F3A Zone

There are now three versions of F3A Zone:

F3A Zone – free version, you can setup and save boxes locally on your phone, but cant share the box with anyone…..

F3A Zone Pro – yep, it costs you a dollar – but you can email saved boxes to friends. This means 3 people can now set up a pole each (while looking at identical box layouts), rather than one person having to go to all 3 pole positions with their phone. Why is it a dollar – well, I had too many questions asking ‘why is the app free’!

F3A Zone Pro Reader (for Android) – this app lets Android users view boxes which have been emailed to them. You do need a friend with an iPhone (and F3A Zone Pro) to setup the box and email it to you…. This app should get full functionality when I have time…. remember it is just a reader at the moment!

About F3A Zone

When you are practicing aerobatics (or setting up a competition site) there is no really good way of setting up some box markers to identify the F3A ‘box’. Most often you will see someone kneeling on the ground with a sighting board moving about on top of a transmitter case, with some guys guessing where 150m may be (and its usually a big guess), and trying to position the box marker poles. There is lots of arm waving and phone calling to sort out where they should be placed.

Being a keen F3A pilot, I have come up with something of a solution to these problems – F3A Zone. It is an app for iPhone and is available for FREE on the apple app store (just search for ‘F3A Zone’).

First the limitations: The app uses GPS, which has ‘variable’ accuracy. This app is a superb way of getting all 3 box markers at 150m (plus/minus a few meters) – in fact, it is the only practical way of doing this. As far as the 60 degree box angle goes, I have found the GPS positions to be at least as accurate and reproducible as a sighting board. I would be interested to hear how you get on! Remember, you can always use a sighting board to confirm the angles, knowing at least all 3 poles are at 150m.

You only need to follow a few simple steps:
1. Select how far out you want the poles positioned – typically 150m out from the pilot – other distance options are there if you have a river, etc in your way!
2. On the next screen, wait for the GPS indicator to turn green.
3. Stand where the pilot will stand and hit ‘pilot position’
4. Walk directly toward center – at least 10m – and for best accuracy a bit further like 50m or more and hit ‘on the way to center’. The further you walk here the better – this is important.
5. Now select ‘draw box’. The box marker positions are drawn on the map, along with lines joining these to the pilot position.
6. Now walk toward where the first box marker needs to go. You can zoom in on the map as you get close to the box pole positions, and locate them really accurately. Zoom back out as you head to the next marker position.

When you start the app, wait until your GPS fix becomes accurate (green indicator) before selecting the pilot position.

The positioning relies on GPS – this app is about the only practical way to position all 3 poles at 150m. In our experience, we would say the 60 degree box angles are more reproducible with this app than a sighting board wobbling on a transmitter case. But check these angles till you have confidence in the app at your location.
You can of course ‘save the box’ – saved boxes can be retrieved at a later date to set up exactly the same site again.

The app additionally reports both distance from pilot position (just for fun), and also distance out perpendicular to the no fly line. This provides an easy method of seeing how far out someone is flying. Define the pilot position and ‘on the way to center’ as normal, then walk to say one corner of the box (somewhere safe) in line with where a pilot is flying – the ‘distance out’ is reported. Airfield elevation is also shown.

Remember, the app uses GPS – so it is not accurate enough to use to mark a ‘close in box’ at the far edge of the strip for practicing. It is good for marking out a box at 150m.

Andrew Palmer

F3A Zone:
Search for it on your local app store!