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Echo Gen 2 Initial Setup

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Echo Gen 2 Initial Setup
« on: December 29, 2017, 10:46:59 am »
This has some comments unique to Canada but may apply to many users. 

Like many people Echo and Alexa was a gift this year at Christmas. I bought if for my wife to play Spotify music, but I also hoped to add it as the voice controller for a lot of other Home automation devices we have already. 

My wife and daughter started the initiatial set up.  My wife loaded the Alexa app on her iPhone 7 and they followed the instructions to set up Alexa and Echo.  Somewhere around trying to get Echo to connect to the Wifi they gave up, not sure why. They asked me to help.  I started by re booting the wifi router and then restarted the Echo.  Following the instructions I accessed the Amazon Wifi for the Echo device and then gave it the password to connect to our home wifi. Worked fine, Alexa was alive in our house. 

When we tried to connect Spotify, we needed the username and password which we forgot, so had to reset that before we could connect.  We added Tune In Radio and Spotify as music players.

I then tried to add my own account to Alexa so I could do further set up. First issue, Alexa in Canada does not support Household Profiles, so The only way I can work with Alexa is through my wife's phone or possibly online if I have my wife's Amazon account settings, not good first mistake. 

Since I don't believe in sharing passwords and accounts with people, I am stuck using her phone for a while to make changes. 

In the mean time I have found that I can set up many activIties in Harmony Hub to run automation. Included in that I can turn in Sonos through Harmony and ask Ask Alexa to Turn On Off Sonos without having the Sonos Skill available yet in Canada.  I have also found that I can ask Alexa to add Skills or re discover Scenes without using the phone.

On syncing with Harmony Hub is it best to first delete scenes from Alexa before changing or deleting them them in Harmony because the sync seems to be only one way. Alexa will discover new Activities added with Harmony but it will not delete ones that Harmony deletes.

So far I can play Sonos, Turn On and off all TV and stereos I have set up for our entertainment system. Detailed control is not yet available by voice except changing channels. Harmony Hub app is best for many other functions at this point.

I can turn in and off Lutron lights and set them to various scenes. 

More to come but not bad for a few days of fiddling around so far.

What experiences or issues have you had?
« Last Edit: December 29, 2017, 11:30:45 am by Alexa in Canada »
An independent consumer hoping to drive discussion and offer advice on using Echo and Alexa in Canada and home automation in general.

Re: Echo Gen 2 Initial Setup
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2017, 09:04:05 pm »
Generally speaking the most frustrating thing I've worked with so far, you're onto already... The Harmony Hub is perplexing in commands. It's also complex to set up where the commands you wish to use will do what you desire as well... all the syncing and discovering and reconfiguring will drive a man crazy!. Glad to see you're coming up to speed quickly with all the issues that Cannucks have over the Standards in the US... we really have it easy in some respects as we are the Main proving grounds for almost all Alexa items.

Good luck and come back and visit. This sees to be the better of al the Alexa forums I've found too. There's a good tech section as well... take a look around.
My Alexa environment includes :
1 full Sized Echo
4 Echo Dots
1 Echo Spot
1 Amazon Firestick with Alexa Voice Remote.
Several Hue Lights with a single bridge
4 Fire Tablets (2 of which now have "SHOW Capabilities" if switched to "Show Mode"!!!!
You should see My Apple Device List!

Re: Echo Gen 2 Initial Setup
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2017, 08:06:38 am »
I have been running Alexa in Canada since April. Needless to say it was bought in US. I wouldn't think the hardware is any different. Have it working with my Control4 automation system.

Just connected a Dot in my winter home on the same account. The setup was easy but finding out the possibilities in different locations using same account is a learning process.

Happy New Year

Re: Echo Gen 2 Initial Setup
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2017, 07:09:22 pm »
Thanks for the replies, part of my hope is that more and more Canadians will join in to support each other and possibly bring some pressure to bear on rapid improvements. We will see.

Regarding Hammond Hub, the syncing with Alexa is basically crazy right now, but because I have been using Harmony for years I am comfortable with the freedom you have to create useful activities and easily add devices.  For me Harmony is the best way to bridge automation to entertainment devices especially when they use RF or IR to control them.

So far I find it is easy to edit the activities I want in Harmony and then sync it with Alexa.  As already mentioned, you only have to have Alexa rediscover scenes if you add a new one to Harmony. If you don't change the name of the Activity in Harmony you don't have to rediscover in Alexa because Alexa is just calling Harmony to execute the activities.

So far I can live with this since there are so few other Skills available for Alexa. 

A great old example is I can have Alexa turn Sonos on and off through Harmony even though the Sonos skill is not available yet in Canada.
An independent consumer hoping to drive discussion and offer advice on using Echo and Alexa in Canada and home automation in general.

Re: Echo Gen 2 Initial Setup
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2018, 07:55:55 am »
After a few days work, finally got it set up as a US device but operating in Canada with local awareness. This seems to give the best of both worlds as I am still able to search for Canadian skills like CBC as well as all of the US skills.

I will continue to update as I go along in this other thread, where I also posted the step by step method I used to get it set up.

http://www.echotalk.org/index.php/topic,3263.0.html
An independent consumer hoping to drive discussion and offer advice on using Echo and Alexa in Canada and home automation in general.

Re: Echo Gen 2 Initial Setup
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2018, 04:13:04 am »
Hi,

I am just getting stuck into this. Looking at Echo Dot + Harmony Hub + Sonos Play 1 (x2).

A few strange issues as I work through the Activities and Scenes relationship, but Iím more or less there.

One frustration relates to Harmony not picking up Sonos playlists in My Sonos. Spotify playlists, imported playlists, albums and radio stations are all presented but not Sonos playlists created in Sonos from My Library. Odd!

Question: is there any way to clear up rubbish scenes in bulk or do I have to delete them individually?

Andy

Re: Echo Gen 2 Initial Setup
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2018, 08:06:48 am »
Hi,

I am just getting stuck into this. Looking at Echo Dot + Harmony Hub + Sonos Play 1 (x2).

A few strange issues as I work through the Activities and Scenes relationship, but Iím more or less there.

One frustration relates to Harmony not picking up Sonos playlists in My Sonos. Spotify playlists, imported playlists, albums and radio stations are all presented but not Sonos playlists created in Sonos from My Library. Odd!

Question: is there any way to clear up rubbish scenes in bulk or do I have to delete them individually?

Andy

Two part answer to your question.

Regarding Sonos and Harmony Hub, initially, before, I got the Echo, I was not happy with the Harmony / Sonos integration because the Harmony app gave less control than the Sonos app on the same devices.  When I first installed the Echo as a Canadian device, I had to use the Harmony Hub to have Alexa turn Sonos on and off, but, after that it was pretty flaky. When I completed the US setup, then I was able to invoke the Sonos Skill for Alexa. This is better but not perfect.

Alexa can turn Sonos on and off, pause, volume control and select music. It seems to have some trouble with playlists or searching for music.  For example I say Alexa play Todd Rungren music from Spotify on Sonos, she says canít find Todd Rungren. Then I set up a Todd Rungren playlist in Spotify, she still canít find the playlist, but if I say Play Todd Tungren music, now she plays the playlist.

Regarding the Rubish Scenes, the first time I set it up, I got all kinds of Scenes I did not want. Alexa seems to have a mind of its own. Through trial and error, I noticed a few things. If you want to delete an activity from Harmony, first delete the scene from Alexa, otherwise, Alexa will keep the scene even if it points to nothing.  I got a lot of scenes created from a random list of favourite TV channels that Harmony had created, so I had to clean that up first. 

I forced the Harmony Activities on those items that I really want to turn on and turn off. For detailed control I still use the Harmony remote or the App. After starting over a few times, I got it down to a reasonable list of scenes in Alexa that I can manage with.

Note, so far I have not found a good way to edit the scenes in Alexa other than delete. You only get one chance to add simple names to scenes when you first implement the Harmony skill and do the initial discovery. Adding scenes later you get whatever Alexa come see up with.

I expect this to improve over time.  I hope this helps.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2018, 08:08:54 am by Alexa in Canada »
An independent consumer hoping to drive discussion and offer advice on using Echo and Alexa in Canada and home automation in general.

Re: Echo Gen 2 Initial Setup
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2018, 05:53:46 am »
Thanks for that.

Yes, I am more or less in the same place I think.

I have only tried the Sonos control related to favourites - from My Sonos.

Not sure about drilling through to albums in My Library etc.  will explore one day.

I guess the big take away initially is I needed to be much more aware of all the random keywords Alex sprayed around the Harmony Skill when it was added initially.

Such is life!

Am gradually coming to like Alexa a bit more - but a long way from a voice replacement for remotes :-)

A.