Studies for the design of a perpetual wheel
The mechanical device illustrated on the top, which is difficult to interpret, is distinguished by the combination with a foliot regulator, a system used in watches to regulate their operation. It is a noteworthy integration, which shifts the idea of the perpetual motor from the field of operating machines such as the mill, the screw conveyor and the pump, to that of watches. This shift moves the principle of perpetual motion from a practical context to a theoretical investigation. The “combined screw” module, extensively studied in Codex Forster II (f. 54r) and reproduced in this modular dimension in folio 473r of Codex Atlanticus, is interesting, as it shows how Leonardo was probing mechanical and hydraulic solutions simultaneously. The model on the bottom right, perhaps a study of the foreshortened machine, seems to take in consideration the idea of linking the ends of the arms with strings that, with the opening of the arm, exert a tensile force. Their use is not clear. One of the possible explanations could be to anticipate the opening of the following arms in order to overcome the dead spots of the rotation. The drawing at the bottom left shows the plan of a mechanism driven by overbalanced toothed wheels with small weights.