The Best DIY Home Security Systems

 Family Concerns  –   by Keith, Updated March 11, 2019 

Homeowners like you, concerned about building a smart home,
can follow a simple plan that will clearly guide you to your hoped-for dream home.

You are in charge here—DIY, Do It Yourself, remember?


This is the best, simple and economical plan to follow!




















The Echo/Alexa System is described here in more detail.



You are in charge here—DIY,  Do It Yourself, remember?  This is the best, simple and economical plan! 


The Echo/Alexa system described below is entirely DIY—the installation, the setup, the maintenance and the monitoring.

Here there are no hidden agendas, nothing to hurry you, no hidden fees, no contractors, no installers or other professionals to hire, no 3-year monitoring contracts and no monthly payments to make. You can order, pay for your first device, and get it operational.   All the while, working slowly or quickly as your time and budget will allow.    And guess what?   There are a lot of folks ready to help you, including Alexa and myself.   Just ask!   And all of it is really quite simple.



The inspiration for Alexa came from the “voice” of flight control on the helm of Captain James Kirk’s starship Enterprise in the movie “Star Trek the Motion Picture” in 1979, and the first television series which preceded it.  Alexa was born November 4, 2014, in Amazon’s labs, skipped babyhood and adolescence to become a “smart adult” with more than 70,000 skills according to the 1,500 member Alexa Skills Team, January 11, 2019.   On average, Alexa’s skills are growing at a monthly rate of 1,800.

To commemorate her birthday on November 4, 2018, Amazon featured surprising updates, new products and special deals on the Echo-Alexa team’s many products. The following is fresh from the IFA, the world’s leading tech trade show for consumer electronics and smart home appliances in Berlin, Germany.  On Saturday, September 1, 2018, an unnamed Amazon official said, “Amazon is adding Alexa into cars, office spaces and hotels, building on its vision of making her available everywhere you go.”

Building a smart home with “Alexa” is DIY,
You can do it!

Amazon Echo is a brand of smart speakers featuring the 
voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant called Alexa.  There are several Echo products on the market but the following 3 are the most suitable for DIY smarthome building project from scratch:  Echo Dot, Echo, and Echo Plus.

Let’s begin with the first Echo, Echo Dot.




What Is Echo Dot?

Echo Dot, 3rd Generation with “Alexa
  is a hands-free, voice-controlled product, updated and new as of September 20, 2018.  There are 4 changes to the Echo Dot, 3rd Generation:

1  –  It weighs 10.6 oz. and is 1.7″ high and has a diameter of 3.9″.   It is slightly larger in height and diameter.  It also weighs a bit more because the speaker is larger and heavier.

2  –  It has a new fabric look in 3 colors, a polyester woven fabric made up of lighter and darker shades of each of the colors, heather grey, sandstone, and charcoal.   Many wanted an appearance that is less institutional and more warm and homey.

3  –  It’s top is larger accommodating the same controls as it predecessor, with the exception that instead of 7 small microphones, this new Dot has 4 larger microphones.

4  –  It also has a noticeable new and enhanced sound system.  Which is very good.   But many will still want a fuller, larger sound, so you can connect it to your own sound system, via Bluetooth or with a 3.5 mm output jack (not included) from the back of the Dot.

Echo Dot can operate as a single unit, or you can put it in various rooms or locations in your home.  This interconnection of Dots can be a handy function in many ways.  For example, when supper is ready, you can call your children from the kitchen, who are playing upstairs, “Children, supper’s ready!  Come and get it!”

It is corded and plugs into and electrical outlet—no batteries, but you can buy a separate device that will keep your system running during a power outage.


  Echo dot, 3rd generation,

 Is My Choice 

For all the reasons I have given, it is Echo Dot for me—for example, as I am writing this post, I thought, I am going to try something.  So I said, “Alexa, can you play some Mantovani Strings for me?”  And she immediately tuned me in to a radio station somewhere, that plays his music 24/7.”  And there was no subscription.  How, about that? 

Echo Dot and the Alexa app on your cell phone, with Amazon’s listing of several thousand Alexa enabled smart devices—together make a fine alternative to a separate smart hub.   If Dot is to function as your hub, be sure the devices support automation, WiFi, and are Alexa enabled.  Then all the smart home connectivity happens through the Alexa app on your smart phone, which supports voice commands and allows you to schedule routines for the linked devices and services.   

The Echo Dot is reasonable and accommodating for “tight” budgets,  fitting everyone who wants to DIY as they put together their automated smarthome.  


With Editor Keith’s OBSERVATIONS
From Customers’ Reviews Across the Web

About 92% Positive. 

  • Awesome speaker for it’s size
  • Sound quality is much better than previous Dots
  • You can connect to your sound system by Bluetooth or by wire
  • With music playing and the price, this is a deal
  • I put it on a special stand—looks great and works perfectly
  • I only have to say, ‘Alexa’, once and she hears me
  • Alexa can control almost everything in my smarthome.
  • I wear hearing aids and without them, Alexa comes through loud and clear
  • Echo Dot, 3rd Generation is a remarkable upgrade
  • Is budget friendly, so I can have one in every room in my house


See Real, Verified, Customer Reviews
on Echo Dot, 3rd Generation 



What Do Echo & “Alexa” Do?

Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service and Alexa then becomes your smart personal assistant.  When you say the awake word “Alexa” she hears you with 4 far-field microphones, even in noisy environments.  Alexa is always there and is instantly ready to respond to your wishes—sometimes called skills.   

Alexa has more than 50,000 skills and is a gifted helper constantly at your service.  She can hear you regardless of where you might be in the room.  If you have more than one Echo in your home, Alexa responds from the one that is closest to you with what is called ESP or Echo Spatial Perception.  This helps to make her a very sharp listener and makes multi-room control much more realistic, effective and practical. 

This is largely because the Alexa assistant software is run on Amazon’s cloud, not on your individual device.  This means that as new skills and features and updates are added to Alexa, they automatically become available on all Echo devices.  So, you can use them to: 

  • Stream music via WIFI from multiple sources
  • Control smart home devices with your voice
  • Make hands-free calls to other Echo devices or phone numbers
  • Make purchases as you wish from your Amazon Prime account
  • Listen to news feeds/headlines, podcasts, weather reports, local radio, etc.
  • Do anything else in Alexa’s ever-growing skill set, now or in the future 

You might say, “Alexa, give me my schedule at work for next Tuesday.”  Or, “Alexa, have the usual pizza delivered by 6:00 PM, today.”  She can help you control most everything in the smarthome you are building.  “Alexa, would you please lock all the doors, including the garage, I am going to bed.”  Alexa can play music, answer most questions, provide news headlines, sports scores, read books to you or the children and much more. 

When you say the wake word “Alexa,” and Dot lights up and streams audio to the cloud, the Alexa Voice Service is leveraged.  Alexa is never absent or asleep, but always ready to recognize and respond to your request, instantly. 

Let me say something that needs to be said, Alexa is not listening to everything that going on in your house, as some “mistakenly” say.   She is not listening until you call her name and the light comes on. 


Where To Put Echo and “Alexa” to Work? 

You can put Echo anywhere.  In the bedrooms, to serve as a smart alarm clock, provide music to go to sleep by, set the thermostat, or turn the lights off.  In the kitchen, Dot can hands-free set a timer for the cake you just put in the oven, help find just the right recipe, or add to your grocery list. 

In the entertainment room or den, through stereo cable, Bluetooth or WiFi, Alexa can voice-control the sound level for bass, medium and treble, and volume for your stereo, multi-room music or TV, and voice-control everything on your television—you may need the new Amazon Fire Stick, to do it all. 

Then, there is the home officegarage, workshop—it’s your choice.  Echo Dot is a convenient and useful addition to put anywhere in your smarthome. 


Echo and “Alexa” Make Music Important 

Echo Dot’s Alexa will surprise you, again and again, by providing hands-free voice control for your favorite artist, song, album or mood.  You can search for music by lyrics, title, or genre. 

Echo Dot also provides control to Amazon Music Unlimited, Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, or the local Am/FM radio station of your choice.  Some options may be by subscription. 

Of course, everything can be heard over your own powerful sound system.

You & “Alexa” Can Talk to Almost Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime 

There is no searching with Echo Dot, just talking hands-free.  With the Drop-in feature you can instantly talk with anyone in your home that is near a Dot device.  “Alexa, call Patti, I need her to come and feed her puppy Toto.”  Or you can remind the kids that the school bus will be here in 15 minutes, by means of a quick message to all the other Echos in the house. 

Making phone calls with Alexa’s help is also easy.  To do this you need to set up your voice profile and teach Alexa to recognize your voice.  When you say, “Alexa, call Mom.”  She will call your Mom and not your husband’s Mom.  In addition, you can send a message by text or voice to anyone with a supported Echo device or the Alexa app.


Echo 2nd Generation


Echo, 2nd Generation has the same basic functions as Echo Dot, 3rd Generation and the Echo Plus.  

The unique functions for each Echo are shown in blue.  Let’s begin with the second Echo, Echo 2nd Generation.

>  New, a size that is: 3.4″ in diameter x 5.8″ high.

>  New, a weight that is is 1 pound, 13 ounces.

>  New, is a  Dolby processing speaker for crisp treble, mid-richness and deep dynamic base, with a 2.5″ woofer and a 0.6″ tweeter.  This responsive speaker can fill the room with 360 degree omnidirectional audio and with Alexa’s help each of those sound levels can be controlled with your voice.

>  New, special order Decorative and Colorful Shells/Cases are available in a range of 3 fabrics and 3 special finishesblack and white are still standard finishes.

With Editor Keith’s OBSERVATIONS
From Customers’ Reviews Across the Web 

About 88% Positive.

  • I continue to be surprised with everything about this product.
  • Sound quality is excellent.
  • Highly recommended by myself and my family.
  • It is so simple to set alarms, play music, make phone calls, play games, etc..
  • Love it!  Love it!!   Love it!!!
  • Echo, using Alexa is a game changer and works seamlessly across all our devices.
  • Here’s a good question—Why didn’t I get one sooner?!
  • The hands-free local radio tune-in is great for news, weather and general listening.


Echo Plus 2nd Generation


Echo Plus 2nd Generation has the same basic functions as Echo Dot, and Echo 2nd Generation. Remember:  The basic functions are the same for each Echo. 

The unique functions for each Echo are shown in blue.  Let’s begin with the third Echo, Echo Plus 2nd Generation. 

New, a size that is 3.9″ in diameter x 5.8″ high.

New, a weight that is is 2 pounds, 11.5 ounces.

>  New processing premium  speakers powered by Dolby for crisp vocals, mid-richness and deep dynamic base response, with a 3″ woofer and a 0.8″ tweeter.  This responsive speaker can fill the room with 360 degree omnidirectional audio and with Alexa’s help each of those sound levels can be controlled with your voice.

>  New, charcoal, heather gray and sandstone, all fabric colors, are the standard finishes.

>  New, a built-in ZigBee smart home hub, which allows for simple and direct setup of compatible ZigBee lights, locks, sensors, plugs, and in-wall switches from brands like Samsung Smart Things, Kwikset, Philips Hue, GE, and Yale. No additional hub required. However you must purchase only ZigBee (not Z-wave) and Alexa Certified Smart Home products to use with the Echo Plus ZigBee built-in Hub. 


With Editor Keith’s OBSERVATIONS
From Customers’ R
eviews Across the Web

  87% Positive 

> Impressive audio and set-up is surprisingly easy.
I am happy with the purchase.
> Limited capacity with Phillips Hue system—Hue Bridge needed
> This is verbal home automation at it’s finest.
Love it!  Love it!  Love it!
> The sound coming out of this unit is phenomenal!
> If you like to listen to audio books get the Echo Plus 2nd Gen.
> Now that I have my lights up and running, I’m in love with my Echo.    





Let him sleep while we . . .

Alexa is awakening world-wide, popping up daily into our lives.

Everything from LG’s futuristic, rollable, 65″, 4 K OLED Flagship TV, arriving
later this year (2019) with Alexa playing music through it when it’s rolled up.
Then there are Japanese and Kohler Intelligent Toilets, with heated, musical seats, and yes, Alexa is there too, responding to voice commands!

Amazon recently announced, early in 2019, that more than 100 million devices
with Alexa have been sold.

All of that being said, I have put together, just for you, a very small but growing number of simple, practical,  DIY (Do It Yourself), Alexa compatible home products—CHECK THEM OUT!