Maker Alfredo Sequeida is working on a project to build a Raspberry Pi-powered Echo clone linked into the Amazon Alexa ecosystem, using parts picked up at a thrift store to keep the cost down.
Inspired by the popular Echo family of voice-activated assistant systems, Sequeida's clone is dubbed Karen. Designed to link into the same Alexa ecosystem as an official Echo, Karen started life as a Python script before getting shifted across to a Raspberry Pi single-board computer in order to make use of thrift shop hardware.
"For the audio interface I am using an audio card by AudioInjector.net that fits right onto the 40-pin [General-Purpose Input/Output] headers for the Raspberry Pi," Sequeida describes. "The reason I decided to go with this audio card is because I noticed that the card has a built in microphone, which we can use to talk to Karen. I also [went] to the thrift store [to] buy some cheap speakers and composite video wire that we can repurpose for our build."
Having browsed an Anaheim thrift store for parts, Sequeida settled on a selection of speakers and some cheap wire originally destined for composite video. "It only cost me $12.79 in total," he explains, "which is not a lot, I mean considering that these are looking in great condition."
While the project is currently functional, Sequeida has promised further videos as it gets developed more: The next step is to add amplification to drive the thrift store speakers and provide improved volume, followed by the development of a companion mobile app.
The full video series is available on Sequeida's YouTube channel, where you can subscribe to be alerted when the next episode goes live.