Amazon wants to push its Alexa voice assistant as far and wide as possible, so much so that one of the company's employees has released a step-by-step guide to building an Alexa-powered speaker yourself with a Raspberry Pi. The do-it-yourself Echo can be made with a $40 Raspberry Pi Model 2, a USB microphone, and a handful of other cheap components.
The guide was put together and posted to GitHub by Amit Jotwani, Amazon's senior evangelist for Alexa. Jotwani's job involves helping developers — and apparently tinkerers too — bake the company's voice service into third-party products. It may be a response to a similar Raspberry Pi-powered Echo guide posted by YouTube page Novaspirit Tech earlier this month.
The approach requires some minor coding experience, but it will net you a functioning Alexa speaker for a fraction of the price. The Echo is on sale now for $180, while the newly released and smaller $130 Echo Tap starts shipping on March 31st. The one downside of the DIY speaker: you can't wake it up and talk to it with a key word like "Alexa," as you can with Amazon's products. Instead, you'll need to physically press a button to issue voice commands.