This is the first post in a new series detailing the steps to build a digital stereo camera using the wildly popular Canon Ixus P&S cameras.
Most of you will have heard from CHDK which allows to use additional firmware functions in many Canon Powershot cameras. One flavour of CHDK, called SDM (Stereo Data Maker) was especially designed for stereo photography and allows for an almost perfect synch between cameras that are coupled using a USB based switch.
Since I already had one Canon Ixus 55 camera (named Powershot SD450 in the US), I wanted to use CHDK / SDM on it, but unfortunately at that time CHDK wasn't ported to the Ixus 55 yet. Well, it was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it, so I started to port CHDK to the Ixus myself and after many weeks and tremendous help I received from the CHDK forum, the Ixus 55 port was finally ready.
I then started to design a suitable USB switch to use with this camera but soon decided that I wanted to go for a more radical approach: Using CHDK / SDM out of the box ensures perfect synch but all the camera functions, especially the on/off switch as well as the zoom button had to be used independently on both cameras. Futhermore the use of an additional switch connected via USB to trigger the shutter seemed like a waste of space, because after all you already have a stereo camera with two perfectly designed shutter switches. Therefore the decision was clear: I wanted a hardwired camery where on/off switches, shutter- and zoom-buttons are coupled together with CHDK / SDM for perfect synch. I will describe how I built this camera in the next posts in this blog.