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So I ran a forum search and couldn't figure this out...so here I am asking for help, lots of questions but one main idea - what is an SUL really?:

What is the difference between an indoor quad and an SUL?  What makes an SUL different than a standard?  Can I take a standard and change/tweek some stuff and end up with a SUL sail - or is the sail itself too heavy or is the sail geometry different?  Is an SUL just an indoor flown outside when there is no wind??  

I know that there are times when there is not enough wind to keep my standard afloat without lots of work....and that is ok.  But I keep hearing about SUL but I don't know what that really means.  Not looking for an equipment fix to the no wind issue, just trying to educate myself as to what the consensus is on terms.

 

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Your question is about quads but the dualie SUL has the same issues across a much greater number of builders.  Here are some thoughts that apply to kites in general but I am speaking of dualies.

The nomenclature of kite types is kind of murky as to precise specifications of light kites, ultra light kites & super ultra light kites.  Different builders definitely have varying ideas as to what exactly is a SUL.  Generally a super ultra light kite is going to have light construction throughout & will not be able to handle even six mile per hour winds as well as a ultra light kite.  The SUL will have very light tubes with small connectors, the lightest fabrics, bridles made from kite line instead of bridle line & may even be slightly smaller.  Some kites are said to be SUL but may be quite heavy & even have tail weights installed by design.  Some kite builders don't offer much below a light version perhaps feeling they lose some desirable characteristics by going too much lighter.  I have several SUL kites that I really enjoy & they can be day savers in poor inland conditions.  They all weigh under six ounces.  A standard kite would typically weigh more than ten to around twelve.  I usually fly SUL kites on 75' to 100' line sets of 50# or 90# weight.  Once you develop your light wind flying skills it will help you with flying the heavier ones in light conditions.  Much more can be said about this topic.  You need to have a couple SUL kites in my humble opinion.  SHBKF

 My beloved Sky Burner Pro Dancer SUL, a full size sail that will easily break 50# linesgallery_7709_404_588046.jpg

R-Sky Nirvana WW, this kite is teaching me pretty much everything.  We click. 

large.R_Sky_Nirvana_SUL.jpg

And the little 58" Prism 4D, bout worn this one out.  A small twitchy kite that I often fly on 18' lines, 50's are too long.  Do you first 360's with this one, or 720's.  Keep going until you fall down laughing.

gallery_7709_404_534565.jpg

Three completely different flying kites but all SUL

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For a Rev quad.
The Indoor doesn't have a bridle to spread the forces, it is directly mounted to the vertical rods. It is lighter in the frame, 1 wrap carbon rods. It has a shallower V in the centre to give more sail.
Essentially it has a greater sail to weight ratio than a SUL.

Rev used to make a SUL in the 1.5 size. Same layout just lighter fabric sail cloth and a lighter leading edge fabric. I have a TKC 1.5 SUL that only has the lighter leading edge pocket.

If you want to fly in Zero to very light winds on a 1.5 size sail, get a set of Diamond rods. I used to fly my Indoor outside in zero to maybe 2km/h but with some experience I know reserve my Indoor for true Zero wind. I'll reach for my B Standard and a Diamond frame and 30 foot lines.

As a "general" rule, the lighter the wind go shorter on your lines.


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I have been thinking about making a kite or two...and the holes in my collection are SUL, mid vet, and xtr vent. So I have been contemplating how do I fill in those holes with what I make- which naturally leads to what is really meant by those terms.

The "all are under 6oz" comment is interesting to me. I am guessing that there is a wieght to sail surface area ratio that must be beat for the target wind speeds.

In terms of buying equipment, seems that all I should think on for. The moment is to add 50# lines to my collection. Cath recommended that I wait until I spent less time on the ground...I think I might be there now.

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I have been thinking about making a kite or two...and the holes in my collection are SUL, mid vet, and xtr vent. So I have been contemplating how do I fill in those holes with what I make- which naturally leads to what is really meant by those terms.

The "all are under 6oz" comment is interesting to me. I am guessing that there is a wieght to sail surface area ratio that must be beat for the target wind speeds.

In terms of buying equipment, seems that all I should think on for. The moment is to add 50# lines to my collection. Cath recommended that I wait until I spent less time on the ground...I think I might be there now.

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Experience in low wind will be more advantageous than gear.


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I like a Zen in low winds - that thing is a tank on a scale!! But the huge wingspan makes up for overall weight! I've even ADDED both wear and fold strips to mine! 

 

SR is right on - technique will over come equipment darn near all the time!!

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April, your skills are more than ready for anything you want to do or things you think you need or want. I'm wanting a really light wind quad myself, my plans are to get a single panel printed sail, get Eliot to put a light weight leading edge on it and some Diamond rods or similar. I'm thinking that should be sufficient for anything that low I might want to fly a quad in. Wind that low I'll usually be on duals anyway, but I like options! I really need to work on transitioning light wind work on quads myself, I'm trying to spend more time on quads, really!

Flying in low winds definitely increase your skills across the spectrum, but you have to start somewhere to DEVELOP those skills. Be prepared to move, you'll put in MILES in a 10-20 foot area!

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fly OPK April, until you know what you want or how to craft your own wing

our local kite club has been flying "indoor conditions with an unlimited ceiling" since about 1996 (most everyone else would call it summer in the mid-atlantic states).  These conditions typically last for five months out of the year.

Want to build as SUL?,... you need to snuggle up to Dave Ashworth, our club president, he only flies kites he built himself and his stuff separates fliers on the competition field into the haves and the have nots.  What about a vented kite with covers over the vents so you can open 'em or close off as necessary?  Again, see Dave.  His version won't fly as an SUL, but with half decent wind it flies as a full sail, open some covers up and it becomes a mid-vent, full vent or an extra-vent

Jeffery Burka is the master of flailing and flying a kite UP WIND, his wing of choice is Rev2 sized kite, no bridle, super long throw handles, about 35 feet of length. (not handles silly, the string's length)

I buy kites, but have somewhat extreme expectations, I almost always pay more than retail to get it built as I prefer.  I probably have 6 or 7 thousand hours in a dead calm of flying time too.  Eventually these demanding conditions have become my preference!  I own 3 Zens and a couple of SULs which I'm happy to share.

A single skinned sail weighs less, but is more impacted by stretch.  Tapered down spars force weight where you want it and reduce strength down at the bottom where there's not much sail anyway.  Nylon is cheaper to buy, but Icarex is the fabric of choice for most all high-end sport kite builders.  Orcon can't be sewn, but nothing is as light for an indoor kite. Maybe mixing the materials offers the best solution of strength vs weight

Skyshark P-90s are about as light as you can get, but now you're lacking stiffness in the frame.  Would you pay 500% extra for diamonds?  The difference is a cross-bow vs a long bow. $6 bucks vs $30,... oh and you'll need spares too

What about a hybrid frame?, parts of it flexs and parts are stiff.

This weekend there's a mothers' day gig at the Washington Monument.  Come down and try out some different stuff from the other club members.  Most of them are stock bridles and on 15 inch no-snags.  Not that different from your current comfort zone.  Try a kite with no bridle, then a french version,... see which one tickles your fancy.  Next time it is very likely to be a different kite which captures your attention.

What impact does your handle's length have on low wind conditions?  when are achy wrists better off than no flight at all? (when you want to flail in big wind and still use those darn long handles)

Bonding construction is lighter than sewing, easily as durable too (3M's 9460 bonding tape holds in windows on high rise buildings, it's proven stronger than riveting!!!!)

How does the panel layout impact flight,... what about long term?,.. does it stretch and distort or actually improve with age?

50#/hundred foot length is a requirement for the washington monument grounds at least half of the year.  At the beach you'd probably seldom use long throws and light weight lines.

learn on our equipment, it's okay, everyone is offered this same opportunity (until you are not the weakest flier).  Some like Fletch, are paying back so much that he's the guy giving lessons now!

 

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There is a continuum that spans zero wind/indoor to SUL, UL, Regular and onward. IMHO, it's about being optimized for a specific role. I started flying indoors in the early 90's before light, tapered carbon was introduced. In Oct 1994 I made a Rev 2.5 using first generation SkyShark 2p and Orcon (metalized ripstop mylar.) 1oz ripstop leading edge. Adhesive ripstop corner reinforcements.

I still have the kite, although it's not flyable anymore. As the Orcon aged the ripstop  fibers come away from the mylar. Without the ripstop the sail is very frail and prone to tear/puncture. Nice thing about Orcon is that it can be taped with 3M adhesives. Long ago I described this in a KiteLines article.

No bridle. Minimal everything. Flies well on 18-24' of 30# spectra, depending upon the height of the venue. I used it indoors mostly. Only occasionally outdoors.

The trouble with indoor vs outdoor is that outside you're never assured of zero wind. A 3-4 mph gust can come along and surprise you. So something that's extremely light and also fragile might be best indoors only.

I can recall doing some work on calculations for sail loading. That is, the mass of the kite / sail area, to project low wind capability. I don't have recall of the numbers, but there was a table of sport kites where I tried to compare them on theoretical basis.

Also, I found that it was possible to be too light. It takes mass to have inertia. Without enough mass you lose control. The mass of the lines can become disproportional in their impact on it's behavior during slack line moves.

Lacking for mass you're forced to compensate with added velocity. Sustaining velocity in zero wind can be hard on the body.

2017-05-11 11.39.37.jpg

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Some of the drawbacks of building a kite too light can be relieved by adding weight in strategic positions to improve certain aspects of performance. My home-built quads weigh in between 4 and 5 ounces. That's Rev-like full size 8-footers. Everything you want becomes a compromise when you aim for the extremes in design.

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We have that same discussion locally Mark.  How much mass is necessary for "lazy flight" in zero wind?  Some builders' like Dave Ashworth's efforts, lack enough mass for my comfort.  nothing is free with his wings, you must tend the lines thru-out the flight or face a complete loss of lift.  Imagine flying from a standing position, but only on one foot.  As long as you keep motion in the kite, it flies easily.  Stop flailing and it is done for!

With some more mass, you get free momentum (like a javelin thrower, they step several times violently forward towards their target area BEFORE releasing it)

Also. a very flexible frame REQUIRES a longish bridle to prevent frame distortions from sharp commands on the handles, whereas a stiffer frame and affixing flying lines onto the end-caps directly creates a better set-up for collapsing the sail (throw & catch or the jumping-thru technique)

There's certainly a compromise between no-wind floating and a steadily powered flight of gliding, you pick which direction suits your needs best based upon testing and comparisons.

When you finally find that combination that clicks you are so satisfied!  I like Dave's kites indoors but they aren't right for me outside in no wind.  Too much distortion on the frame and sudden turbulence from the slightest wind on your skin behind an ear.

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When selecting a kite to fly in ultra low winds, less than 4km/h, I will prefer to put a little extra effort in to have a bit more mass in my kite.

When flying a B Std with a Diamond frame as opposed to a Black Race frame, I prefer the extra mass of the heavier frame. Sure you have to work a bit harder to keep it in the air BUT the returns come in the form of extra inertia.

Like Paul said, it's all compromise.


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