The $10 Echo – Alexa running on a CHIP

Via SamMachin

For the 3rd instillment of my “Putting Alexa on all the Things” series I’ve got Alexa up and running on a CHIP.

For those of you that don’t know the CHIP is a bit like the Raspberry Pi, it’s a small, cheap ARM based computer that runs linux and has some input/output pins, I backed the CHIP on kickstarter last May time and had kinda forgotten about it until they turned up in the post on New Year’s Eve 🙂 I also just picked up a Raspberry Pi Zero but for this project the CHIP seemed like a better platform and it was a good opportunity to try it out. The advantages of the CHIP over the Pi zero are that it has onboard WiFi and a built in audio in/out interface (with a small mod) The Pi would have required USB adaptors to have WiFi and the Mic in working along with needing a memory card so although the Pi Zero is $5 and the CHIP is $9 in total BOM the CHIP works out cheapest.

The CHIP came pre-installed with a custom build of Debian on its built-in 4GB storage, (taking about 400MB leaving plenty of room to work) Out of the box it has composite output and comes with an old school phono cable so I hooked it up to my TV and plugged in a USB keyboard and mouse which got me booted to a typical desktop, from here I configured the WiFi to connect to my home network, checked the IP address and then confirmed I could SSH onto it. Once all that was done I could unplug it from the TV and I wouldn’t need GUI access any more, (you can also install a VNC server if you need to get back to the GUI later)

The CHIP uses a TRRS 3.5mm jack on the board to interface to audio and video devices, if you want to use this connector as the Mic input it involves a small mod to the underside of the board, slicing through a track with a stanley knife and then putting a blob of solder across the 2 pads, you’ve now lost the composite video out but gained mic in (hence my setting up the wifi before the HW mod!) Both the composite video and the mic in are available as pins on the breakout headers so if you need to connect to those at the same time or after the mod its still easy, thats about all the hardware work needed here, now it’s just plugging stuff in and software.

I wrote the alexa application in Python, I’m using alsaaudio to record sound from the mic input then the same code that I used for my last 2 alexa hacks to pass it to the Alexa Voice Service. Because I have total control of the recording code this time I didn’t need to do any transcoding into the wav format required by AVS I could just record and post directly. AVS responds with an MP3 rather annoyingly so I also had to have something to play that out, the simplest option was to install mpg123 and then play via a system command, a bit hacky but it works.

Read the full post here.

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here:

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in!

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.