Frequently Asked Questions
- What makes the Hydra chip better than other chips?
- Where do I find my PCM?
- What is the difference between a Box code and a Hex code?
- I have my Box code. How do I find my Hex code?
- Which tunes do I use?
- Why do I only have a few tunes to choose from?
- Is HydraFlash Mac compatible?
- Can I use other companies’ tunes on my Hydra chip?
- Is the Hydra chip compatible with the PATS (Passive Anti-Theft System) on my Excursion?
- Why are there only 15 customizable spots on my 17 position Hydra chip?
- Do all 15 positions need to be programmed for the Hydra chip to function?
- My truck won’t start… now what?
- My truck dies whenever I change levels – What’s going on?
- Do I need to disconnect the battery when installing the chip?
- The Hydra chip protrudes out of the back of the PCM and the black plastic case for the PCM does not fit correctly after installation. Is this normal?
- I'm running a modified valve body in my transmission. What tunes do I need to run?
- My display works when the Hydra chip is connected to a USB cable, but not when it is installed in the PCM. What's wrong?
- My display is showing strange symbols when connected. What's wrong?
- The Hydra chip
- Installation CD
- Digital Selector switch with ribbon cable
- USB cable
The Hydra chip is offers a number of features that not only make the product flexible, but also easy to use. First, you are no longer limited to only 6 tunes. This allows for greater flexibility when choosing tuning. Also, whenever you want to modify the tunes on the chip, you can connect it via USB to your computer and update it yourself instead of having to send it off to have it re-burned. When you purchase the Hydra chip it comes with everything you need to get started, including:
The purchase of the chip gives you access to all of our standard calibrations so we don’t charge you per tune to fill your chip or change your calibrations at a later date, the only time you are charged for calibrations are when they are custom. The great thing about our calibrations is that they are written by one of the most experienced programmers in the diesel performance field.
The location of the PCM can vary between vehicle models. The most common locations for trucks include:
- 1992 to 2002 F150 – Passenger side firewall. The connector is under the hood and the ECM removes from below the dash.
- 1994½ to 1997 F250-550 – Driver side firewall. The connector is under the hood and the ECM removes from under the hood.
- 1999 to 2003 F250-550 – Driver side firewall. The connector is under the hood and the ECM removes from under the dash.
- 1997 to 2002 E-Series - Driver side firewall. The connector is under the hood between the “doghouse” and the master cylinder, and the ECM removes from under the dash.
The Box code is the code located on the outside of the ECM which identifies the calibration that was originally programmed into the PCM when the vehicle was manufactured and shipped. The Hex code is the actual filename of the calibration that is programmed into the PCM. Power Hungry Performance uses the Box code from the PCM as a visual reference as to what calibration group the PCM belongs to, but all tuned calibrations (both standard and custom) are selected from HydraFlash based on the corresponding Hex code.
You can locate your Hex code by using the Box/Hex conversion utility located in the [Tool] menu of HydraFlash. The utility will show the direct Hex code conversion for the Box code you entered. However, if there is a Hex code listed under the “Recommended Preferred Calibration” option, this is the Hex code you should use instead. In this example, the Box code is PMT2 and the corresponding Hex code is VRAA7S5. However, the recommended calibration to use is VRAA6S3. This would be the calibration you would select when programming the Hydra chip.
The list of calibrations can be found by clicking on the [Change] button in each position. The calibrations are organized alphabetically by Hex code and you can use the tunes with the Hex code corresponding to the one you found using the "Box/Hex Conversion" tool. Calibrations are designated by power level (based on general HP gain) and basic functional features (towing, daily driving, racing, etc.).
In some cases you will only have a few tunes to choose from. The main reason for this is that the calibration Hex you selected is one that has been superseded by another, more popular calibration. Please make sure you are using the calibration recommended by the “Box/Hex Conversion” tool. The other common reason is that the calibration is for a manual transmission (so there are no shifting considerations) or for an early build vehicle that does not support the higher power levels due to smaller injector displacements. It is also possible that the calibration in question is a less popular PCM that we have not written multiple calibrations for. If you have any questions, please give us a call or send us an email and we can either direct you to a more ideal Hex code or we can write standard tunes for your calibration at no additional cost.
Unfortunately, HydraFlash is not natively compatible with Mac computers. However, if you are running “Parallels” with a Windows overlay, then HydraFlash will generally work. Power Hungry Performance does not offer any support for installation or functionality issues regarding Mac installations.
Absolutely!! There are numerous tuners that will be happy to write files for the Hydra chip. These files cannot be uploaded to our server, but they can be emailed to you and downloaded locally on your computer. Please consult the HydraHelp website for Tuners that offer calibrations for the Hydra chip.
Yes. In the HydraFlash program, you are able to make the calibrations PATS compatible by clicking on the PATS wording at the bottom of the screen. If it is RED, then the Hydra chip will be programmed WITHOUT PATS supported. If it is GREEN, then the chip will be programmed WITH PATS support.
The Hydra chip has 2 positions permanently programmed on it. One of the positions is “00”, which is a Stock/ Diagnostics/Chip Bypass position. The other position is “nS” which is a No Start position. The No Start position is an integrated security feature and allows for the PCM to be disabled in order to prevent vehicle theft. The other 15 positions are customizable with your choice of programming.
No. The Hydra chip can actually function without any positions programmed, using positions "00" (Bypass) and "nS" (No Start). You can also program any of the positions you choose, even leaving some blank in order to separate groups of tunes. The digital selector display will only show active, programmed positions, skipping any positions that are blank.
There are a number of reasons that a truck may not start following the installation of the Hydra chip. The most common problem is that the ECM was not thoroughly cleaned (sometimes not even cleaned at all) and the edge connector of the Hydra chip is not making adequate contact with the PCM connector. In these situations, we recommend removing the PCM and cleaning the connector again, making sure to clean thoroughly between each contact using a small, pointed object such as a toothpick or small screwdriver. Also, make sure to clean BOTH sides of the connector, separating the case (removing the 6 case screws) to properly access the backside of the connector.
The most common reason the vehicle will stall when switching positions is due to mismatched calibrations being programmed onto the chip. For example, if you program position 1 with a VRAA6S3-based calibration and program position 2 with a VRAA7S5-based strategy, the vehicle will stall when changing between the positions. ALWAYS make sure that all positions are using the same base calibration to avoid this issue.
While it is generally recommended to disconnect the battery cables when working with any part of the electrical system, you can remove and install the Hydra chip and PCM without doing so. However, make absolutely sure that the key IS NOT in the ignition when working with the ECM or the Hydra chip. Failure to follow this recommendation can, and often will, result in permanent PCM failure as well as damage to the Hydra chip. When installing the Hydra chip, the ONLY safe place for your ignition key is in your pocket or in the back seat of the truck.
The Hydra chip protrudes out of the back of the PCM and the black plastic case for the PCM does not fit correctly after installation. Is this normal?
Due to the design of the PCM, the Hydra chip (or any other chip for that matter) will protrude out the rear of the PCM. This is normal. We generally recommend "notching" or cutting a hole in the rear of the PCM case in order for the case to be properly secured to the mounting bracket without putting excessive pressure on the Hydra chip. If you are not able to modify the case, we strongly recommend that you DO NOT reinstall the 7mm screws back in the case. Instead we recommend attaching the case to the bracket with a small Zip-Tie to prevent vibration and rattle. Forcing the case against the chip to install the 7mm screws will result in excessive pressure on the chip which can cause loss of contact between the PCM and Hydra, possibly resulting in PCM and/or chip failure.
We provide modified valve body versions of many of the popular calibrations. Simply select the "Valve Body" version of the file you wish to run. These calibrations keep all the normal shift points and power output, but do not make any significant modifications to the shift pressure or timing.
My display works when the Hydra chip is connected to a USB cable, but not when it is installed in the PCM. What's wrong?
In most cases, this is an indication of a connection issue between the Hydra chip and the PCM. Please recheck/clean the PCM connector and retry.
Often, if the display is not showing "PHP" during power-up or doesn't show a valid position, the cable may not be inserted fully or may be connected backwards. Make sure that the ribbon cable comes over the top of the chip and out the rear of the digital switch, and that both connections are fully seated. The connector for the switch may require a little extra pressure to ensure that it is fully seated.