Hacking devices can/will void your warranty and can turn your expensive consumer electronics into worthless trash if you don't know what you're doing. This blog is for information purposes only, and if you try to hack into your own consumer electronics, you do so at your own risk. The device I'm currently hacking is the Canon SX10 IS camera.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Canon SX10 IS initial hacking

This camera was actually very easy to hack. Indeed, most Canon cameras are. And the greatest thing about it is that it is almost perfectly safe. You don't flash anything into the firmware. Instead, you program an SD card to be bootable and to have the specific boot files you need on it.

All of that is available at CHDK. It is a site set up to specifically hack Canon cameras. The firmwares are adapted for new cameras all of the time, and the wiki page is pretty clear on how to do it.

I am no photo expert, but the hacks have helped add some fun to the camera. Ok, it's somewhat fun to play games on the camera while you're waiting for your kid's school play to start. But there are a few things that I have really enjoyed.

First, my SD card lost it's little plastic tab that determines whether it is read only or writable. So now the card is read only to every device, except my canon. In the read only mode, the canon hack is enabled and can write to the card. So i haven't lost the card's usefulness.

Second, the motion detection scripts. I set up the camera when a recent electrical storm passed through and caught pictures of lightning, all without having to do a 30 second exposure. in fact, the pictures are crisp, clean with no ISO noise and all taken while I was holding the camera. I had taken pictures of lightning before by doing long term exposures, but these pictures were so much better and I didn't have to use a tripod.

Time lapse, being able to see the temperature of the lens, and the exact battery power % available at all times, those are really great functions.

I did run into one hardware problem with this camera. The LCD screen had a little switch in it that allows it to detect when you've flipped the screen over. As a result, when I close flip LCD with it facing me, it thinks it is facing the camera and shuts off the LCD. In order to use the LCD, I have to swing it open and, since it can't detect which direction, I end up not being able to flip the screen so the person I'm taking a picture of can see themselves. It's annoying, but something I can actually live with.

Nonetheless, I took apart part of the camera and found that the cause was this really, really small wire that had broken. So I reattached it and the camera was working again.

Note the use the of the word "was". It's happened again, so I'm going to need to take it apart again. This time I'll take pictures with my other digital camera so I can document how to fix it.


  1. Hello ,
    i have the same problem with the vertical flip.
    Where is the broken cable?

  2. I published pictures showing the location of the wire in my followup post.http://consumerelectronicshacker.blogspot.com/2010/10/canon-sx10is-fix.html