1 - Does anyone actually use Rhasspy as a VA in place of Alexa, Google etc or is it just a development/learning experience?
In a way that’s a philosophical question. I never had any commercial voice assistant in the first place - even though I would have loved to buy one for several years now. However I never gave in to the idea.
The idea of an internet-connected eavesdropping device that is entirely under the control of some company that makes a profit out of using or selling my data is a very dystopian idea for me.
My personal conclusion from that is: It’s ok if Rhasspy is in the end less capable. I won’t sell that privacy for more features.
Also the term less capable needs to be used carefully. In the end Echo or GH are (in my opinion) not really intelligent. Those companies just have an army of people in the background that can provide the manpower to make the device appear like it’s omniscient.
2 - Is there a way to block the fake messages - if you wake it up and then say jibberish or nothing, it spits out a random intent and action which NodeRed picks up and acts on - usually in a bad way like turning off the lights or the TV
Have you tried different wake word engines and also lowered the sensitivity? I work with different sensitivities in different rooms.
3 - What are the best options for mics and a simple speaker - i have the 2-mic hat and a PC powered speaker, but the speaker is not ideal as takes up a lot of space etc.?
Can’t speak for everyone here, just my personal observations. As mic I’m using a Matrix voice and find it to be very good for the job. I have made bad experiences on the other hand with the ReSpeaker 4.
And this is the speaker model I’m using: (beware - an Amazon link, considering my rant from above): https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B079FKSGCH/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I’m very happy with it (wouldn’t use it for music playing though).
4 - Has anyone built a working Alexa replacement - self contained, mics, speaker, printed/made case etc??
Mine is not pretty because it doesn’t have a case, yet. But in terms of functionality I’ve taught it to do a lot for me. Depends on your use-case. So I’d consider it to be “complete” for my purposes.
You can find some skills in the “Show us” forum as well as cases.
In general I guess Rhasspy is certainly not an out of the box solution (yet). You’ll need to get involved at least in your own setup a bit, meaning some kind of programing for skills or 3D design or handyman-skills for a nice case.
The gain of it is a device that is entirely under your control and you can tweak it to do pretty much everything for you if you’re willing to invest some time.
And the beauty is - if you put some time into making something work - publish it here and others can use it - just like you can build on top of the work of others.