3D Robotics

Camera hacking

SparkFun's high-altitude balloon tutorial continues with several great posts, including this one on hacking regular Canon cameras to run open source firmware called CHDK:

"What is Canon Hack Development Kit? It's this amazing open source effort to create a much more flexible firmware for the Canon digital camera. Where Canon (the parent company) wants to limit the user interface so that you can only change a few controls (thus resulting in usually decent photos), CHDK opens up the camera entirely so that you can do some really crazy stuff - like active motion detection on the camera that is fast enough to photograph lightning! Remember, you don't need the SD400 specifically - many different models of Canon will do. The SD400 is 5 megapixel and decently priced so it worked out well for my first launch.

There are tons of different user submitted scripts, but the most basic (and helpful to ballooning) is the ultra intervalometer. This script allows us to tell the camera to automatically take a picture every X number of seconds. Once CHDK is installed on the camera, and the ultra intervalometer is setup, the camera will start taking pictures as soon as the camera is turned on. In the case of my payload, I setup the SD400 to take a photo every 20 seconds. It's really freaky to have a camera just sitting there snapping away photos. But that's what we want for the balloon!

Anyone remember BASIC? I found a script that is basically an interval timer (set to take a picture) but also turns off the LCD. So simple, but reasonably hard to find. Thanks Vicente Piorno! You can download my entire CHDK zip (it's better to get the right CHDK for your camera from their website), or you can grab just the script."

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  • Thanks for that Chris - just hacked my 100IS and now I have more control with it. I do like the RAW feature.
  • Moderator
    I think David Stillmans GoPro video might be the best HAB video I have ever seen

    High Altitude Balloon from David Stillman on Vimeo.

  • Thanks for sharing Chris !
  • Moderator
    I have been running CHDK for a while having made the leap from Pentax cameras, just because I found a cheap IXUS, I like it but I find the IXUS needs lots of light.
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