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PHP Hydra 17-Position Tuner Install on Project 600-HP 7.3L

PHP Hydra 17-Possition Tuner Install on Project 600-HP 7.3L

Big turbos and big injectors mean nothing without the right tuning. Nowadays, with the advent of tuning software, such as EFI Live for late model Dodges and GMs, or Minotaur for Ford’s 7.3L, anything is possible and easily had. But to get these custom tunes onto your early Ford, you’ll need a medium such as Power Hungry Performance’s Hydra Chip.

The Hydra plugs into the 7.3L’s Injector Drive Module (IDM) and holds up to 17 custom tunes, all of which are selectable on the fly from a small box we mounted to the dash. For stock to “stock-ish” trucks, PHP has a whole slew of ready-to-go tunes that include the given race tunes, tow tunes and daily driver tunes, all in varying levels of performance. They also have a bunch of really helpful tunes, like: high idle in three different RPM levels; valet mode, again in three different levels; speed-limited tunes (for teen drivers or for when your buddy borrows the truck); a whisper mode that quiets the engine, and more. For those who have more heavily modified trucks, PHP can build a tune (or tunes) for whatever you need—and not only for the engine, but the transmission, as well.

Since Project 600-hp 7.3L now has some big injectors and an aftermarket turbo, custom tuning wasn’t just something we wanted for it, it was mandatory. So, of course, the Hydra was our first choice, and the install only took us a couple of hours to complete. DW

Power Hungry Performance

The first step in installing the PHP Hydra involved removing the IDM. But before we did anything, both batteries were disconnected. The IDM connects to the main engine harness under the hood, just below the master cylinder. A 10 mm bolt is used to secure the plug. This bolt is the first thing we removed.
Two other 10 mm nuts securing the IDM were then removed, and the IDM could then be removed itself. With the IDM out, we slid it out of its composite housing and began to remove the cover so that we could reveal the electronics inside.
The Hydra communicates with the IDM via an edge connector. From the factory, it’s covered with a light coat of lacquer. This coat of lacquer must be cleaned off the board with a bit of Scotch Brite, allowing the contacts to make a good connection with the Hydra’s. Our IDM had already had this coating previously removed, and it is actually a perfect example of what not to do. See the copper terminals on the edge connector? This means it’s been cleaned too well. These terminals have a silver coating from the factory that must remain in place, or you risk the Hydra not working correctly. This IDM will soon be replaced with a higher voltage unit, so we deemed it worth the risk and moved on with the install.
The Hydra comes from Power Hungry Performance with the chip, control box, data port for uploading tunes and all the cables needed to connect everything.
Here’s the Power Hungry Performance Hydra chip. The blue connector on the right is what will connect to the IDM.
The Hydra Chip simply pushes onto the circuit-board edge connector. The black wire coming off the chip goes to the data port used to load tunes to the Hydra without removing it from the truck, and the white wire goes to the box that controls the Hydra.
With the Hydra chip installed, we could then reinstall the IDM. But first, the IDM’s composite housing needed to be clearance for two reasons; first, so the Hydra would fit; second, so that if we ever have to remove the Hydra, we won’t have to go through the hassle of removing the IDM from the truck.
Both the Hydra control box and data port were mounted to the dash. The control box was mounted just below the cluster, in clear view, so we could see what tune we are in at all times. The data port was mounted under the column. It’s still easy to reach there, but tucked away just enough not to be in our way when operating the Ford.
Loading tunes to the Hydra is done via the data port using a laptop and PHP’s Hydra Flash Software. All we needed to do was select one of the tunes PHP sent us, and load it to one of the 17 positions available.

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