Software apps and online services
To work with the Virtual Breadboard Alexa Skill you need to make a link between your Alexa account and your Virtual Breadboard account. If you are a regular user of Alexa you will be familiar with this straightforward process but there are some gotcha's. This guide steps through the process and provides some troubleshooting tips and potential workarounds for common issues.
To get started logon on the Alexa App (Web) with your Amazon account details then follow these steps.Step 1: Search for 'Virtual Breadboard' in the Alexa Skills
Click on the Skill section and type in 'virtual breadboard' in the search box.
You should see the Virtual Breadboard skill icon in the search results.
Troubleshooting: No Virtual Breadboard Skill Icon!
This is most likely because you are not in a region supported by Alexa. If you look closely at the URL of your Alexa App compared with the screenshot above it will be different than one of the URL's in the list of supported regions below.
The Virtual Breadboard Skill is currently certified for:
- English (U.S.) ( amazon.com )
- English (U.K) ( amazon.co.uk )
- English (Australia) ( amazon.com.au )
- English(Canada) ( amazon.ca )
- English(India) ( amazon.in )
Amazon and Alexa are a bit fussy about regions and the way it works is that Amazon links your current address to 'Content and Devices' which includes Alexa Skills.
However Amazon are not strict about this and you are able to add additional addresses and switch between them fairly easily.
So if you want to try out the Virtual Breadboard Skill and we don't supported your region yet you will have to add and switch to an alternate address. At least temporarily for testing.
Add a new Amazon Address
Maybe you already know someone in one of the regions whose address you can borrow. Maybe from your linked in contacts or similar but one way or another you need to add a valid address from one of the supported regions.
To move your region follow these steps from your amazon account:
You should now logout of your Alexa App and then login again which should redirect you to your new region and then repeat step 1.Step 2: Select the skill and click Enable
When you click enable Alexa creates an OAuth session with the Virtual Breadboard server to enable you to use your virtualbreadboard.io account logon credentials to link the Alexa and Virtual Breadboard cloud services together.
Login using the same credentials you use when logging in to the VBB App or virtualbreadboard.io website to assign Alexa the access token it needs to forward messages to your App via the Virtual Breadboard cloud services. When successful you should see the Alexa successfully linked message.
Troubleshooting : No Virtual Breadboard online account.
To link to a Virtual Breadboard account you of course first need an account.Step 4: Discover Devices
One of the really neat features of the Alexa Smart Home API is the way it handles discovery. This allows new devices to be easily linked and accessed from Alexa. Just click 'Discover Devices' and Alexa does the rest for you. After the discovery process you should see the list of endpoints ready for voice control.
So where did these names come from. Lamp, POOL, BEDROOM, etc come from?
These are published endpoints using the Virtual Breadboard Smart Home Controls. You need to have run a Breadboard with VBB App containing at least one properly configured endpoint. This will have published a Alexa discovery document to the Virtual Breadboard Skill backend ready to be discovered.
The discovery document is persisted in the cloud so the Virtual Breadboard App doesn't have to be actively running to be discovered. Although of course voice control will report 'not available' if you attempt to control endpoints that are not presently online.
Learn more about using these VBB Alexa Controls in your own projects here:Conclusion
As with so many things, it's easy once you've done it once. Hopefully these steps will be useful to troubleshoot and make linking your Alexa Virtual Breadboard Skill to your Virtual Breadboard account a smooth process.