Quick Turns - F3K Skills to Learn

Get tips and tricks for radio setup and throwing techniques for quick turn around tasks...


Quicker Turns = Better Score

Let's have a little chat about quick turns shall we. At the Punkin Chunk this year there were a few quick turn tasks and if you wanted to do well, you needed to keep that plane in the air with as little downtime as possible. Now I'm still a newb with only 5 competitions under my belt, but the way I see it, there are 3 important parts to a successful quick turn, Radio setup, Approach Timing, and the Turn Itself.

Radio Setup

We all use different radios, switches and sliders so there isn't just one way to do this. It's also very different if you are left handed vs right handed. The goal of the radio setup for a quick turn is to be able to fly in very slowly, grab the tip peg and hold or hit a switch on your radio that puts the plane in a launch mode configuration, whatever that is for you. In my case, since I'm a lefty, I'll need it to put the flaps back up and give my up elevator launch preset. After the launch when the switch is released, it needs to be in my zoom mode and ready to fly. There are many ways this can be set up depending on your radio.

Approach Timing

If you want to maximize your score and drop as little time as possible in the round, you need to practice your timing. Get a helper or use your radio if it can do an audible timer. It takes practice, but you'll get a feel for bringing the plane in right on time. You can move if you need to and some like to jog next to the plane for a few feet to make the catch easier. You don't want to catch it too early and if stretch it and wait too long, you are just wasting seconds. I use about a 15 second approach time and adjust the speed with the brakes to make sure the plane arrives to me when I want it to. Practice coming in and landing right next to yourself exactly on the time you set.

The Turn

This is arguably the hardest part. You need to grab the tip peg at just the right time, hit the switch, and perform a discuss launch all in one smooth motion in about a second. You can't get ahead of yourself or you'll miss the catch, I've seen that happen a lot. The tip pegs are a pretty small target and you need to get it just right in order to make a decent throw.

I don't have my radio setup yet for a quick turn so here's how I'm currently doing it with full knowledge that I'm losing at least two or three seconds per turn. I get the timing down pretty good. I bring the plane in and touch down on the ground next to me right on time. In an instant, I put the the flaps back up, trigger zoom mode, hold my launch preset, grab the tip and throw. It's not the best, but you can get out of a quick turn round and only drop 10-12 seconds, but you really need to be cutting that in half or so to compete with the best of the best.

That's why I'm here, I'm super competitive and I want to perform better at contests. You may feel the same way and want some tips and tricks to help improve your quick turns also. I'm hoping the experts on here will chime in and tell us all their secrets. I'm looking for radio setup tips, timing tricks, techniques and any words of wisdom from those who have been there and done that. Let's hear your thoughts.

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Nov 09, 2016, 12:03 PM
Registered User
Merk's Avatar
This takes a lot of practice and knowing your plane.
Nov 09, 2016, 12:56 PM
Registered User
Jason, after meeting Mickey at the Bruce and explain to me how the Taranis radio can be programmed to facilitate QT's ideally I decided to buy in. However, If you can get your radio system to emulate how he got it setup then great. The overriding priority is to set up a foolproof method of insuring your flaps will stay up during launch. This is obviously the most difficult part because on approach you must use flaps, and when when you hit the launch switch they go up and then stay up after you release the launch switch. Unfortunately for me the only way I can imagine to get my Spektrum Dx6 to do it like he has is to use a rubber band on the flap stick to pull it back.

You can read through his setup guide for the radio gere:
Nov 09, 2016, 01:40 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
Awesome, thanks.
Nov 09, 2016, 01:53 PM
What's wrong with heavy?
dephela's Avatar
Originally Posted by tomkelley
Unfortunately for me the only way I can imagine to get my Spektrum Dx6 to do it like he has is to use a rubber band on the flap stick to pull it back.[/url]
Rubber bands have a lifespan. Take the back off the transmitter and attach a small spring between the gimbal and the frame.
Nov 09, 2016, 02:02 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
For some reason, I'm not liking the mechanical idea. Mainly because I use the radio for other things. I'm going to start looking into some fancy programming soon, I'm sure the Jeti can do it with a logic switch of some sort. Just need to figure it out and start practising.
Nov 09, 2016, 02:10 PM
Registered User
In my opinion it is imperative that you have one switch launch programming if you want to get to the level of 4second drops in 2x300 6 seconds in 1,2,3,4 etc.

The addition of an On-OFF-Momentary switch will allow any radio with flight mode priority to achieve a good set up for quick turnarounds. To turn around you pull the switch which puts it into launch mode. Then let go and the switch is spring loaded to go back to center for zoom. After you push over you flip the switch all the way back and it activates the flight mode switch. in Launch and Zoom flaps are disabled and trims are adjusted to launch criteria. This setup is not only helpful for QTs it is also great for all launches as you will never launch in the wrong mode or with the flaps down which can damage models.

I am not a QT magician but my personal bests are there with the best of em and there are a couple other things that I do that are not mentioned here.

One is, I like a 20 second count in stead of the usual 15. This does two things. It allows me to judge the ground speed of the model for the current wind speed (different every launch) and gives me time to adjust if I need it. It also gives time to avoid traffic if necessary.

Secondly I set up my elevator compensation for flaps to make the airplane tuck slightly. In windy conditions it can be quite choppy on approach. Keeping the nose down automatically helps in a couple ways. It ensures the airplane keeps flying without you needing to be on the elevator. It also shows the top of the wing to the wind in stead of the leading edge. This makes it so any gusts the airplane encounters push the plane down which you can easily recover from by giving it less flap. If the wind is to the leading edge and a gust catches the bottom of the wing it can balloon the flight path and stall the airplane which can be disastrous to your QT and in extreme cases cause you to cartwheel the aircraft causing damage which will really ruin your scores.
Nov 09, 2016, 03:03 PM
Time for me to Fly...
Mr. Wiz's Avatar
My only problem with my SD-10G is that I have to use a rubber band to keep my flaps up during a QT. Sure, they stay up when I pull the launch mode but once I release they go to wherever the stick is positioned. So I use the rubber band "elastonator" to do this but then it makes setting up the flaps for the perfect speed difficult because once I let go of that stick the flap setting snaps all the way back to the top.

I think Mickey's setup on the Taranis is the best setup for there is for a QT or it's at least the lowest pilot workload. The less I have to pay attention to the radio the easier it is for me to catch it and throw it.
Nov 09, 2016, 05:14 PM
Registered User
I took this video of Gavin Trussell doing a QT. Pretty sure he is using a spektrum radio. Textbook.

The Bruce 2016- amazing quick turn around. (0 min 19 sec)
Nov 09, 2016, 05:19 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
That was awesome! Time to get to work and practice my butt off.
Nov 09, 2016, 06:07 PM
Registered User
Don C's Avatar
Gavin told me he takes the flaps off 40-50 feet before catching and monitors the planes sped pulling up just before catching. Also turns away fro the plane just turning his body so the plane doesn't get ahead of his arm swing.
Nov 09, 2016, 06:22 PM
Mike M.
like.2.fly's Avatar
ELASTONATORS - I've been using them on my throttle stick since nearly day 1 of my DLG life (about 6 years now). I never have the need to set the stick in a fixed position for constant flaps. That's what camber mode switches and sliders are for. I prefer the rubber band for automatic flap retraction, always holding the stick in the full up (no flaps) position. Makes it super easy to just pull down the exact amount of flaps needed during final approach, then just let go of the stick when reaching out to grab the wing. Flaps automatically and instantly retract to neutral for launch. Nothing to even think about except approach control and timing, let go of everything and catch the wing at exactly the right moment, pull the launch preset momentary switch while doing the spin, and release it after throwing. This whole process becomes fluid and totally habitual after some hours of practice. Yes, the rubber band has a lifespan, but I just keep a couple spares wrapped around my Tx handle. It takes about 10 seconds to replace one after breaking. I've even done it in the middle of a contest flight. They only break about once or twice a year on me, and I fly multiple times per week, year round. Cheap, efficient, simple, reliable, takes no Tx mods, and it just works.

QTs - It's all about practice, which I do a lot, mainly because it's FUN and I enjoy it. I start every practice session with 1 or 2 rounds of 10 QTs with 30 second flights, self-timing with F3KMaster on my phone (motion launch/land detection on). F3KM already has a task pre-defined for this. Set voice to announce the last 20 seconds of each flight (or whatever you prefer). Launch gently for the first few as you get warmed up. My personal best so far has been a 13 second drop. Not super fast, I know, as a good QT can be done in less than 1 second. But try doing 10 good ones in a row, self-timing with motion detection. It's tough! But great practice and great fun. It will really hone your QT approach timing and catching skills.

MORE ON QTs... - Be realistic. They don't really need to be super fast to score well; unless you are intent on beating Toby, George, Oleg, Finch, Gavin, or other top 5% pilot in your flight group by a whopping 2 whole points. Even the difference between dropping 6 seconds or 12 in a round isn't a contest killer points wise. You might not get the K, but you'll get a good solid high 900's score if you just concentrate on doing CLEAN turns. No need to hurry. #1 rule is "catch that stupid wingtip, every single time" (the wingtip, not the blade itself), and at the right moment; because nothing else matters if you can't do this first. Choppy conditions might call for quick ground landings/pickups, rather than the more risky in-air wingtip grabs. This can be done nearly as fast, with practice, maybe dropping 4 or 5 extra seconds over the round. Again, not a huge deal. I do this when conditions call for it, and have won QT rounds this way while others messed up their catches. Practice and get good at QTs, but don't sweat them too much. They can only earn you a FEW extra points at the top. It's far worse to land OB, or run out of lift and land a minute early; than to do slow QTs. Spend time practicing the skills that pay off the most. Then practice fast QTs for fun.

Sorry for the length of this post, but you got me talking...
Nov 09, 2016, 07:12 PM
Registered User
No rubber band here. My thumb just moves the stick up as I move toward the momentary switch, which also overrides the stick position. You have to develop and trust your muscle memory anyway for consistent turn arounds: it's not another thing to think about. That's the definition of muscle memory that said, using a spring or band will mean one less thing to practice in the early stages.

Nov 09, 2016, 07:24 PM
launch height can't fix stupid
Ditto on what Mr Mike says about QTs. At the Punkin Chunk my QTs were not good at all as I dropped more than a few of them. That is what happens when you haven't flown for 2 months. Practice, practice, practice,....

As Austin says too, setup helps a lot. If you are fighting the plane as you come in, you can't expect to have a clean or quick turn around.

The one thing I will add about quick turns is sometimes a "slower" quick turn is better if you get a better launch out of it, especially if the conditions need it. The masters can do the "fast", sub second quick turns and still throw full height, or nearly full height.
Nov 09, 2016, 08:06 PM
Registered User
Roy_N's Avatar
I've been using the Fl Pink throwing blades manufactured by Eitan.


The Fl Pink blade is easy to see and seems to make it easier to find and not miss when attempting QT's.

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