Put Legs on Your Smart Speaker

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About: Hello, my name is Toglefritz. That’s obviously not my real name; my real name is Scott, but on the Internet I use the nom de plume, Toglefritz. I like to make things and I like to share my work with ot...

Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung Bixby, today we are virtually surrounded by a crowd of digital assistants. These artificial personalities are deeply impressive from a technical standpoint but they have one glaring issue: despite the best efforts of their creators, these “personalities” really lack personality for one obvious reason: none of them have legs or feet.

If you take a look at the pictures below, I think you will agree that it is much easier to form an emotional connection with my dog, Remi, than it is for that disgusting cave fish.

The same applies to the two Google Home Minis below. The one with poseable legs and cartoonish feet is clearly more appealing and you can feel an instant emotional connection to it. Forming a meaningful personal connection with the Google Home Mini that lacks feet is just as unlikely as it is for that gross cave fish above.

The same goes for the Amazon Echo Dot. If you spend much time at all around an Amazon Alexa like I do, you probably have one burning question about the product. I often ask myself the same question. Why did Amazon design the Echo Dot without legs? Every time I look at my Echo Dot, I can’t help but think the aesthetics of the device would be massively improved if it had posable legs and feet.

After all, think about all the things in the world without legs: slugs, rattlesnakes, sea cucumbers, viruses. None of these leg-less things are all that great, just like your leg-less Google Home Mini or Amazon Echo Dot is not that great. Don’t fear though. There is a solution close at hand.

This Instructable chronicles a project providing a range of 3D-printable designs for equipping your emotionally-stunted digital butler with legs and feet in whatever style suits your fancy. This Instructable will teach you how to build your very own leg-equipped stands for your favorite voice-controlled speaker.

Step 1: Gather Your Parts

The parts list for this project is not too extensive. First of all, you will need either a Google Home Mini or an Amazon Echo Dot*. In the next step, we will work on 3D printing brackets designed to hold the smart speakers; there is one designed for the Google Home Mini and one designed for the Amazon Echo Dot. Other than those brackets, all the other parts are the same for whichever speaker you are using.

Second, you will need a 3D printer and a roll of filament. The 3D printed parts for this project are not too demanding so even a basic 3D printer will work fine. I am using a Monoprice MP Select Mini 3D printer, which can be had for under $200. The parts can be printed in just about any material you'd like.

Next up is some actual hardware. To attach all the parts together, we will use a combination of heat-set threaded inserts and machine screws. Heat-set inserts are a quick and easy way to add threads to plastic. They work perfectly for 3D printed parts. You will need one package of M3 heat-set inserts. You will also need a package of mating M3 x 4mm low-profile machine screws.

Step 2: 3D Print the Speaker Bracket

Alright, now it's time to begin 3D printing. Your smart speaker will be held by a bracket. There are two different versions of the bracket design, one for the Google Home Mini and one for the Amazon Echo Dot. All the other 3D printed parts for this build are the same aside from the two brackets. So, select and print the bracket for the type of speaker you are using.

PartImageSTL File
Google Home Mini bracketGoogle Home Mini Bracket
Amazon Echo Dot bracketEcho Dot Bracket

Step 3: Design 1: Meet Geoff

Now that you have the bracket for your smart speaker printed, all the remaining parts of the stand need to be printed as well. For this project, I developed three different designs. This way, you can equip your speaker with whatever type of legs and feet you like best.

There are few greater pleasures than walking barefoot on the beach when the weather is warm and the sun is shining. The feel of warm sand between your toes is relaxing, invigorating, and exciting all at the same time. We are all happiest, I think, when our feet are freed from socks and shoes. Your smart home speaker is no different.

Equipping your smart speaker with the Geoff Series bare feet stand will provide your favorite virtual assistant with the same tranquil and energized feeling you get when walking barefoot in the sand. The Geoff Series stand gives your digital assistant the feet and fully posable legs that the manufacturer clearly should have included in the first place.

3D Printing

There are three different design files needed to create Geoff: a hip, legs, and feet. You will find direct links to the parts as STL files in the table below and you can find all the design files for this project in the GitHub repository.

PartSTL FileQuantity
HipGeoff hip1
LegGeoff leg2
FootGeoff foot2

Step 4: Design 2: Greetings Marvin

The second of the three leg/feet designs for this project is called Marvin.

Deep down, we all want to be robots. In umpteen different films robots are smarter than humans, stronger than humans, they live longer than humans, and they are untroubled by pesky emotions.

You have your own ambitions about being a robot, but your smart home speaker is halfway to being a robot already. The Marvin Series stand gets your smart speaker most of the rest of the way to becoming a fully-fledged robot. Sure, this may hasten the robot coup against humanity, but before that happens, your favorite smart speaker will look great wherever you use it. Vicariously become a robot through your smart home speaker with the Marvin Series stand.

3D Printing

Marvin is a bit more complex than Geoff. There are four different files you will need to 3D print: a hip, legs, shins, and feet. The table below has direct links to the design files, but you can also find them in the GitHub repository.

PartSTL FileQuantity
HipMarvin hip1
LegMarvin leg2
ShinMarvin shin2
Right foodMarvin right foot1
Left footMarvin left foot1

Step 5: Design 3: Hello Lace

The third an final design, with a new type of feet for your smart speaker, is called Lace.

There are some people in the world who really like shoes. I had a manager once who spent hundreds of dollars per month on designer shoes with the names of famous basketball athletes on them. Even if you are not a shoe collector, you can’t argue against the utility of shoes. Shoes protect our feet from all the harmful things and microscopic critters on the ground.

Your smart home speaker shipped without shoes. The Lace Series stand fixes that problem. The Lace Series stand equips your digital assistant of choice with a classy pair of shoes on fully posable legs.

3D Printing

Lace also has four design files: a hip, legs, a left foot, and a right foot. Links to the STL files are provided in the table below and they can also be found in the GitHub repository.

PartSTL FileQuantity
HipLace hip1
LegLace leg2
ShoeLace shoe2

Step 6: Install Heat-Set Inserts

Now that you've 3D printed all the parts to build your chosen stand design, with whichever leg style you like most, we can start assembling all the parts. The speaker bracket will be attached to the hip using three M3 x 4mm screws. To allow the hip parts to accept the screws, in this step we will install some M3 heat-set inserts into the hips.

Heat-set inserts are a great way of adding mechanical threads to 3D printed parts. While you could use thread-forming screws for plastics, or even just glue parts together, heat-set inserts allow your parts to be disassembled again rather than being permanently connected. Furthermore, using the inserts helps guarantee that your parts will not be damaged or broken by using screws that cut into the plastic.

Heat-set inserts are easy to install using an adjustable-temperature soldering iron. I am using a Hakko digital soldering station for this project, but really any soldering iron will work fine as long as you can set the temperature to 250oF. Also, there are special soldering iron tips you can use to install heat-set inserts. These are really useful if you are doing a project involving installing many inserts. In this case though, as we only need to install three inserts, any tip will work just fine.

Just place the insert on the end of the soldering iron, allow it to heat up for 30 seconds or so, and gently press the insert into the holes on the hip part. You should not need to use much force, allow the heat to melt the insert into the part.

Step 7: Attach Legs to the Hip

With the heat-set inserts in place, the next step is to connect the legs to the hip. The legs connect to the hip using ball-and-socket joints. It will take some force, but to install the leg, press it into the socket on the underside of the hip. The leg should snap into place once you apply enough force.

With the leg installed, you should be able to pivot the joint in any direction.

Step 8: Attach Feet to the Legs

For Geoff and Lace

The feet attach to the legs in the same way that the legs attach to the hip, with a ball-and-socket joint. As we did in the previous step, install the feet by pressing them firmly onto the ends of the legs until they snap into place.

For Marvin

In the case of the Marvin design, there are actually two parts to connect to each leg, both of which still use ball-and-socket joints. First connect the shins to the legs. The shins are symmetrical so there is no left or right.

Then you will need to attach Marvin's feet. These, on the other hand, are not symmetrical. The outside of each foot is more curved and in side is flatter.

Step 9: Connect the Speaker Bracket

Your smart speaker legs are very nearly complete now! The final assembly step, before introducing the speaker, is to connect the speaker mount to the rest of the stand. The mount connects to the hip using three M3 x 14mm screws. The mount is designed to hide the heads of the screws inside the countersink. Tighten the screws until they are flush with the surface of the mount, but be careful not to over-tighten the screws or you could break one of the 3D printed parts or cause the heat-set inserts to break free.

Step 10: Add Your Speaker

This last step is a simple one. Just add your speaker to the stand by carefully pressing it into the mount. The connection for power should face the back of the stand. Then, with just a little movement of the legs and/or feet, your chosen digital assistant will be standing proudly on its brand new legs!

Thanks for reading!

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    7 Discussions

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    Goatius Maximus

    15 days ago

    It does make them more likable. Although, it the legs had motors and was controlled by the assistant, that would be pretty cool

    2 replies
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    wobblerGoatius Maximus

    Reply 14 days ago

    Or, in the words of Sir Cliff Richard, "Got myself a cryin', talkin', sleepin', walkin', Echo Dot!"

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    JohnC430

    14 days ago

    so you have a 3D printer and you were itching to do something with it.... so you dreamed up an excuse so that your wife does not get mad at you for spending money on materials to make something without any utility. as it is you already have more than one item similar to the "ECHO".
    well at least you made something cute. :):):) thanks for sharing.

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    keebie81

    14 days ago

    Looks great. Neat to see the finished project.

    0
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    wobbler

    15 days ago

    Brilliant! These are definitley sellable!