Davinci's Road Cone

 The 2016 Mutation of Leonardo DaVinci's Indirect Invention


Above: A model of the amored vehicle created using Davinci's first blueprints.

Below: Dacinci's actual Road Cone sketch from the Codex Conicus.

First Came the Tank

From the Codices Madrid and Arundel, it has been known for some time known that Leonardo da Vinci designed the first armored car, which in modern times is recognized as a precursor to a battle tank. This was first sketched in the year 1487–under the patronage of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan.

Da Vinci's initial design could be piloted with almost no turn radius. It called for a large number of canons pointing outward through the base in all directions. It was 4-wheel drive, powered by two men turning spindles.

Once Da Vinci was awarded a commission, he was able to hire staff sufficient to prototype the invention for field trials. Evidently, upon attempting to construct the first design the wheels would not support the weight of the canons, nor did Da Vinci take into consideration his balls. The human-powered wooden gears of the drive system could not hold up to the strain and torque. The project was abandoned. This was at first thought to be a permanent cessation of work on the project.

Here is an interesting analysis by Standford University that expresses greater detail of the engineering challenges of Da Vinci's original tank design.

Here is an interesting analysis by Standford University that expresses greater detail of the engineering challenges of DaVinci's original tank design.

Due to a recent development, it is now understood that progress on the basic design continued and evolved into something not entirely different in form, but radically reassigned in function.

In 2014, a crew emerging from subterranean restoration work on the inner footing of a castle in Milan were excited to announce incredible news. They had unearthed a stone vault in which they found "a bundle of parchment that looked very old." The workers contacted Italy's minister of antiquities who collected the specimens and ordered them analyzed. Scholars concluded the discoveries were, without a shadow of a doubt, previously unknown sketches created by Leonardo da Vinci. This new codex was named for an obvious obsession so profound it became associated with a movement unto itself. Expressed by Da Vinci in this new tome were cone shapes in all drawings and designs. Considering this, the name of the new Codex could be none other than: Conicus, Latin for cone.

DaVinci Hacks Davinci

Extensive research ensued with the new Codex unlocking revisionary history like a Rosetta Stone. Renowned anthropologists and archaeologists found a chain of errors in the assumed record of history. They corrected and reconnected, weaving the evidence into a more comprehensive and accurate narrative. The true, real tale of the historical record emerged with crystal clarity, as follows:

In 1498, Da Vinci re-purposed the tank design while working as a military consultant for Cesare Borgia, the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) and commander of the papal army. Da Vinci increased the height of the vehicle and proposed it as a mobile platform for archers. While the cone was portable, it could not overcome difficult terrain, as Gian Giacomo Trivulzio learned when he claimed the cone in the name of the Milan rebellion and used it in an attack against Ludovico in 1499. Trivolzio won the battle, but early in the siege, the cone vehicle became stuck on the remains of a burned camel. Though accidental, this was the first documented use of a road cone to warn against road obstacles. It was especially useful at night when illuminated with tallow candles on the base. Many cones were lost to this night practice, partly explaining why no physical remnants have been discovered in any archeological sites to date.



Above: Pope Alexander the VI aka Rodrigo Borgia

Borgia's Obsession

During a diplomatic procession, the remnants of the Da Vinci Cone caught Rodrigo Borgia's eye, mesmerizing him to the point of fumbling a speech. In an apoplectic fog, he sunk into a momentary daydream where profound insight struck, which Pope Borgia concluded was a message directly from god. He clearly envisioned using the Davinci Cone as a speaking platform to address large audiences while feeling secure in knowing--that if he had to--he could duck to relative safety should a potential assassin throw stones or spears at him.

Once the interior was outfitted like a carriage, the vehicle was well suited to be towed in processions and to speaking engagements in various towns. Borgia's use marked the first time a Pope was transported in an attack-resistant vehicle, kin to the bullet-proof glass Pope-mobile today. Borgia commissioned a fleet of cones, some designed to remain in locations where he addressed the public, others serving as landmarks. Cones not designed for extra security were skinned with canvas instead of wood and decorated with frescos.

So enamored Borgia was with his cone vehicle/speaking platform, he directed artisans to craft a facsimile for the papal mitre, which he wore to public events and inside of which he stored his speeches on parchment.

One day while addressing a group in Plaza Milano, a gust of wind blew one such mitre from Borgia's head, the cap breaking off as it impacted the deck. The crowd was shouting that they couldn't hear what he was saying. He continued yelling his speech as he picked up his mitre. An assistant who had been in the audience later informed Borgia that he could be heard better when shouting across the mitre. Borgia requested DanVinci investigate further, leading to yet another adaptation referenced in the Codex Conicus—the first speaker cone to amply human voice—later used by carnival barkers and finally by Edison to amplify the phonograph invention.




Borgia Family Impact

Left: further proof of the depth of the cone legacy among Borgia family members is evidenced by this rare 1919 image of a descendant of Pope Rodrigo Borgia (Alexander the VI). It is unknown whether such lavish cones seeded a penchant for cross-dressing within the Borgia clan, or if it was the other way around. Dr. Cesarean Borgia (pictured here), assumed his great, great, great, great, great grandfather's obsession and combined it with Florentine princess ensembles, which he wore at numerous high society events where he insisted that everyone address him as "Princess Borg."


 2016 Mutant Vehicle

In this mutant vehicle, Da Vinci's Road Cone design is respectfully and painstakingly reconstructed. While it would have been desirable to mirror one core representation, there was no single variation directly adaptable to modern uses, thus we had to choose the most appropriate features from varied Da Vinci and Borgia adaptations.

All iterations were considered, but it was said the original armored car that preceded the road cone could barely be used in Italy, likely operable on less than 30% of the land mass. This design relied on wheels and propulsion internal to the cone, which meant that, considering the weight being carried, internal power was suitable only on hard-packed and relatively flat land. This exactly describes the ground terrain at the Black Rock Desert, so this internal attribute will be adapted to the modern design.

In a time when forced conscriptions and slave labor were used to fortify armies, the hard labor required for propulsion would be assumed to be a simpler task to secure. With OSHA and other labor regulations in this century, human power was ruled out as being excessively cruel and too laden with bureaucracy to be feasible. Our team of engineers and scientists evaluated the possibility of using horses as a power source to tow the cone in the same way as the Borgia enterprises did. While this was deemed functional and historically appropriate, rules at Black Rock City (BRC) prohibit this type of one- and two-horsepower, even three- or four-horsepower locomotive assemblies.

The consensus emerged to join dieselpunk technology with renaissance design in a way that approximates the turn radius of Davinci Cone 1.0, but reduce the overall weight through the application of the Borgia 3.0 design. The latter served as an ornamental platform of iconic proportions for spoken word, landmarking, and hazard awareness. Hence, the base and operational engineering is dieselpunk, while the majority of the outwardly visible vehicle is constructed in renaissance style and materials, including wood vertical supports and canvas-like material stretched over the frame. There may be embellishments in keeping with images and designs painted on Borgia 3.0, in accordance with Borgia family journals.



Davinci Road Cone at Night

Absent from Davinci's Codex Conicus were any mention or drawings depicting the design of the assumed-to-be-tallow-candle illumination of the vehicles. This information was also absent from any references from the Borgia historical archives.

Our chemical engineering department experimented with creating era-appropriate tallow lighting devices from materials widely available in BRC, primarily bacon fat. While it was possible to achieve stable tallow lighting at low temperatures with such materials, focus group tests conducted during Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings (the closest default approximation of Burning Man demographic cross-sections) indicated that the pervasive odor of burned meat produced by the candles was simultaneously repulsive and hunger-inducing, making it impossible for anyone in the vicinity to enjoy the spectacles confronting them.

In spite of poor focus group reviews, it seemed the tallow lighting scheme would move forward, with historical underpinnings prevailing over modern sensibilities. This directive lasted for a mere five minutes before the modern night cone prototype burst into flames.

"It was like the Hindenberg," said one focus group member who resembled Meatloaf, though he was costumed as Dr. Frank-N-Furter. "They had to cancel the rest of the screening...oh the humanity!"

A thorough investigation by the forensics team concluded that tallow lighting was far too unstable to be used in the mutant vehicle design. According to the report, "It is impossible to utilize tallow without the substance sputtering flaming balls of grease in all directions...this technology would be better suited to the fire dancer enclave."

Although a full burn would qualify as radical lighting, the spontaneous and likely early elimination of the vehicle would negate the impetus to create it in the first place. It was for this reason that the design team reluctantly opted for a modern solution to night illumination in the form of LEDs and programmable LED lighting strips.