Alexa Brings Back Singing Fish, This Time It’s A Good Thing

Remember Big Mouth Billy Bass? That’s the singing fish with which you could torture family members by having it endlessly perform a rendition of either “Take Me to the River” or “Don’t Worry Be Happy”.

Now [Brian Kane], a teacher at the Rhode Island School of Design, has connected Amazon’s Alexa to the fish. Speak the “wake word”, “Alexa”, and the fish’s head turns to face you. Then ask it any question you’d normally ask Alexa and Alexa’s voice answers while the fish opens and closes its mouth in time to the words. Want to know the weather? Ask the fish, which you can see [Brian] do in the video below.

[Brian] hasn’t given details on how he’s done it but he’s likely made use of the Alexa Skills Kit, an SDK from Amazon that let’s you use the Alexa voice recognition and speech service with your own hardware (wetware, aquaware?), just as Amazon does with their home assistant, Echo .

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Billy Bass with selectable clips

[Will] enjoys giving hacked items as Secret Santa gifts and this year he decided to augment a Billy Bass. These gag items have become a popular hack to use as a prop or to read your Twitter updates to you. Right of the bat he scrapped the original PCB and sent it to the gift’s future recipient as if he were a kidnapper extorting a family. He then set to work replacing the guts with a pair of PIC 18F452 microcontrollers. One uses power transistors to control the movement, the other controls an MP3 that handles the sound clips. The interface has some LEDs for added effect and uses a dial to select each sound clip which is displayed on a 4×20 character LCD.

The project has several voltage headaches as the motors operate at 6v and 4v, the microcontrollers and LCD display at 5v, and the MP3 is looking for 1.5v. That’s for voltages supplying this Frankenstein’d schematic. But he pulled it off, as you can see in the video after the break.

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