Hello everyone! I just finished something I’ve been working on for about 2 years, which is kind of embarrassing, but I wanted to share the fruits of a long journey of learning that resulted in what I call the Norns Field Kit, formally known as the Omnibus.
I was immediately inspired when I first purchased a Shield years ago. The patches this community have made are so interesting and unique, I consider the device more of an obscure meditative psychosonic exploration than an instrument. So, I set out to make what I thought at the time would be a fun, small-to-medium step up from just putting together another DIY synth kit - a butterfly effect of an idea that lead to multiple side quests such as buying/learning a CNC machine, a hot air rework/desoldering station, and literally hundreds of different searches and purchases of knobs, button caps, and screws to find the perfect ones.
Although I designed it, the metal shell was produced by Send Cut Send because investing in an industrial laser cutter felt like overkill even to me. I think they’re very affordable and do a great job, although my various prototypes, tests, and mistakes have certainly added up. This one is made of 1.2mm 304 stainless steel.
I used a Sixfab UPS HAT to provide battery power. It was basically the only option at the time of inception since it features passthrough charging, and easy access to adding a separate USB port and power switch. I’ve seen a few other battery packs on Tindie since then, but I had long established the basic component layout, and have been really happy with the Sixfab.
PECO CORP is a great company to work for, because it’s completely imaginary! The benefits are lacking, though.
And here’s the peek behind the curtain! I was so invested in keeping it as tight as possible - the total size of the device is 95mm x 175mm x 32mm and achieving that required me to eventually desolder the screen and 40 pin header from a Norns board so that I could use my own.
Sorry, I didn’t take a picture before installing all the components into the back plate, but this is kind of the unseen star of the Omnibus. A ribbon cable was much too fat on the ends to fit, so instead I got the Bridge Board made to enable a significantly lower profile connection. The additional support also keeps the two halves connected when not in the shell.
There’s so much I could say about the entire process, but it already feels like I’ve taken too much time. Thanks so much for looking, and thanks to everyone here - this was the longest, most involved project I’ve ever worked on, but the creativity of the community kept driving me.