Several Basic questions Norns (shield) where to even begin/Installation etc

I would like to leave a few very basic newbie norns questions here, numbered for idealy easy answering.

  1. when i assembled my shield/pi norns, what are the fundamental things to set everything up?
    I see there is the image for an sd card, okay, so thats first? Then using osx terminal for several Sudo commands to ssh install things like supercolidor and sidekick, everything with engines (or actually every app?) to the norns? Does this need to be chronicaly sorted in some way?

  2. if i understand sidekick, it allows jumping between apps “on the fly”, how is the workflow without it?

  3. iam still nit sure if a faster 2-4gb pi4b would be better then 3b+?

  4. iwant my jacks on a faceplate (want to top mount norns) it shouldnt be a problem wiring it up to trs 3,5mm jacks?

  5. can norns record itself when performing a sampler or synth engine internaly and by routing out (fx) and back in while playing?

  6. unless a specific app is compiled that way, i couldnt use a filtering app on a synth engine correct? Are there some apps that stick out with modulation possibilities or is the future of norns somehow headed in the direction of internal modulation busses?

Last but not least i am amazed and really thankful given the pool of creative open source worked freshness you people make possible. Thanks to everyone working on it!


first, i want to make sure you’re looking at for instructions. towards the bottom it outlines card flashing with etcher.

  1. in general, no. sidekick is a community-based (ie, third party) project. i’d put that off until you have everything working. yes, it requires a bunch of setup if you’re going that way.

  2. normal norns scripts can be changed through the menu. i’m not sure what you mean by “on the fly”

  3. pi4 is not supported

  4. you can certainly wire up jacks easily

  5. yes, see TAPE

  6. it sounds like you’re interested in supercollider, which we’re working on a tutorial for, along with substantial upcoming changes to the SC infrastructure.

thanks for the kind words!


I was indeed only looking at the shield assembly github. Thank you

  1. i must have misunderstood the overall UI then, and also what sidekick does, but will visit that on a later episode as you suggest.

  2. i would “just” enjoy so much routing and combining a bit like a micro modular, i know the lfos are present in most apps, but lets say the granular verb app strapped on a reels track or the like…but i can imagine that d be too complex having this “routability”.

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  1. can norns be set in Param to spit out Mono instead of Stereo or is a mono cable enough without loss of audio and quality?

  2. how much clean gain can norns shield spit, is there a boost Param? I would need a lot of clean gain and unsure whats the best way, simce no space left.

  3. i ve a pretty high end fast 64gb SD card, will the pi/norns be able to make use of it or just use any generic?

  4. could the Pi holding norns shield power other usb devices through its usb jacks?

  1. just flash the sd card and run it. install scripts through the web interface after setting up wifi in the menu.

  2. sidekick is a community project for running ORAC, which i know little about. (ORAC bypasses main norns stack and does it’s own thing, which is basically a virutal modular implemented in c++ and puredata.) yes you can change norns “scripts” at runtime.

  3. pi4 is not supported and everything is designed for 3b/3b+.

  4. seems fine

  5. yes, norns can record its output. yes, there is a monitor path that also gets recorded. but it is just a stereo I/O devices, there’s no external aux send or whatever, so it probably won’t replace your mixer.

6(/3). it’s not a micro-modular, it’s a platform for people to do whatever they want. we included supercollider which is a very powerful synthesis language supporting all kinds of stuff. (the R engine is an example of modular routing within one supercollider patch.) we’re not really interested in making another high-level digital patching environment with a fixed palette of modules. the platform supports the creation of such projects if the ambition is there.

  1. no, there is not a universal “mono mode” that sums L+R or something. it could be hacked in very easily by editing the JACK connections if you really want to, but it’s the kind of thing i’d “solve” with a cable.

  2. it’s pretty much a -10dbV device (“consumer line-level.”) it will need ~12db of gain to play nice in a +4db studio, i guess.

  3. dunno. space is always helpful. general questions about SD card compatiblity and quality considerations are the same as for any raspberry pi.

that page says:


We recommend buying the Raspberry Pi SD card which is available here, as well as from other retailers; this is an 8GB class 6 micro SD card (with a full-size SD adapter) that outperforms almost all other SD cards on the market and is a good value solution.

If you are having trouble with corruption of your SD cards, make sure you follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you are using a genuine SD card. There are many cheap SD cards available which are actually smaller than advertised or which will not last very long.
  2. Make sure you are using a good quality power supply. You can check your power supply by measuring the voltage between TP1 and TP2 on the Raspberry Pi; if this drops below 4.75V when doing complex tasks then it is most likely unsuitable.
  3. Make sure you are using a good quality USB cable for the power supply. When using a lower quality power supply, the TP1->TP2 voltage can drop below 4.75V. This is generally due to the resistance of the wires in the USB power cable; to save money, USB cables have as little copper in them as possible, and as much as 1V (or 1W) can be lost over the length of the cable.
  4. Make sure you are shutting your Raspberry Pi down properly before powering it off. Type sudo halt and wait for the Pi to signal it is ready to be powered off by flashing the activity LED.
  5. Finally, corruption has been observed if you are overclocking the Pi. This problem has been fixed previously, although the workaround used may mean that it can still happen. If after checking the steps above you are still having problems with corruption, please let us know.
  1. yes, within the limits of the power supply and the pi itself. i’m not sure how much extra current the shield draws, but my guess would be under 300mA.
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Awesome info, thanks.

To 6) i really refered to “wiring” up /together the apps that are written here, not some presetbox stuff. “Just” being able to stack kind of. But its just an idea, i totaly get if its not the direction this is heading.

  1. ok i ll need a gain stage…maybe i find sth diy aswell

“apps” is a good metaphor because norns scripts are very like apps that run on your phone: they are sandboxed from each other, and each one is allowed to make use of the entire available system resources while the app is running.

but norns scripts differ from “apps” in that they are very easy to make. so if you want to modify the internal routing of musical logic you can do so easily by editing the script. (and many scripts include modularized components to make remixing them easier.) to modify the internal routing of audio, or to add effects or whatever, you can edit the supercollider components, and supercollider is a good thing to learn anyway if you’re into digital audio.

the belief that programming environments are more powerful than patching environments [*], is central to the design philosophy.

[*] that is, for this kind of minimal-UI-computer system.

  1. totaly not thought about it, does the norns power a grid (64) just fine or should offworld be used for powernoise issues?

A post was merged into an existing topic: Can I use the official Norns Shield w/ Raspberry Pi 4?

So in the 3-4 times since i ve shield ready and hooked up i got around 3 freezes/crashes
Aswell in earthsea as in passersby…and one really weird with no audio but reactive screen, and at restart the display showed a line from the middle turning everything white.

After next restart back to normalbut worrying