5 things to consider before building a DIY Alexa speaker
Buying an Alexa enabled speaker is not the only way, that you can take the amazon-Alexa platform for a test drive.
In fact, if you have a raspberry pi, a speaker and a microphone on hand, you can actually make your own relatively easily.
As enticing, as the DIY Alexa project may sound, however there are some draw backs.
Here are five things you should consider before building your own Alexa speaker.
I know what you're thinking.
If you build your own Alexis speaker you can save a little bit of money.
That may be true if you have all the stuff already, but if not, that's not true at all.
The Amazon Echo is $180, but you can now pick up the generation two Echo Dot for just $50.
If you wanna build your own and you don't have any of the materials Gonna have to pay $35 for the Raspberry Pi, another $10 for the power supply, then you have to buy a speaker and a microphone.
And if you go with something like the Matrix Creator, which is an add-on IOT dev board for the Raspberry Pi, that's another $100.
And that's not even including the speaker.
Now, you could come out cheaper than this of course.
But these components are going to add up, so it's not the cheapest route.
You're also sacrificing appearances, the Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tab are are all pretty discrete devices.
They're designed to blend in amongst the things on a bookshelf or on your kitchen counter.
That's not exactly true of something like a raspberry pie.
If you're building your own electro speaker, you're going to have to build your own custom housing for it that doesn't interfere with the microphone.
And that's not always easy.
Of course, if you're like me, you may find that the matrix creator and the raspberry pie look cool with exposed circuitry, but that's not for everyone.
And you can't just hide it behind something because that will interfere with the microphones And it may not hear you, but it also brings me to the next point.
Not every third-party or DIY Alexa speaker comes with a wake word.
If you're using many of the existing tutorials out there, they're not updated to include the latest API update from Amazon, which includes support for a wake word.
So instead, if you use something like the Matrix Creator, you have to wave your hand over the IR sensor to activate it, to tell Alexa to listen.
And many of the tutorials out there incorporate a button press, a switch, or something else in lieu of the wake-word.
And what that means is, if you're not in arm's reach of the Raspberry Pi or the DIY speaker, you're gonna move over to it to wake it up to speak to it, which Kind of defeats the purpose.
Then you have the issue of response time.
The official Alexa speakers tend to get back to you pretty quickly within one to two seconds depending on your connection speed.
But the DIY option that I've been using for almost four days now is not so snappy.
Alexa, what's the weather?
In Charlotte, it's 63 degrees with mostly sunny skies.
Today's forecast calls for more of the same.
With a high of 70 degrees with a low of 41 degrees.
Currently, in Charlotte, it's 63 degrees with mostly sunny skies.
All of this is assuming that everything goes to plan.
You're not dealing with the same reliability as you would if you went with an official Alexa speaker.
If you go with a D.I.Y.
The matrix creator, which explicitly states that its Alexa project is for demonstration purposes only, is hit or miss.
One time, you'll boot it up and it will work flawlessly.
The next time, not so much.
If you don't want to have to go through the trouble of building your own electric speaker, you can actually test out in your browser or by downloading one of the third-party apps for Android or IOS, but I still think this project is well worth the time and the effort if you have the components on hand already and you don't have to spend any money.
It's a great way to see how Alexa might fit into your home.
Without spending a dime.
And hearing a Raspberry Pi in Alexa's voice for the very first time makes all the trouble worth it.