The “Perpetual Motion Holder”: Investigating the principles behind Edward Leedskalnin’s most popular device.

Edward Standing infront of The Coral Castle

For those of you who don’t know, Edward Leedskalnin was a Latvian man who came to America around 1919. He was a pretty ordinary man aside from his magnum opus: The Coral Castle. This was a structure that was built with much precision, yet the structures of The Coral Castle were very large, and whats more; Edward built it completely alone, with tools that he had made himself. One of the key devices, “The Perpetual Motion Holder”.

The “Tripod” with his “Perpetual Motion Holder”

Based on what I have personally read of Edward’s writings, it is apparent that he was very minimally educated in the fields of electrical engineering and physics, and so came up with several of his own theories regarding how his devices were able to work to assist in constructing The Coral Castle. In my personal interpretation, some of the things he writes of, such as “Magnetic Current” sounds like a layman’s interpretation of the complex interactions between particles on an atomic and sub-atomic level, however some of the things he describes also would challenge the established laws of physics as we know them, but also make some sense in an abstract way.

Edward demonstrating his “Flywheel”. Note the crinkled chain above it.

The reason that this has not altogether been tossed out by society as completely bunk is because there is a very simple experiment that Edward himself details in one of his writings, and this experiment does indeed seem to defy certain established laws of physics. I will be doing this very same experiment, but with a bit of a twist as well. Thanks to the advent of the internet, many instances of this experiment being performed can be readily seen on various media sites. If you were to got to Youtube and do a search for the “Perpetual Motion Holder”, and watch any three of the videos that result, there are many things that you will notice in each case. The main three that I will be focusing on are:

1) The Devices all appear to create a self-perpetuating electro-magnetic field without a constant source of energy;
2) The Devices all appear to create a circulating “magnetic current” which, when broken, releases an amount of energy equal to the amount input to the circuit;
3) The Devices all appear to maintain this state of equilibrium regardless of the amount of time since the self-perpetuating reaction was first initiated, and the energy stored inside this reaction does not appear to diminish over time.

There are many theories as to why this happens. The two most prevalent are Edward’s own theory of “Magnetic Current”, and another that says it is an effect called “Remanence“. The purpose of this project, and the experiments to be performed with it during this investigation are as follows:

1) To re-create the results as seen in many other amateur experiments, as well as those described by Edward Leedskalnin himself;
2) To attempt to detect the properties the field (if any);
3) To determine that the coils will release the same amount of energy upon disruption, as was input during activation, and how much work is required to disrupt the reaction. (This may lead to a possible application as a capacitor). If there is a limit to energy the device can handle (possible saturation);
4) To determine if there is any form of minute decay in field strength over time that would otherwise not be observable;

The device I will build here is going to be a “Perpetual Motion Holder” that is designed in such a way that I will be able to alter the properties of the coils without any need to disassemble them. It will be made with an iron U-bolt that has a pair of coils wound around each of the ends of the bolt. Each coil will be wound as a Bifilar-type, the leads of which will be isolated too individual jumpers so as to be isolated, altered, or linked however an individual experiment may require. The power supply of the circuit will be a low voltage DC source ranging from 1-12 volts, and a high-voltage source made from a charged capacitor bank triggered through a vacuum spark gap.

Materials Needed:
– x1 U-Bolt (will get the size specs soon)
– x4 Nuts (2 normal, 2 with insulated inner threading)
– x4 washers
– x2 Red Spools of 22 gauge magnetic wire [RS# xxx-xxxx]
– x2 Blue Spools of 22 gauge magnetic wire [RS#xxx-xxxx]
– x1 8-point mounting post [RS#xxx-xxxx]
– x1 Radioshack SPST Toggle switch
– x1 Radioshack SPST momentary pushbutton switch
– x1 Single AA battery holder
– x1 Disposable Camera
– x1 Crimp-on wire connectors
– x1 container of 5-minute epoxy
– x1 Radioshack Project box
– x1 Dremel tool, or drill
– a soldering iron, solder, and some spare wire

This is our PMH box with all of the components, prior to assembly

Core Construction process:
1 ) Measure out the width of your U-bolt prongs to drill the holes for them. to do this, I used a piece of printer paper taped to a flat surface. Holding the U-bolt steady and perpendicular to the paper (the flat ends of the bolt should make it such that the bolt could stand up on its own), I carefully traced the ends of the bolt. I then used a ruler to find the center-point of the resulting circles and drew that point, as well as a centerline to help keep them visible. I then took this guide and cut it out so that I could tape it onto the project box’s top face.

These are the main pieces I’m working with at this point. Here I have already removed the circuit board from the camera.

2 ) Using your stencil, very carefully drill the holes for the bolt. I used a drill bit that had a shank diameter equal to that of the U-bolt so as to ensure a snug fit. Make sure that you use the correct bit type for this. Since the box is a type of plastic, a bit with a wide-angle head should be used, and at a moderate speed. REMEMBER: the safest way to use a drill is by holding it in your dominant hand, with your index finger in line with the body of the drill, using the middle finger to pull the drill trigger. To prevent the drill bit from travelling, I used a small nail to create a dimple, then used the dimple to guide a very small drill bit, and then stepped the holes up until they were the desired size.

3 ) Next insert the U-bolt into the holes so that the prongs are outside of the box. The threading of the U-Bolt may cause it to catch on the holes, but a little careful pressure should cause it to eventually go through. If the holes aren’t quite large enough to allow the U-bolt in at all, you can either widen the holes by using a slightly larger drill bit, or use a Dremel tool to carefully widen them. Once the bolt is through far enough that the “U” portion of the U-bolt is pinching against the wall of the box, hold it in place either with duct or electric tape, or by hand.

4 ) Thread on the regular nuts, one to each prong, such that they are fully seated at the bottom of the threading. Take care to ensure that they are properly threaded on and as parallel and level with each other as possible.

5 ) Prepare the 5-minute epoxy by squeezing out a tiny amount of each. The proper mix ratio should be 1-to-1 (1:1), so if you have a centimeter-wide glob of resin, you should also drop a centimeter wide glob of hardener next to it. Use a q-tip, toothpick, or other similar implement to mix the two together until they are fully combined, resulting (usually) in a pale yellowish mixture. Use a small implement to apply this epoxy to the bottom of the nuts and part of the shank of each side of the U-bolt. Pull the U-bolt back into the box slightly, until the bottoms of the nuts are resting squarely on the face of the box and then apply some epoxy around the base of the drilled holes on the inside of the box, making sure that it also is on the shank as well.

6 ) This part requires some patience. Hold the U-bolt in place by firmly pressing it into the face of the project box for about five minutes to allow the epoxy to properly set (which is why I chose 5 minute epoxy instead of the usual 24 hour). During this time, take care to not let the epoxy get on your hands or skin in any way as these chemicals can irritate your skin, or bond your fingers together easily (and is a pain to wash off skin even before it sets and even if it isn’t combined. It is even more difficult, if not impossible to remove from clothing).

7 ) Once the epoxy has set, run the washers down the U-bolt ends until they sit on the upward face of the nuts, taking care to ensure that they are also as level with each other as possible. Apply epoxy at the joint between the nuts and the washers in the same fashion as before. This time you do not need to hold them in place since gravity will do this for you.

8 ) Wait 24 hours to allow all of the epoxy to fully cure. Make sure to save the epoxy containers for later as epoxy will be needed later on as well.

Charging Circuit Construction Process:
Disclaimer: Before beginning with this part, I have to state that handling high voltage capacitors, especially those inside of a camera, is VERY DANGEROUS if not LETHAL when done incorrectly or carelessly. Flyback transformer output voltages, while painful (and capable of causing RF burns), are not entirely harmful on their own. However, when the High Frequency High-Voltage output of a flyback is coupled with a voltage multiplier to charge capacitors, it is almost certainly DEADLY if handled wrong. Charging capacitors can easily store several dozens, if not hundreds of amps which can easily fibrillate a human heart, and flyback circuits can charge them to to these levels very quickly! This being said, great care must be taken here, and I would not recommend this for amateurs. Ultimately, the reader assumes responsibility for all the risks should they choose to attempt this. I am not responsible for any use, or misuse of this device.

A bit of shopping around may need to be done for this part. I personally went to a Goodwill store and searched for an external camera flash since these usually have larger capacitors and two triggering circuits (one of which will hopefully contain the vacuum spark gap). The capacitor was a 330wv photo capacitor. The charging circuits were too large to be of use for this project so I went with a disposable camera instead.

1) With your disposable camera, first remove the cardboard or paper covering. This exposes the hook points used to separate the front and back of the camera.

2) Use a small screwdriver with an insulated handle (such as plastic or rubber), and pry it underneath these hooks. They should look like square or semi-circular pieces with a tab in the center of them. When doing this, take care not to expose the film, and slowly roll it back into its case, leaving just a small amount sticking out so that it can be used in another camera. If you don’t care about the film, then ignore it.

3) Handle the camera by lightly cradling the front of it in your hand with removing the back slowly, taking care not to touch any metal parts inside, or the circuit board itself once it is exposed.

4) Look for the capacitor in the device. It is a long cylinder, usually black, and may either be soldered onto the circuit board, or connected via long wires or leads. if it is connected by leads, use the screw driver to short them out by placing the metal head over each lead simultaneously, making sure to not touch the leads or the metallic part of the screwdriver with your fingers. There will most likely be a loud spark and flash, although sometimes this wont happen if the capacitor has already been discharged, or is wired in parallel with a bleeder resistor.

5) The circuit is now relatively safe to handle. Make sure that the battery is removed, otherwise if it is turned on while you are holding it, the charging voltage may give you a bit of a buzz;it is usually around 1.4kV (1,400 volts) at a couple milliamps which wont injure you, but doesn’t feel pleasant, and can easily cause your hand to spasm which may result in you hurting yourself or damaging the circuit.

6) Carefully remove the circuit from the camera, taking care not to damage the flash tube, the capacitor, or any other wires or components attached to it.

7) Solder your wire to the main contact points of the circuit. The on/off section should be two surfaces that usually have a light amount of solder on them in a diagonal pattern, the trigger switch is usually two copper strips extending from the board, the battery leads will be obvious, the capacitor leads will also be obvious.

… More to come soon.