Humminbird HELIX 7 DI GPS
Although Humminbird fish finders with Side Imaging also provide Down Imaging, the DI beam for these units is actually obtained by using the side sonar beams. On the other hand, if you opt for a Down Imaging dedicated fish finder, you’ll get higher accuracy and double frequency on your DI beams. One of the best DI Humminbird fish finders for 2015, is the HELIX 7 DI GPS.
Specifications and Technical Details
- Screen: 7″ diagonal, 256 color TFT, 800H x 480V pixel resolution, with backlight
- Sonar: Down Imaging, DualBeam Plus with SwitchFire
- Depth Capability:
- 350 feet (106 m) for Down Imaging
- 600 feet (183 m) on DualBeam Plus
- Frequency and Coverage:
- DualBeam Plus: 200 kHz / 28° and 455 kHz / 16°
- Down Imaging: 455 kHz / 75° and 800 kHz / 45°
- Transducer: Transom XNT 9 DI T
- Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
- Power Input: 10-20 VDC
- Power Draw: 800 mA
- GPS: Internal, Precision
- Maps: Humminbird UniMap (built-in)
- Routes, Waypoints, Tracks: 45; 2,500; 50 (20,000 points each)
Needless to say, one of the most important sonar features of the HELIX 7 DI GPS is the Down Imaging Sonar. With this unit, you can benefit from two DI sonar views, at two distinctive frequencies. It uses a 455 kHz frequency with a 75° sonar beam, and a higher, 800 kHz, with a narrower beam of 45° for more accurate results. Both DI beams a fan-shaped, meaning they’re wide from side to side, but very thin front to back. Down Imaging will provide you with a crystal clear, photo-like quality of what’s under the boat.
With the 2D sonar view, you will also benefit from two frequencies, 200/455 kHz. The 200 kHz uses a 28° cone beam, while the 455 kHz uses a narrower, 16° cone, for a sharper view. Since the unit uses DualBeam Plus sonar technology, both these views can be observed simultaneously, in split-screen. The 2D sonar also has the SwitchFire function, which gives you the possibility to quickly swap between two modes: Max Mode and Clear Mode. Max Mode provides only the raw returns, with the maximum sonar information on screen. This view is better for seeing all the possible fish that are under the boat, or better jig tracking. On the other hand, Clear Mode removes all the clutter providing more accuracy on the returns, focusing on more detail of structure and fish.
The list of sonar functions featured by the HELIX 7 DI GPS doesn’t end here, though. This unit offers an Ice Flasher view, great to have for ice fishing or down dropping. The Selective Fish ID+ is also included by this unit. This function gives fish icons to the sonar returns interpreted as fish. In other words, in 2D the targets detected by the 16° conical beam will appear as blue fish symbols, and the ones caught by the 28° beam will be shown as orange fish symbols, with 3 different size levels, depending on the actual fish size. This feature is great to have if you don’t want to rely on the “normal” view, which shows fish as arches or dots.
Real Time Sonar (or RTS) is another function that you might find really useful, present in both HELIX 5 and 7 series, for the 2D sonar view. RTS appears to the right side of the display, and always updates at the fastest possible rate, and shows only the returns from the bottom, fish, and structure which are currently within the used conical beam.
Narrow RTS View | Wide RTS View
But one of the neat functions offered by this HELIX 7 unit is the Sonar Recording. As it’s name suggests, this function allows you to record your sonar feed, to review later or show your friends. It’s such a great function because it can save you a lot of time, and fuel, in case you’ve missed a certain good spot and you have to look for it again. By recording sonar, you can just review the whole recorded sonar feed, assess where exactly a good fishing spot was, and sail directly there. Of course, to record sonar, you require having a data microSD card plugged into your unit.
Finally, the HELIX 7 DI GPS comes with a transducer, the XNT 9 DI T, with a transom-type mount system, like most other fish finders from Humminbird. This transducer incorporates a temperature probe, so the unit also indicates water temperature. It does not, however, offer the Temperature Graph function like the Humminbird 1199ci HD SI Combo, for example. Also, other types of transducers are available, and in case you might want a trolling type transducer or a through-hull, you can just send the one the unit comes with, and they will replace it with your desired one, for free.
Even though it’s not a complete unit when it comes to navigation functions, the HELIX 7 DI GPS does offer several useful features of this sort. First of all, it includes the basic Humminbird UniMap charts pack, which covers the contiguous U.S. coastline, inland lakes, and rivers at 30 meters per pixel resolution. These are not exactly the best charts available, but they do the job when it comes to pointing out your location, showing points of interest etc. The good news is, the unit’s maps database can be upgraded with a LakeMaster, AutoChart or AutoChart Pro, as well as Navionics Gold/HotMaps microSD card.
One of the maps related functions offered by this unit, is the Bird’s Eye view, which offers a 3D perspective of your current location, track and chart’s land contour, from a point above and behind the boat. It’s a function that works with the UniMap charts, but also works with any other compatible charts that you may use. It’s definitely a function that considerably enhances your situational awareness.
Another navigation-related function that you may find useful is the Drift Alarm. This allows you to set a perimeter around the anchored position of the boat, and an alarm will sound if you drift away from the perimeter. This function can help you make sure you won’t drift away from a specific fishing spot.
The HELIX 7 DI GPS also allows you to mark waypoints, routes, and tracks. Its memory can store up to 2,500 waypoints, 45 routes (with up to 50 waypoints each), and can record up to 50 tracks (20,000 track points each).
Evidently, as the name of the unit suggests, this HELIX model does feature a GPS system. It’s equipped with the Humminbird Precision GPS internal antenna, which provides fast position fixes, with an accuracy up to 4.5 meters. It also uses WAAS, ENGOS or MSAS for enhanced fixes. Differently put, the GPS system in this unit is pretty fast and accurate.
Head unit features and functions
All the HELIX 7 units offer a 7-inch display, with a 16:9 resolution and 800H x 480V pixel matrix, and this model doesn’t make an exception. The display is also LED backlit, providing excellent readability even in direct sunlight, or in the dark. It has an IPX7 waterproof rating, meaning it’s submersible in freshwater at depths up to 1 meter, and up to 30 minutes, also being resistant to incidental water exposure such as raindrops or splashes. It’s not a full waterproof unit, so do not immerse it in water if possible.
The head unit of this fish finder and GPS combo does feature one microSD card slot for charts upgrades, sonar recording or tracks, routes and waypoints backup. It has an NMEA 0183 port, which improves its connectivity options to your boat’s grid. Does not support NMEA 2000 though. Also, the unit comes with a gimbal mounting system, but an in-dash (optional) mounting system is also available.
In case you’ve missed any of the pluses regarding the Humminbird HELIX 7 DI GPS, here’s a summary:
- Dedicated Down Imaging sonar, with two frequencies;
- Traditional 2D sonar with various useful functions, such as DualBeam Plus, Selective Fish ID+, ice flasher mode, SwitchFire;
- Sonar recording;
- Transducer with temperature sensor included with the box;
- Fast and accurate GPS, internal GPS system;
- Compatible with various charts packs, such as AutoChart, Navionics Gold/HotMaps, and LakeMaster;
- 3D chart view;
- Waypoints, routes and tracks functions;
- 7-inch, color display, with 16:9 resolution;
- Upgradable internal software;
- NMEA 0183 port.
Wouldn’t be fair to leave out the downsides of this unit. So, here they are:
- No NMEA 2000 connectivity;
- Does not support HD Radar, i-Pilot Link, external GPS or AIS;
- Only one microSD card slot. Therefore if you want to use an advanced charts chip, and also a card to record sonar, you will continuously have to swap between cards.
The Humminbird HELIX 7 DI GPS is an excellent fish finder and GPS combo and comes for a fair price. For a medium-sized unit, it does offer quite an extensive array of features and functions, with multiple upgrade possibilities. It has a pretty decent depth capability for Down Imaging, and 600′ depth capability for 2D isn’t too bad either. Therefore, it makes a great choice for still fishing, down-dropping, ice fishing, but it’s not a bad unit for trolling either. It’s also a decent piece of navigation equipment. All in all, a great unit to have on your boat.