Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2
The Humminbird HELIX units have received a facelift in October 2016. All the models in this series have been replaced with new, CHIRP capable units. Differently put, the HELIX CHIRP G2 series probably includes the newest chartplotter and fish finder combos for the beginning of 2017. The last year’s HELIX units are still available and supported by Humminbird though.
The HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2 is not far different from the older HELIX 5 SI GPS unit. However, as its name suggests, it’s a CHIRP capable unit. Also, it’s compatible with SmartStrike chips and AutoChart Live.
Technical Details and Specifications
- Screen: 5″ diagonal, color TFT, 800H x 480V pixel resolution, 16-bit color, with backlight
- Sonar: CHIRP Side Imaging, CHIRP Down Imaging, CHIRP DualBeam Plus with SwitchFire
- Depth Capability:
150 feet (46 m) for Side Imaging and Down Imaging
1500 feet (457 m) for DualBeam Plus (2D)
- Frequency and Coverage:
- 2D: 200 kHz (175-225 kHz) / 20° and 83 kHz (75-95 kHz) / 60°
Down Imaging: 455 kHz (420-520 kHz) / Narrow, Medium and Wide fan-shaped cone
Side Imaging: 455 kHz (420-520 kHz) / 85° (x2), 240 ft. on each side of the boat
- Transducer: Transom XNT 9 SI 180 T
- Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
- Power Input: 10-20 VDC
- Power Draw: 615 mA
- GPS: Internal
- Maps: Humminbird UniMap (built-in)
- Routes, Waypoints, Tracks: 47, 2,750, 50 (20,000 points each)
Transducer and sonar functions
The HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2 unit comes with the XNT 9 SI 180 T transducer. This particular transducer features a transom mount, 20′ (6 m) of cable, and also integrates a water temperature probe. Therefore, the unit can display the temperature of the top water layer.
Even though it’s the same transducer supplied with the old HELIX 5 fish finder model, the new unit can use CHIRP with it. The unit itself is capable of multiple frequencies. However, with the supplied transducer it can use 83/200 kHz for 2D, or modulate the pulse via CHIRP between 75-95 kHz / 175-255 kHz. While for Side Imaging and Down Imaging it can scan only at 455 kHz, or modulate pulse via CHIRP on a frequency interval between 420-520 kHz.
DualBeam Plus and Side Imaging Split View
Now, in case you didn’t know, this CHIRP pulse modulation considerably improves the unit’s imaging and target detection for both 2D and SI / DI. First of all, the images appear clearer, with less clutter, while the target separation is superior to simple sonar. In other words, in case the sonar beam hits a group of fish, it’s more likely to see separate arches or dots on screen, rather than just a big dot.
The unit’s 2D sonar is DualBeam Plus. This means you can use both 83/200 kHz beams simultaneously, and compare them in split-screen. For 2D, with the supplied transducer, you will benefit from quite a decent coverage. The beams used for DualBeam Plus (2D) are conical. For 83 kHz the beam has an angle of 60° offering a better coverage, while for 200 kHz it’s 20° wide, supplying a more focused view.
For Side Imaging, this Humminbird fish finder uses two thin, fan-shaped (not conical) beams. Each beam has an angle of approx. 85°, and can extend up to 240 ft (73 m) on each side of the boat, offering a total, side-to-side coverage of 480 ft (146 m). For Down Imaging, the beam used is also fan-shaped, featuring three width settings: Narrow, Medium and Wide. Needless to say, both Side Imaging and Down Imaging provide crystal clear imaging, similar to photography, offering the possibility to understand better the structure shapes, vegetation or bottom contour, as well as to distinguish fish better from vegetation or structure.
When it comes to depth capability, you’re probably aware that SI and DI are not sonar technologies to use in deep water. In other words, this unit is capable of scanning depths up to 150 ft (46 m) in SI and DI. However, in 2D it can reach depths up to 1,500 ft (457 m), or even 2,500 ft (762 m) if you opt for a 50/200 kHz transducer. Also, as the water type (fresh or saltwater) can affect the sonar readings, the unit offers separate modes for freshwater and salt water.
There are several more sonar-related functions regarding this unit that need to be mentioned here. First of all, the HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2 has Sonar Recording and Screen Snapshot functions. Being able to record sonar is quite a plus, as you won’t have to turn the boat around to re-scan a particular area, in case you would like to have a second look. All you have to do is rewind the sonar recording. However, in order to save the recorded sonar feed, you will need a data microSD card inserted in the unit, accessory which is not supplied.
Selective Fish ID+ is another function available with this unit. This particular function works only in 2D mode, and replaces the fish arches (or at least the sonar returns that are considered fish) with fish symbols. The depth of each fish symbol is displayed above it. The color of the fish symbols indicates the sonar beam that has caught them. For example, the fish detected by the 200 kHz beam will appear orange, while the ones in the 83 kHz beam will appear green. A Fish Alarm is also available with the Fish ID+ mode. This fish alarm has 3 settings. You can enable it to sound for Large, Large/Medium and All fish targets detected.
Selective Fish ID+ View
SwitchFire is a function offered by all HELIX units. It is a quick noise filter actually, which allows you to quickly access between a view featuring the full information of the sonar, and a sonar view which is completely clutter-free.
This unit also offers a Circular Flasher sonar view, which is great to use for ice fishing or stationary fishing. The flasher view indicates depth and the intensity of the sonar returns with various colors, in a circular layout. For the flasher mode, this particular unit also has a Jigging Mode, which refines the sonar returns in order to keep a better track of your jig.
Circular Flasher View
Last but not least, Bottom Lock and Real Time Sonar (RTS) are two functions also available with this unit. Bottom Lock gives you the possibility to focus the bottom and a certain portion of the water column near it. This function places the view at a constant point in relation to the bottom, regardless of depth changes, which sort of “flattens” the contour, but on the other hand is more effective at showing fish targets that are close to the bottom. Real Time Sonar (or A-Scope) is a vertical flasher view, which appears on the right side of the 2D sonar view, and indicates the strength of the most recent sonar return. So, basically, this function lets you know when a fish return is directly under the boat.
As its name suggests, this HELIX G2 unit is also a chartplotter and has internal GPS, which can provide fast and accurate locks, within 2.5 m. It can also enhance its fixes via WAAS, EGNOS or MSAS. Also, via GPS the unit can indicate and track your vessel’s speed.
As opposed to the older HELIX unit, the G2 model allows saving a larger number of waypoints (2,750 up from 2,500). It can also save up to 47 routes and 50 tracks, with up to 50,000 points per track.
This unit comes with the basic UniMap charts, which cover the contiguous U.S. coastline, inland lakes and rivers at 30 m / pixel. As a general idea, they show what a regular GPS shows, such as lakes, ocean, streams, with the boundaries between land and water described accurately. These charts don’t offer super detail, but in case you don’t need an advanced navigation tool, they should suffice. However, the unit’s charts can be upgraded.
3d and 2d Split View
A 3D chart view is available for this unit (see above). It’s called Bird’s Eye View for Humminbird, function which gives you a 3D view of your location, with a point of view above and behind the boat. This evidently enhances the situational awareness.
Control unit features
One of the best parts about the construction of this unit, is its display. Even though it has a small, 5-inch display, it’s 800 x 480 pixel layout gives quite some surface to work with, especially in single view. It also features a 16-bit color range, a bit better than other units within this price range, also incorporating LED backlight.
The unit is IPX7 waterproof. This means it has quite a compact screen, can resist incidental water exposure, and can even withstand immersions in freshwater, up to 1 meter and 30 minutes.
The unit features a microSD card reader with one slot for software and map upgrades, and also for recording sonar. It has an NMEA 0183 output, therefore if you have this type of networking already installed in your boat, integrating this unit should be easier. However, this unit does not have an Ethernet output.
The unit comes with a gimbal mount, and there is also an in-dash mount option. The box does not include a unit cover.
Upgrade Possibilities and Other Functions
To begin with, the unit’s internal software is upgradable. Humminbird provides at least 1-2 software upgrade yearly, upgrades that can be done via microSD card.
In terms of charts, there are quite a few things to mention here. First of all, the unit is compatible with LakeMaster, LakeMaster PLUS, Navionics+, Navionics Platinum+ charts, and SmartStrike cards. It’s also AutoChart Live ready, feature that becomes available if the unit is equipped with a LakeMaster or Navionics charts card. AutoChart Live gives you the possibility to map any body of water yourself, using GPS and 2D sonar data, and reveal the lake’s or reservoir contours. With a given LakeMaster or Navionics card chip, you can record up to 8 hours of mapping data on your control unit. However, you can also purchase a Zero Lines chip for basically unlimited mapping.
In terms of sonar, the unit can use the 50/200 kHz transducer for deepwater use. Also, since it’s a CHIRP unit, with this transducer, you will benefit from a CHIRP modulation of the sonar pulse between 28-75 kHz or 130-250 kHz, for a better target detection. As we’ve mentioned above, with a deep water transducer, the unit can scan depths up to 2,500 ft.
- DualBeam Plus sonar with SwitchFire;
- Side Imaging and Down Imaging;
- CHIRP sonar technology;
- Powerful transducer (XNT 9 SI 180 T), CHIRP capable and temperature capable, with transom mount;
- Depth capability up to 1,500 ft with the included transducer;
- Multiple sonar functions available, such as RTS, Bottom Lock, Selective Fish ID+, Alarms etc;
- Sonar Recording and screen snapshot;
- Precision GPS with MSAS, ENGNOS and WAAS enhancing;
- UniMap charts included;
- AutoChart Live ready, function that gives you the possibility to map or re-map any body of water;
- Trackplotting, routes and waypoints functions;
- 800 x 480 resolution, 16-bit color display, with LED backlight, providing clear images, easy to read even in direct sunlight;
- IPX7 waterproof;
- Glass bonded screen, glare-proof;
- NMEA 0183 connector;
- MicroSD card slot;
- Upgradable internal software;
- Gimbal mount included;
- 360 Imaging capable;
- Fairly easy to install.
The HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2 is one of the newest units from Humminbird, released for 2017. It’s a CHIRP capable unit, integrates Side Imaging, Down Imaging, and DualBeam Plus sonar, along with a precise GPS and the UniMap base charts. It’s also AutoChart ready and SmartStrike ready. It’s a great unit for just about any boat, but since the SI and DI sonar functions don’t have a super depth capability, they’re basically for freshwater use. However, you can also use it off-shore relying on its DualBeam Plus sonar application. All in all, considering that it’s a CHIRP capable unit, comes with a transducer that covers all its sonar functions, has GPS and excellent charting capabilities, we can safely say it offers a decent price/value ratio.