Posted by Peter Kennedy on 9/26/2023 to System Integration
GUI MODS stands for Graphic User Interface Modifications and is third party software that allows you to customize the display of your Cerbo GX or other Venus GX device. The software is not a Victron product, it was written and developed by a private individual, Kevin Windrem, and published on his GitHub page. Although it is not a Victron product there is a section of the Victron Community devoted to this and other modifications. Its not that difficult to use and I am going to show you how to get started. After that you have to just play around with it yourself to make it do what you want. There is no tech support offered. If you get frustrated you can always turn it off.
Advantages and Disadvantages.
GUI Mods allows you to customize your home screen to show more information and tweak the information in the display to match your system more closely. The advantage is more intuitive operation. The disadvantage is a more crowded screen. For example the battery icon can show the state of charge of the bank, and the voltage and current, and the time to go, all in one small icon. This works better if you have a larger screen or if your eyesight is good but not so well on a small screen. Operation is more intuitive because when you put your finger on the battery icon it immediately takes you to the detail page which would otherwise have taken several key presses to reach.
Apart from the easy interaction, (touch an item to get more information about it) the most common use for this is when you have additional SmartShunts that you are using as current sensors and want them to appear on the front page of the display. The other most common use is to get AC voltage information to be included with the other AC information on the front page. You can for example use the program to display individual split phase or three phase line voltages.
Here is an example of one that shown a huge amount of data but is quite complicated.
The image above came from the GUI Mods page of Victron Community. Since "Fuel Cell" and "Wind Generator" and "Alternator" are not Victron products we presume they are representing measurements taken by a SmartShunt set up to measure current only. My article Using the SmartShunt as a DC Ammeter tells you how to do this. Then he is showing three tank measurements as well as a bunch of temperature readings. I imagine some of the temperature readings are from Ruuvi sensors. This is a rather "busy" screen and the font ends up quite small and hard to read but it does show a lot of information and is interactive because when you touch any item it goes right to the detail page.
Here is an example of using the program to display three phase line voltages:
And below is an example of the detail page you get when you put your finger on the AC Loads Button
Here is a screenshot from a Battery Detail page
Here is a screenshot of the Enhanced Generator overview page
You are probably starting to get the idea. The possibilities are almost endless. You can see more examples on the GitHub page.
To get started you have to load the setup program into the Cerbo GX. I did that using a USB Stick. You need to use a freshly formatted empty USB stick. Download the setup file from the GitHub page https://github.com/kwindrem/SetupHelper/raw/main/venus-data.tgz and save it to the USB Stick. You will end up with a file called venus-data.tgz. Then put the USB stick in one of the ports of the Cerbo (not the one reserved for the Touch 50 cable) Then you have to go to SETTINGS > GENERAL > REBOOT on the Cerbo to load the program. Once you do you will find a new line on your settings page called "Package Manager" as shown in the screenshot below.
Once you click on Package Manager it takes you to the page shown below. At this stage I want to explain what Package Manager does. It is the installation program that loads GUI MODS. It has to load GUI MODS any time you update the Cerbo because a firmware update would erase your modifications. If you set Package Manager to auto it will automatically reinstall GUI MODS after an upgrade to the Cerbo firmware. Its a way of keeping everything up to date. You can see the comment at the bottom of this article about mission critical installations.
Next you go to the Inactive Packages and locate the GUI MODS package that you want it to load. You will see that there are other programs available to play with, also written by the same person. For information about these you will have to go to his GitHub page. Pressing on the line loads the GUI MODS package. I have to admit it didn't work right away, and it seemed like we had to push a bunch of buttons to get it to work. I think setting it to automatic GitHub downloads and auto install packages helped. I'm sorry I didn't take better notes or screenshots but we just got a bit frustrated. Eventually it worked and we could see it downloading and installing the software.
At this stage you can go to the active packages tab and click on it to see that GUI MODS and the setup helper have been installed. In the screenshot below you will see one of the immediate effects is that there is an option to change to "Dark Screen Mode" which is a tell tale way to know the program is running no matter what page you are on.
Once you get this far you will have the default GUI MODS screen as your home page. As always with the Cerbo GX what you see depends on what you have installed but an example default home screen might look like the one below:
Then tapping on the MultiPlus icon takes you to its control page as shown below:
Customizing your view
All the above that we have covered so far gets you to the default GUI MODS setup. Now I am going to show you how to customize your view. The settings menu can be found at SETTINGS > DISPLAY & LANGUAGE > GUI MODS. This gets you to a fairly lengthy menu that includes a lot of presets. The image below is a combination of multiple screenshots to display the complete menu in one image.
If this all seems a bit overwhelming you might just have to play around a bit. A common starting point would be the Flow Overview menu which allows changing between Victron Stock View, GuiMods Simple, AC Coupled, and DC coupled views. If you select "Victron Stock" view then you are effectively turning GUI MODS off and going back to the out of the box display, at least for the front page. This still allows you to keep things like the "change to dark mode" option and so isn't the same as uninstalling GUI MODS altogether. If you want to do that you can start by going back to PACKAGE EDITOR and uninstalling it. I didn't go any further because I like GUI MODS and am looking forward to playing around with it. I imagine though, that when the package editor is uninstalled any update of the Cerbo firmware will completely erase GUI MODS from the system.
You will find many Youtube videos on the subject. Some are a bit lengthy. We didn't feel the need to make another one. Here are other some useful links to look for additional information:
Is GUI MODS Stable for a Mission Critical system?
This answer (written by the person that wrote Gui Mods) was found on the Victron Community site.
GUI MODS changes the display. It doesn't change any of the functionality of the devices. You can use GUI MODS in conjunction with other add-on programs for the Cerbo GX. On some of the screenshots below you may have noticed a line show up for Venus OS Large Features. That is where Node Red lives on the Cerbo GX. My testing of Gui Mods was done on a Cerbo that was also running Node Red. With Node Red you can program changes to the functionality of the Victron equipment. Have a look at our article An introduction to running Node Red on the Cerbo GX for an introduction.