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Home / News / Need a weekend project? Make your own Amazon Echo with a Raspberry Pi

Need a weekend project? Make your own Amazon Echo with a Raspberry Pi

Less money, more work - Amazon posts official DIY plans

You still can’t buy the Amazon Echo in the UK, even though it’s been available in the States for more than a year and recently got a pair of companion devices – but you can make your own if you please.

And surprisingly, Amazon itself is the one behind the push. This week, the company posted incredibly detailed step-by-step instructions to GitHub on how to build your own makeshift voice assistant starting with a Raspberry Pi 2 (Model B) board.

Obviously, it takes a fair bit of work and some programming, not to mention a good amount of hardware. You’ll need the Raspberry Pi 2 board and included micro-USB power cable, a microSD card with an operating system, an ethernet cable, a USB mini-microphone, a USB keyboard and mouse along with an HDMI monitor, and optionally a Wi-Fi adapter.

You’ll also need an Amazon Developer account, but that’s free to sign up for. It looks like a rather lengthy process to get everything up and running, but the savings could be immense: assuming you have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to use, the rest of the components should only cost about US$60 (about £42) to purchase. Compare that to the US$180 (about £125) price of the standard Echo.

Amazon Echo available to all (in the U.S.)

There’s one key difference beyond the lack of a proper case (official Echo seen above): you’ll need to manually press a button to access Alexa, Amazon’s vaunted voice assistant. But otherwise, you can tap into the same functionality and have Alexa answer questions, cue up music, place orders, and more.

Why would Amazon want to effectively give away its assistant without a hardware purchase? Because getting you into Amazon’s ecosystem is the ultimate goal, as they’ll gather data from your usage and potentially sell you items and services along the way. That’s why Amazon is pushing other companies to build Alexa into their hardware.

Besides, Amazon might make a little money from selling you all the components to make your own Echo. And if you’re in the UK, it’s not like they’re going to get your money from selling an Echo.

[Source: GitHub via Engadget]

Profile image of Andrew Hayward Andrew Hayward Freelance Writer


Andrew writes features, news stories, reviews, and other pieces, often when the UK home team is off-duty or asleep. I'm based in Chicago with my lovely wife, amazing son, and silly cats, and my writing about games, gadgets, esports, apps, and plenty more has appeared in more than 75 publications since 2006.

Areas of expertise

Video games, gadgets, apps, smart home