Our house came with a wireless doorbell, which sadly has gone to that Great Electronics Recycling Depot in the sky. What to do?
I recalled reading somewhere that the Amazon Dash button is capable of being repurposed via a hack. (By the way, the first button is basically free).
“Amazon Dash Button is a Wi-Fi connected device that reorders your favorite product with the press of a button. Each Dash Button is paired with a product of your choice, which is selected during the set-up process. When you’re running low, simply press Dash Button—ensuring you never run out of your essentials again.”
The hack involves starting up a .bat (batch) file that “watches” for your button push, then runs any other .bat or .exe file on your PC that you have selected, rather than ordering an Amazon product.
Since I was able to create a batch file that activates our X10 chime module, we now have a free wireless doorbell!
Read more below.
The Dash button hack:
The Readme file for the Amazon Dash Button Hack at GitHub has the full procedure and free software for the hack.
My supplemental notes:
Download the latest version of the software, which is in .zip format. Unzip it into a folder on your PC (I put it into C:\DashButton).
Then connect a new, unpaired Amazon Dash Button to your home wifi network. A smartphone Amazon app is needed to do this. First make sure to update the Amazon app to the most recent version. Subprocedure at Instructables; do Steps 1 and 2 only.
Next, I found that “pushing the button you wish to pair repeatedly” per the Readme file’s Normal Usage Instructions didn’t work that well for me.
You can skip directly to the “If you already know the IP of your button” section for testing if you do the following:
- Open up a browser on a PC directly connected to your wireless router and type in “http://192.168.1.1” (or whatever the correct IP address is for your particular router’s make and model) to access the router’s management GUI.
- You will be asked to enter both a username and password. Typically, they are both “admin” if you haven’t changed it previously. Check your manual.
- Find the “DHCP Clients Table” (on my Linksys router, it’s under Status/Local Network). Look at it or take a screenshot.
- Push your Dash Button, then refresh the DHCP table and compare. You should see a new “Generic Amazon” device along with its IP address and its MAC address.
- Copy down the IP address (e.g., 192.168.1.105) and the associated hardware (MAC) address (e.g., AB:78:BF:8C:9D:19).
- Download the free Fing app to your smartphone. When you hit the app’s refresh button, it shows a list of all your locally-connected network devices.
- Push your Dash Button, then immediately refresh Fing. You should see listed a new “Generic Amazon” device with its IP address and its MAC address.
- Copy them down.
- Try again if at first you don’t succeed.
It’s fine to use the IP address from the above for testing in the “If you already know the IP of your button” section of the Readme page, but it needs to not change over time. To accomplish this, go into your router’s GUI as mentioned above, and reserve an IP address for your button. This is where you use the button’s MAC address you noted above. Look through your router’s GUI menu to find where to reserve the IP address by MAC address.
Our router is set up to dynamically hand out IP addresses to devices on our network (that’s what DHCP means), starting at 192.168.1.100. You should reserve an unused IP in the range 192.168.1.2 through 192.168.1.99, or the equivalent non-DHCP range on your router.
My permanent batch file to execute the hack is named “DashButton.bat”. This is needed if you want the hack to run every time you reboot. Here is the text contained in it:
C:\DashButton\AmazonButton_v4.0.exe 192.168.1.10 C:\Users\User\Desktop\doorbell.bat “Comment: place this file in Startup.”
- Change the text above to include your button’s IP address, and the location of the .bat file on your PC that you want to execute.
- Change the comment to something meaningful to you, or just delete it.
- Be sure the quote marks are the straight up and down kind (“dumb”) not the curly type (“smart”).
(I show below how to create the doorbell.bat. You can use any other executable file on your PC for testing, or just to do a different action at a push of the button.)
- Double-click DashButton.bat to activate the hack.
- Push your Dash button.
- If the doorbell batch file (or the file you selected) is executed, then your DashButton.bat is working.
- Put a copy of it into your PC’s Startup folder. That way, when Windows is rebooted, the it will be executed during Startup.
The batch file to use with the Dash button hack:
You can use any batch or .exe file you have, but I wanted to activate our X10 Chime module.
I mentioned in the previous post that we already have an X10 home automation system, including a CM15A USB Transceiver Module plugged into our desktop Windows PC.
With the CM15A and free AHSDK software in place, any of our X10 devices (including our Chime module) can be activated over our local network.
My doorbell.bat file has this text in it:
start /d “C:\Program Files (x86)\AHSDK\bin” ahcmd.exe sendplc A9 on
- The folder with my ahcmd.exe executable file is C:\Program Files (x86)\AHSDK\bin. Our Chime module is at X10 address A9 (house code A, unit code 9).
- Adjust your batch file text to match the location of your ahcmd.exe and the module you want to activate.
- Again, be sure the quote marks are “dumb”, not “smart”.
So a new wireless doorbell at zero additional cost.
Or, (gasp!) use the button as intended.