Humminbird HELIX 9 SI GPS
With the 900 series discontinued, December 2015 marks the release of the HELIX 9 series by Humminbird. Evidently the 999ci HD SI Combo will be replaced by the HELIX 9 SI GPS. The new unit comes with several improvements over the older model, including a faster processor, wider screen, wireless control and many more. Anyway, there’s much more to be said about this unit. So, in this post, we’ll put a magnifying glass on each of its features and functions.
Technical Details and Specifications
- Screen: 9″ diagonal, 65,000 color TFT, 800H x 480V pixel resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, with backlight
- Sonar: Side Imaging, Down Imaging, DualBeam Plus with SwitchFire
- Depth Capability:
- 150 feet (46 m) for Side Imaging and Down Imaging
- 1500 feet (457 m) on DualBeam Plus
- Frequency and Coverage:
- DualBeam Plus: 200 kHz / 20° and 83 kHz / 60°
- Down Imaging: 455 kHz / Narrow, Medium and Wide fan-shaped cone
- Side Imaging: 455 kHz / 84° (x2), 480 ft. side-to-side coverage
- Transducer: Transom XNT 9 SI 180 T
- Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
- Power Input: 10-20 VDC
- GPS: Internal, Precision
- Maps: ContourXD (built-in), AutoChart Live
- Routes, Waypoints, Tracks: 45; 2,750; 50 (20,000 points each)
Control unit features
Comparing this unit to the 999ci HD SI Combo, there are quite several differences. First of all, the HELIX 9 SI GPS is 25% faster than the previous. In fact, all units within the HELIX 9 series are equipped with a better processor, which offers faster image updates.
It features a 9-inch diagonal display, one inch wider than the previous models of the 900 series, with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 800H x 480V pixel resolution, with 65,000 color spectrum. The screen also features LED backlight, being much easier to read regardless of weather, and regardless if you’re using polarized sunglasses. In other words, the screen of this unit offers bright and crystal clear images, with plenty of screen surface to distinguish between structure and fish, and for chart/sonar split screen images.
Like all the other HELIX units, this one is IPX7 waterproof, meaning that it’s dust-tight, it can take water splashes without a problem, and even immersions in water up to 3 feet deep.
As opposed to the HELIX 7 SI GPS, this unit offers superior networking features. It has NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 ports, and it’s also Ethernet capable. Therefore, integration in an already assembled boat grid should be easy. It also has two microSD card slots, which is quite a plus, because this gives you the possibility to use a custom charts chip, and also use a data microSD card to save waypoints, snapshots etc.
GPS and navigation features
This HELIX 9 unit is equipped with the Humminbird precision GPS/WAAS receiver, which offers fast and accurate locks, within 2.5 m. It’s capable of storing 2,750 waypoints within its internal memory, and up to 45 routes (50 waypoints per route). It also features a trail recording function, being able to record and save up to 50 trails (20,000 points per trail). Trails can be converted to routes though, and you also get the possibility to add waypoints to them if necessary.
ContourXD Chart View
In terms of cartography, this HELIX model comes with the built-in Humminbird® ContourXD™ professional charts package. These charts offer much more than the UniMap charts in the smaller units, covering more than 3,000 U.S. lake maps, with depth contour lines, channels, boat accesses, markers, major roads, and interstates. The navigation functions also include several other functions, such as Drift Alarm, Man over Board, Off Course Alarm, and a Bird’s Eye, 3D view for the maps.
Also when it comes to mapping, this unit features the AutoChart Live function. This function gives you the possibility to map a certain body of water, using the sonar data, and determine the contours of that particular body of water. You can overlay data from the Side Imaging sonar as you go, and you can also overlay maps created with AutoChart Live, with various other charts, such as from LakeMaster or Navionics, to reveal new details. AutoChart Live maps are compatible with i-Pilot Link. In other words, you can set up a course for a certain depth contour, and i-Pilot link will tell your Minn Kota motor to follow that particular contour, great function to have especially for trolling.
Fish finding features
When it comes to sonar, the first aspect to mention about this unit is the fact that the package includes the transducer, so you don’t have to purchase one. It actually comes with the same transducer as the HELIX 5 SI and HELIX 7 SI, the XNT 9 SI 180 T. This particular transducer model supports all types of sonar supplied by the unit. In other words, it’s SI, DI, and 2D capable. It includes a temperature sensor, the control unit also having the Temperature Graph function. This transducer comes with 20 ft of cable.
Regarding the depth capability of this unit, it’s important to know that the Side Imaging and Down Imaging are not extremely capable. They’re actually intended for freshwater use, being reliable at depths only up to 150 ft (46 m). The 2D sonar on the other hand, has a depth capability of 1,500 ft (457 ft) and can serve you well in salt water and fresh water.
SI View on HELIX 9
The sonar coverage of the unit, however, is pretty impressive. Side Imaging can cover a side-to-side surface of 480 ft (146 m), 240 ft (73 m) on each side. The down beam has an angle of cca 75°, wider than the 2D ones. However, both the SI and DI beams are fan-shaped, quite thin fore-aft wise, similar to a scanner’s beams. Both these types of sonar use the 455 frequency. Also, these sonar modes are great for analyzing the structures on the bottom, offering a really clear view of each place where fish may be hiding. Fish also appear on the SI / DI sonar as small white dots.
For 2D, this unit uses the Humminbird DualBeam Plus sonar, which comes with several advantages and specific functions. First of all, it uses two conical beams, which operate at different frequencies. For 200 kHz, the beam is 20°, offering more focused results, while for 83 kHz the beam is wider, with an angle of 60°, for more coverage, but lesser accuracy. Both beams can be observed on screen separately or blended together, or in various combinations with your GPS, Down Imaging or Side Imaging sonar. The 2D sonar is more effective at detecting fish, fish arches are much easier to observe in 2D than in SI or DI.
There are several other functions to mention regarding sonar. The first one is sonar recording. This unit gives you the possibility to record the sonar log, and even rewind it back to mark waypoints. This function can be very useful on the water and can save you a lot of trouble. For example, by rewinding sonar to have a second look at a certain spot, you won’t have to turn the boat around and scan that particular spot again. Freeze Frame and SnapShot functions are also available.
Contour Mode On/Off is a function specific to the Side Imaging sonar. When set on, this function removes the water column from the Side Imaging view, displaying the two sides connected.
Fish ID on HELIX 9
Selective Fish ID+, Real Time Sonar (A-Scope), Bottom Lock, Split Zoom, SwitchFire are also functions included with this unit. The Fish ID+ function replaces the fish arches with actual fish symbols, giving you a better idea of which one of the returns are fish and which aren’t. Real Time Sonar (RTS or A-Scope) it’s a vertical flasher that puts into view the most recent sonar echo. Split-Zoom gives you the possibility to zoom in and out from a certain sonar view, while keeping on the other side of the screen the same view at a given dimension. Bottom Lock is a useful feature for detecting bottom feeders, or in general, to have a better look at the targets near bottom. And finally, SwitchFire is a filter function that gives you quick access to full sonar information on-screen, and minimum clutter on-screen.
One of the innovative functions specific to this unit is its wireless control. This HELIX unit is compatible with the new AS RC1 Bluetooth remote control, featuring 7 keys, which allow you to swap menus, sonar views, adjust brightness, mark waypoints and much more. Each key has a short and long press mode, which are necessary for certain functions of the unit. This can actually save you a lot of trouble, depending on the placement of the unit on your boat, or your positioning on deck.
There’s quite a little bit of room for upgrades when it comes to this HELIX 9 unit. To begin with, the internal software is upgradable, and upgrades for it are free. Although the transducer that comes with the unit is 83/200/455 kHz capable, the unit is actually 50/83/200/455/800 kHz capable and can work with different transducers, including various models with high or low frequency. In fact, Humminbird has a transducer replacement program, and in case you need a different model and not the transom one supplied with the control unit, you can have it replaced. This unit is also 360 Imaging compatible.
Since it features 2 microSD card slots, it goes without saying that this unit is compatible with various charts. On the list are Navionics Platinum+, Navionics Gold/HotMaps, and LakeMaster. The unit is also AIS, i-Pilot Link and external HD Radar compatible.
- Side Imaging;
- Down Imaging;
- DualBeam Plus sonar with SwitchFire;
- Powerful transducer (XNT 9 SI 180 T), temperature capable and with transom mount, included;
- 3,000 ft depth capability (1,500 ft with the included transducer);
- Multiple sonar functions available, such as Bottom Lock, RTS, Fish ID+ etc;
- Sonar recording and screen snapshot functions;
- Precision GPS with a wide array of channels;
- ContourXD charts as base for the GPS;
- AutoChart Live;
- Trackplotting, routes and waypoints functions;
- 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.
- Lack of CHIRP sonar, but on the other hand, the unit is much cheaper than a similar size and spec range, with CHIRP;
- Not that easy for everyone to master completely. It’s after all a high-tech unit.
The HELIX 9 SI GPS is one of the most complete 9-inch units that you can find at the moment. It comes with an excellent price/quality ratio, offering a wide array of sonar and navigation functions. It actually offers three types of sonar, Side Imaging, Down Imaging and 2D, along with one of the fastest and most precise GPS systems that you can find. Also, it’s a much more inclusive unit than the previous 900 series model, the Humminbird 999ci HD SI Combo.