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Using HA Bridge with the Echo Dot 3rd Generation
Updated: February 15, 2019
Initial post: January 30, 2019
<-New Hardware (Episode 2): IP Camera, Itead Sonoff Goodies, and Amazon Echo Dot HA Bridge on Armbian Working with Domoticz and Alexa ->

The Amazon Echo Dot 3rd generation, purchased before the holidays and delivered about two weeks ago, is growing on me. That is in large part because of third-party software. Initially Philip Hue and Wemo emulation in TASMOTA reconciled me with the voice assistant. Yesterday, I installed HA Bridge from BWS Systems on an Orange Pi Zero with the latest version of Armbian Stretch and within a half hour or so, the Echo could control two more Sonoffs through the bridge.

I will not go into details at this point. Suffice it to say that ha-bridge sends HTTP requests to Domoticz to turn lamps on or off in response to HTTP requests that the bridge received from the Echo Dot. I specified the JSON formatted HTTP requests to send to Domoticz in the ha-bridge web interface. It seems that the bridge knows how to interact with Domoticz so setting up devices may be even simpler than what I did. Further study is needed on my part.

I finally got around to using HA Bridge correctly. Importing all Domoticz devices into the bridge is very simple and quick. Please look at the description of the process in HA Bridge on Armbian Working with Domoticz and Alexa. I assume similar results are obtained with other open source home automation programs such as OpenHab and Home Assistant and some commercial products.

The Echo DotHA BridgeDomoticz ⇔ device chain is more responsive than the Home miniIFTTTDomoticz ⇔ device chain in my estimation and it looks like there will be greater freedom with the phrasing of my oral commands.

My first impressions about the quality of the voice recognition of the Amazon device were probably too prompt. I am amazed at the sensitivity of its microphones and I just have to be a bit careful when I pronounce some words.

I wanted to write this note as soon as possible because the GitHub page has a couple of warnings about Echo Dot 2nd generation devices not being able to discover ha-bridge. The good news is that I had no such problems with the 3rd generation device. After setting up the IoT lamps with the ha-bridge web interface, testing the commands with the same interface and rebooting the Orange Pi Zero hosting ha-bridge, the Echo discovered those devices without problems. I used Amazon Alexa web application on my desktop to launch the discovery process. In Canada the URL to use is https://alexa.amazon.ca.

To conclude these remarks, I will formulate two wishes. Hopefully, it was not a fluke that the 3rd generation Echo Dot discovered the HA Bridge. And I hope that Amazon will not follow Google and stop local connection to Phillips Hue Hubs. I had first become aware of ha-bridge because I wanted to use it with my Google Home mini, but I had to resort to IFTTT intersession when Google insisted on using the Phillips cloud service to access the Phillips Hue devices.

It would in all likelihood be possible to install ha-bridge on the Raspberry Pi which is already hosting the home automation system. The reason I tried this on the Orange Pi Zero (OPZ) is that it has a built in IR receiver. I intend to place the tiny device under the TV and use spare buttons on the TV remote to control lamps in that room. As I mentioned before X10 RF remote controls were used for that purpose before. So far I have LIRC (Linux infrared remote control) working on the OPZ and reception of IR codes from a remote is working. The remote, supplied with the cable tv box, does not appear in the list of supported remote controls so it will be necessary to craft a configuration file which does look like it could be a fairly arduous task. Alternatively, the remote can control five devices and can emulate different remotes for each of these devices. Perhaps I can find an emulated remote that is supported by LIRC.

<-New Hardware (Episode 2): IP Camera, Itead Sonoff Goodies, and Amazon Echo Dot HA Bridge on Armbian Working with Domoticz and Alexa ->