Picture of Raspberri Personal Assistant.
Last summer, in a small store, I found half of a 1950s bakelite Televox intercom . I thought that it would make a nice cast for a project and I bought it as it only cost $9. It sat on a shelf until I bought my first raspberry pi. After I had played with the pi for some days, I was struck by the idea that the intercom would be ideal in combination with the pi, to build a voice controlled device.

Because of the intercom, the idea came that it would be funny to use the intercom for what it was intended: contacting your personal assistant to get information or to give him/her a task. The only difference is that this intercom isn't connected to its other half but to the raspberry pi. And that there is no real person on the other side, but a smart little computer that can do a lot of the same things as that real person.

In this instructable, I'll show you:
  • how to connect the pi to the intercom
  • how to set up the pi
  • how to install the voicecontrole software
  • how to add a speech script that will return the output of your own scripts as speech
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Step 1: What do you need for this project?

For this project we need:
  • A Raspberry pi model B with Raspian Wheezy installed.
  • A USB WIFI adaptor: I used a Delock Nano Stick 150MB/s. It cost about $18
  • A USB soundcard: it cost $3.21 at Deal Extreme.
  • A small 5V amplifier: I used a PAM8403 board. It cost $5.64 at Deal Extreme.
  • A 5V power supply: at least 2A.
  • A 5V DPDT relais: DPDT means Double Pole Double Throw. The relais is able to switch two different signals between two different outputs.
  • A tiny piece of vero board
  • Some wires
  • A USB keyboad and mouse + a tv with HDMI or video in connection for installing everything on the Pi
troyka26 days ago
Love it, especially the Bakelite enclosure so stylish well done.
mglovertx8 months ago

Great job and nice Instructable. I have everything functioning and have actually ordered several vintage bakelite intercom enclosures to build up a couple of these (will post pics once completed). I do have one question/request. Can you post the python script (weather) that you reference in the writeup for the text to speech extension? I would like to use your script as a reference. Again, awesome job.

janw (author)  mglovertx8 months ago

I'll post it. It does use an XML with data for The Netherlands so I don't know whether it will be usefull to you.

Tavis12 months ago

Hello there! My friend and I are currently trying to replicate your awesome device, but are running into some problems. We have all the parts needed, but cannot recognize the diode used on the relais. Also still very confused on how the power source is connected to everything. The button we are using has three wires, red, white, and blue. When released the white and red are connected, and when pressed the white and blue are connected. is this the correct button we need? we also have both a speaker and microphone connected to headphone jacks. Do we still need to de-solder the inputs on the soundcard? or can we plug the mic and headphones directly in? any help would be much appreciated, thank you for your time :). One more thing that i just thought of, can all speakers act as microphones? Because our intercom speaker was broken so we found another of the same size and were planning on using an external mic, but if our new speaker can also be a mic that would make things go much smoother.

janw (author)  Tavis11 months ago

hi there,

The diode is not very critical. You can use a 1N4001 or1N4007 of some of those between these, just don't use a smal signal one.

You need the white and blue wire on your button. leave the red one alone. Another option with your button is that you don't use the relais and connect the red wire to + of the amp output, blue to the mic input and white to the speaker.

you don't need to desolder the jacks if you don't want to. Thats up to you.

Any speaker can act as a microphone but some are better at it than others due to the way they are build. The good thing is that the voicecontrol program calibrates the mic so it will adjust to the input of your speaker. If you buy a similar one as in your intercom, you'll be ok.

I hope that everything works out ok for you guys. Post some pictures of the final product.

MoserLabs1 year ago

Don't let them beat you up over the language barrier. I WISH I could speak more languages!

Awesome instructable. It's going on my list of "to do before I get old and don't have respberry pi's anymore" list

janw (author)  MoserLabs1 year ago
I take these comments as constructive critisism and I have no problem at all with the fact that people correct me. I speak and write 4 languages and can read a few more, so I am aware that I often make some mistakes.
Fujo1 year ago

Nice instructable. I notice that English is not your native language. Just a grammar tip for you - the context that you are using "costed" isn't correct. There are some situations where you can used the word costed but in this and most cases you should just say cost as it is an irregular verb and is both the past and present tense. It also doesn't sound right. Keep up the good work.

janw (author)  Fujo1 year ago
You are right, English is only my thirth language. I'll edit it. Thanks for your help!
zwheel janw1 year ago

Interesting. Is your software multi-lingual or did you chose to build a device that speaks/understand your third language rather than your first?

janw (author)  zwheel1 year ago

I used English as the language because my projects are mostly shown on international websites. The software uses google to translate text to speech and you can easely change te code to get the speech in your own language with the correct pronounciation and accent.

Is "costs" the present tense of the verb in this situation? "That item costs two dollars. Yesterday it only cost one dollar."

Anyway, brilliant instructable. It would be great to be able to have celebrity voices.

Or the voice of the computer from 2001 A Space Odyssey.

zwheel1 year ago

"hi there... can you play music?"

I so badly wanted to hear it answer "yes" and stop at that.

really cool idea

dworley1 year ago

Well this Instructable would have saved me a lot of trouble a few months ago. I was looking for a good voice command library for the pi and the best I found had at least two weeks of reading documentation to just understand how to install it properly. Great Instructable, too, thanks!

fazgard1 year ago

Well done. Looks like something I need to duplicate next week!

Helder4u1 year ago

Very beautiful band smart done!


I had to favorite this!

janw (author)  NakanoYamato1 year ago
Thank you!

wow, very beautiful. It is reminiscent of the Post apocalyptic rpg game: Fallout (particularly her song selection). Nicely done!