MSD Ultra 6AL Ignition Boxes: Big Power, Compact Size


MSD Ultra 6AL Ignition Boxes: Big Power, Compact Size


Even in a performance environment where EFI, CNP, and ECUs dominate the headlines, carburetors and distributors are still the first choice for many enthusiasts. And for them, the familiar MSD 6-series capacitive discharge ignition (CDI) box has been a staple for optimizing this ageless combination of induction and spark for performance applications.

With the release of the innovative Ultra 6AL and Ultra 6AL Plus ignition boxes, MSD now offers a smaller, lighter, and more powerful package that also introduces Bluetooth capability to allow timing adjustments through a mobile app. No more fumbling with dials or chips, as with the older models. “The number-one selling point now is the app,” says Dustin Wilson, project manager for MSD. “I’m not sure it would have been as popular 10 years ago, but now everybody has a smartphone and they use apps for everything. Even older generations have taken to this box because of how easy it is to use your cellphone to make changes and adjustments.”

For drag racers, the new Ultra 6AL features three rev limiters for burnout, launch, and step retard activation. These settings can be wirelessly controlled through the smartphone app, which features a high-level encrypted security connection. The launch limit can be activated from the transbrake or off the clutch. The app allows 10-rpm increment changes to any of the rev limits. The user can also set the timing curve based on time after launch, which helps when traction conditions are less than ideal.

One of the hottest performance trends for both street and track is adding boost with a turbocharger or supercharger and modifying the carburetor for blow-through or draw-through operation. The Ultra 6AL Plus’s onboard MAP sensor is well suited to those applications. The unit's 400 kPa / 4 BAR MAP sensor can read 3 BAR of boost pressure – approximately 44 PSI of boost. “The Ultra 6AL Plus has tons of settings that are for boosted applications, whether a ProCharger, turbo or Roots supercharger—any blow-through or draw-through setup,” says Wilson. “We’ve had our older MSD products like our Boost Timing Master and retard boxes, but this is an all-in-one package that’s very compact.”

The Ultra 6AL and Ultra 6AL Plus are easily installed on any 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder engine that runs a distributor ignition. It’s designed to provide maximum spark energy of 135mj to 150mj for every spark firing from idle to redline rpm. The spark duration lasts for 18 degrees of crankshaft rotation, and primary voltage is 520 to 540 volts. Maximum rpm is 15,000 on a 14.4-volt system.

The boxes will work with most coils, but MSD recommends the Blaster HVC or HVC II. The Ultra boxes will automatically detect these MSD coils to provide maximum output. Other features include a tach output, operation on most 7- to 28-volt systems, and full protection against an open coil, shorted coil, and open load. The Ultra 6AL and Ultra 6AL Plus will connect to points, magnetic pickups, and Hall Effect crank-trigger-input distributors.

Detailed instructions are included, and the mobile app has been shown to be very user friendly. MSD also offers free tech support. “Pretty much any vehicle with a carburetor and distributor will really benefit from these new boxes,” says Wilson. “They’re lighter and smaller, so they’re easier to mount in different places.” The previous MSD boxes, while they weren’t massive, could present some mounting challenges on certain applications with limited space.

Shop MSD Ultra 6AL and Ultra 6AL Plus now

The 6AL is some 45 percent smaller than the original. The Ultra 6AL measures 3.3 x 3.8 inches and weighs 344 grams. The Ultra 6AL Plus comes in at 3.3 x 5.2 inches and weighs 498 grams. Both are available in either red or black finish.

“Street guys are really going to like these boxes because they’re smaller and easier to hide for those who want a clean engine bay,” adds Wilson. “Those with a street blower are also drawn to this product because it's got the MAP sensor on board. You just hook up your vacuum source and you can make adjustments on your cellphone, instead of having a fixed timing curve. You don’t have to deal with hard starting, as in the past when you didn’t have a timing retard. Then you can tune for degrees of timing retard versus the pounds of boost you’re running to keep the engine safe.”

Street cars that make a weekend trip to the track will also find tuning adjustments easier with the smartphone app. The street setup can be mild for drivability, then with a few easy refinements on a cellphone, the car has a more aggressive tune for racing.

The Ultra 6AL boxes also offer alert functions, such as coil shorting, excessive temperature, and converter fault. Users are reminded that quality spark-plug wires are critical for optimum performance of MSD boxes. Helically wound wires provide a strong path for the spark to follow, while keeping electro-magnetic interference (EMI) to a minimum. Spark-plug wires should also be properly wired to avoid sharp edges, heat sources and close proximity to another wire that might cause a premature spark in that wire.

“There are some who have been skeptical of these new boxes, because of their size or the fact that they look a little different than what we’ve had for so many years,” says Wilson. “But the technology is way better and it’s more powerful.”

Shop MSD Ultra 6AL and Ultra 6AL Plus now


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