Getting the right vertical angle is easy with this simple design

A simple but well-designed 3D printed mount for the low-cost VL53L0X time-of-flight sensor allows precise vertical angle adjustment that prevents false-positive backscatter triggering. Photo by the author.

I am working with several other engineers to design a new class of low-cost robots for teaching computational thinking to STEM students. As we started to roll out our design to our students, we focused on giving our students a great user experience. One of the most challenging problems was precisely mounting our awesome new VL53L0X time-of-flight sensors. This blog will discuss creating a simple 3D printed part that makes mounting simple and vertical angle calibration easy to adjust.

Until a few years ago, most of our CoderDojo educational…

A Powerful MicroPython Kit for Under $10

The $9.90 Maker Pi RP2040 Robotics Kit includes the board, 4 Grove connectors, a screwdriver, and rubber mounting feet. Photo by the author.

Last April, Cytron Technologies announced a new $9.90 US board build on the powerful Raspberry Pi 2040 chip called the Maker Pi RP2040. This board packed an incredible number of LEDs, buttons, a speaker, and easy-to-use Grove connectors. But most importantly, it was the first RP2040 based board to include motor drivers. And this makes it an ideal board for building educational robots! The low price point of $9.90 seems a bit hard to believe. …

How to get a big impact from little blogs

A mind map for writing awesome CoderDojo STEM Blogs. Image by the author.

STEM teachers and mentors are often buried in social media articles with vendors promoting expensive STEM robot kits that may not provide equitable access to underprivileged youth. I am now working with several other mentors who are breaking new ground on creating low-cost Python-powered robots. They have great ideas, but we need to communicate these ideas to other STEM teachers and mentors. Here are my suggestions for writing STEM and mentoring blogs for my fellow mentors.

We spend a lot of time finding a good title and subtitle for our blogs. It is the first impression many people get, and…

How combining three emerging technologies is driving innovation

The Learning-Knowledge-Language (LKL) Innovation Hot Zone combines three emerging technology dimensions to create new business solutions. Image by the author.

Last month the noble prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg passed away at the age of 82. Weinberg was one of the greatest physicists of our time. He is noted for two things:

  1. unifying the fundamental forces of physics and
  2. being able to explain physics to non-technical people.

This got me thinking, what am I doing to help unify the forces around building intelligent machines? How can I explain this in a single diagram?

This blog will summarize a new theory on where AI and innovation are emerging in many organizations. When three emerging technologies come together (the red triangle labeled Innovation…

How the new $4 Pico microcontroller can power a new generation of teaching robots for coding clubs.

Top view of the Raspberry Pi Pico Collision Avoidance Robot programmed with Micropython. This robot forms a platform for about a dozen other robots used in CoderDojo coding clubs. Image by the author.

I finally got some time this weekend to test our new Raspberry Pi Pico-powered collision avoidance robot. This blog describes the robot and some of the design considerations to make sure this robot is a stable platform for sustainable robotics labs for CoderDojo coding clubs.

Video of the Rasberry Pi Pico executing a simple collision avoidance program. The full program is available on the CoderDojoTC Micropython microsite.

We want this robot to be the foundation of many other robots. They will extend this base design using the breadboard. …

What upgrading my robots taught me about designing sustainable robots for the classroom

We are upgrading our $25 CoderDojo robot from an Arduino Nano to the powerful new Raspberry Pi Pico by just swapping out the processor on the solderless breadboard. A robot architecture with upgradable CPUs will add three points to your robot sustainability score—image by the author.

Many of my readers know I am passionate about teaching AI concepts to both programmers and non-technical business strategists. Many of you may not know that I am the co-founder of a group called the AI Racing League. Our mission is to promote equity and innovation in AI education. We are doing this through the design and use of low-cost robots for teaching AI that is affordable even by schools with modest budgets.

This blog is a story of my work upgrading these robots and what I have learned about sustainability in the process. I think you will see my…

I think the biggest skill that QBS people need is fraud detection. This is a HUGE problem in the industry!

Dataflow architecture and how it may influence your IT strategy

SambaNova is an example of a Dataflow Architecture that has many architectural similarities to the human brain. This figure is my own intuitive measure of a similarity score between hardware, knowledge graphs, and the human brain. Note that I rank Dataflow as having a .9 similarity score with the human brain. Artwork by author.

This week a new AI startup SambaNova landed $676 million in Series-D funding, making it the best-funded AI startup in the world. Many of my colleagues that study enterprise knowledge graphs and large-scale machine learning may be a bit confused by the scale of the funding. Indeed, at first, even I was surprised by the large funding for such a small company. However, after studying SambaNova’s 40B transistor dataflow chip architecture, I now understand why their system deserves this level of attention.

This blog will review what dataflow architecture is, how SambaNova implements this architecture, why this funding makes sense…

The Four Lands of EKG Adoption

The four lands of Enterprise Knowledge Graph (EKG) adoption. What land you live in impacts how you think about business problems. Image by the author.

This blog is a metaphorical journey that many of us are taking toward the concept of building large enterprise-scale knowledge graphs (EKGs). We will look at the three transitions that teams need to make to go from problem-solving using flat representations of data to billion-vertex EKGs running on hardware-optimized graph servers.

To help teams make these transitions, we must understand the new cognitive styles teams must learn when promoting EKGs. We will show how people can transition from problem-solving styles using flat data representations, through small graphs, to large graphs, and finally, the problem-solving involving Hardware Optimized Graph (HOG) databases…

A sample workflow for autogenerating documentation for large-scale enterprise knowledge graphs. Image by the author.

As Enterprise Knowledge Graphs (EKGs) grow, support teams will see an increase in demand for documentation about your EKG and how to access it. This means you will be spending more time writing and maintaining documentation.

This blog will review some of the best practices for generating high-quality, up-to-date documentation directly from your EKG’s metadata.

In the past, high-quality documentation was created by separate teams of technical writers that had the task of interviewing IT staff and then using tools such as Microsoft Word, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and other expensive proprietary documentation tools. …

Dan McCreary

Distinguished Engineer with an interest in knowledge graphs, AI and complex systems. Big fan of STEM, Arduino, robotics, DonkeyCars and the AI Racing League.

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