The HELIX 12 CHIRP SI GPS is the head of the HELIX family from Humminbird. Not only it offers just about everything else the other, smaller units offer, it also has a huge display, comes with a HD transducer, and features CHIRP sonar technology.
It’s one of the best, if not the best Humminbird fish finder and GPS combos for 2016, and so far, in terms of price / quality ratio it stands quite a bit higher than the ONIX 10 SI Combo. So, let’s see what this unit has to offer.
To begin with, let’s have a look at its fish finding functions. As mentioned above, this unit comes with the XHS 9 HDSI 180 T transducer, with a transom mount, transducer that is also temperature capable. With this transducer, the unit can also use CHIRP. However, it’s important to know that it can only use CHIRP for its 2D sonar. When scanning in CHIRP mode, the unit can modulate pulse between 175-225 kHz, and 75-95 kHz. In other words, this unit is able to use a Medium and High range CHIRP, for superior imaging, target separation and definition. However, if you opt for a CHIRP special transducer, this unit will be able to cover frequencies between 28-250 kHz, and become capable of scanning depths of over 3,500 ft.
For Side Imaging and Down Imaging, the unit doesn’t use CHIRP technology. However, since it uses an HD transducer, and the unit offers quite a dense pixel matrix (1280H x 800V), the clarity and detail is simply amazing. In DI and SI, this HELIX fish finder can scan at depths up to 150 ft. And with the supplied transducer, in 2D sonar, the unit’s depth capability is 1,500 ft. This being said, the SI and DI modes are pretty much for fresh water, but it you’re fishing off-shore, the standard sonar with its CHIRP capabilities has you covered.
On the other hand, this HELIX sonar and GPS combo can still use the standard fixed frequencies without CHIRP. It’s capable of 83/200/455/800/50 kHz frequencies. But in order to use the 50 kHz mode, you’ll need a deep water transducer. The unit is also compatible with 360 Imaging transducers, and in case you’ll opt for one, you will benefit from a circular view of everything that’s under the boat, imaging similar to radar.
This unit is able to offer sonar readings at speeds up to 40 MPH. However, the optimal imaging is achieved at speeds up to 7 MPH or lower.
In terms of sonar, this unit can offer various other functions, similar to the smaller units. For example, Selective Fish ID +, Bottom Lock, Real Time Sonar, SwitchFire, Snap Shot, Sonar Recording, Flasher and other functions are included.
When it comes to its GPS capabilities, this unit also has a lot to offer. Evidently, the best feature is AutoChart Live, which gives you the possibility to chart the water, adding contours based on the sonar returns. It integrates the same powerful and accurate GPS as the other units, and has the ContourXD map package as base for navigation. However, this unit is also compatible with Navionics+, LakeMaster charts, and Navionics Gold/HotMaps.
The unit is compatible with various other types of equipment. It can sync with Minn Kota motors via i-Pilot Link, being also HD Radar and AIS compatible. It can also use external GPS.
There’s quite a lot to be said about the unit’s construction as well. First of all, as we’ve mentioned above, it features a huge 12.1″ display, with backlight, and a pixel matrix of 1280 x 800, offering crystal clear images, which is extremely important especially for Side Imaging and Down Imaging. It features Ethernet, NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 connectivity options, but also has a microSD card reader with 2 card slots. Its internal processor is faster than the units of the previous 1100 series, offering quicker imaging updates for sonar, and smoother scrolling through charts. And finally, it’s IPX7 waterproof, meaning it can withstands splashes, rain or snow.