Despicable Katie’s Minion Pi

When we were at SXSW Create in Austin back in March, teaching hundreds of kids about Bash script, we met a young lady called Katie.

Katie looks unassuming, but she’s actually an evil genius.


Some guy who needs a shave, and Katie.

Some of the other kids we talked to during the three-day event hadn’t done a huge amount with a Raspberry Pi before (although we saw a lot of young people who were using Pis at school or home for Scratch programming or Minecraft); but there were some real experts among the crowd – and Katie, who came along to tell us all about what she’s been doing with her Raspberry Pi, and to get some tips, was the sinister stand-out.

Katie’s been using a Pi at home for some years for a number of projects, but her most ambitious yet is her Minion Pi, which she was preparing for a school science exhibition when we met her. Minion Pi is a customised Kossel Mini 3D printer driven by a Raspberry Pi 2 – Katie’s built a custom power supply and a custom user interface on an iPad using her phone as a hotspot, so the whole thing is completely self-contained. Why? She’s building an army of Minions, her first step towards world domination.


(An important note: Katie is eleven years old. Like most of us here at Pi Towers, when I was eleven I was mostly making forts in shrubbery and chewing stuff that wasn’t meant to be chewed; not building complicated computing systems.)

Katie made this board to explain how her project works. Click to embiggen.

Katie made this board to explain how her project works. Click to embiggen.

Here’s Katie’s diabolical contraption in action. (Printing Minions, naturally.)

Gru Katie mailed me to say:

I’ve still got some work to do on the project (Pi Cam should arrive on Thursday), but it’s running really, really well, and the Raspberry Pi makes it easy to control from my iPad, and made it really easy to take to school and demo. People are already paying me to print stuff!

Katie’s made a very detailed build diary available (she warns me that the server it’s on is easily overloaded, so it’s possible you may have to come back later to look at it). Congratulations, Katie: this is an amazingly polished project. Please look upon us kindly when you are Despicable World Queen.


Alan McC avatar

Excellent. Checked out another of Katie’s build vids on YT there : “I’m using a lathe to make parts that were missing….” as you do age 11 =o) Bravo Katie!

PS please allow us to embiggen the Minion Pi board. I’m click, click, clicking but nothing’s happening! ;o)
PPS Nice use of word “shrubbery”

Liz Upton avatar

Thanks for the catch, Ala(i)n; embiggening should work now!

Alan McC avatar

Merci Madame Upton ! Cordialement etc…

Liz Upton avatar


Dom Anderson avatar

Incredible work there!

Oh and excellent T-shirt Mr Upton.

bertwert avatar

I like his shirt as well ;-)

Michael Horne avatar

Evil genius takes over the world. The Horror! The Horror!

Seriously, though… She’s 11? 11??!?!?!? I’m almost 40 and I’m pretty sure I don’t have a clue how to do half that stuff. Feeling very old and stupid right now! :-)

Bravo, Katie, bravo!

Liz Upton avatar

I’m also feeling very inadequate. *Chews shrubbery.*

Zak Zebrowski avatar

(Whispering)Ni!(/whispering) :)

bertwert avatar

Ekke Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptangya Zoooooooom Boing Ni!

Alan Mc avatar

With…a herring!

Carlos Martinez avatar

Impresionante ! Well done Katie!

Felipe avatar

Outstanding Work!

tjkreidl avatar

I would have to say that Mr. Upton’s efforts to once again get young people interested in computers and programming, if measured even by only this one specific case, has been a huge success. It is amazing what young minds with purpose, ambition and dedication can accomplish.

I can also relate to the chewing bit. When I was in elementary school, someone gave me a piece of what they said was a special black licorice, which in actuality turned out to be some wire insulation. It took me a while to finally catch on why I was making little progress. We can’t all be geniuses (evil or otherwise).

Lorna avatar

This is amazing work! Well done Katie.

graham sanderson avatar

Fantastic – way to go Katie

JP Aragon avatar

Terrific job! There is no better way to have fun than to take over the world :-)

tjkreidl avatar

Or at least, as Miracle Max said, “Have fun storming the castle!”

Jack Davies avatar

Interesting. It’s nice to see young people doing this sort of stuff – I’m 16 but most of the kids/people I’ve ever met have never done something like this. I would’ve totally done something like this, if I was fortunate enough to have had the hardware and resources needed (which I don’t) – she should be glad that she’s lucky enough to have access to such material :)

As for her site… Why use FTP? Samba is far superior and it’s a lot more secure than FTP. A lot of users in the Pi Community have had struggles correcting SAMBA’s file permissions – I fixed that ages ago. SAMBA let’s you mount drives natively so you don’t have to manually upload via FTP on each change you make to files…

Just sayin :).

Great work, Miss!

Andy avatar

As a mere mortal, I welcome our 11-year-old Female Overlords.
Wonder if she was the same Young Lady who (at 10 years old) replied to a post here, and fixed my problem with VNC on the Pi?
Couldn’t believe the reply I got – almost instant, and
e x a c t l y correct!

Still feel humbled by that…What do I know? I’m only 59, and programming Atmel Xmega’s* at the moment….

*Xmega from Atmel. Think Arduinos on very, very unsafe, possibly illegal steroids…

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