Alexa – Trouble setting up

I was asked to assist a friend to get Alexa (Amazon device) setup and operational.  Alexa is a wireless device which can take commands in the form of the spoken words, interpret these and then take actions as appropriate.  So for example if you said “Alexa – please play Classic fm” Alexa should respond by playing Classic fm via the Internet using the Tune-in radio service.

The basic method for setting it up is to load a free App on your mobile phone/ipad etc, then open it.  You are then prompted to connect to Alexa which appears with its own wireless SSID.  Now enter the details for you home Wi-Fi network (which would usually be hosted on your Broadband Service provided router).  You need to enter the Network SSID and any password associated with it.

I tried this but it failed to work at my friends home.  BT is the broad-band provider and they provide a BT hub/router.

Each time an attempt to connect was made Alexa simply reported that  it had failed to connect to the Wireless Network – no clues as to why this might be the case.

Tried phoning the BT broadband service hotline and under their instruction did a factory reset of the BT hub and Alexa – still no success in connecting.  I was at the point where I was about to suggest that the device might be faulty and should be returned to the manufacturer under warranty.

I decided to take the Alexa to try the same procedure on my home location where I have the same setup.  For me it worked without any delay.  How strange this seemed!

Took it back to my friends home/network to have the same negative out-come.  After many attempts I was about to give up on the device.  But then I thought that there could be an issue with the Wireless Network configuration . I noticed that the BT Hub has two wireless networks which are based on the older standard 2.4GHz and the other being 5 GHz.  Which of these was the Alexa connecting to .  I decided to separate the two networks and give each network a unique name.  The original name for both was BTHub5-3X5Y or similar.  Both wireless networks had the same name.

I decided to call the 2.4 network BTHub5-3X5Y and the 5 GHz one BTHub5-3X5Y5 – note the extra 5.  I then forced Alexa to connect to the 5GHz network.  It worked straight away 😉

So I felt that I had solved the problem.  The device is now working reliably!!.  So where was the fault?  Not entirely sure but having the capability to chose exactly which network I am connecting to seemed to make the difference 😉


A first for the Kemnay Kirk Anytime Anywhere

This post is dedicated
to the memory of the former
Minister of Kemnay Parish Church
Rev John Renton

John Renton initiated a number of changes and significant projects during his ministry at Kemnay Parish – these always led to an improvement to some aspect of church life.

A current project at the Church is Kemnay Kirk Anytime Anywhere (KKAA) which seeks to establish the capability to webcast in real time Church Services.   Our primary audience is the residents of local care homes who are church members or where church goers but who can no longer attend due to illness or infirmity.  The Church wants to deliver the service either live or as an online recording which can be viewed by residents of  these care homes and also for people confined to their own homes where they are unable to attend church in person.  The online archive can be viewed by clicking here 

The project involved designing a system which allows church services to be recorded from various cameras positioned around the sanctuary and record and/or live web cast the resulting video stream.  Viewers can then view the services either in real time or after wards when convenient from the service archive which is available through the web church web site.

It is I think appropriate that I can report that KKAA did its first realtime webcast on the occasion of the funeral of our dear former minister Rev John Renton.  This did not involve broadcast to the internet but it was possible for people who were involved in the catering team for the funeral tea to be at the church centre and to view the whole service at the there.  The church was full to capacity with some people having to stand throughout the service.

The following diagram shows schematically the setup which was put in place to allow the service to be viewed in the church centre.

As you can see in the above diagram, there are two locations involved  which are the Church and the Church Centre.

Between the two site we have a point to point wireless link which  has a capacity of approximately 15 Mbps.

At the church we have a device which takes its audio from the church sound desk and a HDMI feed from the Video production system.  These are combined into a single stream which is broadcast using one of a number of streaming protocols.  On this occasion the RTSP protocol was used which was then viewed using a computer at the Church Centre.  The video was then displayed on a large screen for people to view.  VLC was the application which was to receive and display the video stream.