Bathroom and Laundry Server FAQs
How do the bathroom and laundry servers work?
Since we have single-occupancy bathrooms, we just place a sensor on
every bathroom door. We considered checking whether the lights were
on, but for a number of reasons decided on door sensors instead. This
is fed into a PIC microcontroller, which then talks to the actual
The setup for the laundry server is similar, only we monitor the
status lights on the washing machines, and we don't need very long
Can I get the source/specs/diagrams?
We will put them up when we get a chance. For now, we just haven't had
time. The bathroom server is a fairly old project and is at this
point, still incomplete, so the specs are in a state of flux. We are
in the process of:
- Adding LCD panels to bathroom doors.
- Revamping the web interface
- Usage statistics
Everything we develop will be released under open licenses (GPL
for code, Open Content for web pages and graphics, etc.) We originally
weren't planning on releasing anything until we finished (since its in
a state of contestant flux), but this will probably change since we
What is Random Hall?
Random Hall is MIT's premier nerd dorm. We have 93 students.
Why not add reservations?
We intentionally did not want to disrupt or interfere with students
who choose not to use the servers.
Why not add more detailed monitoring?
This is good enough for what most residents want (finding a free
bathroom). More detailed monitoring would almost certainly be a
Isn't this an incredible waste of time?
No. We have 14 residents per each pair of bathrooms. Bathrooms are
single occupancy (shower/toilet/sink unit). During semester, if
several residents are taking classes at the same time, bathroom
conflicts can be fairly common. During finals week, there are two
standard times when students must wake up, and the problem is even
more magnified. This lets us know if there are free bathrooms closer
We have three washing machines and four driers. While this is
plenty for the number of residents (especially considering how few
Clam residents seem to do laundry), when they are in use, they tend to
all be in use at the same time (students do laundry in parallel). It
sucks to climb down four flights of stairs for naught.
Why the dorky color scheme?
A large percentage of males are red-green color blind. A small
percentage of the population is completely color blind. The current
color scheme was chosen after much deliberation to allow the maximum
combination of readability and accessibility.
Blue and yellow are used in many places internationally instead of
green/red for that reason, and so are well known among an educated
crowd. The colors are visible as different colors to red-green color
blind users, and have significantly different intensities for
completely color blind people.
For maximum readability, users are directed to Bathroom Server
Advance, which although too heavy-weight for the main server, uses an
obvious iconographic approach.
What else have you guys built?
Dorm projects have included:
- Bathroom server
- Laundry server
- Mjolnir - our
giant subwoofer made of a giant linear motor stolen from a washing
machine sized hard drive (note: the photos are dated; the current
version is ported).
- Trebuchet - To launch water balloons at west campus invaders
- Beat-activated lighting for parties
- Alice-In-Wonderland lounge -
Bad-ass lounge with 9 foot projection screen for movies and on-line
- Vibrating couch - It's red. It's velvet. It vibrates.
- Cambridge's tallest building (if just for a night).
- Street luge
I'm probably missing a few things.
For projects, we have put together a fully functioning wood shop,
Lego robotics lab (Lego Mindstorms with more flexible
microcontrollers), electronic engineering lab,
Who is responsible for this?
- Bathroom server credits are listed at the bottom of the main page.
- Laundry server was first done by some dudes on
Bonfire, then maintained by a couple guys on Pecker, and then redone
by Jim Paris and gang.
I patented this, and I wanna sent my squad of trained chihuahua
lawyers at you.
We're prior art, bastard. Take us to court and MIT will blast your
patent into the ground.
(Yes, we got an e-mail from some bastard corporation who tried to
patent the idea of a laundry server out from under us years after we