Camera Hacking

During day two of construction while Holly, Jenny, and Sean worked on installing the glass for the scanner, Trevor and myself started the process of installing the software hack into the cameras that will allow us to use a triggering mechanism. We decided in a previous meeting to use CHDK, which comes highly recommended on the DIY Book Scanner forums.


CHDK, which stands for Canon Hack Development Kit, works only on Canon cameras (as the name implies). There is an entire wiki dedicated to CHDK which we used to find step by step instructions for installing CHDK on the cameras. We discovered quickly that the software needs to be uploaded to the camera’s SD card which was not included with the camera we purchased. We also needed a computer with an SD card slot, which my older Mac laptop that I brought for this purpose did not have. Live and learn!

We decided that 8GB SD cards would be adequate since the camera’s manual states that on its highest settings it could take almost 2000 pictures with that size. I went ahead and purchased two 8GB Scandisk SDHC cards and tried my hand at CHDK.

Reading through the CHDK manual on their wiki I found the information I needed to download the right software for our specific camera. The wiki links to directions on how to prepare your SD card for the download, and a nifty program called STICK Utility that the wiki recommended for beginners (which I definitely am). This utility is a setup wizard that finds the correct download for your camera and then installs it onto your SD card.


After installing the software I followed the directions on the wiki and booted up the camera. The directions tell you to enter <ALT> mode in order to access the CHDK menu, which for me was the Play button, but could vary from camera to camera. I changed one setting on the camera that makes CHDK load every time you turn on the camera, but other than that there isn’t anything we can do without further testing.

The next step in this process will be to test the CHDK loaded cameras with our triggering mechanism once it arrives. When the trigger is good to go we can then mount the cameras onto the scanner and work on optimal settings for scanning books!

We’re now officially hackers!



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