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Humminbird HELIX 12 CHIRP GPS

ProductDisplay SizeSonarDepthGPSCartography
HELIX 12 CHIRP GPS
Humminbird HELIX 12 - CHIRP fish finder and GPS chartplotter
Check Discounted Price
12.1"Broadband
CHIRP,
DualBeam
Plus
1500'
(3,500' capable)
InternalContourXD,
AutoChart
Live

In case you’re not interested in Side Imaging or Down Imaging, but would still like a widescreen fish finder with CHIRP, the HELIX 12 CHIRP GPS might be exactly what you’re looking for. As its name suggests, it’s a 12″ display unit. Evidently, just like the other HELIX units it comes with a transducer and features wireless control capabilities. But since it lacks SI and DI, it’s considerably cheaper than the units with these sonar technologies.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Display: 12.1 diagonal, 65,000 color TFT, 1280H x 800V pixel resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, glass bonded, with LED backlight
  • Sonar: Broadband CHIRP, DualBeam Plus
  • Depth Capability: 1500 feet (457 m)
  • Frequency and Coverage: 200 kHz / 20° and 83 kHz / 60°
  • Transducer: Transom XNT 9 20 T
  • Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
  • Power Input: 10-20 VDC
  • GPS: Internal
  • Maps: ContourXD (built-in), AutoChart Live
  • Routes, Waypoints, Tracks: 47; 2,500; 50 (20,000 points each)

Control unit features and functions

First of all, the unit is supplied with a Gimbal mount, but there’s also an in-dash mount option (not included). Also, the box includes power cable and unit cover.

As its name suggests, this unit features a wide, 12.1″ diagonal display, with a pixel matrix of 1280H x 800V, with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Evidently, it offers extra sharp images, and due to the glass-bonding and LED backlight, readability is excellent, even in direct sunlight.

Just like the other units of the HELIX 9, 10 and 12 series, the HELIX 12 CHIRP GPS features a fast processor. It’s actually 25% faster than its predecessors of the 1100 series. This means scrolling through sonar, maps, moving the cursor or navigating through menus is considerably faster.

This unit is IPX7 waterproof. This means its connectors and SD card slots are thoroughly sealed, the unit being actually able to withstand rain, snow, water splashes and even immersions.

In terms of networking, it’s NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 capable, features an Ethernet port and a dual microSD card reader. This is actually quite a plus, as you won’t have to swap cards if you use one with superior charts, and one for data backup.

Last but not least, this unit does not have web connectivity. However, it’s compatible with the AS RC1 Bluetooth remote control, which allows you to operate the unit from distance. It features 7 keys, with long and short press functions. You can control a great deal of function with this small remote, such as mark waypoints, deploy 360 transducer, scroll through maps etc. This device is not included though.

Transducer and sonar

Since it’s not a SI / DI unit, this HELIX combo is supplied with the classic 200/83 kHz transducer, the XNT 9 20 T. Now, this unit is CHIRP capable, and in case you’re wondering, it can use CHIRP with this transducer as well. It can actually modulate the sonar pulse between 75-95 kHz, for scanning greater depths, or between 175-225 kHz, for more detail. Differently put, with the supplied transducer it is capable of Medium Frequency CHIRP, and High Frequency CHIRP.

Nonetheless, the unit can also use the flat, non-modulated single frequency modes, for 83/200 kHz. For these frequencies, the transducer uses conical beams, of 60° and 20°. However, since CHIRP offers a superior target separation and depth penetration, it’s almost always ideal to use the CHIRP modes.

This unit is 50 kHz capable as well, thus it can use 50/200 kHz transducers. With an optional CHIRP transducer, it can achive a lower pulse modulation, beginning with 28 kHz, and up to 250 kHz. But its sonar/transducer capabilities don’t stop here. It’s also 360 Imaging capable and can work with a Humminbird 360 Imaging transducer, even though it cannot use Side Imaging or Down Imaging.

With the XNT 9 20 T supplied transducer, this unit is capable of scanning depths up to 1,500 ft (457 m). However, if paired with a more powerful, CHIRP transducer, its capability extends for depths up to 3,500 ft. (1066 m). The XNT 9 20 T transducer comes with a transom mount, 20 ft. (6 m) of cable, and integrates a temperature sensor.

The unit’s sonar is powerful enough to maintain a bottom reading at speeds up to 35 MPH. However, at speeds higher than 10 MPH, sonar readings may become blurry, and it may also skip targets. That’s why the recommended speed range for scanning with this fish finder is between 3-7 MPH.

Among the unit’s sonar functions included with this unit, we can mention Bottom Lock, Selective FishID+, Real Time Sonar, various sonar alarms, SwitchFire and of course, Sonar Recording.

GPS and navigation functions

Just like the HELIX 12 SI and HELIX 12 DI units, the particular one uses high-precision, internal GPS, offering fast position fixes with an accuracy of 2.5 meters. The built-in map database for navigation of this unit is the Humminbird ContourXD. These charts, although they don’t offer the super details of the Navionics or LakeMaster charts, they still cover more than 3,000 U.S. lakes with depth contours, also providing other data, such as markers, interstates or major roads. Nonetheless, the unit is compatible with superior charts, such as Navionics Platinum+, Navionics Gold/HotMaps, and LakeMaster charts.

The HELIX 12 CHIRP GPS It’s can store 2,500 waypoints within its internal memory, and up to 47 routes (50 waypoints per route). It can also record tracks, being able to hold up to 50 trails (20,000 points per trail). You can convert trails to routes if you want to retrace them, and you can also add waypoints to them.

The biggest plus of this unit when it comes to navigation is AutoChart Live. This function gives you the possibility to map a certain body of water on the spot, revealing all the contours based on the sonar returns, or customize the existent maps. AutoChart permits 8 hours of recording, but you can also opt for a ZeroLine SD card which will expand the recording time for a lot more.

Finally, in terms of navigation, quite several upgrades can be made. For example, the unit can use an AIS module, an external RADAR module, i-Pilot Link which enables your Humminbird unit and Minn Kota® trolling motor to communicate, offering the possibility of automatic control.

The Pros

  • Broadband CHIRP sonar, with High and Medium CHIRP modes ready-available for use, with the supplied transducer;
  • DualBeam Plus sonar with SwitchFire;
  • Powerful transducer (XNT 9 20 T), temperature capable and with transom mount, included;
  • 3,500 ft depth capability (1,500 ft with the included transducer);
  • Screen snapshot and sonar recording functions;
  • Multiple sonar functions available, such as FishID+, Bottom Lock, Real Time Sonar etc;
  • Precision GPS with a wide array of channels;
  • ContourXD charts as base for navigation;
  • AutoChart Live;
  • Trackplotting, routes and waypoints functions;
  • Wide 12.1″ display, with 16:9 format, and backlight;
  • IPX7 waterproof and glass bonded;
  • Ethernet, NMEA 0183 and 2000 ports;
  • Wireless control possibilities;
  • Upgradable internal software;
  • Dual microSD card reader;
  • Gimbal mount and unit cover included;
  • HD Radar, i-Pilot Link and AIS capable;
  • 360 Imaging capable;
  • Easy to install;
  • Better price than the previous 1159ci HD Combo, for a superior unit.

The Cons

  • High-tech unit, not too easy for everyone to master completely.

Bottom Line

The Humminbird HELIX 12 CHIRP GPS is great for anyone who doesn’t want to spend extra on side or down scanning sonar functions, but still wants a powerful, widescreen unit with CHIRP capabilities, and superior navigation functions. It’s a unit great for just about any type of boat, except maybe smaller boats such as kayaks. Therefore, putting all the features and functions of this unit in balance with its price, it’s safe to say that it offers excellent value for the money.

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