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AIY Project on any Raspberry Pi including Zero W

The MagPi #57 is hard to get, fortunately, you can use the AIY image without it.

If you were unable to get the MagPi #57 with AIY Project there are ways of running the Google Assistant on a regular RaspberryPi or Raspberry Pi Zero. It doesn’t mean you should do it. While Raspberry Pi 2 is a perfectly capable device, Zero models are not ideal.

How to enable AIY on any Raspberry Pi

The image is set by default to work with an Audio HAT and the dual mikes supplied with the MagPi. To get this image working on any Raspberry Pi we have to change the default audio devices used in the project.

First, let’s enable the default audio during the boot:

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

Scroll down to the bottom of the file and comment out 2 lines responsible for the google kit and enable the default driver:


Once this is done, save the file. Next up we need to change the audio settings:

sudo nano /etc/asound.conf

and replace the content of it (make a backup just in case) with:

pcm.!default {
  type asym
  capture.pcm "mic"
  playback.pcm "speaker"
pcm.mic {
  type plug
  slave {
    pcm "hw:1,0"
pcm.speaker {
  type plug
  slave {
    pcm "hw:0,0"

You are ready to reboot your Raspberry Pi. My advice is to enable the ‘clap’ trigger, otherwise, you will have to pull the GPIO23 low to activate the Google Assistant. To do so, navigate to

sudo nano /home/pi/.config/voice-recognizer.ini

and uncomment the line:

trigger = clap

Google Assistant on Raspberry Pi Zero W

I have successfully run the Assistant on RPI Zero W, however, this is not something I would recommend. You are not going to save yourself much space or money. A powered USB hub may be required to connect your audio I/O. This makes the whole setup bigger and more expensive.

The assistant was working fine but the CPU use was high when issuing commands. This could lead to all sort of problems while executing scripts. Running the assistant script without the desktop environment could help, but if you are interested in running the Google Assistant as quick as possible consider other Raspberries.

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