Alexa Can Be Your Ham Shack Assistant!

Is Alexa your ham shack assistant? She has certainly become an indispensable addition to my shack.

Alexa is Amazon’s AI voice assistant. Alexa’s voice emanates from the several Amazon Echo products, like the Echo Dot, Echo Spot, Echo Show, Echo Plus, and Fire TV, among others to be announced.

Here are several Alexa related activated skills and applications that I have found especially useful in my ham shack, and you may find useful and fun to use in your shack, too. Some of these I use several times a day, while others I rarely use, and frankly, some of these applications are a bit of a challenge to get to work the way they should. So, you will discover that you have to ask Alexa just the right way; otherwise, she can get pretty uncooperative and frustrating!

Also, many of these services must be enabled before you can use them; for example, before you can use the Call Sign Skill, you need to say:

Alexa, enable Call Sign

Then, it should work just fine for you.



Video courtesy of Essex Ham

Now, here is a list of Alexa skills and applications you may find very helpful to use in your ham shack:

Alexa, what Time is it or simply: Alexa time

Alexa, what time is it in Mexico City — or any location of which you want the time

Alexa, what is the weather or simply Alexa weather

Alexa, what is the weather in Brisbane Australia — or any other QTH in which you want the weather

Alexa, what is the temperature or simply Alexa temperature

Alexa, what is the temperature in Key West — or any other QTH you request

Alexa, what is xx Fahrenheit in Celsius
(Note: great when in a QSO with stations using the metric system and you want to give them your temperature in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit)

Alexa, what is the 7 day forecast

Alexa, what is the 7 day forecast for Montpelier Vermont — or any other QTH you request

Alexa, open Weather Sky
(Note: this will give you a very in-depth weather report and forecast for your area, more than just asking for the weather in the previous commands)

Alexa open Weather Sky for Key West, Florida — or for any other QTH for which you want an in-dept weather report and forecast

Alexa, set a 10 minute timer
(Note: this is good for creating a station ID reminder)

Alexa, how many dollars are in 85 pounds
(Note: want to purchase an antenna from the UK where the price is in pounds? Use this quick conversion! This conversion works for many other currencies as well)

Alexa, what is xxx divided by yyy
(e.g. what is 468 divided by 3.8 to determine the length of a 75 m dipole)

Alexa, what is the distance between Bowling Green Kentucky and Quito Ecuador — or whatever qth you ask for

Alexa, how do you spell heterodyne — or whatever word you ask for
(Note: even though I am a Ph.D., I am a terrible speller and use this skill frequently)

Alexa, ask call sign who is K8HSY — or whatever call you want to know
(Note: often you have to use phonetics; I suggest using proper phonetics, e.g. kilo 8 Hotel Sierra Yankee)

Alexa, ask QRZ who is W7GPF — or whatever call you want
(Note: often you have to use phonetics; I suggest using proper phonetics, e.g. Whiskey 7 Golf Papa Foxtrot)

Alexa, ask ham look-up who is K8OEY — or whatever call you want
(Note: often you have to use phonetics; I suggest using proper phonetics, e.g. Kilo 8 Oscar Echo Yankee)

Alexa, Propagation report

Alexa, ask our ionosphere what are the current band conditions

Alexa, open space weather

Alexa, what time will the sun sit tomorrow

Note: great for gray line anticipation for DX

Alexa, what time will the sun rise tomorrow

Note: great for gray line anticipation for DX

Alexa, create a reminder to meet Tom for a schedule at 9 am Saturday morning — or any other reminder you need

Alexa, create a reminder to get on the Kentucky Phone Net every day at 5 pm in the afternoon — or any other everyday reminder you might need

Alexa, play the latest Ham Nation podcast — or any number of other ham-related podcasts

Alexa, use APRS and locate kilo 4 uniform lima echo

Note; works only for stations using the APRS system when you ask

Alexa, start extra ham cram

Note: gives you 7 different questions from the extra class pool to answer each time you execute the skill; good for exam prep. See how well you do!

Alexa, Open Amateur Radio test

Note: gives you several questions from the test pool to answer for fun or as a test prep

Alexa, Open Amateur Radio General Class Study

Alexa, Ask Ham Exam for a Question

Alexa, Open Ham Radio Facts

Note: gives you a different ham related fact each time you open it

Alexa, Open Q-code

Note: gives you a different Q-code each time you open it

Undoubtedly, I left a few out. There are new skills and applications becoming available about everyday; so many that it is impossible to keep up. If you know of any I left out that you use in your ham shack, please let me know. I am trying to maintain a reasonably complete file of ham shack useful skills and applications.

Dr. Ron Milliman is a special contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Kentucky, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

2 Responses to “Alexa Can Be Your Ham Shack Assistant!”

  • Ron Wright, N9EE:

    I bought 3 Echo-Dots before Christmas, Amazon had them on sale for $29.95, now back to the $49.95 price. I love these things. I put one by my computer in my office, one by my wife’s computer and one on my night stand in my bed room. I use mostly to stream radio talk shows. Here we have so much conservative junk talk that is nothing more than the world is falling apart and the gov is coming for you, etc that Alexa allows me to say Alexa play NPR radio or give the station’s call letters or a talk show host’s name or Alexa play Leo, the Tech Guy (Leo has weekly show about computers, internet, cell phones, tech, etc) or Alexa play 60’s music or Alexa play Dean Martin music (do need to subscribe to Amazaon’s music at $4/mon for this), but I love this thing and the technology. I have used for QRZ look up, but little to do with Ham Radio, but lots there.

    I love the thing, still learning.

  • John P GIGLIO Jr W2JPG:

    Thanks for this information. I’ve had a Echo Dot for quite awhile but never knew we could access all this information. I mostly ask for weather reports and play music (traditional jazz). Have a Blessed New Year!

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