I had written a couple of articles about cool uses of Amazon Dash buttons (other than accidentally ordering nappies) in the past. Truth be told, all of them used tricks to turn the ordering button into a home automation device. Recently, Amazon decided that the buttons aren’t cool and moved to other things (is Dash Wand still a “thing”?). Since open-source support is less likely to continue it’s time to look at the Amazon Dash button alternative.
Were Amazon Dash buttons really that good?
Let’s define the “best”, and see what’s the cheapest option I can find. I know that the refundable $5 for Amazon Prime members will be hard to beat, but if you don’t have the Prime subscription, your perception of cheap may differ.
What made the Dash buttons special wasn’t the price. It was the ability to connect that push-button input with Python or NodeRED. The $5 price (although hidden by “Prime Membership” paywall) was very attractive and the closest alternative used Bluetooth, phone proximity to work and was 6 times the price.
Amazon Dash buttons weren’t that great. The whole hack assumed that you would scan the network looking for ARP packets and respond to it. Buttons took 5-8 sec to actuate and there was a cooldown (waiting until the button does its thing).
The Amazon Dash buttons are not great, but in specific circumstances, having a WiFi button was just enough. Take a look at how popular was my Amazon Dash Doorbell!
Amazon Dash button alternative
RIP Amazon Dash! I’m not sure what will happen to existing buttons. It will be harder for sure to set it up once Amazon purges it for good from their app. The supporting libraries didn’t have many updates as well which only encourages me to look around.
So what IoT Amazon Dash button alternative should you buy, that works well (if not better) and won’t break your bank?
Xiaomi Aqara Button
I talked about these before, and before you dismiss the $10 purchase price (+ some sort of Zigbee hub) let’s evaluate why these buttons make sense. Just see how easy is to make a dimmer using a single button, or how to turn off all your devices at night.
- low latency
- not expensive
- long battery life
- click/double click/long click functions
- require Zigbee hub or CC2531
- the first button will be the “most expensive”
If you already have a Raspberry Pi running (you would need this for Amazon Dash anyway) the first button will cost you about $10 for the button and about $4 for CC2531 (or more for a hub).
In theory, you could get 3 Amazon Dash buttons for that price, but each Xiaomi Aqara comes with multiple functions. You could easily assign 3 different clicks to a single button (and you can swap functions depending on the time of the day).
Despite paying for Amazon Prime and owning 6 buttons, I never actually used the rebate offered by Amazon. Paying double for low latency and extra functions alone are worth it. If you were looking for Amazon Dash button alternative – look no further, especially that I have the tutorials you need to turn the buttons awesome and articles that describe how to set it all up. If you have any questions or you know a much better alternative – do let me know in this Reddit thread. The question remains, what will I do with my Amazon Dash buttons?