive Shure 57 equivalents - DRI100… and they sound darn good. I connect them to an Art MX821S microphone mixer. If you turn up the individual mic volume half way, the mic works when your close like you see singers at concerts do…if you turn it up to 100% it covers an area very nicely. Talk in a normal speaking voice, and she hears you just fine. They have a cardioid pattern and are totally dead behind them (giving some privacy along the back tree line), and very lively in front. The speakers are indoor/outdoor from Best Buy and my outdoor amp is just an old boom box with an impedance matcher for multiple speakers. (not a crank up loud system, but just right if you’ve got neighbors!) Of course zwave power modules can cut the power to the system quickly, if the friends get a little to wild.


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#2

Wish I was near you so we could have some beers and I could see your set up. I’ve been trying to figure out how to improve my pool sound system with my Dot. It’s half way hooked up but has some issues.

Currently hooked up to a Sonos Connect ( that sends my Deezer app, Pandora & most of my iTunes music) to my receiver that sends music to my pool speakers & a Nyrius bluetooth on my receiver so I can use the Dot for free Prime Amazon music. Thinking of keeping my Dot inside (20 feet from my receiver & my pool chairs) and using my unused Echo remote for the Dot.

I don’t want to push a bunch of dammed buttons on a iPad to change my music, that’s too much work.

I might need to pick your brain later.


(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #3

I’d have a lot of fun with you if you were my neighbor (after clandestinely pairing a remote to your dot). (c;


(I got a hair cut from Alexa) #4

That sounds pretty great Murray! The music I’ve purchased stays on a local server, but I do stream things like Tune-in, I love hearing stuff from all over the world, and Amazon prime. The remote sounds like a great idea. Feel free to ask any questions you want.


#5

I noticed CNET is now recommending having a nestcam ( camera with an intercom feature) near the echo so you can give it remote commands and see what actually happens. :wink:


(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #6

All of my music is in iTunes (which connects to my various systems via airplay); what I have done is to use HAM Bridge to instruct which system to connect to and which playlist to play via AppleScript.

“Alexa, tell SmartThings to play bedroom music [playlist name]”
“Alexa, tell SmartThings to play outdoor music [playlist name]”

[Playlist name] is passed to HAM Bridge as a param within separate commands for bedroom, outdoor, media system device names which run python scripts to turn the various systems on/select inputs via iTach devices. Similar scripts shut everything down if I tell SmartThings I am leaving or my presence sensor leaves.


(I got a hair cut from Alexa) #7

A nest cam? To watch the blue light on the echo go round and round? :wink:


#8

No, to watch the room and whatever automations you’ve initiated through Echo. Probably used by the same people who use the nest cams to watch their dogs and tell them to get down off the couch. :dog:


(I got a hair cut from Alexa) #9

You know JDRoberts…I called my mom tonight, she lives like 100 miles away…and I told her about some of the home automation stuff I’m working on. She told me, I think if you had a dog, you would put up cameras to watch it all day. …so what you said, is extra funny to me tonight.


(Kevin [Yorkshire UK]) #10

In an effort to get ad hoc notifications from my Echo’s I’m contemplating using some Big Talker supported audio output device - that feeds a very local/low level spoken trigger, ‘Alexa ask Home to play notification’ into my Echo triggering a code sequence (maybe hardwired at mic level) that then speaks the current notification as the response.

So the sequence would be that I wish to announce something through my Echo so I store that as my response somewhere. I send my trigger sequence ‘Alexa ask home for notification’ to BigTalker that gets ‘whispered’ to my Echo causing it to trigger some code that actually retrieves and speaks the response I wish to announce. I need to look at whether I can store and retrieve those responses via some (global ?) text variable so that I can achieve this.

Early thoughts but I really would like my Echo to be able to announce ‘ad hoc’ things when appropriate - e.g. the name of an incoming telephone caller or a car arrival in my driveway.

Any thoughts welcome…

73’s Kevin


(I got a hair cut from Alexa) #11

I do that with big talker, vlc thing, and vlc on a pc connected to a pair of headphones that go on the echo’s head. It works well with wired headphones and sucks with Bluetooth headphones. :slight_smile:


(Kevin [Yorkshire UK]) #12

So Keith - you already implemented the code in the middle bit that sends the ‘trigger’ via BigTalker and then later the text to ‘announce’ back from AskHome to your Amazon Echo/Dot as a response ? That’s heartening and I’ll give it a try at this end.

If it could transparently hook in to the BigTalker app to allow it to seamlessly use an Echo/Dot with Alexa TTS as the announcer that would be very useful for me. Achieving the currently blocked TTS/notify ability with Alexa.

Or perhaps you are using an already TTS’d ‘Simon Says’ trigger phrase rather than a new text response ?


(I got a hair cut from Alexa) #13

Big Talker has it’s own triggering built in…which is pretty nifty. It also lets you configure the text that will be spoken to the Echo under each trigger. Big talker’s configured Text translates into words spoken to Alexa It can say things that Alexa will repeat with simon says, or say things that alexa will do using Builtin things, Amazon User developed Skills, Ask Home or Ask Alexa (Michaels awesome program) on smart things …or say things that make alexa report on the status of things. Pretty much anything alexa can do when you speak to it…it can do when Big Talker/VLC Thing/ VLC on the PC speaks to Alexa too.


(Kevin [Yorkshire UK]) #14

Sorry, I think my post wasn’t very clear, I blame the Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m wanting the ability for ST to make adhoc (not predefined) TTS announcements (push notifications) through my Echo which is a common request I think.

I was trying to see if you were using a ‘trigger’ phrase spoken to Alexa like " Alexa ask home for announcement’ that resulted in an AskHome skills access that returned the text to speak as the response … or if you were using the’ Simon Says’ route - which I now understand is what you are doing for an adhoc announcemnt.

I wanted to implement the former and, wanting to leverage the BigTalker trigger integration, I was musing about whether I could get at the BigTalker initial ‘TTS’ request as a text var that i could then pass into your Ask Home code to be sent as a response to be spoken. A sort of global var. I would then intercept and substitute the actual BigTalker TTS with the trigger phrase and the ask home skill response would handle returning my desired TTS announcement. Probably still as clear as mud eh.

Alternatively I’m considering using a small device that plays mp3s like an electronic doorbell and just sending a trigger from ST (RESTful) that simulated the press of the doorbell playing a prerecorded “Alexa Ask Home for announcement” mp3 that solicited the TTS response. I would really like something small and battery powered to mount as tidily in/on an Echo/Dot as possible.

Rainy day ‘Heath Robinson’ project and hopefully Amazon will offer push notifications via their skill set in time anyway.


(Douglas) #15

So, is it safe to assume that if you used this to extend mics throughout the house, someone could pick up the headphones that ‘speak’ to the Dot and hear anything that was being said in every other room of the house?
Just think about the opportunities to spy on your kids/spouse with this!


(I got a hair cut from Alexa) #16

Yes, that would work, you could also adjust the mixer to turn down the mics in other rooms so you could focus on a specific room. 8)

To limit misuse to only yourself you can easily lock the dot and headphones in a box with a feed through for the cables. Pyramid foam works good in the box too if the dot is located in an area with computer fan noise.


(Nick Niva) #17

would you have to pickup the mic or does it work from across the room?


(Nick Niva) #18

also if this does work what are some ideas on how to not just have them sitting out on tables and stuff and have them hidden or minimally visible if possible.


(I got a hair cut from Alexa) #19

Hi Nick, With the Mic’s connected to a mixer, when I turn up the gain half way, I have to be right next to the mic, when I turn it up all the way, it works across the room great. So it’s adjustable. In the back yard I have them under ledges on the buildings, so they are protected from direct rain, I didn’t really try to hide them, but the blend in.


(Haden Cruickshank) #20

It’s such a shame I never saw this thread when it was originally happening - being a big star trek fan, I likened the Alexa remote to one of their communicators (and when they enabled the ‘Computer’ wake word I got even more obsessed with this idea!!), but it was never really a viable solution for me because invariably, I would be playing music across my sound system and ideally I figured that the music volume would initially reduce while I made my voice command and keep that same volume during Alexa’s response (or indeed volume reduced whenever Alexa was talking). This volume levelling is obviously implemented already if Alexa was playing the music but this was hardly ever the case for me with audio potentially coming from a number of different sources