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 bathroom server. 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 wires.

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:

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 got slashdotted.

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 privacy violation.

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 than Clam.

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:

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?

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 built ours).