Technical Tips - by Chuck Conner
Senior TC Ultra Factory Flyer and
Master Class Competitor
[email protected]
  1. Quad Atrophy
  2. The Load Mystery
  3. Tying Knots on Ultra's
  4. Bridle Tips
  5. Tip of the Day
  6. Insider Tip
  7. Thought for the Day
  8. Return to Home Page


What is it, and just how does it effect our daily lives, "quad" wise?

Well, let me tell you something I heard from an old master, several years ago. The study of the "Art of Ambidexterity" is "Quad Flying." Ever notice how it is easier to rotate the kite one direction than the other, (given all four lines are equal in length)? Spend lots of time making the uneasy rotation, again and again, when the right muscles are developed, the problem will be solved.

It all started when I asked the magic question; "Why can’t I fly the ___________(fill in the blank) as well as I can fly the __________(again)? If the first blank is "Ultra or Rev." and the second blank is "Rev. or Ultra" hear might be one explanation.

The transition from one quad machine to another is not always an easy one. If one is an avid Rev. flyer, he/she knows that the wrists are punished in the power range of higher winds. If practice in higher winds stress the muscles in the wrists, they are being exercised, the result is a group of muscles which will perform better the next time you go out, if the next time comes sooner, rather than later.

When, with the same flying conditions, high wind and power, practicing with the Ultra, one will find there are a new group of muscles, located in the forearms, which seem to get the abuse.

If you wish to become a better Rev. flyer, spend some time with the Ultra, and vise verse. Using certain muscles, which do not seem to get used often, will produce good flying results. Ultra flyers will benefit each time they do a session with the Rev. skills improve because a larger muscle group is being exercised. Try it, you will like the results.

Master Class quad flying is the development of practiced ambidexterity, all those maneuvers, which seem harder to do in one direction are a physical challenge. Just keep on doing it.

No tunnel vision on this flying field.

The Load Mystery

A trampoline skin is stretched about its frame. Shock cords are used to keep the skin from ripping, the forces of the one who jumps upon it, are returned proportionally to him thorough this unique means of tension and stress.

The frame components, hemlines and wing lines, engineered into the TC Ultra accomplish a similar function. When properly tuned, the sail of our machine applies tension to the frame and its components (including the hem and wing lines.) The sail is then under stress, the tension of the frame, encompasses 360 degrees of the sail. Frame rods are under a load, much the same as a spring when compressed. Although as light as this load is, it remains ready to buffer a bump in the wind or from the ground. A static piece of carbon graphite will fracture with less force than the same piece when under a load. So much for Engineering 101.

TC Ultra kites are all assembled in such a manner that it is possible to vary the load on both wings, and the keel. This means of tuning is far superior to any other system available. All kites will "cure," or stretch to some degree, the Ultra is no exception. This is a good thing, this stretching of fabric. It enables the kite sail to become more symmetric through use, any inaccuracies in its assembly, such as seam width variance will, to some degree, correct itself through the curing process, if the sail can be re-tuned to its frame. As a new kite sail cures, it will need to be re-tuned. This is how we do it:

  1. Monitor the "bow" or bend in the leading edge of the Ultra, with the kite dissembled (or just out of its kite bag. When the leading edge is straight, without any noticeable bow, it is time for a tune up.
  2. Begin by disassembling the leading edge tension and hemlines from beneath the end cap at the wing tips. The hemline is first, a series of "half hitch" knots are to be opened from around the lower leading edge rod at the nock. Once the hemline is free, you will find the looped tension line residing on the knock. This line appears to come out from under the lower wing reinforcement, and is sleeved through itself (except on some ULTRAlites), making the loop. This sleeving is like the Chinese Finger Handcuffs. It self tightens onto itself, and locks the adjustment you are about to make.
  3. Check the location of the "stop" under the lower leading edge fitting. If, with no tension on the wing, this stop is keeping the fitting too high in its "cut out" reinforcement, you will need to break free the super glue, which holds the stop in place. As the bow of the wing is replaced, by tightening the loop of the tension line over its nock, caution is needed in observing where the lower spreader fitting is located. It will need to freely move on the wing rod while bowing the wing. The tightening process is accomplished by pulling the end of the tension line towards the nose of the sail, while pulling the wing tube of the sail towards the wing tip. As long as there is a noticeable bow, the wing is loaded properly, and will perform properly. The amount of bow in a wing will yield different flight characteristics, feel free to investigate, and find your own "sweet spot," bow, or load on the wing. Repeat this procedure on the opposite wing, verify the same bow by placing wings together.
  4. Install all spreaders and stand offs, it is time to tune the hem, wing lines and keel lines. Make sure the lower spreaders are positioned correctly in the sliding tee fitting. Make sure the stand offs are perpendicular to the spreaders. Begin with either wing, at the wing tip, find the trailing edge line coming from the hem. Thread it through the nock and pull this line until the trailing edge develops "bunching" of fabric. This bunching means the hemline is too tight, pinch it off with thumb and forefinger, allow the line to slip through you fingers until the "bunching" just disappears. Wrinkling of fabric is good, but no bunching of fabric. Now secure this line around the wing rod, just above the nock using a series of half hitch knots. Three half hitch knots and you can release thumb and finger, add two or three more half hitches to use up extra line, wrap all excess line over the rod and back through the nock, replace the end cap. Duplicate this process of opposite wing.
  5. Repeat this process on the keel / spine, with kite assembled. The two checks for a proper keel / spine load are; diagonal wrinkles from the trailing edge pointing toward the tee fitting, and a slight bow of the spine, but not so much that the spine touches the top spreader. Top spreader and spine can touch if the pressure needed to separate them is about an ounce. A very slight bow is needed in the spine.

The Ultra sail is now competition tuned, and ready to fly quad or dual.

Through the years, valued input from our competitors has led to the fact that dual flying is best when the nose of the Ultra has a "V" or "U" shape to it. A shorter top spreader, or by breaking loose the stops at the top spreader fittings and moving these fittings down in its cut out, then re-glueing, will accomplish this enhancement. Quad flying is always better with a flat nose. A longer top spreader, or by using the top of the cut out, for spreader fitting location, will accomplish this enhancement. Always check the stops at all spreader fittings, if a stop is loose the spreader will move, any asymmetry in the Ultra frame will distort the sail load. Symmetry is the single most important factor in kite engineering and performance.

Ultra Knots Ultra Knot
Ultra Larks head  knot

The question arises about bridle tips for the Ultra.

If you are unsure about where to start, then start with the Factory Set Point. The small overhand knot located inside the mess of larks-heads, at the Dual Line hook-up quick-connect. Pull apart all the lines in this assembly, and you will find it. At the factory we place a drop of paint on this knot, actually we mark the longer, and the shorter bridle lines with the paint for quad and dual hook-up points, then we tie the overhand knots so the paint shows up in the middle of the knot. The paint will disappear eventually, the knots will knot. Relocate the position of this knot, and a variety of mystical things begin to happen.

As with all delta shaped sport kites, the relocation of the dual line factory set point, with respect to the total bridle, changes it’s angle of attack. Nose into the wind causes speed to happen, also a loss of power or "pull." Nose back, flattens the sail to the wind, and you get the opposite, slow-down and power up. So much for the basics.

Ultra allows you to adjust the location of this factory preset as much as six inches (15cm), three up and three down. What to do with so much room to play?

Experiment with it. Now that you know the maximum limits.

TIP: "Unless you are very experienced with bridle changes and adjustments remember the "Never move the preset more than ¼" (6mm) at a time" theory. And if all else fails put it back the way it came from the factory."

TIP OF THE DAY: Find a good day, wind where you like it, tweak the bridle evenly until you are able to do all that you wish to do with the kite, tricks, precision or ballet. Speed and power be damned, find your ideal "over / under steer" preference, and lock it in. This "sweet spot" is the premium set up for quad as well. Once tuned for your flying style in the dual mode, you’re automatically setup/adjusted for quad mode. Don’t worry about changing this setting, leave perfection alone, enhance your styles, your abilities. Performance always increases with the proper tools. Wind ranges are dealt with by changing; equipment, flying lines, add-ons and/or kite, not bridle set points. Who would have thought!

UNDERGROUND / INSIDER TIP: If the wind drops off substantially during your fun / practice time, or prior to your competition routine, a change from 80lbs spectra to 50lbs spectra is worth more than a change in kite. In quad mode you have 4 lines of whatever weight line you are using managing the pull of the kite. When the wind drops off a change to a lower weight line means 4 lines of the lighter weight, Still a substantial margin before line breakage is a danger.

  • PS. A few new sets of line is much cheaper than a new kite.
  • PSS. Don’t tell your Kite Store guy, I told you that. ;--)
  • PSSS. Nothing compares to good old spectra flying line if you’re not flying on spectra lines "Get Some." It will make a more pronounced change in your flying enjoyment than any bridle adjustment ever will.
  • PSSSS. After you get the spectra lines and get them all setup, then try my bridle tips.

The more time you spend on your flying lines getting them stretched and equal within each set, the better your performance. One less variable! More on that in my next posting.

THE THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Everything you do, is more fun upside-down."

Chuck Connor

TC Ultra Co.
423 East River Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401
912-232-0655 fax

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