Different MIDI in/out devices Norns

i’m eyeballing one of these for testing midi start/stop external clock sync etc. with norns. does it work for all that?

Yes. But not minimal. It’s a pretty good kitchen sink test device. (for me, it doesn’t actually have much utility as an instrument, but ymmv of course.)

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I’ve purchased several cables like this now and a few USB to Midi converters but I’m completely unable to send MIDI out from my Norns Shield to external devices via 5-pin DIN.

Any idea where I may be going wrong?

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Hey, I’m having an issue where a polyend tracker not being picked up as seen in Norns midi menu when connected usb to usb. I have a friend who has an identical Norns (latest) / Polyend setup and can see the tracker in the midi setup appearing as “tracker” on Norns when connected via usb. Both myself and friend are on identical firmwares for Norns and Polyend with midi configure settings in the Polyend being identical.

What is strange about mine is when nothing is plugged in I get a choice of “none” or “virtual” Is that normal? With the polyend plugged in I also get the same options, with the “tracker” not being seen. I have tried every USB port on Norns. I don’t ever remember seeing “virtual” as an option when nothing is plugged in. Can this “virtual” midi port be removed / cleaned as I suspect it’s interfering with polyend when plugged in.

the virtual port is a new feature, virtual/none is expected behavior as i understand it. it should not interfere with other stuff. (but who knows, i guess!) it is possible to revert back to old versions. i would use git for this and rebuild. if you want some other method of rolling back it might be best to contact monome HQ.

i’m afraid i don’t have any insights into the actual trouble, seems very strange… its the first i’ve heard of a MIDI device simply not appearing. (as opposed to maybe not all the ports appearing, or more ports than expected, &c)

i’m sorry for the trouble

oh - does your friend also see the virtual port? i think if they don’t, they might be on an older version. (like… a failed / partial update or something? just flailing around sorry)

it seems highly likely that there are other norns + polyenders hereabouts who could try it out

Thanks - it’s just a little strange and thought it was something specific to my Norns since the tracker appears on my friends Norns. We are both on the latest Norns firmware - both our devices say “no updates available” - but it is strange he is not seeing the “virtual” option. I’m on 201202 firmware.

Is there away to flush or clear the midi device menu in some way without rebuilding.

It’s something that is worth mentioning - Yes it is usb bus powered (via the usb3 power port) , so power from Norns powers the Polyend. I’m using the 5.25v 2a walwart. It can also power the polyend when the power is disconnected ,but I use with the walwart.

Haha - Yes I thought about the cable. The cable connecting the 2 is the polyend power cable (which is brand new) and connects from USB3 on the polyend side to regular USB on the Norns side. I am pretty sure the cable is OK because it powers the polyend ok when used as standalone. The polyend power brick is 5v 1a. But who knows! Not sure I have another usb3 to usb cable to try.


(no i’m kidding i have no idea, but…)

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Lol - yes the power and usb are shared on the same port. Which I know sounds weird but that’s the way they designed it. There’s only 1 usb out on the tracker which is usb3.

Be sure to use a cable that transfers data, there are plenty of USB cables that only transfer power.


Ok thanks - I didn’t know there was a difference tbh That’s the only cable that came with the polyend. I’ll see if I can dig up / order a new cable and try. The issue here is if I change to a different cable that only sends data, then, the polyend may not power up.

@zebra @simonvanderveldt

Aha - I found a usb3 dongle plus a AA cable in the cupboard - it works!

Thanks for your help :slight_smile:


:+1: :slight_smile:
Charge only cables are so annoying…


A world without them would be, if only ever so slightly, a better one :electric_plug:


alarms are going off or me regarding this situation.

polyend is not a low-power device, it’s a computer.

if it needs to be powered via USB to transfer midi to another device, that means the norns is powering the tracker, which seems not good (particularly because USBC can have a higher current spec than norns is ready to serve)

i would highly recommend getting a data/power splitter and powering the tracker from a battery bank or wall supply— or get a current monitor and test how much current the tracker is pulling— or, not all companies post this, because black boxes— see if polyend posted the current requirement


tracker is asking for a 1A supply. that doesn’t mean it uses all of that, but it could.

this is this is not a stable setup and i do not recommend it. with heavy CPU load your norns could spontaneously turn off.

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Ok that’s good to know - yes the Norns is powering the Polyend because there’s no choice - there’s only 1 usb on it. Thanks for the info - will check out splitters. I thought having only 1 usb on the polyend a strange design choice. Separate USB’s would have been much better. Alternatively there is 1/8" midi out jack that connects to a DIN midi dongle which would be a lot safer to use. I would need to buy a DIN to usb dongle to get it to work with Norns.

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Under normal operations Tracker doesn’t draw more than 450mA. We don’t use extended USB 3.0 Power Delivery amperage.

The peak moment for power draw is at the device’s power on. We’re bundling a 1A power supply with Tracker to give ourselves some headroom. Since we don’t manufacture power banks we recommend fast-charging power banks as the smaller ones which should theoretically be 5V 1A capable often aren’t even close.


that’s good to hear, and impressive the device only draws 450mA.

that’s within spec, so provided you’re not using several other high-power USB devices on norns, this could work.

however, i’d highly recommend powering it separately and just using a usb-midi converter.


Presumably you could also use a powered usb hub in between norns and tracker. (*)

this is an approach I use on things like Organelle when I want to plug in power hungry devices , as I don’t have a power/data splitter

Many powered hubs can deliver a lot of amps - but obviously check yours !