CHDK on Canon IXUS 860IS (Powershot SD870IS)

CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit) enhances the capabilities of Canon Powershot cameras in a non-destructive, non-permanent way.


CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit) enhances the capabilities of Canon Powershot cameras in a non-destructive, non-permanent way.

It features:

  • Professional control – RAW files, bracketing, full manual control over exposure, Zebra-Mode, Live histogram, Grids, etc.
  • Motion detection – Trigger exposure in response to motion, fast enough to catch lightning.
  • USB remote – Simple DIY remote allows you to control your camera remotely – I really do have to make my own USB Remote Cable 😉
  • Scripting – Control CHDK and camera features using UBASIC and Lua scripts. Enables time lapse, motion detection, advanced bracketing, and much more.

There’s lots more info about CDHK at the FAQ.

I installed CHDK on my IXUS 860IS (Powershot SD870IS in the US) a while back though I’ve been using precious little of its functionality.

Installation is straightforward – copying the contents of the unzipped folder from the CHDK source for my camera onto its SDHC card – but formatted as FAT32 and then locked before inserting into the camera.

But with scheduled sessions for Make It Yourself at Manchester Art Gallery in Autumn ’10, where I planned to create stop-frame animations of artists ‘re-making’ their exhibition objects, I thought I’d try using scripts so my camera could do the job.

I bought a larger 4Gb SD card and downloaded and used Card Tricks – a small utility to help manage SD cards [currently v. 1.44] to create a fully ‘CHDK bootable’ card.

I then looked for a suitable Intervalometer script in the UBASIC/Scripts section of the CHDK WIKI and Script Writing section of the CHDK Forum and tried several but settled on the Ultra Intervalometer which seemed to do the job. Accessing the CHDK ‘Main Menu’ and setting up the script in ‘Script parameters’ is straightforward – though it took me a little while to work out it could be interrupted by pressing the shot button – which allowed me to set up the camera as I wanted before the script kicked in.

I need to make more of my my IXUS 860IS – at the moment it’s the best quality still (and video) camera I own – so I should spend some more time with CHDK and try to get the most out of it.

Sadly there’s little additional information about the IXUS 860IS – other than ‘OEM values’ – on the CHDK CameraFeatures page… “Since the discovery of many new override features, some far surpassing what the cameras were originally sold to do, it has been found that each make and model of camera may have variations in the absolute limits of Shutter-Speeds, F-Stops, ISO-Values, Motion-Detection Speed, among others.”

Whether this is because the camera hasn’t been tested and the results logged – or because it just doesn’t have this ‘extra headroom’ I’m not sure… I reckon I should do some testing of my own.

Name Longest Tv Fastest Tv &

Highest Av ISO Lowest /
Fastest Motion-Detection
File/Frame Sizes
Volts /
Wakes up on
USB signal
Bayonet /
thread (mm)
SD870 (IXUS860) {} {} {} {} {} 10,341,600 bytes {} / Wake-up: No {}

Values in (parenthesis) are the camera’s OEM value.

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