While researching the CHDK How-To, we came across the team’s instructions for porting the firmware to entirely new cameras. In theory, CHDK should work on any Canon running the DIGIC II or III processor since most of them are running the same VxWorks OS. A dump of the camera’s firmware is required before porting work can begin. On some cameras, the firmware was retrieved using software, but others required a hardware route. Pictured above is a Canon A610 that’s slowly flashing out every bit of its firmware using the built in LED. The photodiode is hooked up to a soundcard where the entire bitstream is recorded. It takes 1-7 hours to read the entire firmware. Once the sound file has been captured, it’s reverted to the original bytes and can then be decompiled with something like IDApro.
As anyone who has lusted over the technical specifications for Canon’s new Digital Rebel XSi knows, the capabilities of the average point and shoot camera are severely limited. Using the CHDK firmware hack, the features of Canon point and shoot cameras can be significantly expanded, allowing for ultra-high speed photography, very long exposures, time lapse photography, and RAW capture. This How-To provides a guide to our experiences using the CHDK firmware, and shows just how easy it is to get more out of a point and shoot than ever thought possible.