How to Install CHDK using ACID and WICKs [video]

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Links mentioned in this video:
ACIDhttp://www.zenoshrdlu.com/acid/acid.html
WICKShttp://www.zenoshrdlu.com/wicks/wicks.html
Mac and Linux alternatives to WICKS can be found through the ACID link.

How to Install CHDK Software Using ACID

Today I’ll be updating one of my most popular posts with a new video tutorial. The CHDK, or Canon Hack Development Kit, is a small piece of free software that adds additional features to most Canon Powershot cameras. For our purposes, installing CHDK is the first and main step to installing a time-lapse interval program. An ultra intervalometer tutorial will follow, so check back in the next couple weeks or subscribe to receive future tutorials.

Since my first CHDK post in 2009, my Powershot S3 IS has been replaced by a series of newer Powershots. Today I’ll be using the popular SX260 HS. There have also been updates to installation software that make it much easier to install CHDK. For this tutorial, I’ll use the Automatic Camera Identifier and Downloader software, or ACID, and Windows Installer for CHDK and SDM, or WICKS. These tools replace the need to install firmware checking software on an SD card before downloading the appropriate version of CHDK. They should also format your card and install CHDK with very little user input. There are similar tools for Macs and Ubuntu on the links provided.

Before I begin, I should mention I tried two other methods to install CHDK before finding this software. While ACID might not work for every Powershot camera, it’s surprisingly easy and a good place to start. Also note I’m using a 2GB memory card to avoid the additional step of partitioning. CHDK requires partitions for any card over 4GB. Because I shoot in jpeg on my Powershot, I’ve never felt it necessary to use a card bigger than this. The ACID and WICKS software should make partitioning easy but I’ve never tried it.

Prepare the SD card

I’ll begin by taking a photo with my Powershot and uploading the photo to my computer. I like to format the memory card to begin with a blank slate and because formatting is part of the process anyway. (Click any photo in this tutorial for a larger image.)

Format SD card

Run ACID

Next, I’ll download ACID and WICKS. ACID requires Java Runtime 1.4 or later. You probably already have this installed because it’s fundamental background software for most modern computers.

Unzip the ACID file and look for the “acid” executable jar file. Double click to start ACID. Now, drag and drop your photo into ACID or use the “Browse Jpegs” button to find it. With any luck, ACID will be able to tell you the firmware version and know what software to download. Here I can see my SX260 is running version 100c. For now, the SX260 only has an early stage CHDK alpha build, but I’ll click “Download stable CHDK” anyway to download it. There are a few quirks because it’s alpha stage software but I haven’t had any problems with it.

ACID

Run WICKS

Once ACID gives the “Files successfully extracted” message, unzip WICKS. Again, I’ll look for the executable jar file. Because I’m not using an administrative user account, I’ll also have to use the “wix” Windows Command script and enter my computer’s admin password. WICKS automatically scans your card to see if you need a partition. Because I don’t, I can make sure everything looks good and change “Don’t copy files” to “Copy all files from” in the dropdown menu. ACID already downloaded the necessary files to the ACID folder, so I’ll change the file location to the “sx260hs-100c” folder just downloaded to ACID in the “Stable CHDK” folder and click “Prepare Card.”

WICKS

Eject the card and use

WICKS should now say “Card has been successfully prepared – lock before use!” Now I just eject the card, flip the tiny lock slider, and put it back in my camera. I use the play button on my camera to activate CHDK but this differs between models. Try using the special function button if you have one or check out the CHDK wiki for model specific configurations.

Slider

Once my camera shows the “alt” text at the bottom, I can press the normal menu button and find a new set of options such as shooting in RAW or loading scripts. To end the special operations menu, I simply press the play button again. To view files, I now have to long press the play button or eject the memory card and unlock the slider.

Alt

Have fun experimenting with your new menu items. If you have a question, please leave a comment below. I’m not a CHDK expert but I’ll try to help or let someone else answer. Good luck!

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11 thoughts on “How to Install CHDK using ACID and WICKs [video]

  1. HELLO

    I have this running on my SX130is. It’s brilliant. Shame there’s not the same sort of thing for their SLR’s

    Can I ask you recommendations please for windows based screen grabbing SW to make timelapse from.

    Thanks

    1. If you’re interested in add-on software for Canon DSLRs, check out Magic Lantern. I haven’t tried it myself but it looks similar in that it can add features not originally intended by Canon. I’ve been meaning to install it for a couple years but never got around to it.

      What type of screen grab software do you need? Something that takes a picture of your screen at set intervals? I think the free CamStudio offers this feature. Hope that helps.

      1. Thanks Owen

        I will give that a look.

        I did know there were some things out there for the DSLR’s but didn’t know where to find them. There was one I saw somewhere that made a DSLR into a film camera.

  2. Hey,
    first of all I would like to say thank you for this awesome tutorial. After searching through the internet for quite a while I finally found your blog and felt confident enough to try this out.
    And I succeded (: My PowerShot Sx240 HS is working with all the new possibilities. Nevertheless I would like to do timelapse recordings and for that I need Intervalometer Script.
    I searched your blog for something like that and found this old post.
    Do you know if this script works with my SX240 HS or can you give me a link to a working Intervalometer? (I know I could just test it, but I am afraid to damage my camera :/)

    Thx in advance, NeverStar <3

    1. I’m glad it worked for you. CHDK can definitely be tricky. I think the ultra_intervalometer script should work but I’ve never used your particular camera. I personally don’t worry too much about running these scripts but there’s always a small chance something could go wrong. It seems to me an intervalometer script can’t do too much harm since it only controls picture frequency and not mechanical parts that affect the lens.

      1. Thanks for the quick response (:
        I looked throgh all the different Intervalometers and even tried to understand the scripts with my basic programming knowledge. And you are totally right, the only thing what it does besides time counting is calling the function to shoot a picture (obvious i guess :p)
        Anyways, I finally tried the script you linked in that old article and suprisingly it works well.^^

        Thanks again and I guess I’ll not have to borther you with my questions (and my terrible ‘non-motherlanguage english’) any longer (:

  3. Great tutorial but unfortunately my antivirus kills java.exe and doesn’t allow Wicks to prepare my card. I deactivated the antivirus and it stills kills Java.

    Is there any other way to install the files on the card? Thanks.

  4. You might want to update this to discuss the STICK utility by the same author. It does all the steps you mention here for you automatically. http://zenoshrdlu.com/stick/stick.html
    Also, dual partitions are only needed with cards larger than 4G with cameras released prior to 2011. Later cameras will work with large cards and a single partition.

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