Tips for building a Mycroft speaker with my kids


tl;dr I am new here, and looking for tips / recommendations to build a simple RPI-based Mycroft device that can be kid-friendly.

In more detail:
My son (7yo) has just been impressed by his friend’s Alexa and now wants one too; but I would prefer a “smart” speaker to respect our privacy and be educational, I have been looking at options to build one ourselves, and this rabbit hole has led me to Mycroft (of course).

I use a couple of Raspberry Pis to self-host services, I am reasonably good with Linux and basic Python, but I am just discovering voice assistants! I have looked at alternatives but it seems Mycroft has an edge, especially now that the main rhasspy dev is going to Mycroft!

I really like Chatterbox, but as I am in the UK it seems quite expensive to ship here (+ import etc.). So I am leaning towards doing it myself, but I would miss two things that Chatterbox provides

  1. The graphical interface to build skills, it looks really cool and close to Scratch, which my kids already use. Does this exist somewhere? It is apparently based on blockly but I can’t find a repo. It looks like I could download ChatterOS, which hellochatterbox uses, but it’s unclear if I could get SSH access or whether it would work with other hardware… which brings point 2!

  2. The ready-to-use HAT, microphone, speaker and button, which could save me the hassle of trying to find compatible hardware. It looks like I can find a Google AIY Voice kit (v1, not the one for a Pi zero), but as it’s 4 years old it’s unclear if there would be incompatibilities. Are there other similar kits that people know of?

Another question for this community is how easy or hard it would be to have Mycroft / picroft entirely in French. We speak mostly French at home. The Mycroft documentation seems to show that it’s possible but I don’t know if it would result in a frustrating experience for kids.

I have tried looking the above in documentation, but I’m very new to Mycroft and getting a bit overwhelmed!

Thank you

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I wrote a draft of a document on how to build a ‘smart boombox’ here:

Maybe it will help.

-Mike M

Regarding your questions on Chatterbox/ChatterOS community member @JarbasAl might be of help…?

chatterbox image can be downloaded and is just a regular raspberry image, but it is designed to work with chatterbox hardware specifically

many chatterbox repos are not FOSS (yet?), including the skill builder, skill builder is not compatible with mycroft either

ssh access is not provided in documentation, but you can try sending a message to chatterbox support asking for it

officially only english is supported, unofficially being a mycroft fork you can edit the config files for a usable translation if you are feeling adventurous (assuming you get ssh access somehow)

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Thank you @JarbasAl! All useful to know.
I have emailed support at chatterbox so will see if I get a reply. SSH access would really help. I think for now I’ll just download an image and play with it. And maybe be able to buy a unit, who knows!