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Humminbird HELIX 5 DI GPS

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5"DualBeam Plus,
600' standard,
350' SI / DI

The HELIX 5 DI GPS is quite similar to the HELIX 5 SI GPS, but this unit only offers 2D (standard) and Down Imaging sonar and does not support Side Imaging. However, the Down Imaging sonar offered by the DI GPS unit is quite a bit better than the one offered by the SI unit, as it can scan in DI at two frequencies, rather than just one. It’s also one of the Humminbird fish finders that comes with a DI dedicated transducer.

Main Specs

  • Screen: 5″ diagonal, color TFT with a 256 color range, 800H x 480V pixel matrix, with LED backlight
  • Sonar: Down Imaging and DualBeam Plus, with SwitchFire
  • Depth Capability:
    350 feet (106 m) for Down Imaging
    600 feet (183 m) for DualBeam Plus
  • Frequency and Coverage:
    455 kHz / 16° and 200 kHz / 28° for DualBeam Plus sonar
    455 kHz / 75° and 800 kHz / 45°, for Down Imaging
  • Transducer: Transom XNT 9 DI T
  • Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
  • Power Input: 10-20 VDC
  • Power Draw: 615 mA
  • GPS: Precision GPS, internal antenna
  • Maps: UniMap
  • Routes, Waypoints, Tracks: 45; 2,500; 50 (20,000 track points per track)

Sonar and fish finding functions

To begin with, the HELIX 5 DI GPS does come with the transducer that can support both DI and 2D. Actually, the transducer supplied with this unit is the XNT 9 DI T, which comes with a transom mount, and 20′ (6 m) of cable. This transducer is also temperature capable, as it incorporates a temperature sensor.

The unit’s Down Imaging offers a crystal clear picture, similar to the quality of a photograph. di view - helix 5 di gpsThis type of sonar technology is great for structure and bottom observation, as it helps you see clearly what exactly is under the boat. For Down Imaging, the unit can support two frequencies, 455/800 kHz, and the transducer can back these frequencies up. For 455 kHz, it uses a 75° wide beam, while for 800 kHz it uses a narrower, but more focused beam, of 45°. Both beams used for DI are fan-shaped, very thin fore to aft wise.

The HELIX 5 DI GPS also offers 2D standard sonar. It doesn’t have CHIRP technology though, such as the Lowrance Elite-4 units, so target separation is distinguishable only beginning with 2.5″ between targets. But nonetheless, this type of sonar technology still is great for locating fish, as it points out the fish arches right away. This unit actually features 2D DualBeam Plus sonar, which gives you the possibility to view both 2D beams at once on screen, and even blended together. It uses 200/455 kHz for this type of sonar, but for 2D, the transducer uses conical beams, with angles of 28° for 200 kHz, and 16° for 455 kHz.

Since it doesn’t use CHIRP technology, nor does support 50 kHz sonar, this unit isn’t exactly one to use for deep sea fishing. It has a depth capability of 350 ft (106 m) for DI, and up to 600 ft (183 m) for 2D.

Several other functions offered by this unit, with regards to sonar include: Real Time Sonar, Screen Snapshot, Split Zoom, SwitchFire, Selective Fish ID, Flasher View, Bottom Lock and Sonar Recording. We’ll cover each one of these functions in a few words.

Real Time Sonar (RTS or Amplitude Scope) is a vertical flasher view, which indicates the most recent sonar echo. It lets you know what exactly is in the sonar beam at the current time. There is also Circular Flasher View, which puts all the sonar information in an abstract, circular sequence, great for ice or stationary fishing. It also allows you to see the movement of the targets better, which is why some anglers would prefer it to the standard 2D view.

SwitchFire is a quick noise filter, 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.

As the name of the function suggests, Split Zoom allows you to observe the sonar in split screen, at different levels of zoom. Bottom Lock keeps the view close to the bottom, regardless of depth, offering a better option to look for bottom feeders or bottom targets.

The SnapShot function allows you to take screenshots of the sonar or maps, while the Sonar Recording gives you the possibility to record your sonar feed and scroll back through it if you want to review a certain spot, and/or mark a waypoint. These two functions (recording and snapshot) require a data microSD card to be inserted in the unit.

The Fish ID+ function replaces fish arches with fish icons. Each fish icon will also indicate its depth with a small number near it. It’s a function great to have if you’re not really used to the standard sonar view. However, keep in mind that this function will focus mainly on suspended targets, and not all the targets that were assigned a fish symbol are actually fish.

Finally, Temperature and Depth Alarms are also included.

Navigation functions

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.

This unit gives the possibility to mark waypoints, create routes and record your track. It can actually store up to 2,500 waypoints, 45 tracks, and 50 trails. Each recorded trail can have up to 20,000 track points.

The unit’s GPS is pretty fast and accurate, offering quick locks and fixes within 2.5 m. The GPS module is internal, built-in the unit. There are no ports for an external GPS module. It’s can also measure the boat’s speed.

Control unit features and functions

One of the best aspects with regards to this Humminbird fish finder 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 256 color range, a bit better than other units within this price range, also incorporating LED backlight.

The unit is IP67 waterproof and dust tight. This means it has quite a compact screen, and can even withstand submersions in fresh water, up to 1 meter and 30 minutes. This isn’t recommended though. However, it can survive splashes and rain with no problem.

The HELIX 5 DI GPS features 1 microSD card slot for software and map upgrades, and also for recording sonar. It also features an NMEA 0183 output, therefore if you have this type of networking already installed in your boat, integrating this unit should be easier.

The unit comes with a gimbal mount, and there is also a flush mount option. The box does not include a unit cover.

Upgrade Possibilities

Although it’s a pretty inclusive unit, this Humminbird HELIX model still leaves room for some upgrades. First of all, it’s internal software is upgradable, Humminbird offering free updates from time to time. Also, the unit is compatible with various superior charts, such as Navionics Gold/HotMaps, LakeMaster charts, including AutoChart™.

The Pros

  • Great screen layout, offering a lot of surface for GPS and sonar observation, even if it’s a 5″ unit;
  • Adjustable backlight;
  • Down Imaging sonar;
  • DualBeam Plus sonar;
  • Transducer that supports both 2D and DI – included;
  • Wide array of sonar functions, including Fish ID, Sonar Recording, Screen SnapShot, Bottom Lock, RTS, Circular Flasher view, SwitchFire and various alarms;
  • Quick and accurate GPS, capable of tracking speed;
  • One microSD card slot;
  • NMEA 0183 port;
  • Supports Navionics Gold / HotMaps, LakeMaster charts and AutoChart (these are not included, though);
  • Great value for the price.

The Cons

  • Unit cover not included;
  • The built-in UniMap charts do not offer extraordinary detail (you can always upgrade to Navionics, though).

Bottom Line

The Humminbird HELIX 5 DI GPS makes a great choice for a small boat, or just about any bass boat. It’s not a unit made for deepwater use but can scan up to 600 ft. with no problem. It also offers two types of sonar, 2D and Down Imaging, and a highly accurate internal GPS system. It’s quite an inclusive combo for its price, a unit that will most definitely increase your landed fish rate, and considerably improve awareness when on the water.

One Comment

  1. beware i bought the helix 5 with gps after a good rain the unit was filled with water

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