Adding a remote shutter to a cheap digital camera

[Luo] sent in a very easy way to add a remote shutter to just about any Canon Powershot. Even though it’s just a button, battery, and USB cable, we’re sure this would be a great project to teach the younglings about the power of soldering.

Some Canon Powershot digicams are impressive beasts with the ability to take time-lapse, long exposure, and high-speed photos. These cameras are generally crippled by their firmware, but by installing CHDK these features can be enabled.

[Luo] read the CHDK wiki and found the firmware has the ability to snap a picture whenever a button is pressed. All he had to do is send 5V down a USB cable. After whipping up shutter button housed in a tin of Eclipse gum and attaching a cable, [Luo] had a functional shutter.

With the CHDK firmware, you can do a lot of really interesting stuff with the old Canon camera sitting on your shelf: we’ve seen a lot of intervalometers and even a few book scanners that use a similar setup. Nice work, [Luo].


  1. notdave says:

    was just looking into this to get remote shutter support on my elph hs100! thanks!

  2. notdave says:

    one thing to note, your article states ‘micro usb cable’ but the photo is a ‘mini’ variant.

  3. rbean says:

    CHDK is cool, but there are some Canon cameras it doesn’t work with. Each firmware revision has to be reverse-engineered separately, and some cameras can’t be upgraded to the right version. I have two Canon A490’s, and one can run CHDK while the other can’t. The more popular models will usually work, but check the website before you buy.

  4. Oh man, you could set up your own wireless remote with this super easily too! Very handy!

  5. solderguy says:

    I hope I’m not the only who who took one look at that and thought “jeopardy buzzer!”.

  6. deadlydad says:

    Even better, CHDK scripts can now use the get_usb_power function to return how long (to within ~10ms) power was applied. Here is their wiki link on it. (A Kickstarter project for a wireless remote adapter that converted standard universal remote codes to different pulse lengths would be very popular, I would think.)

  7. Chris says:

    Personally I like using an old 35mm film can when I make wire releases for digital cameras.

  8. Dan says:

    This software is awsome! I made my own remote shutter using a USB Car Carger, push button and 3 Button Cells for my Cannon SX30IS. Almost looks professsional along side my camera! Love the extra cabpabilitie it adds!

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