Approaching - DIY norns shield

minimal/tiny open-source/DIY shield for Raspberry Pi boards, providing hardware compatibility with the norns ecosystem.

shield support will stay in sync with the primary norns codebase, without any branches or mods.


oshpark order link: norns-shield

minimal part count to get a basically complete norns system for minimal cost.

  • audio codec: CS4720 (same as norns)
  • audio jacks: 3.5mm stereo in/out, line level
  • OLED: NHD-2.7-12864WDW3
  • 3x pushbuttons, 3x rotary encoders

component BOMs on octopart (pi not included):

pi 3 and 4 being tested now

this shield does not have a headphone driver or a battery charging circuit, however a headphone works fine in the normal output, and you can use any USB battery pack. it also does not have an FTDI serial converter built in, but the UART pins are broken out for a UART-USB cable— but generally nobody will be using this.

components are SMD— not tiny, but not beginner (0603 passives). i’ll run a batch of PCBs with SMD populated so anyone can DIY by just thru-hole soldering a few components. pricing TBD— it will be inexpensive as the prices come way down at quantity.

the final disk image and PCB is nearly proven. i would not suggest ordering a PCB until we clear what’s on the desk right now. @ngwese and @simonvanderveldt have been doing great work on a new buildroot-based image generation system.

i’m posting this just in advance of completion as i’m looking for anyone interested in developing some enclosure designs— both 3D printing and laser would work well here. i’ve kept mounting holes in line with the existing pi mounting.

anyone with eagle can jump right in, though i’ll export a DXF outline of the board to assist with some designs.


Nintendo had the Switch Lite, Monome has the Norns Lite.


Twenty characters of VERY EXCITE.


! very tiny !

I’m a baby at these things but would help with case


That’d be awesome. As someone who just traveled with a bare FATES board, I would love to find a way to protect my norns life. These would be an awesome option for travel as well! Very ‘pocket sized’


Ok yeah. So into this :slight_smile:

100% down for this. I recently got acess to a laser printer and a 3d printer so when time permits id love to make a DIY case for this!

I think a suitably cut hammond enclosure might work well, with enough space for wifi signal. I’ve done this for a pisound. See below:



very nice!

seems a shame it doesn’t have a headphone output, as with something this small, I think using this with headphones would be a popular choice.
(seem like one could be mounted on the side? but perhaps no space on the pcb?)

battery is not really an issue, USB batteries are cheap and cheerful, and available in so many sizes!

one thing id recommend for the BOM is to add the standoffs that are required - quite easy to forget to order, and I never seem to have the ones i need :wink:


for enclosure design, the top edge will need need to be potentially different for the pi3/4, due to the rPI4 having dual mini HDMI outputs and a usb-c connector -if laser cutting could use one template with both, and just use the applicable one.

Ive got a rPI4 in fates and works nicely, but cooling is definitely worth considering.
enclosure - at least vents are needed for passing cooling.

I tried a fan shim which is very cool, it tends to need the top board to be slightly (2-4mm) higher, seems to be fine with existing headers.
BUT having a board on top is far from idea for air flow, and in this design perhaps the display is going to get pretty warm! (I dont know as in fates the display is off to one side, so no issue really)
also whilst the fan is really quiet, you can still hear the air flow, and in a quiet room i found a bit distracting.
so for now Ive moved to using a heat sinks, which I think will be fine…

complete kits

this is really an aside, but i wonder if monome are considering selling this (optionally) as a complete ‘kit’ - ready to solder/assemble (perhaps excluding rPI), so include:

  • smd populated board,
  • all thru hole components (incl display)
  • standoffs/screws etc
  • enclosure

might make it less daunting for newcomers to DIY builds,
it also potentially reduces costs to end user. when building Fates, I had to order parts from about 3 different suppliers and spent 30-35 euros on shipping… (as much as the costs of the components!)
(I also had to wait for everything to arrive from different places which was a bit tedious)

all exciting stuff :slight_smile:


are the specific encoders needed ? I notice they’re out of stock on the octopart listing

i’ll trade you :handshake: :+1:

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:hot_pepper::leafy_green: :arrow_right::canned_food::question:


Agreed. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too hard to add a headphone output (given that the Eagle design files for the norns shield are open source). According to the info here the codec output is routed to a TPA6130A2 headphone driver whose volume is controlled via I2C. So: 1 more part, 1 more jack, and a few extra traces…?

you can sub with the 20mm shaft version PEC11R-4020F-N0024

Otherwise be sure not to get the S0024 version as that has a built-in button/switch.

The F in the part number is for a “flatted” shaft. If you want knurled shaft, you can search for the K version PEC11R-4015K-N0024 but that’s also out of stock at both mouser and digikey.

I also regret the lack of headphone output, but otherwise it looks great! I like the small size, will build one too for sure (I’ll wait for an SMD populated pcb).
I too have access to laser cutting/CNC/3D printing machines in the school I work for, I guess it’s time for me to learn these :slight_smile: A metal/hammond-like enclosure could be really nice.

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Yay for metal cases! Allows for a thinner case with strong properties

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I’m thinking a “stacked” laser case might be a sturdy option


can get nice sanded edges out of wood :heart_eyes:

this would be handy so I can work in illustrator


A kit would be wonderful. I’m interested either way it turns out; a wonderful time to dive into the world of raspberries :blush:

Could one couple the a heatsink on a pi4 to a metal case? That would perhaps avoid need for a fan in moderate environments

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I’ve been actively developing using an rpi4 with a fairly hefty heat sink. I don’t anticipate the need to use an active cooling setup but the heatsink is large enough that the combo of the norns-shield and heatsink is not as compact as with an rpi3.

I have another heatsink incoming that I hope will allow for a more compact setup.

In more extreme cases even with the heatsink the metal shroud around the usb jacks was hot enough that it that the metal case on my usb key was quite warm…

…at the end of the day the rpi4 definitely can generate more heat than previous generations which I suspect would end up being a significant factor in case design for an rpi4 based setup.

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