View Full Version : Question on focus of the Hydra

T&E Engineer
02-04-2007, 05:46 AM
I have been using Parallax products for about a year and a half now starting with a BOEBOT (BS2 microcontroller hobby projects mainly) and then on to the SX-28 (SX/B)·with a Profesional Development Board (PDB). Last July I bought the Propeller Stick to try it out. However, learning SPIN was a bit tricky to follow and forget Assembly as I have not quite learned it for the SX-28 nor Propellor. I tried for a couple of months and lost interest. I would like to get back to my hobby projects again and perhaps even get involved on game writing using the Hydra.

When I heard of the Hydra, I was excited but concerned about the difficulty level involved to write games in SPIN and Assembler. I recently read that a TINY Basic was out (knowing it would not do much - but felt more comfortable with this). I later read that another BASIC was in the works for Hydra from Andre. If this is the case, I would love to use the Hydra as my comfort level has gone up.

What is the primary focus behind the Hydra? What can users expect to do with it? Is is strictly game writing? If so, that is cool and I would love to get involved. However, the introduction on the Parallax website for the Hydra sounds encouraging as anyone with some BASIC programing or similar language writing experience should be ok with the Hydra.

Can someone comment on this?

Thanks again.

Mike Green
02-04-2007, 06:21 AM
Since the Hydra is essentially a Propeller, there's not a lot of difference in the hardware from the Demo Board beyond the game controller sockets. It does have a substantial amount of EEPROM (a major improvement), both on-board (128Kx8) and on plug-in cards (each 128Kx8) although very little software makes use of any beyond the first 32K. The plug-in arrangement does make it easy to have a memory card for each program of interest.

The biggest difference is the manual. The Hydra manual, in addition to going into detail on the in's and out's of the chip itself, discusses each of the types of I/O (keyboard, mouse, video, network, game controller) in detail and discusses graphics, particularly from the game creation standpoint, in depth. The included CD has a great many sample game programs which can be used as is or used as the basis for some other game. Some of them really push the capabilities of the Propeller chip.

With the exception of those that use the game controllers, most of the software on the CD can be easily adapted to the Demo Board or any other Propeller setup with a TV video and PS/2 keyboard/mouse.

02-04-2007, 06:40 AM
I've been working on getting the basic fully functional . Now that they released the asset management software , I have a plan of what to do to get it to save and load . There is a version that Mike Green wrote in spin (femento basic) that will work on the hydra. If you look at the propeller forum you can download a copy. There are cheaper ways to learn how to program the propeller than the hydra, but once you start reading Andre's book you'll know why you want him on your side ( I know you can just buy the book,but to me the extra money is worth it to be on the same playing field).I really believe that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg of what Andre' has up his sleeve for the hydra. I hope at least I answered some of your questions.


02-04-2007, 09:38 AM

Get the hydra, I guarantee I can teach you to write games for it. Also, in addition to what mike mentioned about the similarities of the hydra and demo board, they are both a propeller chip, the hydra has many more interfaces including, the game ports, expansion port, RJ11 port for networking (serial bit banging). But, the most important of these is the expansion port which lets you make add on boards, plug them into the system. They can be as simple as game cards with EEPROMS on them, or add on processors, or SRAM (which is coming out soon).

But, the HYDRA is a complete game dev/propeller learning/hacking edutainment package. If you can survive reading all 800 pages of the book, you will definitely be able to write games on the hydra in SPIN and have a good grasp on how to write kernal level graphics engines in ASM.


T&E Engineer
02-04-2007, 09:49 AM
Well this is certainly encouraging. I appreciate everyones comments and good words about this system. Im just waiting on my tax refund and I should have one in a month or so.

Thanks again.

02-04-2007, 11:37 AM
Also, I wrote countless demos and skelaton games for the book, so they are all really good starting points for your own games. There's lots of theory in the book, but then for each topic I give numerous examples and each example also tries to show off some technique that has some "wow" factor on simple graphics systems like this.


Bill Henning
02-09-2007, 01:18 PM
I said it befre... will say it again... Hydra is cool

but the book is EXCELLENT

Andre, excellent writeup on sprites. Reminded me of programming my Atari 400XL YEARS ago!

AndreL said...

Also, I wrote countless demos and skelaton games for the book, so they are all really good starting points for your own games. There's lots of theory in the book, but then for each topic I give numerous examples and each example also tries to show off some technique that has some "wow" factor on simple graphics systems like this.


www.mikronauts.com (http://www.mikronauts.com) - a new blog about microcontrollers

T&E Engineer
02-09-2007, 06:11 PM
I'm sold - just waiting on the tax refund check. Thank's for all the positive re-inforcement. Great to hear such passion towards the fun factor of it all. I started with a ZX81 / TS1000 to Atari 400 XL, 800, 130CE, Commadore SX-64, Amiga 500, Amiga 3000, Pentium 1 (60 MHz), Pentium 2, 3 and currently laptop ~3 Ghz. What a progression in computing power and ability. I still have a TS1000 that I am experimenting with but loved the sprite programming on my Atari. My first "hack" was using a diss-assembler on my Atari 400XL and watching my name scroll across the bottom of "River Raid" or something like it. Those were certainly fun days indeed.

T&E Engineer
02-18-2007, 06:06 PM
I put my HYDRA order in yesterday (took advantage of the free N&V book this weekend - and even ordered a few cheap sx-28's).

I am very much looking forward to all of the wonderfull things that AndreL and other Hydra owners have been raving about.

I don't have a SVGA screen nearby (NTSC TV video and laptop only) - hopefully this will be ok.

Anyway, I am excited and have 2nd day UPS shipping.

Thanks to all for your enthusiasm.


Mike Green
02-18-2007, 09:51 PM
Most of the software written for the Hydra and the discussions in the book are for a TV display, so you have the setup you need. Enjoy.

T&E Engineer
02-23-2007, 06:14 AM
I just received my Hydra today. The box was a bit heavier than I thought. The book looks really good and I should spend the next few nights reading it before I even touch the board.

Thanks again for the good words of excitement!

02-23-2007, 07:30 AM
Cool, well, the box packs a lot of product in there, so its dense. Eventhough, its boring stuff, I am very proud of the input controller chapter, it shows how to do things like RRRRLU punch sequence tracking, plus a generalized input system that takes all devices and converts them into generic input packets. Anyway, there are a lot of cool things. Part I and II are ground work, then part 3 is game dev. You might want to skip around that part, but I suggest reading part I, II linearly.