For our first prototype, we used a digital camera for the detection of fluorescence. However, it was difficult to make measures with the same conditions as digital cameras have automatic settings.

Robin told us about CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit), which is a firmware enhancement that works on a lot of Canon PowerShot cameras. This free software can be loaded manually on the memory card of the camera and can be easily removed if needed, moreover it does not affect the original software of the camera.

English: Canon Hack Development Kit: Main menu...

Canon Hack Development Kit: Main menu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The features of CHDK are among other things :

  • Shooting in RAW format (this format record the maximum of information available)
  • Fully manual control of exposure, aperture, ISO, focus, …
  • Bracketing of the functions mentioned above
  • Motion detection
  • Live Histogram (RGB, luminosity)
  • Zebra mode (displays bands over any part of the picture that is overexposed)

CHDK also allows to write scripts in order to automate the camera, the scripting languages are Lua (filetype: *.lua) and uBASIC (filetype: *.bas).

Another supplementary feature is the addition of an USB remote, which works by using simple push button switch, a USB cable and a battery. This remote device allows to control the operation of the CHDK-enabled camera and could be interesting to add to our device.

USB remote control (Photo credits: CHDK)

USB remote  (Photo credits: CHDK)

Different versions of CHDK exist, such as StereoDataMaker, that permits to take stereo photographs. As the camera’s microprocessor is very flexible, developers keep working to add more features to this software.

To have all these functionality, it would have been necessary to buy an expensive camera, so using this software together with a cheaper camera is a good alternative, as well as DIY and open source, which correlates well with the spirit of our project!

2 thoughts on “Hack the Camera

  1. Pingback: Semester Wrap-up at EPFL | biodesign for the real world

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