Transistors

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Contributors: Jimb0
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Resources and Going Further

If you’re looking to get deeper into transistors, here are some resources we’d recommend:

  • Getting Started in Electronics by Forrest Mims – Mims is a master of explaining electronics in an easy-to-understand highly applicable manner. Definitely check this book out if you want a more in-depth introduction to transistors.
  • LTSpice and Falstad Circuit – These are free software tools you can use to simulate circuits. Digitally experimenting with circuits is a great way to learn. You get all of the experimentation, without the pain of breadboarding or fear of blowing stuff up. Try putting together some of the stuff we’ve talked about!
  • 2N3904 Datasheet – Another way to learn about transistors is to dig into their datasheet. The 2N3904 is a really common transistor that we use all the time (and the 2N3906 is its PNP sibling). Check out the datasheet, see if you recognize any familiar characteristics.

On top of that, our very own Director of Engineering, Pete, has produced a series of According to Pete videos with a focus on transistors and transistor amplifiers. Definitely check out his Diodes and Transistors video:

Then you can move on to: Transistor Biasing Configurations Part 1 and Part 2, and finally Current Mirrors. Great stuff!

Going Further

Or, if you’re itching to learn more about electronics in general, check out some of these SparkFun tutorials:

  • Integrated Circuits – What do you get when you combine thousands of transistors and stuff them in a black box? An IC!
  • Shift Registers – Shift registers are one of the most common integrated circuits around. Learn how you can use a transistor to blink dozens of LEDs with just a few inputs.
  • Mini FET Shield Hookup Guide – This is a really simple Arduino shield which uses 8 MOSFETs to control 8 high-current outputs. This is a good, real-life example of using a transistor as a switch.
  • Designing PCBs with EAGLE – Take your new transistor skills to the next level. Design them into a PCB! This tutorial explains how to use a freely available software (Eagle) to design PCBs.
  • How to Solder – If you design a PCB, though, you’ll need to know how to solder too. Learn how to through-hole solder in this tutorial.