Which Humminbird® Sonar is Right for You and Your Mission?

SOLIX 15 Side Imaging Sonar G2

SOLIX 15 MEGA G2 Side Imaging Sonar

HELIX 10 MEGA Side Imaging Sonar

HELIX 10 MEGA G3 Side Imaging Sonar

Anyone who has tried to purchase a Humminbird® sonar is amazed at how many different models and features there are to choose from.

Tap into Black Laser learning’s experience and expertise so you can buy with confidence.

One quick side note. If you’re unsure whether a hull-mounted system is right for your mission we have an in-depth discussion on Hull Mounted vs Towed Side Scan Sonar systems. Before we delve into the intricacies of the Humminbird systems, learn how to recognize features important to your decision.


Model of SONAR: HELIX, SOLIX, 360 are all different models currently offered by Humminbird®.

The HELIX® is the standard and very capable system. Many models have both Side Imaging® and Down Imaging® functionality and some do not. SAR operations require both Side Imaging® and Down Imaging®.

The SOLIX®, also a Side Imaging® and Down Imaging® system, includes touch screen controls plus a more user interface flexibility. The SOLIX® also includes more robust connectors and better transducer grounding.

The 360 is a circular scanning sonar that produces imagery similar to an underwater radar. Unlike side scan which requires steady forward motion, the 360 works best when standing still or moving very, very slowly. The Humminbird 360 is now available in the MEGA frequency. This higher frequency provides better resolution than the older versions of the 360.

Number after the Model: 10, 12, 15 represents the screen size. The HELIX® 12 is a model HELIX® with a 12-inch screen.

CHIRP: Indicates the system has CHIRP frequency capability. See Black Laser Learning’s sonar Glossary for the definition.

MEGA: Indicates the system includes an additional sonar frequency of 1.2 MHz (1200 kHz), providing a higher resolution image. Higher frequencies equate to higher resolution but shorter-range capability.

SI: Indicates the system includes Side Imaging®.

Humminbird SOLIX 360

Humminbird SOLIX 360

DI: Indicates the system has only a Down Imaging® capability.

GPS: Indicates the system has a built-in GPS capability.

G3N: Indicates the HELIX system is second generation and network capable. All SOLIX units are network-enabled.

G3N/G2:  New HELIX and SOLIX models, which became available in January 2019, are designed for deeper water and better resolution.  Based on our field testing these updated systems equipped with new transducers outperform the older models.

Now that you know the abbreviations, let’s talk specifics.

For the Search & Rescue professional or advanced user we have preselected a handful of models best suited to SAR and advanced user missions. We recommend a Humminbird® with the following features; CHIRP, MEGA, SI and GPS. All SOLIX® models are network capable but, for those looking at a HELIX®, you should also include G3N to get that capability.

Key Differences Between Models

SOLIX® models are the top of the line and have some obvious bells and whistles such as touch screen displays and a more flexible user interface. However, we find that the less visible features of a fully grounded transducer and more robust connectors are the true differentiators. The additional grounding reduces noise and produces slightly higher image quality while the more robust connectors are especially important for advanced users who frequently transfer the system from boat to boat.

That said, the HELIX®, when equipped with the CHIRP MEGA frequency is a great workhorse and will do the job if budget is a consideration.

In order to spot targets, you need a reasonably large screen. We recommend a minimum 10-inch screen for effective Search Ops. Bigger is better but there is a trade-off on cost and adequate mounting space.

Also note that Side Imaging®, critically important for Search Ops, is not a feature of all Humminbird® models. Some include only Down Imaging® capability. Because we serve the SAR community, every model Black Laser Learning offers features both Side Imaging® and Down Imaging®.

In one area you will see no difference.  No matter which Humminbird® model you choose, you are buying a product proudly made in the USA.

Data Analysis

SOLIX Analysis with SAR HAWK

SOLIX Analysis with SAR HAWK

No hull-mounted fish-finder display presents the data at its full resolution. Now, SAR HAWK® software eliminates that limitation for Humminbird® sonars. The improvement in your ability to see detail in high-resolution, on a computer or high-res big screen, create coverage maps, and find targets is a game-changer.  SAR HAWK™ converts an economical Humminbird® to a truly professional sonar system.




Humminbird® Installation Cheat Sheets

Click Here for PDF of Installation Guide

Custom Turn-Key Packages

For specialized operations, Black Laser Learning will be happy to create customized Humminbird® sonar packages with everything you need to mount the

HELIX 10 SAR Package

HELIX 10 SAR Package

transducer and start collecting and analyzing data (except the boat!). Based on your specific needs, we can gather any accessories, field cases, additional cables, computers, etc. into a bundled offering. Contact us with your requirements and we will send you a quote for a Custom Turn-Key Package.

Not Familiar with a side scan sonar term? Go to the

Black Laser Learning  Sonar Glossary

© 2018 Black Laser Learning, Inc.

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