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Zocus allows you to wirelessly control the Zoom and Focus of your DSLR Camera, via the Bluetooth enabled ZocusApp, on iPad or iPhone (Android coming soon).

It was originally developed for James Dunn, who is passionate about photography, but who also has a condition called Epidermolysis Bullosa, which makes his skin to be very sensitive to even slight pressure - causing him pain and frustration when trying to operate fiddly camera buttons or scroll/jog-wheels. James wants to master this art, and feels it is not enough to take pictures on his smartphone - he wants full creative control of a professional DSLR camera, to frame and focus the world as he sees it.

Although there is a staggering amount of Follow-Focus gear out there, it is often struggles to fulfil James' brief:

  • Both Focus and Zoom must be controlled button/dial-free.
  • Turning the Zoom ring on a lens is often far more difficult, (high torque) than only the Focus ring.
  • Many Follow-Focus rigs are controlled via a large wheel/dial, which James cannot operate.
  • Many Follow-Focus rigs are for professionals only, and so are costly (£thousands).
  • Very few (if any) have free Apps which work with tablets/smartphones.

The Zocus' Electronics cost less than £90, which means if you have access to a basic Soldering & Electronics Equipment - and 3D Printer (local maker spaces or hobby clubs often have them) it is quite cheap to build for yourself or someone who needs one! However, if you do need to order 3D Printed Parts, this can be done from companies like Shapeways, for around £110, bringing the total to around £200: This reduction is cost may also be attractive to enthusiasts and film-makers who are working on a tight budget.

This first version of Zocus is featured on the BBC2 Documentary - Big Life Fix. It has been designed and documented here to allow others to improve on this idea through Open Source sharing of the both the 3D Printable Hardware, and Software.


I was fortunate enough to make this project with a 3D Printer I won on Instructables a few years ago - so please vote for the competitions listed here if you liked it. Many thanks! Who knows what'll be next...

Step 1: SECTION A: Select the CAD for Your Camera Lens

The original CAD for this project was designed around a Canon 600D (aka Rebel T3i in the US), with a Tamron 28-300mm Lens. The Camera is a solid entry-level DSLR and is widely available and the Lens is a great 'all-rounder', with the 28mm-300mm range being a good wide angle for landscapes and portraiture. It also has a reasonable zoom and image stabilisation for sightseeing, is reasonable for indoor photography and has Macro for close-ups.

As one might expect, it's hard to design CAD for every possible combination of Lens and Camera. However, the Zocus will work with many similar cameras and lenses out there - but it's worth using the Selection Flow-Chart to see what CAD you'll probably need. (You may not even have to modify the CAD at all!).


Depending on which of the 3 Options you were guided to, please skip to those sections by scrolling down...

<p>Hey Jude,</p><p>Thanks so much for sharing this!<br>Such a beautiful act of kindness, a shame the episode is not online, 'cause I don't own a tv anymore ...</p><p>A Gem of applied engineering, many kudos.</p><p>The last parts for the build arrived a few days ago.<br>My plan is to use zocus as part of my tiny stop motion animation studio. <br>I will have to adapt the controller to be interfacing with the DragonFrame Software and use it with shoot move shoot stepping. <br>Either try my luck with the DMX protocol or a serial connection. <br>Would also like to change the gears to 0.8 Pitch / 32, so the lens gears would be compatible with standard follow focus handle gears, thanks so much for the solidworks files.</p><p>Will be glad to share any mod I develop, shall I keep you posted?</p>
<p>BLF is available from BBC Store:<br><a href="https://store.bbc.com/the-big-life-fix-with-simon-reeve">https://store.bbc.com/the-big-life-fix-with-simon-...</a><br>Also available on *cough*Youtube*cough*</p>
<p>Thanks for the hint.</p><p>I was very deeply touched by the episode. <br>James is indeed a very remarkable and wise person ... <br>thanks again for sharing your very inspiring work on overcoming James handicap.</p>
<p>It's an exciting time for James to be into photography, never has there been a better time to use tech with digital methods. I'm very excited to see what James captures - which will be unique because of his perspective, the rapport he builds with people, and possibly to a small extent, the intrinsic constraints of the tech itself. Can't wait!</p>
<p>Wow - this is super cool to hear you're making a Zocus. Please drop me a line if you need any help. If you can, please take a few pics/vids of the process. </p>
<p>Thanks for your interest in my adaptation, will gladly share my progress and results ... </p>
<p>That would be very cool to see! Be sure to hit the &quot;I Made It&quot; button.</p>
<p>Great project, and an amazing story. You definitely deserved all my votes. </p><p>How fine is the gearing for focusing? </p><p>All the best,</p><p>Danno</p>
<p>Hi Danno,</p><p>Thanks for the votes and glad you enjoyed the story - James is a remarkable and inspiring young man! </p><p>The gearing of the servo is quite fine, but the controls in the zocus app are 'mapped' to increments of 1 degree. The gear ratio is 3.33 between the gears, so essentially this is really quite 'fine' detail. </p><p>Having used it, I did not experience a situation where I could not focus with enough delicacy to get something in subject. Even with the lens there is usually 'backlash' in the gears, so this is often more of an issue. </p><p>Hope this helps. If not DM me and I can get into more details.</p><p>Jude</p>
<p>AWSOME!</p>
<p>=)</p>
<p>I just watched The Big Life Fix, what an incredible programme! So happy to see you are a part of the instructables community. I was so moved by the episode and your invention. Everyone here should watch it (available on BBC iplayer)</p><p>Keep up the great work - meaningful design at its best :)</p>
<p>Yeah - I'm a huge fan of this site! </p><p>Glad you liked the show. Do check out the other updated on twitter #biglifefix</p><p>(Nice paper maker btw!)</p>
<p><strong>Brilliant!</strong></p>
<p>:)</p>
<p>Saw this on the photo sites. Great job!</p>
<p>Thanks Brett!<br>Liked your Senna tribute - impressive detail.<br>(Great film also!)</p>
<p>Thanks! That was a fun car to build. </p>
<p>Great instructable, thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>Thanks - glad you liked it!</p>

About This Instructable

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Bio: I'm a Product Design Engineer, currently living in the UK. I have been fortunate to have lived, studied and worked in Hong Kong, Norway ... More »
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