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Hacking your PowerShot

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Friday, May 9 2008, 17:20
There a bit of a hype right now about hacking Canon PowerShot model cameras. Evidently, a software package known as CHDK (Canon Hacker Development Kit) has been ported for most models, which extends the functionality of the camera. Presently, the feature list is as follows:
  • Save images in RAW format
  • Ability to run scripts to automate the camera
  • Live histogram (RGB, blended, luminance and for each RGB channel)
  • Zebra mode (blinking highlights and shadows to show over/under exposed areas)
  • An "always on" full range Battery indicator
  • Ability to turn off automatic dark-frame subtraction
  • Higher compression movie mode, and double the maximum video file size
  • Exposure times as long as 65 seconds
  • Exposure times as short as 1/10,000 of a second
  • Ability to use the USB port for a remote trigger input
  • Depth-of-field (DOF)-calculator
  • File browser
  • Text reader
  • Calendar
  • Some fun tools and games
My own gripe with my PowerShot SD900 is that the battery indicator only shows up when the pack is practically empty. Presently, there is no port for this model.
I thought I might take a look at what I could do. First, I checked which version of firmware I had. I created a file called ver.req on the memory card and inserted it back into the camera. In playback mode, I powered it on, and held set and disp down. My SD900 has firmware GM1.00C.
SD900 firmware
Then I dumped the firmware from the camera. After some experimentation, I found a nifty tool called CardTricks.
CardTricks v1.25
I chose "VxWorks 1" and carefully followed the on-screen instructions. In a few minutes I had obtained the dumped firmware. In Hex Workshop, I trimmed away all 00 and FF bytes.
Firmware dump in BinText
I still have to look into modifying and compiling CHDK for the SD900, but if this helps anybody in getting to it before I do, please share your results here or on the respective CHDK wiki page.
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Paul: Ah, a beta version of the CHDK firmware...

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