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Lectron - Reha Werkstatt Oberrad (RWO) Era

Gerd Kopperschmidt

Mr. Gerd Kopperschmidt is the engineering leader, in collaboration with Mr. Cahn von Seelen and Mr. Wolfgang Schrank, behind the reimagining of the LECTRON product line starting in 2001. His first experience with the LECTRON was in 1969 as a student. He purchased a Braun Grundsystem model out of general curiousity. He then bought the Ausbausystem 1 and 2 models.

The wall board located at the Reha Werkstatt Oberrad in the photo below shows all of the LECTRON blocks now produced for the wide variety of models in the LECTRON product line. At least half of the blocks on this wall were designed by Mr. Kopperschmidt!

Upon his retirement from Siemens in March of 1999, Mr. Kopperschmidt decided to take another look at the LECTRON system and wondered if it was still being made. To his delight, he discovered that it was. He wrote to Lectron, GmbH sometime later and in December of 2000, he received his first letter along with price lists and brochures from Mr. Manfred Walter, the President of Lectron, GmbH. Mr. Walter informed him of a new model that he was developing called 'Digitaltechnik'. Mr. Walter wanted to have the new model ready for Didacta 2001 which was to be held that February. Per Mr. Cahn von Seelen, a teacher at a local vocational college designed and engineered this model rather than Mr. Walter himself.

In the interim, Mr. Kopperschmidt spoke directly to Mr. Walter by telephone and received additional details including the fact that the new model was to be based on 5V CMOS technology. Mr. Kopperschmidt's impression at the time was that a prototype set of blocks had not been developed yet but rather that this model was still an idea only put to paper.

Mr. Kopperschmidt ordered two models and an assortment of blocks including several from the KFZ (automotive electronics) trainer, a new model that had been created during the Lectron - Manfred Walter era. He then received a confirmation delivery invoice dated 19-February of 2001.

He also received a faxed invitation dated 16-February to the Didacta Fair being held that February in Hannover, Germany.

Two other pages were faxed along with the above letter showing the Digital 1 and Digital 2 trays of the proposed Digitaltechnik model.

By the time the Didacta show took place, the transition of Lectron, GmbH from Mr. Walter to RWO had been completed. Evidently Mr. Walter did not attend the show and Mr. Kopperschmidt first met Mr. Cahn von Seelen and learned that the LECTRON assets had been given to the RWO as a gift.

The two gentlemen decided that a collaboration could ensue from their mutual interest in further developing the LECTRON system. One of their earliest decisions was to develop a new digital system model based on Mr. Walter's vision but updated to use a 9vdc CMOS chip set which resulted in the 1007 Digitaltechnik model.

As a former Siemens engineer passionate about electronics design and function excellence, Mr. Kopperschmidt decided to redesign the DIAC block from its original implementation of two diodes in serial configuration to a higher functioning design. In his own words: "I would like to be more precise about the content of the DIAC-block. It (the redesigned version - MWP) consists of two pnp transistors and two npn transistors. Attached you will find the data sheet of the MOTOROLA DIAC that was originally used.

Unfortunately MOTOROLA stopped the production of this item and it was no longer available. That's a general problem nowadays with electronic components. The availability is simply too short. We needed a DIAC with a low switching voltage of about 8V, so we could use it in the LECTRON 9V System. Normal DIACs have a switching voltage of about 30V to trigger a TRIAC that can switch 230V or more. That's why I put all the electronic components of the equivalent circuit (see fig. 10, page 4)

into the DIAC block. You'll also find it on page 89 of the manual 'Kfz-Elektronik'."

While he was at it, he also rewrote the manual to make the verbiage more clear and the experiments more in depth. He offered the results to Mr. Cahn von Seelen who was very impressed with Mr. Kopperschmidt's work and invited him to rewrite the Grundsystem manual.

Once this work was complete, Mr. Kopperschmidt took on the task, without financial compensation, of redesigning and pruning the then current LECTRON product lines in concert with Mr. Schrank and Mr. Cahn von Seelen. Over the ensuing years, numerous product line changes and updates were implemented including the streamlining of the overall LECTRON system, standardizing on the negative ground convention, and reworking/redesigning all the manuals for the remaining MW Era models and converting them into Adobe PDF format.

The first new LECTRON model of Mr. Kopperschmidt's design was the 1006 - Optoelektronik und Solartechnik model. This model replaced the Lectron-MW era 1102 Trainer - Solar.

Mr. Kopperschmidt is currently working on two new models - the 1017 (Gene Regulation) and 1018 (Network Simulation Lab). Their availability should be made manifest sometime in 2016.

It should also be noted that Mrs. Kopperschmidt, a teacher also very passionate about her work, helped to rewrite the Elektronik AG model's manual to make it more accessible to a contemporary student's needs and perspective. She used the Elektronik AG model to successfully introduce and teach her students about electricity and electronics.