Orbit Writer Review/Podcasting notes


Product Name:


Orbit Writer.




Orbit Research.










Brief Product Description:


The Orbit Writer is a compact and portable Braille input Perkins style keypad that can access a range of mobile and desktop operating systems as an actual keyboard or with their associated screen readers supports up to 5 Bluetooth devices and one UsB device.

Haptic feedback for settings, and features.

If you know the layout of the Orbit Reader 20 Braille notetaker and Braille display, then you know the layout of the Orbit Writer keyboard.

NB - Braille input keyboard, no Braille display or speech output.




Extremely well written.

Documentation in brf, doc, pdf, and html formats.

Website for documentation - https://www.orbitresearch.com/support/orbit-writer-support/




16.0x 6.5 x 0.8 CM.

90 Grams.


In the Box:


Orbit Writer,

micro UsB cable,

And getting started in print and Braille.


Physical Description:


6 Braille input Perkins style keys top back face. 

Cursor pad inbetween and slightly below dot 1 and dot 4 keys with up, down, left and right in a circle, and select key in middle.

Dot 7, Space and dot 8 keys at top front middle face.

Lanyard port front middle edge.

Micro UsB port middle left edge.

4 round rubber feet on bottom corners.


Main Features:


Works with all smart phones and computers out of the box.

Light weight, and  Compact design to fit in a pocket or purse.

Quiet operation with positive tactile feedback.

Perkins style keyboard with cursor pad.

Replaces need to use touch screen.

Fast charging (less than 2 hours), 3 days of use.

Check battery strength.

Supports up to 5 Bluetooth devices, and 1 UsB device.

Adjust strength of Haptic feedback.

Adjust auto shut down time.

Attachment points for strap or lanyard.

Support for all languages on phones or tablets.




3 days of operation.

Fully charge under 2 hours.

Charge from USB adapter (not supplied) or computer.

When power plugged in, short vibration,  when removed long vibration (whether unit is on or off).

Can be used whilst charging.

Rechargeable and non replaceable batteries.

When unit  gets down to 20% charge, 3 short pulses every 3 minutes.

If battery too low when turning on, unit will automatically shut down.


Confirm battery charge: press and hold Space+Up Arrow for 1 second.

1 short pulse if battery level between 0 and 20%.

2 short pulses if battery level between 20% and 40%.

3 short pulses if battery level between 40% and 60%.

4 short pulses if battery between 60% and 80%.

Long pulse if battery level is grater than 80%.

Auto shut down to save battery can be adjusted, default is 10 minutes.


Tips  for Initial Orbit Writer Operation:


Turn on/off - hold Down/Up for 1 second, short pulse for on, long pulse for off.


Pair to 5 Bluetooth and 1 USB channel.

Channel 1 (default) - Space+Left+1.

Channel 2 - Space+Left+2.

Channel 3 - Space+Left+3.

Channel 4 - Space+Right+4.

Channel 5 - Space+Right+5.

Channel 6 (UsB) - Space+Right+6.

If channel not previously paired, 3 short pulses

If channel paired: 2 short pulses

Pair channel: hold down command (Space+Left+ChannelNumber) for 1 second to feel short pulse (now in paring mode plus overwrite previous pairing if present).

In some situations, reconnecting via Bluetooth may take up to 10 seconds.


Connecting to a Mobile Device Example -


iOS VoiceOver:


Turn on Orbit Writer - Down+Up for 1 second (short pulse).

Place Orbit Writer in pairing mode (channel 1 is default if used for first time). Otherwise, press Space+Left+2 (3 4 or 5) for 1 second, short pulse.

Goto Settings, VoiceOver, Braille, and select Orbit Writer xx (were XX is the serial number of the Orbit Writer).

When paired, short pulse.

When iOS device is locked, Orbit Writer disconnects, 2 short pulses.

When iOS device unlocked, Orbit Writer will reconnect, 2 short pulses.

To turn Orbit Writer off, Down/Up for 1 second, 1 long pulse.


Basic iOS/VoiceOver  commands

The cursor navigation pad, Left or Right Arrows move VoiceOver cursor to previous or next item (1 finger flick left or right).  Select /perform  action command (1 finger double tap). Up or Down Arrow (1 finger flick up or down) move or select current VoiceOver rotor item.  Adding Space to the navigation keys performs Orbit Writer functions such as pairing mode or checking the battery.


Chord Commands (note - best way to remember these chord commands is there positioning in the 6 dot Braille cell in their relation to each other.

Space+1 or 4 - previous or next item.

Space+36 - select/perform action command.

Space+125 (h) - perform Home function).  When pressed twice, App Menu.

Space+23 or 56 - move to previous or next VoiceOver rotor item.

Space+3 or 6 - select or move current rotor item.

Space+235 (s) - Status menu -

Space+25 - Control Centre.

Space+46 - Notifications Centre.

Space+135 (o) - Scroll right).

Space+246 (ow) - scroll left.

Space+156 (gh) - VoiceOver Magic double tap to start/stop media or answer.hang up a call.

Space+124 (f) - find text command.




Works with iOS, Android/Samsung, Fire OS, Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Supports up to 5 simultaneous and 1 USB connection.

Can be used as either an input keyboard (HID) or screen reader (SR) device..

Rapid switching between connected devices.


Supported screen readers include

iOS/Mac VoiceOver,

Android/Samsung/Amazon Talkback and Voice Assistant via Brailleback, and

Windows NVDA, JAWS, and Narrator (via BRLTTY).


Haptic feedback easily identified.


Particularly on iOs/VoiceOver, if user knows how to navigate with other Braille Input keyboards as found on a number of Braille displays, standard VoiceOver navigation can be considered the same.


Apple Watch OS 7 beta can use the Orbit Writer to navigate.


Screen readers that do not directly support the Orbit Writer as such, will still see it as an Orbit Reader 20 which will still enable the Orbit Writer to function.


Very light weight and quiet key operation.


To minimise sound of haptic feedback, 3 settings are available, soft, medium and hard pulse.

Space+Right to check current setting.  Space+Right held down for 1 second to change to next pulse setting which can be felt. 1 pulse soft, 2 pulses medium, and 3 pulses hard.

This is of particular importance if you don’t want the haptic sound being heard by others or coming through in a recording.


To adjust auto shout down of unit, 4 settings are available, 5, 10, 20, and 30 minutes.

Space+Left to check current setting. Space+Left for 1 second to switch to next time out setting. 1 pulse 5, 2 pulses 10, 3 pulses 20, and 4 pulses 30 minutes.

Note - if iOS device goes to sleep, within the auto shut down period, it will reconnect when iOS device is awake.  If Orbit Writer being used for note taking, a possible suggestion to is to have the lock idle time of the iOS device greater than the Orbit Writer, then no need to reconnect.


Works well when using Orbit Writer with lanyard.


Mac VoiceOver detects Orbit Writer directly when plugged in as a USB device.  For Braille support, VoiceOver Utility, Braille, and Add Bluetooth Braille display and choose Orbit Writer.


Points to Consider:


Requires a Windows Pc to update the Orbit Writer.

Do not press down on the arrow keys, these keys are designed to push out from the edges. Pressing down fills quite hard whilst pushing out feels easy.

Be careful when holding down Space+Left+channel number to select desired channel for too long as after 1 second will put Orbit Writer in paring mode and previous pairing lost.


Testing remaining:


Android/Samsung, and Windows in particular with NVDA, JAWS, and Narrator.




$99 US plus shipping.


Other Accessories:


Orbit Writer Carrying case: $14.95 US.

Leather Orbit Writer carrying case: $29.00 US.

Orbit Writer Lanyard: $3.95 US.

Extended warranty: $25.00 US.


Similar Products on the Market:


As far as Braille input keyboards are concerned with no Braille Display, there is not any similar product on the market.  However, a similar concept keyboard for navigating with VoiceOver does exist, the RIVO keyboard, which works with mobile devices, but is 4 times the price, and is harder to learn as it has no relationship to any other devices on the market.








Vision Store should sell this product.


Initial Evaluation: September 3 2020.


David Woodbridge


In this demo, I give you a run through of the BBT Canute 360 - physical description, and a run through of its operation.

For more info, go to:


Canute Chat and demo.


D - Hi Eden, and welcome to the podcast to talk and demo the Canute.


E - Thanks David.  The Canute is basically a 9 line by 40 cell Braille reader.  It has very crisp Braille.


D - have you ever felt the Orbit Reader 20 Braille?


E - Yes.

This Braille is better.


D - How big is the actual unit? 9 lines of Braille sounds quite large.


E - a bit wider than a braille book, depth almost like a cassette player, and is an inch or so high.  The Braille lines are spaced a bit further apart like on a Braille Page, but not too much, you can get used to it.

I was concerned about the refresh rate for the 9 lines which takes about  10 seconds, but am quite used to this now.


D - What are the controls on the unit?


E - so a bit of a description.

On the front of the unit, there are 3 buttons from left to right they are Back, Menu, and Forward with their associated labels on the top face of the unit in Braille.

On the right hand side, the power chord is wright next to the Power button (on the left), and if you are not careful, when you pick up the unit with the chord attached, you can bump the Power button.

The left hand side has an HDMI port to view content on a screen, head phone jack (not yet used), full sized SD card slot where you put your sD card with your books, above this is 2 USB ports for using UsB sticks (you still need the SD card if you want bookmarks), and a UsB B port (not yet functional).

On the top of the unit, on the top left hand side, is the Help context menu, and below this you have 9 buttons labelled 1 to 9 (shaped as a triangle)and then a 0 button (shaped as a square): these buttons are used for bookmarking, and in the menu.

When you turn the unit on, it can take up to 50 seconds for it to start up, at one stage, everything goes quiet, you think there is something wrong, and then the Braille page you have been working on appears.

It does not have any onboard translation, reading both BRF and PEF files.

Works with various Braille translation software produced files.


D - So does that mean you could download any BRF book, and have the unit read it?


E - Absolutely yes.

I got it mainly for Braille music.  I was thinking about using it for general reading, but I’m concerned on how noisy the Braille display actually is, and annoying people around me.

Another point, it ways 6 to 7 pounds, so it is quite heavy.  Then again, it feels extremely well made.

Besides the noise of the Braille displays, I’m still concerned about bumping the power button when I don’t mean to.


D - So what do you actually get in the Box besides the actual unit?


E - you get a power chord (although I got two as I think the other one is for Europe), you get a quick start page in Braille and in print.  However, the full manual is online, and it is only 4 pages: it is a very simple device, it does what it is designed to do. 


D - when you turn the unit on, how much help does the Help button give you?


E - the Help button is for contextual help depending on what you are doing, and is quite useful.  I found I didn’t need to use it at all as the unit is so easy to use.


D - you mentioned the Menu button, besides accessing Bookmarks, what else can you do in the menu?

E - you can as you say go to bookmarks, the system menu, go to page number. Each Bookmark gives you a line of braille where that bookmark was set.


D - I’m assuming as since you can not  edit, there is no auto cursoring buttons above each of the actual Braille cells?


E - No.

The unit is for reading only.

The developer has said they will be working with NVDA and Google to see if they can get some drivers developed, but I honestly don’t know how this would work out: I can’t imagine using the unit for fast navigation with a screen reader.

I think people need to except the unit for what it it is, a multi line Braille reader.


D - I’m assuming that when you are  reading, your moving forward or back 9 lines (page)at a time?


E - Yes.

One thing I wish they could add would be for you to just go forward or back perhaps one line to get the rest of the line you were reading and didn’t fit within the 9 lines being displayed.

I’m still impressed by the refresh rate, quality of the Braille, build quality of the unit, and the fact there were no promises made beyond what the unit was designed to do: read a Braille file.


D - So let’s say your reading Harry Potter, can you move to the beginning of the book or skip through the book?


E - Yes.

You can jump to the beginning, but this is where Bookmarks become so important, as they are your navigation markers for the book.


D - Ok, do we want to do the crash test as it were and turn the unit on?


E - Yes.

When you first turn it on, it displays “please wait” on the first line, makes quite a bit of noise, clears then any previous displayed Braille, goes quiet as far as the display is concerned, and then finally shows the document in this case of what I was working on last.  Takes up to 50 seconds, but I’ve found this time can very.

Now I’m on my document with very crisp Braille.


D - So if I was a new user, what would pressing the Help button give me?


E - it shows you in Braille contextual help of what you can do as as this point I’m in my document and it explains how to navigate.

If I press the Help button again, I return to my document being displayed on the unit with all lines being refreshed.


D - So how long does it take to change between the current 9 lines and the next 9 lines?


E - Let’s try it.

Takes about 9 or so seconds with each line making a noise as it pops up with the Braille.


D - So that clicking sound I was hearing was each line popping up?


E - Yes.

I find putting the unit on something soft tends to deaden the sound a bit.


D - Did it take a while not reaching for the panning button on a single line Braille display since you could read 9 lines?


E - No.

I’ve always disliked panning on single line Braille displays.

With my QBraille, I can use auto scroll, but sometimes you want to be reading at your own pace, this allows you to do that.


D - Is the unit battery operated?


E - Sadly no.

Having a battery inside would add more weight, and I don’t think it is the sort of thing you drop in your bag and flick out at a moments notice again due to size and weight.

I think we are a bit spoiled with all the portable solutions we currently have on the market.


D - What type of support have you gotten from where you purchased the unit with any issues you may have had?


E - I haven’t had any issues.

Usually when I get a new device, I can work out fairly quickly if anything is going wrong, this system has been excellent.

All of my questions were answered before I purchased the unit.

The only thing I wish the unit would have come with would have been some type of case.


D - Yes, that is a lot of Braille cells to keep clean.

When you have been reading your music Braille, how have you found reading on the 9 lines?


E - it has been very good.

I mess around playing the piano and harp.

I can actually use two lines to read the correct music notation on different lines which I couldn’t really do on a single line Braille display.


D - I was thinking about that USB B port you mentioned, I wonder if this is for connecting the unit to a PC so you can transfer files across.


E - It doesn’t work at the moment.

It could be used for that purpose.

This is very early days, and what it does, is very good.

Compared to the Orbit Reader 20 cells, this is an overall cheaper Braille display cels wise.


D - Yes agree.  It isn’t that hard any way to stick files on a SD card or UsB stick and use them on the unit.


E - Yes.

You do need some basic computer skills to copy the files on to a Sd card or USB stick.  However, you could always get someone else to put the files on to a Sd card etc for you.


D - So any final thoughts? Who is the Canute best for?


E - Good for:

musicians, maths, programmers, and reading/literacy.


D - So Eden, can you turn it off, I just want to hear what it does?


E - Yes.

Its now saying please wait, making a chunk chunk sound, and now I think it’s done.

I fond I have to wait for a minute or so to make sure its off.

Main hint is not to press the Power button again, as it’ll turn back on, and you’ll have to turn it off again.


D - Great.  Thanks for the chat, I think we covered a fair bit.

If people wanted to get in contact with you, is Twitter the best?


E - Yes.

Twitter would be good.

It is a bit long, My Twitter address is:



D - Thanks for that, and thank you for coming on to the program.


E - you are  welcome.










As the title suggests, a demo on how to switch between the Home app, and either the NVDA or JAWS screen readers on the InsideOne.

Physical description and run through of the basic (Home) mode for the InsideOne windows 10 Braille tablet.

Further demos to come including a 2nd demo on a bit more on Home mode, then looking at using NVDA or JaWS switching, plugging in a QWERTY keyboard etc.

Note - the InsideOne’s Braille display is 32 cells, has a microphone at the front edge, the 2 cameras front/back, and a 10 inch HD screen as the tablet can also be used by sighted as well as speech or Braille users.

Developer website is: www.insidevision.fr

Australian distributer Quantum RLV: www.quantumrlv.com.au




In this demo, I give you a physical description of the Orbit Reader 20, a go through of its functions, take you through the systems  main menu, switch between Stand-Alone and Remote modes, transfer a Braille file from my Surface Pro using Narrator on to the Orbit Reader 20, and then demo linking it up to VoiceOver on my iPhone.

In this demo I take you through setting up and using a Braille display via VoiceOver on the Apple TV.

Along the way, I make a number of suggestions on how some things could be improved.

This is a great app for teaching sighted or people who are blind UEB using an iPad.

For VoiceOver users, a Bluetooth keyboard is required.



In this demo I show you how to activate Voice Dictation from the Bluetooth Keyboard using the VoiceOver command VO+Dash (-) or on the Braille display input keyboard Space+dots 156: i.e. the VoiceOver two finger magic double tap.

The trick as I explain/demo is to make sure the on-screen keyboard is visible: with the Bluetooth keyboard just press the Eject key (top right of the keyboard) and on the Braille display input keyboard Space+dots 146.
If the keyboard is not on the screen, you'll just start/stop music playing for example.
With using the Braille display input keyboard, you can set the on-screen keyboard to be visible in Settings, General, Accessibility, VoiceOver, Braille, on-screen keyboard.
Not currently able to be activated on the iPad pro smart keyboard.

Using the Voiceover Braille screen input keyboard in iOS 8 with the iPhone 6 plus

Demo of using the MountBatten LS with the MBMimic app to allow embossing from an iOS device to the embosser

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