Humminbird HELIX 9 DI GPS
One of the newest Down Imaging units released by Humminbird for the beginning of 2016 is the HELIX 9 DI GPS. Although this unit is pretty similar to the HELIX 7 DI GPS, it does offer several more options including wireless control, AutoChart compatibility, and evidently a wider screen. It’s also pretty much the same unit as the HELIX 9 SI GPS but does not feature Side Imaging, and as opposed to the SI unit, this one is equipped with Down Imaging dedicated sonar and transducer. It’s also about $300 cheaper than the SI unit of the same series.
Like most 9-inch units this HELIX model offers an impressive array of features and functions.
Technical Details and Specifications
- Screen: 9″ diagonal, color TFT (65,000 colors), 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: Precision Internal GPS
- Maps: Humminbird ContourXD (built-in)
- Routes, Waypoints, Tracks: 45; 2,750; 50 (20,000 points each)
Control unit features and functions
The HELIX 9 DI GPS is meant to replace the 959ci HD DI Combo unit, which was discontinued at the end of 2015. As opposed to the older unit, this new HELIX model features a wider screen, 9-inch in diagonal as the name suggests. The display has the same aspect ratio as the older unit though, 16: 9 and 800H X 480V pixel matrix, but overall, the new control unit features a smoother layout. The unit is also LED backlit, covers a 65,000 color spectrum, and has an IPX7 waterproof rating, being able to withstand incidental water exposure and even immersions.
One of the best aspects regarding the new HELIX 9 DI GPS unit is its superior processor. It’s actually 25% faster than any of the 900 units, offering faster image updates for maps and sonar.
In terms of connectivity, this unit has a lot to offer. First of all, it’s Ethernet capable, therefore you can share sonar or various other data through ethernet cable between unit. It also features NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 ports, therefore integration in a boat’s already existent grid, or communication with other compatible devices shouldn’t be a problem. The unit offers two microSD card slots, quite useful for data backup, data transfer, and upgrades.
Last but not least, the unit comes with a gimbal mount, but there’s also the option of an in-dash mounting kit. The box also includes a unit cover.
Sonar features and functions
First of all, like all other units from Humminbird, the HELIX 9 DI GPS comes with the transducer that supports the unit’s sonar, which is the XNT 9 DI T transom transducer. It has 20 ft (6 m) of cable and incorporates a temperature sensor, the control unit being able to provide information regarding water temperature. Even more, this unit offers the temperature graph function, which allows you to observe easily the temperature variation for all water areas that you scan.
This particular transducer is a Down Imaging dedicated one. It can broadcast on 3 frequencies: 200/455/800 kHz.
For the unit’s DualBeam Plus 2D sonar it uses two conical beams: 28° / 200 kHz, and 16° / 455 kHz. For Down Imaging, it uses two fan-shaped beams, only approx. 2° wide fore-to-aft, but much wider from side to side. In other words, for 455 kHz the beam has a 75° angle, while for 800 kHz it uses a 45° sonar beam. The unit has a depth capability of 350 ft. (106 m) for DI and 600 ft. (183 m) for 2D.
Since the standard 2D sonar of this Humminbird fish finder is DualBeam Plus, both frequencies can be used simultaneously, and viewed either in split screen or blended together. The Switchfire function is also available in 2D, function that allows a quick sonar filtering, making it easy to alternate between the full sonar information on screen and zero clutter.
Other useful functions available under the sonar section of this unit are Selective Fish ID+, RTS (A-Scope), Split-Zoom, Bottom Lock, Screen Snapshot and Sonar Recording. The Selective Fish ID+ view is only available in 2D sonar mode and gives you the possibility to replace fish arches in the sonar view, with fish symbols. Each fish symbol has its depth next to it. Although not all sonar returns that have been assigned a fish symbol are actually fish, this particular function still gives you a better idea what fish are in a particular spot and their current depth.
Real Time Sonar (RTS) is a 2D vertical flasher function which can be viewed next to the 2D view. It provides the sonar information caught by the most recent sonar echo. Bottom Lock is a sonar function that always graphs the bottom, at a constant point in relation to the bottom, regardless of the changes in depth. It sort of “flattens” the bottom, but it’s great for revealing bottom-feeding fish, or structure where fish might be hiding. Split-Zoom, as terminology suggests, allows you to view a section of sonar in split screen, each view at different zoom levels.
Screen Snapshot and Sonar Recording are two similar functions. The first one allows you to save screenshots, of both sonar and maps, and save them on a microSD card. Sonar Recording gives you the possibility to record the sonar feed and even rewind it to re-view certain spots. This is quite a useful function as it can save you a lot of trouble. For example, you may not need to turn the boat around to re-scan a certain location, if you want a second look. Via recorded sonar, you can also mark waypoints on recorded areas.
The Humminbird HELIX 9 DI GPS comes with the built-in ContourXD professional charts pack. These charts cover more than 3,000 U.S. lake maps, featuring channels, depth contour lines, boat access points, major roads, and interstates. Although they don’t offer the detail of LakeMaster or Navionics charts, they’re still inclusive enough to improve your situational awareness by a lot. Also, they’re quite more inclusive than the UniMap charts, available with the less expensive models. 3D charts view is available with the 2D view on this unit.
The GPS incorporated in the unit is the same Precision module available with various other units. It’s actually quite a fast GPS/WAAS receiver which provides quick and accurate locks, with an accuracy within 2.5 meters. The unit is capable of storing up to 2,750 waypoints, and 45 routes (50 wp per route). It also has a track recording function, being able to record up to 50 tracks (20,000 points per track). Saved tracks can also be used as routes, and you can add waypoints to them if you want.
A notable function available with all the HELIX 9 units is the AutoChart Live, which gives you the possibility to map any body of fresh or salt water. The charts created via AutoChart Live provide features similar to the Humminbird LakeMaster charts, including highlight depth, shallow water highlight, and water level offset. On top of that, maps created with AutoChart Live are compatible with i-Pilot Link. In other words, you can set up your unit to follow a specific depth contour, with your boat on automatic pilot.
In terms of sonar, this unit is compatible with the Humminbird 360 Imaging. As opposed to the HELIX 7 and HELIX 5 DI GPS, this unit can use a 50 kHz transducer, and can be used for higher depths in 2D. Also, you can replace the XNT 9 DI T transducer with a different, compatible one via the transducer replacement program supported by Humminbird.
When it comes to maps, this HELIX unit is compatible with Navionics Platinum+, Navionics Gold/HotMaps, and LakeMaster charts.
The unit’s internal software is upgradable. And last but not least, the unit is compatible with various other modules, such as AIS, HD Radar or Minn Kota or PowerDrive V2 motors via i-Pilot Link.
One of the newest functions introduced for fish finder and chartplotter combos by Humminbird is the wireless control. This unit does have this feature and it’s compatible with the AS RC1 Bluetooth remote control. This accessory features 7 keys with short and long press functions, which give you the possibility to navigate through menus, mark waypoints, change views etc, without touching the unit. The screen is wide and bright enough to provide a good view even from several feet of distance. Therefore, this particular function may save you a lot of trouble.
- DualBeam Plus sonar with SwitchFire;
- Down Imaging;
- Powerful transducer (XNT 9 DI T), temperature capable and with transom mount, included;
- 600 ft depth capability;
- Multiple sonar functions available, such as FishID+, Bottom Lock, SwitchFire, RTS etc;
- Sonar recording and screen snapshot;
- Precision GPS with a wide array of channels;
- ContourXD charts as base for the GPS;
- Trackplotting, routes and waypoints functions;
- AutoChart Live;
- Wide 9″ display, with 16:9 format, and backlight;
- IPX7 waterproof;
- Glass bonded screen, glare-proof;
- NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 ports;
- Wireless control;
- Upgradable internal software;
- Ethernet connection;
- Dual microSD card reader;
- Gimbal mount and unit cover included;
- HD Radar, i-Pilot Link and AIS capable;
- 360 Imaging capable;
- Fairly easy to install.
- The unit doesn’t have CHIRP sonar. However, it offers pretty decent target separation, even without CHIRP. But on the other hand, it’s more affordable than other units of this size, with CHIRP;
- High-tech unit, not extremely easy to master.
The HELIX 9 DI GPS is one of the most inclusive Down Imaging units from Humminbird, at the moment. It offers an impressive array of navigation and sonar features, all in a unit with an elegant, yet durable design. It’s also a fast unit, compatible with various other technologies from Humminbird and other manufacturers. On top of that, for a 9-inch combo, it is an affordable unit. At least a few hundred dollars cheaper than a similar unit with CHIRP.