Mr. Gerd Kopperschmidt has been the engineering leader, in collaboration with Mr. Norbert Cahn von Seelen (Lectron System product manager) and Mr. Wolfgang Schrank (senior management), behind the reimagining of the Lectron System 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 curiosity. He then bought the Ausbausystem 1 and Ausbausystem 2 models.
The wall board located at the Reha Werkstatt Oberrad in the photo above shows all of the Lectron System 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 a short time 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 yet been developed 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 (shown below) 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. According to Mr. Kopperschmidt, Mr. Walter did not attend the show and Mr. Kopperschmidt first met Mr. Cahn von Seelen and learned that the Lectron System 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, Mr. Kopperschmidt 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 and bring it in line with current electronic standards – negative ground and the use of NPN transistors.
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.
In 2015, Mr. Kopperschmidt completed work on two major Lectron System related projects. The 1018 – Gene Regulation model (in collaboration with Dr. Stefan Bornholdt) and the FM Stereo 50th Anniversary product line which consisted of five new blocks.
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 personally used the Elektronik AG model to successfully introduce and teach her students about electricity and electronics.
UPDATE – 2021-JUN-11:
With the passing of Mr. Cahn Von Seelen (2016-OCT-28) and Mr. Wolfgang Schrank (2018-MAR-01), Mr. Kopperschmidt decided to retire from further involvement with the Lectron System. I received this email from him back on 2019-OCT-14:
Dear Mr. Peters,
Thanks a lot for your recent mails. You have clearly been staying really enthusiastic about advancing Lectron, for example in your efforts around the 25th anniversary and your continuous blog.
I am sorry that my mail today might thus disappoint you particularly, but I have to admit that I lost my earlier interest in contributing to Lectron. I do not think I’ll be investing more of my time into it.
My apologies again for having to bring this to you; I know you were certainly hoping for a very different reaction.
All the Best, from my wife as well,