[RELEASE] Alexa Helper

I have updated the parent and child app today. This is just basic code optimization along with more verbose logging options within the Notification Feed. I got fed up with a timer I was setting, not knowing if Alexa had actually gotten the command to execute a timed routine change. Now, looking in the notification feed (if I turn it on from the main settings page), I can see that the timer started, and can also get alerted when the routine actually executes. I also put in push notifications on the control scenarios, and added some back-end code to support texting or pushing to people in your contact list (this feature is not available yet, but is described in the documentation).

Enjoy…Please see here for instructions and versioning… http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Alexa_Helper#Latest_Version

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Michael, I have a number of Sonos boxes that I’d like to control simultaneously. Is there an easy way to issue one command that will execute on all devices? For example, turn on and change station to a saved favorite housewide?
I looked at making a change to the child app to allow variable “speaker” to have multiple inputs, but that hoses up other logic and I’m not proficient enough in groovy to figure out where all the changes need to go to make it work.

Sonos is tricky getting all of the speakers to react to one command. At the end of the day I gave up on it as the backend logic seems to mess up when designating multiple speakers you want to react to a single command. However, I have had success with multiple scenarios using the same switch trigger and the same commands being to sent to various speakers. In other words, scenario 1 trips speaker 1, scenario 2 trips speaker 2, but uses the same control switch as 1, 3 controls 3 with the same control switch as 1, etc. Does that make sense? What seems to happen is that when switch one is triggered it queues up the various command and then does them sequentially instead of all at one (which I think is what kills the Sonos piece).

Let me know if that works.

Thanks Michael. Are you suggesting that I would be able to trigger the first speaker with a switch, then have that switch trigger the next, and so on, cascading all the Sonos boxes using one command? Or verbally issue a “turn on” command for each Sonos individually using the same switch?
If the former, I’m a newbie and can’t figure out how to trigger one switch from another. Is there a How-To online for that?
Thanks for all the hard work on this, it really adds a new dimension to Alexa.

One switch to control them. If I understand your goal you want all of your Sonos to react the same. That would be multiple scenarios all with the same trigger switch.

I have updated Alexa Helper (and the child scenario) to the latest version: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Alexa_Helper#Latest_Version

The two big changes here are the ability to create the virtual switches via the main app instead of going through the IDE. You will need to have the device code for the momentary buttons installed in your profile as the app can’t install SmartThings devices directly. However, to designate the difference in these devices I have added icon specific to the new code:

In addition, I just received a set of new zwave baseboard heater controllers and while the main thermostat scenario worked ok, there are some nuances to baseboard heaters that I wanted to create its own scenario type. The big thing about this is that, if you are like me, you have all of the thermostats set to the same temperature…instead of saying “Alexa, set heat to 65” for each thermostat, I still use a dimmer to control the temperature if I need to change to different temperatures, but the on/off settings now have specific temperatures setpoints. So, I say 'Alexa, turn on heat" and it sets all of the thermostats to the setpoint in the app. When I turn off the dimmer, it turns the setpoint low enough that it is technically ‘off’. And again, I CAN change the temperature since it is controlled using a virtual dimmer (Alexa Switch). In addition, I don’t need to track the state of the switch as it is an Alexa Switch…which means it passes the commands from the Echo directly to the thermostat regardless of the state of the switch itself…



How do you use it to control your receivers?! If you dont mind me asking. :slightly_smiling:


Please read this: Amazon Echo soon will control thermostats natively

and this: http://www.droid-life.com/2016/03/03/at-last-amazon-echo-and-nest-thermostat-work-together/#more-182852

It appears the Echo can NOW natively control your SmartThings thermostats! That is great. However, some may ask “Then what use is Alexa Helper”…well, in testing this there is still a few possible use cases:

Thermostats: The Echo does NOT natively allow you to change modes on your thermostats. Alexa Helper allows not only this, and puts safety limits in just in case the Echo hears the wrong temperature.

Baseboard heaters: Just like any other thermostats, you CAN control these natively through the Echo. Alexa Helper brings to the table, using an Alexa Switch, can not only replicate this behavior, but to set up standard setpoints so you just have to say “Alexa, turn on heat” (assuming ‘heat’ is a switch name) and set a group of thermostats to go to a low set point, in essence turning the baseboard heaters off. And, just like above, Alexa Helper puts safety limits in just in case the Echo hears the wrong temperature.

It is great that ST is continuing integration with the Echo (especially with the new devices Amazon just release), but I will continue to expand Alexa Helper, finding more ways to bring value to the user community!


I don’t see a direct control of Nest in Echo yet… or am I missing something? Where should I look?

If you go into your Echo SmartApp, you should see a ‘thermostats’ section. You can add any ST thermostats in there. The overall integration SHOULD appear in a couple weeks in the native Amazon app under connected home.

@MichaelS Having a quick problem…when I try to add a virtual switch in Alex helper, I am getting an unexpected error message. Looking at the logging, it looks like the unique device ID is not incrementing anymore? It’s stuck at AH_xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx_10, it’s not adjusting the 10 upwards any further…any thoughts?

Love the app by the way.


Let me do some troubleshooting to see what might be the issue…

Cool…if you need any info from the log or anything…let me know. Love managing my connected home alexa triggers in ST rather than alexa AND ST…makes management that much easier.


Well I might need that. I got up to 14 switches just now without an issue

I think I found the problem…ST changed some stuff on their end yesterday, and I compensated…It appears they fixed their end, and now it broke my app…I am uploading a fix right now. It then install the latest version.

OH okay…was just about to send you logs…let me know what code to update and will do it happily…gonna set up git integration to just so syncs are easier…just haven’t gotten around to it yet :wink:

Thanks again…


How dd you get the icons…they are not showing up in my app…rather are showing up just as momentary buttons.

Just curious…I like the designator.


EDIT: see you reverted them back in a later update…that’s a shame…sort of liked them! :smiley:

Yeah…there were some issues in other apps because of them…Everything should be updated by now.

Did you get updated?

Thanks to everyone sending me private notes about how Alexa Helper is still your ‘go to’ app even through the Echo now allows for direct thermostat control. While it is nice to have this integration, it doesn’t go as far as Alexa Helper by allowing you to change modes, and more importantly, set limits in case the Echo misunderstands the temperature.

Anyway, I have updated Alexa Helper with a new scenario…voice reporting. While I would love to have the voice reports come through the Echo, that is not as easy as it may seem. However, if you happen to have a Sonos in addition to your Alexa you will like this new addition. In my case, I use my Alexa to turn down the heat, set the mode, and turn off all of the lights. However, being paranoid (;)) I always need to verify that everything was set properly. Now, I can ask Alexa to turn on my ‘nightly report’ and it gives a report of the switches, doors/windows, thermostat settings, and mode/alarm settings. Now I fall asleep knowing the mode is set correctly for my Talking Alarm Clock app. More information can be found here: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Alexa_Helper#Voice_Reporting_Scenario

The files are updated now in GitHub. Enjoy!

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