Internet dispels washday blues

29 July 2002
THE INVENTIVE residents of Smuts Hall have discovered an ingenious way of easing the chaos of doing laundry while living on campus.

While most students in residents have to contend with long queues during the hectic weekend laundry rush to use the few machines their Halls have, Smuts residents simply go to the Internet to do their laundry.

According to Smuts Hall resident Derek Martin, the system is a lot better than many laundry systems currently being used on campus residences.

"Instead of running up and down from your room to the laundry room trying to secure a machine so you can do your laundry, or, like Fuller Hall who use a booking sheet which can be inconvenient for a number of reasons, the system we use is accessible and allows you access to the laundry room no matter where you are.

"You simply go to the Smuts website and check which machines are available or, if you are already using a machine, you can check your machine's cycle," he explains.

Martin says that it was in the latter half of 2000 that members of the DotSmuts Committee thought up this rather novel idea. Christened the 'OMO' project, it has involved hours of painstaking work that often involved an engineer's deftness and the dulcet touch of a trapeze artist.

"We had to design small sensor circuits that we placed inside each machine that would tell when the lights of the machine came on, then we cabled each of the machines up to a laundry-server computer and finally put in another 40 meters of cable to put the laundry server onto the Smuts network," says Martin.

"From the physical side of things, the cabling was the part that took up most of the time and money.

"We were fortunate to have people with the skills needed to build the hardware and software.

"Some people may think it is a bit strange or what is the point, but it was fun to do and it is useful."

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