Can I use the official Norns Shield w/ Raspberry Pi 4?

First off, new user so I’m not sure if this is the right section but here goes.

Just got my Norns Shield Kit in the mail (woo!) and assembled it last night. Looks like the only RPis I have on hand are 2/3B/4B, no 3B+. I’ve ordered one but due to the current state of the world I don’t expect it to get here anytime soon.

In my impatience, I wanted to see if I can get it working on my RPi 4 since it will be closest. I’ve looked a bit into the norns image code and it seems the only thing I would need to do is rebuild the kernel for rpi4, though I’m not seeing a utility to do it like in the build script (ie there is no docker image available to do the compiling for me.)

Before I dive into the deepend, has anyone done this successfully? I have seen some people getting the software working on patchbox but that seems to be with the pisound shield and not the official norns one. Same story with the Fates shields. I’m pretty experienced on the Linux side from my sysadmin days, but I’m a complete novice when it comes to the hardware side of things and anything beyond “run compile on existing kernel source”. Any advice, next steps, or vague hand gestures in the right direction would be appreciated.

Also, as someone who has been lusting after the grid back in '08 I’m super excited to finally join in the fun :slight_smile:

PS: if there are any outstanding issues/tasks/etc to get this working by the project at large I’m always happy to give back to the open source world. and look at the branches

The short version is no.
The slightly longer version is that we’ve chosen to focus purely on the 3B/3B+ because it’s effectively the same hardware as used in norns itself. This way we have a single hardware target that scripts can run on so they should always give the same experience. A side effect of this is that we have one whole additional platform less to test, which means more time for other things (and we really need that time for other things!).
The even longer answer would be that since it’s all open-source you could build the support yourself.


@okyeron perfect, this is exactly what I was looking for and I"ll give it a go later.

@simonvanderveldt That makes perfect sense. I was mostly expecting this to be an unsupported path and one I’m sure I will turn away from once I can get my hands on a 3B+, no point in being fully forked if I don’t need to.

That said I’m happy to give it a go and report back while I’m waiting.

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Regarding the branches in the monome/linux repository - I just took a look and there are a number of branches which represent WIP or experiments which should probably be removed. Getting things running on something which is not an rpi3b/3b+ involves a bit more than just compiling the kernel.

The only “official” branch in active use is the norns-4.14.y branch (which is the current default).

3B will work perfectly also!


I assumed it wouldn’t, I’ll go with that. Thanks!

I just assembled my norns shield, but the only raspberry pi I have floating around is v4 model b. I will order a 3b+ like the documentation lists, but I was wondering if anyone has gotten it setup with a rpi4.

I was running through the dev build instructions and it seems the only difference would be compiling the kernel for rpi4. I cant find a docker build image like what 3+ uses. Just wanted to see what people have done for Fates or the shield before I go down the rabbit hole.

MicroCenter had tons of 3b+ in stock a few weeks ago. Picked one up and forgot to get the shield ordered only to see they were sold out :frowning: hope they come back. Have the rest of the stuff ready to build. You may be able to order a 3b+ from MC though.

I believe I read on the Raspberry Pi site that the 3b+ is discontinued…

According to their site: Buy a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B – Raspberry Pi

" Obsolescence Statement

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B will remain in production until at least January 2026"

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What I read was this:

Our guidance to industrial and embedded users of Raspberry Pi 3B+ who wish to optimise availability in 2022 is to begin migrating your designs to the 1GB variant of Raspberry Pi 4.

So I guess even if it hasn’t been discontinued it won’t be readily available this year?


Exactly, they have such a short supply with the chips that they’re using them primarily for the compute modules (eg. the heavily embedded version that the “factory” Norns has), and only after that for the normal Pi 3B+ now.

So it’s more a short / medium term availability thing than getting discontinued… It sounds they might manufacture some 3B+ as well, or maybe not, but don’t expect to do so in large quantities this year so availability may be either bad or non-existent.

Regarding this topic, I would like to ask, if there is any benefit of using a Raspberry Pi 4 instead of the Raspberry Pi 3? Or is this option due to availability of the RPi 3?


The shield itself has a bit better noise performance but other than that pretty much no other benefit other than better availability.


A usb-c connector :wink:

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Truly the best user friendliness update :smiley:

I have a 3b+ that’s on its last leg and switching to the 4 fixed some of the xrun issues I was having. I super thrashed it before using it as the compute device for Norns so don’t take this as the 4 being necessarily better.