Alexa Helper - Virtual switch not activating


(Alpha Geek509) #1

I’m looking for some insight on the virtual switch of the Alexa Helper. I’ve followed the manual and everything appears to work correctly. I’ve created a virtual switch, added a physical switch to it and registered it with Alexa (Echo). I attempted to turn the vSwitch on or off with the echo and got zero response from Alexa. In reading the troubleshooting advice found here, I attempted to manally to the vSwitch on or off. From the ST app I couldn’t even toggle the vSwitch.

Are there any suggestions on where I can look now to make it work?


(Micheal ) #2

Hi there! I am the author of that particulate device handler. First, were you able to get this to work after posting? If not, are you using the virtual momentary switch or the virtual dimmer. The virtual momentary switch will toggle, but always remain off…sometimes the interface doesn’t show it toggling however, but you can see it in the log.

Also, depending on your use case you might want to look at Ask Alexa instead…


(Alpha Geek509) #3

Michael,

Thanks for replying. I really appreciate the work that you’ve put into this project. I’ll attempt to reproduce the steps I’m taking with your software.

  • Installed all the apps per the instructions found in the wiki.
  • From the iPhone > ST > SmartApps > Alexa Helper > Add/View Virtual Switches
    • Name: Night Time
    • Switch Type…: Alexa
    • Added the switch
  • I repeated the above process for a name of ‘Night Mode’ and type of ‘Momentary Tile’
  • From iPhone > ST > My Home > Things
    • Activate Night Time and Night Mode by pushing ON and PUSH respectively.

After that, this might be my problem. The app shows that the switch is turned on but my lights are doing anything. Where have I applied any devices to the switches that I just created? I must be missing that step. After I get that, it comes down to scenarios…

I also noticed that under iPhone > ST > Marketplace > SmartApps > Lights & Switches, I see a lot of different apps that have been created. This must be the place where Smartthings approves certain apps.

Once again, I appreciate your help.


(Realy Living Dream) #4

Stupid question, but have you set up a night mode ? Putting ST into night mode will not do anything, unless you have set up the routine and told it what lights to turn off, what doors to lock , etc.


(Alpha Geek509) #5

@RLDreams - I appreciate ya jumping in the conversation. As of right now, I’ve removed all vSwithes and am left with single, physical, switch (name ‘Kitchen Lights’).

I just set created a new routine in ST called ‘Party Time’. In this routine, ‘Turn on these lights or switches’ is set to ‘Kitchen Lights’. To test things I turn on ‘Party Time’ from the routine and the kitchen lights turn on (SUCCESS). I touch the button again, and the light contine to stay on. I understand the logic there cuase the routine is only setup for on.

So, if I create a vSwitch from @MichaelS app (alexa_helper), I SHOULD be able to tie multiple physical switches to it. Once I do that, the switch should toggle inside the app allowing me to turn on and off multiple switches.

Am I over thinking the room? In reading the internet people seem to get this working almost instantly.


(Realy Living Dream) #6

I think you might be. Alexa integration is NOT that complicated.
With the exception of Harmony activities or wanting lights to come on a certain color, I don’t use any virtual switches.
First thing is to have Alexa discover all your devices.
In Alexa app ( or web interface) make sure “she” found all your devices. Then just set up a group name it kitchen and put all your kitchen lights in it. I have another group called " house" and have every light, switch , outlet that I want to turn off when we leave or at night. So as I go up to bed or leave the house it is just " Alexa turn off the house" . This is a back up in case leaving or good night routine doesn’t fire as it should.
If you have any Hue lights connected through Hue hub and ST they will be discovered/shown twice. Once as Hue and again ad ST dimmable bulb I simply delete the ST version and let Echo control them directly through Hue.


(Alpha Geek509) #7

Well, I believe I certainly was. I cleared everything out, again, and started fresh. Here is what I did.

  • ST found my switch and I named it ‘Kitchen’
  • In the web version of Alexa, I created a group and named it ‘Kitchen Lights’. As I move forward adding more smartthings to hub I’ll add them to the correct group.
  • I tested it and HOLY CRAP! Everything was functioning correctly. I can say, “Alexa, turn on Kitchen Lights.” and it works. I then said, “Alexa, turn Kitchen to 40%.” and that worked, too.

I guess the next thing would be how I can call routines from Alexa. For example, if at bed time I want to turn the ‘Kitchen Lights’ and make sure that the garage door (my latest purchase) is closed; how do I do that?


(Realy Living Dream) #8

I can’t help you with garage doors, I’m not that fortunate to have a garage.
As I said, an Alexa group can contain as many or as few devices as you like. You do not need virtual switches for most of them. For instance I have an Alexa group " Sink lights" ( she finally learned that I was NOT saying sync lights ) which contains the 2 lights above the kitchen sink. I have a counter lights which ( self explanatory ) has the undercabinet light strips . I also have a " kitchen lights" group which contains the lights above the sink and the lights above the stove and counter. All 4 of those lights are also in my " house" group.
This also works well if people call things by different names. For example we have a " cellar lights" group and a " basement lights" group, so regardless of which you say Alexa will respond accordingly.
I just had to make an extra Alexa group, because I could not remember whether I named the outlet with A/C " Bedroom Air conditioner " or " Bedroom Air conditioning" . solution put them both in Alexa controlling the same outlet LOL


(Alpha Geek509) #9

All super information. I guess that building groups in Alexa is the fastest and easiest thing to do. I’ll review more in this forum for automating routines. Manual routines from the app don’t seem to be a problem. I’m sure the data is out there, but I’d like to call a routine like ‘Movie Time’ and have certain things happen to ST from Alexa.

The info must be out there.


(Micheal ) #10

And I am here to help…did you get your garage door to work? Is it within SmartThings? If so, Alexa Helper can open/close it.

Also, I don’t developer for Alexa Helper any more…I created a more functional app called Ask Alexa that replaces the whole SmartThings integration. With it you can use natural language to control doors (open/close) or locks (lock/unlock). And it will allow you to query the device’s state (front door status = locked). It is a bear to install, but multiple people have done it successfully. Here are the documents for this: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa