Making Alexa run 2 Harmony Activities consecutively?

I have an Amazon Echo, Harmony Elite w/Hub, and Smartthings.

I’m trying out the virtual switches to trigger a lot of my Harmony activities via Alexa voice commands. I created a “Commercial Skip” virtual switch for Alexa. My Commercial Skip Harmony Activity activates an activity startup sequence that calls for the TiVo to use the commercial skip function on the DVR for the current commercial break.

If I’m using my Watch TV Harmony activity and I come across a commercial break, I can tell Alexa to “Turn On Commercial Skip”, which will then activate my Commercial Skip virtual switch (and my Harmony Activity will switch to my Commercial Skip activity). However, if I come across more commercials the next commercial break, and I try to tell Alexa to “Turn On Commercial Skip”, the skip function isn’t activated because the activity/virtual switch is already on and therefore the startup sequence for the same activity doesn’t run twice.

Is it possible to group multiple Harmony Activities under a single virtual switch? Ideally I’d like to tell Alexa to “Turn On Commercial Skip”, which would activate my “Commercial Skip” activity and immediately after switch back to my “Watch TV” activity. I tried grouping both activities (Commercial Skip and Watch TV) under a single virtual switch on the Alexa app but it seems to only activate the first activity, and never makes it to the second one.


The other day I was reading about the Orange Pi and thought, hmm where would that IR transmitter come in handy. This would be a good use case for that I think, waiting game to see if the brilliant minds in the community can rig something up :slight_smile:

I can see it as something like an endpoint in the orange pi that can be called by a virtual switch that sends the necessary IR code to the receiving equipment, in this case, the satellite receiver.

Edit: I may have mixed up the IR receiver for a transmitter… dangit.

I use CoRE to do this today. I have a few devices like a Fan and Fireplace setup so what I do is tell CoRE to switch back to the device that was on. So if my PC activity was on and the Fan comes on it will switch back to the PC in 10 seconds. All you need to do is refresh the activity and it will update to off. CoRE can do all this automagically.

You can pretty easily daisychain these, but I’m too tired to go into the details.

There are many different ways to do it.

For example, have the switch coming on turn on the commercial skip, Use power allowance to have the switch turn itself off after a minute, and have the switch turning off trigger the other activity. You could do all of that just with smart lighting, you wouldn’t need core.

But if you do use core you would have a lot more options, so you might want to just look at that.

1 Like

Use @mike_maxwell 's uDTH as contact sensor, which has internal timer. When you flip it on switches commercial skip on, then when it closes turns your Watch TV. Ha, I might try this myself…

I think you want to use a Momentary Button Tile.

It has the capabilities of a switch, but once you turn it on, it turns off immediately so you can trigger on the on() method again.

I don’t think that’s the issue the OP is running into. Rather it’s a problem specific to harmony. In order to use an individual button like volume up, mute, in this case skip commercials, etc. you have to go to a new Harmony activity. But once you’re in that harmony activity, you lose the button control of the general “watch TV” or whatever activity. So you need to switch back to the original activity after you’ve done the individual button activity. People who try to get volume control, including me, run into this all the time.

So it’s very common that someone using a harmony will want to switch to the button activity and then switch back.

Theoretically, a momentary button as you describe should work just like the daisychains that we’ve been discussing in this thread, but the problem is that harmony may need a slight delay before it will switch from one activity to the other. So just triggering off of a momentary button going to off doesn’t usually give it enough time to have processed the activity associated with the “on” and you will usually lose one or the other.

So while I like momentary buttons for use with harmony in most cases, when you are trying to daisychain two harmony activities, I think power allowance or a core delay will work better. :sunglasses:

Thanks for all of the ideas! I didn’t realize all of the community-created smartthings devices that are out on github. Will definitely have to look into those more.

As for now, I’m kind of a novice at this stuff so I think I’ll try out the daisychain approach first using the power allowance smart app and see how that goes. If I can simply activate the Commercial Skip activity for a minute and then revert back to my Watch TV activity, I think that’s a solution I’d be able to live with. Thanks again.

1 Like

If you want to have some fun looking at some of the different things that community members have created (this is a very creative community!), Check out the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki. These are divided into three sections: smart apps, device type handlers, and project reports. :sunglasses:

The quick browse lists will take you to the forum threads that discuss the offerings, which usually gives you a lot more information than just browsing GitHub and you can ask your own questions as well.

I’m hopeful that with the recent alexa harmony integration you will be able to do things like this and volume adjustments,mute etc within the current activity like how you can change channels now.

I told you I was tired; I forgot to give you the link to the instructions to set up a virtual timer!

This is what you’re going to do, but in the very last step instead of using smart lighting To have The physical light follow the virtual timer, you’ll use the SmartThings/harmony integration to have The skip channels activity turn on when the virtual timer turns on and The original activity turn on when the virtual timer turns off.

Alternatively, for that very last step you could use IFTTT with SmartThings as the if and harmony as the that and set up two recipes/applets, one for each activity , but that would likely introduce a little additional lag compared to the official harmony trigger integration.

Thanks, I didn’t realize there was any integration for Harmony & Echo regarding favorite channels until just now! I’ve been running them all as separate virtual switches/activities, which was cumbersome and annoying since I’d lose button control/favorites on my generic “Watch TV” activity. Will have to do a lot of tinkering with my Harmony Activities when I get home.

It’s brand-new – – it was just introduced about two weeks ago. :sunglasses:

Still doesn’t give you volume control, though. :disappointed_relieved:

Lol. Wish I would have known this sooner! Literally only got my Smartthings Hub two weeks ago. Still glad I have the hub to control lights, garage, etc., but I could have saved a lot of time versus setting up all of my favorite channels on the Harmony as activities. This will clean up my remote a bit at least. Felt a bit cluttered with all of the extra activities needed for each channel in order to do voice control.

1 Like

You can try creating a SmartThings routine to automatically turn on the Watch TV Harmony activity, after the Commercial Skip activity turns on. Although I’m not running 2 consecutive Harmony activities, I have a Harmony activity “Watch FireTV” start automatically after I turn on a smart outlet that the FireTV is plugged into.

I was just starting to create activities for each channel but said screw it.

1 Like

Would you mind sharing more details on how you did this?

I made a small app the lets me do something similar. Mine uses a momentary to trigger the my outlet for FireTV with a variable delay before the Harmony activity kicks in. I could have used Core to do it, but I have at least 4 Activities and recreating four times in Core seemed a bit much.

I also used the same app to turn one Harmony activity the turn it on again after a few seconds. The reason I need to do it is my theater system is a bit older and the modes do not have individual IR codes. So I can get it to work with this trick for this particular activity and this is my way around it.

This is what I got setup in CoRE as I have 3 devices I just need to turn on and switch back to the main activity


I was wondering the exact same thing, AmazingTed. “Alexa, turn on ‘Skip’” works once, but then not subsequent times.

My dirty workaround was to create two Activities. One is called ‘Skip,’ the other is called ‘Skip Commercials.’

So I have to alternate between using the two… Alexa, turn on Skip…Alexa, turn on Skip Commercials…Alexa, turn on Skip …

But if you, sir, can figure out a more elegant solution, I’d love to hear it. I don’t currently own SmartThings, but if it will help me accomplish what we’re trying to do, I will have to invest.