Smallest ('lightest') camera that can run CHDK - for high altitude balloon

  • 10 Replies
  • 2387 Views
Advertisements
Hi,

I'm hoping someone can help me? I'm putting together a payload for a high altitude balloon (to take some photos of space :)

A key consideration is the weight of the payload (the lighter the better) and I was hoping to include a couple of cameras in the payload.

I've searched but can't see a definite (recent) answer, can anyone suggest what might be the smallest/lightest canon camera that will run CHDK reliably?

Any assistance would be appreciated!

Thanks,

Adam

Re: Smallest ('lightest') camera that can run CHDK - for high altitude balloon
« Reply #1 on: 01 / February / 2015, 11:32:43 »
An interesting challenge.   

As far as I know,  there is no cross reference by weight for the various Canon PowerShots.  And to complicate this, most of the 120+ models supported by CHDK are no longer available in retail stores.

So the first question might be whether you are okay with used (eBay or the Canon refurb store are good resources)?  Then you probably want also to look at factors other than just weigh - battery life, image quality, water resistance for example.

A current list of all cameras supported by CHDK can be found here :  CHDK Camera Table  with some additional info about their features.

You can probably eliminate all the G & SX series cameras (weight).   After that, you are looking at differences of a few hundred grams between the rest.

As a starting point,  the older ixus100_sd780 and ixus120_sd940 both work well with CHDK and are small & light.  You might want to compare more recent cameras to those models.   A more recent example in the same weight class is the ELPH310 - periodically available here : Canon Refurbished Camera Store
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16

Re: Smallest ('lightest') camera that can run CHDK - for high altitude balloon
« Reply #2 on: 01 / February / 2015, 12:20:56 »
Thanks for the reply :)

eBay is absolutely fine (there's a reasonable chance that my payload could land in a lake so minimising costs is fine by me).

Do the older cameras work more reliably with CHDK? Given that each camera seems require a separate porting exercise, are some better/more robust than others?

I'm happy with +/- 100g (i.e. I don't need the lightest camera) but I have a ~1kg limit on the whole payload so 100g extra needs to be saved somewhere else. I'll only get one chance with the shots though so what I absolute don't want to happen is that the script fails of the camera doesn't work for any reason, so reliability is an absolute must as well.

I'll check out the links you suggested, thanks again!

Adam

Re: Smallest ('lightest') camera that can run CHDK - for high altitude balloon
« Reply #3 on: 01 / February / 2015, 12:32:14 »
You might be interested in this as well :  http://www.francescobonomi.it/CHDK-HAB
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16


*

Offline reyalp

  • ******
  • 11268
Re: Smallest ('lightest') camera that can run CHDK - for high altitude balloon
« Reply #4 on: 01 / February / 2015, 14:21:53 »
eBay is absolutely fine (there's a reasonable chance that my payload could land in a lake so minimising costs is fine by me).
I highly recommend the canon refurb and clearance options. Like new condition at near ebay prices ;)
Quote
Do the older cameras work more reliably with CHDK? Given that each camera seems require a separate porting exercise, are some better/more robust than others?
There is variation between ports, but unfortunately it's not as simple as older=more stable. Ports are generally done by a person who has the particular camera and the required programming knowledge. Skill level and CHDK knowledge varies widely. Some ports are also done "blind" where the person doing the port doesn't have the actual camera, but relies on a non-programmer to test.

There may be slightly higher odds a port labeled "alpha" or "beta" is less complete or well tested, but this is very inconsistent and should not be considered at all definitive.

If you want to find out if a particular port has issues, you can look at
- The wiki page for the camera
- The development thread, usually linked from the wiki
- Search the forum for posts mentioning the camera, both for people using it successfully and reporting problems
- The camera specific section of the readme in the download zip (also available as notes.txt in the source)
Don't forget what the H stands for.

*

Offline koshy

  • *****
  • 687
Re: Smallest ('lightest') camera that can run CHDK - for high altitude balloon
« Reply #5 on: 03 / February / 2015, 11:25:49 »
Having handled all cameras that run CHDK I think the lightest one is the ancient IXUS i Zoom. I weighed it including battery and it's 120g. Most A series of cameras seem unsuitable to me. Albeit their plastic bodies seem lighter needing AA batteries (two of which weigh 52g) takes away the advantage. A few modern As don't use AAs. A3100 weighs 152g including battery. The IXUS cameras I usually prefer are somewhat heavier. IXUS 980 was ~180g with battery. You will not reach the 100g target without stripping parts of a camera's body but 150g is no problem. If you are going to shoot RAW (DNG) I’d go for the A3100 or older because of the fact that its lens construction does not rely on digital geometric distortion correction and you can thus get an undistorted image from your RAW shots that equals the camera JPEG.
« Last Edit: 03 / February / 2015, 11:31:11 by koshy »

Re: Smallest ('lightest') camera that can run CHDK - for high altitude balloon
« Reply #6 on: 06 / February / 2015, 10:56:12 »
After I had trouble with battery life on A590s & A560s (2 each!) I discovered Energizer Ultimate lithium primary batts. Suggested by Which! magazine, expensive & only available by mail order( PO dont seem to mind) round here, but they have a very good life, work well in the cold and are noticeably light at 29gm for 2 x AA.With batteries camera is under 200gm. I think A560 & A590 go cheap on ebay because of the 'eats battery' problem ( google it if you haven't come across this) which so far, lithium AAs  work round when bending battery contacts fails.
I bought then for use with CHDK usb switching & time lapse, both seem ok .

Re: Smallest ('lightest') camera that can run CHDK - for high altitude balloon
« Reply #7 on: 07 / February / 2015, 05:57:27 »
After I had trouble with battery life on A590s & A560s (2 each!) I discovered Energizer Ultimate lithium primary batts. Suggested by Which! magazine, expensive & only available by mail order( PO dont seem to mind) round here, but they have a very good life, work well in the cold and are noticeably light at 29gm for 2 x AA.

I bought a couple of A560s a couple of months ago and tested them - the batteries seemed to drain almost right away which is why I discounted them for this. My intention would be to use the lithium batteries for the actual launch, the expense has put me off trying them beforehand though.

A few modern As don't use AAs. A3100 weighs 152g including battery. The IXUS cameras I usually prefer are somewhat heavier. IXUS 980 was ~180g with battery. You will not reach the 100g target without stripping parts of a camera's body but 150g is no problem. If you are going to shoot RAW (DNG) I’d go for the A3100 or older because of the fact that its lens construction does not rely on digital geometric distortion correction and you can thus get an undistorted image from your RAW shots that equals the camera JPEG.

The smallest cameras seem to be the ones that have the battery 'built in' - I can test these in a freezer but I'm wary that the batteries won't operate at the -50C it can get to at the top of an ascent (which is basically where you want the camera to work the most).

There is variation between ports, but unfortunately it's not as simple as older=more stable. Ports are generally done by a person who has the particular camera and thHaving handled all cameras that run CHDK I think the lightest one is the ancient IXUS i Zoom. I weighed it including battery and it's 120g. Most A series of cameras seem unsuitable to me. Albeit their plastic bodies seem lighter needing AA batteries (two of which weigh 52g) takes away the advantage.e required programming knowledge. Skill level and CHDK knowledge varies widely. Some ports are also done "blind" where the person doing the port doesn't have the actual camera, but relies on a non-programmer to test.

That's a pity (would have saved some time :) ) I'll look through some of the literature - in the meantime are there any that you would say 'definitely avoid' or any that anyone here has had personal trouble with?

My ultimate needs aren't too esoteric, some time-lapse and some video. Again, reliability is the number one requirement - I'm not sure I'm going to get too many tries at it :)

Thanks again for all the help!

Adam


Re: Smallest ('lightest') camera that can run CHDK - for high altitude balloon
« Reply #8 on: 07 / February / 2015, 11:50:39 »
I bought a couple of A560s a couple of months ago and tested them - the batteries seemed to drain almost right away which is why I discounted them for this.
I too bought a used A560 (for about $20). 

Curious about the stories of CHDK affecting battery life, I ran some tests and reported the results here :  Battery shutdown voltages with CHDK and without CHDK.  I also noted no difference in current draw with CHDK loaded or not loaded.

However, note that there are reports of dirty/corroded battery contacts and weak contact spring force causing enough voltage drop to make the camera shut down while the batteries still held enough charge to keep going.

Based on my desktop testing while working on CHDK code & scripts,  I have not noticed the A560 being any better or worse than my other AA based cameras as far as battery life goes.   The certainly do not "drain right away". Mind you, I have not timed the exact run time - maybe I'll try that when I get a minute.


Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16

Re: Smallest ('lightest') camera that can run CHDK - for high altitude balloon
« Reply #9 on: 07 / February / 2015, 12:20:23 »
I also had the bad contacts problem with my A590.  When the camera was brand new, I had to scrape all the contacts with a dental tool to get good connections, both in the camera well and in the battery door.  I still have the problem from time to time.  This has been widely reported, and I think it's just a poor design.  There's a Youtube video that shows a guy bending the contacts in the battery door to get better contact, but I don't think that's a reliable fix.

But basically I haven't noticed any particular problem with battery life so long as everything is making good contact.

 

Related Topics