Introduction: Make Your Own Echo Show Bedside Clock for Less!
Did you know you can make an Alexa Show Smart Display for approximately the cost of a plain old Alexa Dot Smart speaker? Well you can, and I have some free time, so let me show you how it's done.
Some background: I already have an Echo Dot Smart Speaker and an Echo Show Smart Display and I'm starting to depend on them for weather, music, timers, answers to random questions and more. The Show adds some nice features over the Dot including serving as a digital photo display, better audio quality, songs lyrics are displayed, and I can video chat with remote family members. I'd like Alexa to be available throughout more of my house, but I don't feel like shelling out the $$$ for another Echo Show.
I learned that Amazon has added Alexa Show support as a configurable feature to Fire HD tablets (as of this writing Alexa Show mode is not supported on Fire HD 7" and older tablets, but see this page for current support details).
The Alexa devices seem to frequently go on sale, but right now the Alexa Show 8" is $129.99, about 2.5 times the current cost of a Fire HD 8
I already had a compatible tablet and tried using it as a Show device, but the problem is the tablet speakers just don't cut it for music streaming. I also had an an old non-Bluetooth speaker stuffed in a closet, so I thought for a Quarantine Weekend Project (QWP) I'd see if I could build an Echo Show Clock for my bedroom. Beats spending money on a new device, I up-cycled some old junk and it was fun too!
- A Fire HD 8 (or larger) tablet, this is the only thing actually required for this project, everything else is optional, but you'll want better speakers if you like to steam music.
- Speakers with either headphone jack input or Bluetooth support
- Spray paint to spiff up the old speaker
- Clothes-hanger to form the tablet holder
- Painter's tape and cardboard to mask during painting
- Duct tape (to fasten hanger to speaker)
- Micro USB power cable for tablet
- USB adapter or 3.5mm adapter for sound input
- Magnetic USB cable like these (obviously optional, but makes it easier to still use as a tablet)
- Bead or foam to cover wire joint and for tablet to rest on
Tools I Used for This Project
- Wire cutter
- Screwdriver to speaker remove handle.
Step 1: Make a Tablet Holder
Originally I thought I might just attach the tablet to the front of my old speaker, but I realized that might block the sound and would take up more table space. Plus if I could fashion a tablet holder on top of the speaker it would be easier to use the tablet as a tablet.
The steps here are pretty simple:
- Cut the hook off of an old hanger,
- Straighten, creating one long wire at least 20" long.
- Review the dimensions diagram I've included here, find the middle of the wire and make that point the middle of the 6" section
- Create bends to match the diagram working from the middle of the 6" section to the left
- Repeat the process for the right hand section
- Join the two sections with duct tape
- I used a bead from a drawstring to cover the joint
- I used black duct tape to attach the tablet holder to the speaker
Step 2: Mask and Paint
- My old speaker featured a handle on the top, soon to be the side. I simply unscrewed and removed it
- I used painter's tape (leaves less sticky stuff when you remove it but you could use normal tape) to protect the battery cover on the back
- I cut circles out of an old yogurt box to mask the speakers. (note the little tape handles to make them easy to position and remove)
- I used a layer of gloss black paint for the first coat.
- Luckily I had some Matte Hammered paint on hand for the 2nd layer, I like that much better.
- The speaker had 4 footpads stickers which I moved to the bottom of the project, no need to use the chunk of velvet I had planned to use.
Step 3: Customization Details
- To use Alexa commands on your Fire HD tablet like this project does, make sure the following settings are turned on
- Settings-> Alexa -> turn Alexa feature on, with just this option you need to touch the Home button in order for Alexa to listen to and react to the "Wake Word".
- Settings -> Alexa -> Hands-Free Mode - turn this on as well. This is the Show Mode feature that will allow the tablet to listen for the Wake Word
- Wake Word - here you can only choose "Alexa" (the default) or "Amazon" - on most other Alexa devices you can also choose "Echo" and "Computer" For some reason these extra Wake Words are not supported on the tablet or Echo Auto
- Install Night Clock app - this is a free and add free app by Ned Fox. You can change the colors, intensity and fonts. To bring this app up (install it from the AppStore) just say "Alexa, Open App Night Clock".
- Use Magnetic USB cables like these - especially if you have a Bluetooth speaker because it will be simple to pick up the tablet and read a book or play a game watch a movie or whatever. Note some folks will want to tape over the blue light these put out, it's bright!
- Use a Bluetooth adapter - I considered using a Bluetooth adapter for my old school speaker, but didn't think it was worth it for this project, especially since the Alexa responses seemed to be delayed, that is I'd say "Alexa what's the weather?" and the initial part of the response would be truncated, I chalk this up to Bluetooth lag and a cheap adapter and shrug.
Participated in the