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Module 7 - Introduction to Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies
Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS)
Chapter 2:  Pages 2-31 through 2-40

Module 7 - Introduction to Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies

Pages i , 1-1, 1-11, 1-21, 1-31, 1-41, 2-1, 2-11, 2-21, 2-31, 2-41, 2-51, 3-1, 3-11, 3-21, 3-31, 3-41, 3-51, 4-1 to 4-10, 4-11, 4-21, 4-31, 4-41, 4-51, Index



..................               2..................             N..................             130..................             A

..................      NUMBER of           SEMI- CONDUCTOR       IDENTIFICATION            First

..................      JUNCTIONS...................................................... NUMBER                MODIFICATION

..................    (Transistor)


You may also find other markings on transistors that do not relate to the JAN marking system. These markings are manufacturers' identifications and may not conform to a standardized system. If in doubt, always replace a transistor with one having identical markings. To ensure that an identical replacement or a correct substitute is used, consult an equipment or transistor manual for specifications on the transistor.


Transistor Maintenance


Transistors are very rugged and are expected to be relatively trouble free. Encapsulation and conformal coating techniques now in use promise extremely long life expectancies. In theory, a transistor should last indefinitely. However, if transistors are subjected to current overloads, the junctions will be damaged or even destroyed. In addition, the application of excessively high operating voltages can damage or destroy the junctions through arc-over or excessive reverse currents. One of the greatest dangers to the transistor is heat, which will cause excessive current flow and eventual destruction of the transistor.


To determine if a transistor is good or bad, you can check it with an ohmmeter or a transistor tester. In many cases, you can substitute a transistor known to be good for one that is questionable and thus determine the condition of a suspected transistor. This method of testing is highly accurate and sometimes the quickest, but it should be used only after you make certain that there are no circuit defects that might damage the replacement transistor. If more than one defective transistor is present in the equipment where the trouble has been localized, this testing method becomes cumbersome, as several transistors may have to be replaced before the trouble is corrected. To determine which stages failed and which transistors are not defective, all the removed transistors must be tested. This test can be made by using a standard Navy ohmmeter, transistor tester, or by observing whether the equipment operates correctly as each of the removed transistors is reinserted into the equipment. a word of caution-indiscriminate substitution of transistors in critical circuits should be avoided.


When transistors are soldered into equipment, substitution is not practicable; it is generally desirable to test these transistors in their circuits.


Q34.   List three items of information normally included in the general description section of a specification sheet for a transistor.


Q35.   What does the number "2" (before the letter "N") indicate in the JAN marking scheme?


Q36.   What is the greatest danger to a transistor?


Q37.   What method for checking transistors is cumbersome when more than one transistor is bad in a circuit?




Transistors, although generally more rugged mechanically than electron tubes, are susceptible to damage by electrical overloads, heat, humidity, and radiation. Damage of this nature often occurs during transistor servicing by applying the incorrect polarity voltage to the collector circuit or excessive voltage to the input circuit. Careless soldering techniques that overheat the transistor have also been known to cause considerable damage. One of the most frequent causes of damage to a transistor is the electrostatic




discharge from the human body when the device is handled. You may avoid such damage before starting repairs by discharging the static electricity from your body to the chassis containing the transistor. You can do this by simply touching the chassis. Thus, the electricity will be transferred from your body to the chassis before you handle the transistor.


To prevent transistor damage and avoid electrical shock, you should observe the following precautions when you are working with transistorized equipment:


1.   Test equipment and soldering irons should be checked to make certain there is no leakage current from the power source. If leakage current is detected, isolation transformers should be used.


2.   Always connect a ground between test equipment and circuit before attempting to inject or monitor a signal.


3.   Ensure test voltages do not exceed maximum allowable voltage for circuit components and transistors. Also, never connect test equipment outputs directly to a transistor circuit.


4.   Ohmmeter ranges that require a current of more than one milliampere in the test circuit should not be used for testing transistors.


5.   Battery eliminators should not be used to furnish power for transistor equipment because they have poor voltage regulation and, possibly, high-ripple voltage.


6.   The heat applied to a transistor, when soldered connections are required, should be kept to a minimum by using a low-wattage soldering iron and heat shunts, such as long-nose pliers, on the transistor leads.


7.   When it becomes necessary to replace transistors, never pry transistors to loosen them from printed circuit boards.


8.   All circuits should be checked for defects before replacing a transistor.


9.   The power must be removed from the equipment before replacing a transistor.


10.   Using conventional test probes on equipment with closely spaced parts often causes accidental shorts between adjacent terminals. These shorts rarely cause damage to an electron tube but may ruin a transistor. To prevent these shorts, the probes can be covered with insulation, except for a very short length of the tips.




Transistor lead identification plays an important part in transistor maintenance; because, before a transistor can be tested or replaced, its leads or terminals must be identified. Since there is no standard method of identifying transistor leads, it is quite possible to mistake one lead for another. Therefore, when you are replacing a transistor, you should pay close attention to how the transistor is mounted, particularly to those transistors that are soldered in, so that you do not make a mistake when you are installing the new transistor. When you are testing or replacing a transistor, if you have any doubts about which lead is which, consult the equipment manual or a transistor manual that shows the specifications for the transistor being used.


There are, however, some typical lead identification schemes that will be very helpful in transistor troubleshooting. These schemes are shown in figure 2-17. In the case of the oval-shaped transistor shown in view A, the collector lead is identified by a wide space between it and the base lead. The lead farthest from the collector, in line, is the emitter lead. When the leads are evenly spaced and in line, as shown in




view B, a colored dot, usually red, indicates the collector. If the transistor is round, as in view C, a red line indicates the collector, and the emitter lead is the shortest lead. In view D the leads are in a triangular arrangement that is offset from the center of the transistor. The lead opposite the blank quadrant in this scheme is the base lead. When viewed from the bottom, the collector is the first lead clockwise from the base. The leads in view E are arranged in the same manner as those is view D except that a tap is used to identify the leads. When viewed from the bottom in a clockwise direction, the first lead following the tab is the emitter, followed by the base and collector.


Transistor lead identification - RF Cafe

Figure 2-17. - Transistor lead identification.


In a conventional power transistor as shown in views F and G, the collector lead is usually connected to the mounting base. For further identification, the base lead in view F is covered with green sleeving. While the leads in view G are identified by viewing the transistor from the bottom in a clockwise direction (with mounting holes occupying 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions), the emitter lead will be either at the 5 o'clock or 11 o'clock position. The other lead is the base lead.


Transistor TESTING


There are several different ways of testing transistors. They can be tested while in the circuit, by the substitution method mentioned, or with a transistor tester or ohmmeter.




Transistor testers are nothing more than the solid-state equivalent of electron-tube testers (although they do not operate on the same principle). With most transistor testers, it is possible to test the transistor in or out of the circuit.


There are four basic tests required for transistors in practical troubleshooting: gain, leakage, breakdown, and switching time. For maintenance and repair, however, a check of two or three parameters is usually sufficient to determine whether a transistor needs to be replaced.


Since it is impractical to cover all the different types of transistor testers and since each tester comes with its own operator's manual, we will move on to something you will use more frequently for testing transistors-the ohmmeter.


Testing Transistors with an Ohmmeter


Two tests that can be done with an ohmmeter are gain, and junction resistance. Tests of a transistor's junction resistance will reveal leakage, shorts, and opens.


Transistor Gain TEST. - a basic transistor gain test can be made using an ohmmeter and a simple test circuit. The test circuit can be made with just a couple of resistors and a switch, as shown in figure 2-18. The principle behind the test lies in the fact that little or no current will flow in a transistor between emitter and collector until the emitter-base junction is forward biased. The only precaution you should observe is with the ohmmeter. Any internal battery may be used in the meter provided that it does not exceed the maximum collector-emitter breakdown voltage.


Testing a transistor's gain with an ohmmeter - RF Cafe

Figure 2-18. - Testing a transistor's gain with an ohmmeter.


With the switch in figure 2-18 in the open position as shown, no voltage is applied to the PNP transistor's base, and the emitter-base junction is not forward biased. Therefore, the ohmmeter should read a high resistance, as indicated on the meter. When the switch is closed, the emitter-base circuit is forward biased by the voltage across R1 and R2. Current now flows in the emitter-collector circuit, which causes a lower resistance reading on the ohmmeter. a 10-to-1 resistance ratio in this test between meter readings indicates a normal gain for an audio-frequency transistor.


To test an NPN transistor using this circuit, simply reverse the ohmmeter leads and carry out the procedure described earlier.




Transistor JUNCTION Resistance TEST. - An ohmmeter can be used to test a transistor for leakage (an undesirable flow of current) by measuring the base-emitter, base-collector, and collector- emitter forward and reverse resistances.


For simplicity, consider the transistor under test in each view of figure 2-19 (view A, view B and view C) as two diodes connected back to back. Therefore, each diode will have a low forward resistance and a high reverse resistance. By measuring these resistances with an ohmmeter as shown in the figure, you can determine if the transistor is leaking current through its junctions. When making these measurements, avoid using the R1 scale on the meter or a meter with a high internal battery voltage. Either of these conditions can damage a low-power transistor.


Testing a transistor's leakage with an ohmmeter. Collector-to-Emitter TEST - RF Cafe

Figure 2-19A. - Testing a transistor's leakage with an ohmmeter. Collector-to-Emitter TEST


Testing a transistor's leakage with an ohmmeter. Base-to-Collector TEST - RF Cafe

Figure 2-19B. - Testing a transistor's leakage with an ohmmeter. Base-to-Collector TEST





Testing a transistor's leakage with an ohmmeter. Base-to-Emitter TEST - RF Cafe

Figure 2-19C. - Testing a transistor's leakage with an ohmmeter. Base-to-Emitter TEST


Now consider the possible transistor problems that could exist if the indicated readings in figure 2-19 are not obtained. a list of these problems is provided in table 2-2.


Table 2-2. - Possible Transistor Problems from Ohmmeter Readings

Possible Transistor Problems from Ohmmeter Readings - RF Cafe


By now, you should recognize that the transistor used in figure 2-19 (view A, view B and view C) is a PNP transistor. If you wish to test an NPN transistor for leakage, the procedure is identical to that used for testing the PNP except the readings obtained are reversed.


When testing transistors (PNP or NPN), you should remember that the actual resistance values depend on the ohmmeter scale and the battery voltage. Typical forward and reverse resistances are insignificant. The best indicator for showing whether a transistor is good or bad is the ratio of forward-to- reverse resistance. If the transistor you are testing shows a ratio of at least 30 to 1, it is probably good. Many transistors show ratios of 100 to 1 or greater.


Q38.   What safety precaution must be taken before replacing a transistor?


Q39.   How is the collector lead identified on an oval-shaped transistor?


Q40.   What are two transistor tests that can be done with an ohmmeter?


Q41.   When you are testing the gain of an audio-frequency transistor with an ohmmeter, what is indicated by a 10-to-1 resistance ratio?




Q42.   When you are using an ohmmeter to test a transistor for leakage, what is indicated by a low, but not shorted, reverse resistance reading?




Up to now the various semiconductors, resistors, capacitors, etc., in our discussions have been considered as separately packaged components, called DIsCRETE COMPONENTS. In this section we will introduce some of the more complex devices that contain complete circuits packaged as a single component. These devices are referred to as INTEGRATED Circuits and the broad term used to describe the use of these devices to miniaturize electronic equipment is called MICROELECTRONICS.


With the advent of the transistor and the demand by the military for smaller equipment, design engineers set out to miniaturize electronic equipment. In the beginning, their efforts were frustrated because most of the other components in a circuit such as resistors, capacitors, and coils were larger than the transistor. Soon these other circuit components were miniaturized, thereby pushing ahead the development of smaller electronic equipment. Along with miniature resistors, capacitors, and other circuit elements, the production of components that were actually smaller than the space required for the interconnecting wiring and cabling became possible. The next step in the research process was to eliminate these bulky wiring components. This was accomplished with the PRINTED Circuit BOARD (PCB).


A printed circuit board is a flat insulating surface upon which printed wiring and miniaturized components are connected in a predetermined design, and attached to a common base. Figure 2-20 (view a and view B) shows a typical printed circuit board. Notice that various components are connected to the board and the printed wiring is on the reverse side. With this technique, all interconnecting wiring in a piece of equipment, except for the highest power leads and cabling, is reduced to lines of conducting material (copper, silver, gold, etc.) deposited directly on the surface of an insulating "circuit board." Since printed circuit boards are readily adapted as plug-in units, the elimination of terminal boards, fittings and tie points, not to mention wires, results in a substantial reduction in the overall size of electronic equipment.





A typical printed circuit board (PCB). FRONT SIDE - RF Cafe

 Figure 2-20A. - a typical printed circuit board (PCB). FRONT SIDE


A typical printed circuit board (PCB). REVERSE SIDE - RF Cafe

Figure 2-20B. - a typical printed circuit board (PCB). REVERSE SIDE




After the printed circuit boards were perfected, efforts to miniaturize electronic equipment were then shifted to assembly techniques, which led to MODULAR CircuitRY. In this technique, printed circuit boards are stacked and connected together to form a module. This increases the packaging density of circuit components and results in a considerable reduction in the size of electronic equipment. Since the module can be designed to perform any electronic function, it is also a very versatile unit.


However, the drawback to this approach was that the modules required a considerable number of connections that took up too much space and increased costs. In addition, tests showed the reliability was adversely affected by the increase in the number of connections.


A new technique was required to improve reliability and further increase packaging density. The solution was INTEGRATED Circuits.


An integrated circuit is a device that integrates (combines) both active components (transistors, diodes, etc.) and passive components (resistors, capacitors, etc.) of a complete electronic circuit in a single chip (a tiny slice or wafer of semiconductor crystal or insulator).


Integrated circuits (ICs) have almost eliminated the use of individual electronic components (resistors, capacitors, transistors, etc.) as the building blocks of electronic circuits. Instead, tiny CHIPS have been developed whose functions are not that of a single part, but of dozens of transistors, resistors, capacitors, and other electronic elements, all interconnected to perform the task of a complex circuit. Often these comprise a number of complete conventional circuit stages, such as a multistage amplifier (in one extremely small component). These chips are frequently mounted on a printed circuit board, as shown in figure 2-21, which plugs into an electronic unit.


ICs on a printed circuit board - RF Cafe

Figure 2-21. - ICs on a printed circuit board.


Integrated circuits have several advantages over conventional wired circuits of discrete components. These advantages include (1) a drastic reduction in size and weight, (2) a large increase in reliability, (3) lower cost, and (4) possible improvement in circuit performance. However, integrated circuits are




composed of parts so closely associated with one another that repair becomes almost impossible. In case of trouble, the entire circuit is replaced as a single component.


Basically, there are two general classifications of integrated circuits: HYBRID and MONOLITHIC. In the monolithic integrated circuit, all elements (resistors, transistors, etc.) associated with the circuit are fabricated inseparably within a continuous piece of material (called the SUBSTRATE), usually silicon. The monolithic integrated circuit is made very much like a single transistor. While one part of the crystal is being doped to form a transistor, other parts of the crystal are being acted upon to form the associated resistors and capacitors. Thus, all the elements of the complete circuit are created in the crystal by the same processes and in the same time required to make a single transistor. This produces a considerable cost savings over the same circuit made with discrete components by lowering assembly costs.


Hybrid integrated circuits are constructed somewhat differently from the monolithic devices. The PASSIVE components (resistors, capacitors) are deposited onto a substrate (foundation) made of glass, ceramic, or other insulating material. Then the ACTIVE components (diodes, transistors) are attached to the substrate and connected to the passive circuit components on the substrate using very fine (.001 inch) wire. The term hybrid refers to the fact that different processes are used to form the passive and active components of the device.


Hybrid circuits are of two general types: (1) thin film and (2) thick film. "Thin" and "thick" film refer to the relative thickness of the deposited material used to form the resistors and other passive components. Thick film devices are capable of dissipating more power, but are somewhat more bulky.


Integrated circuits are being used in an ever increasing variety of applications. Small size and weight and high reliability make them ideally suited for use in airborne equipment, missile systems, computers, spacecraft, and portable equipment. They are often easily recognized because of the unusual packages that contain the integrated circuit. a typical packaging sequence is shown in figure 2-22. These tiny packages protect and help dissipate heat generated in the device. One of these packages may contain one or several stages, often having several hundred components. Some of the most common package styles are shown in figure 2-23.




NEETS Modules
- Matter, Energy, and Direct Current
- Alternating Current and Transformers
- Circuit Protection, Control, and Measurement
- Electrical Conductors, Wiring Techniques, and Schematic Reading
- Generators and Motors
- Electronic Emission, Tubes, and Power Supplies
- Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies
- Amplifiers
- Wave-Generation and Wave-Shaping Circuits
- Wave Propagation, Transmission Lines, and Antennas
- Microwave Principles
- Modulation Principles
- Introduction to Number Systems and Logic Circuits
- - Introduction to Microelectronics
- Principles of Synchros, Servos, and Gyros
- Introduction to Test Equipment
- Radio-Frequency Communications Principles
- Radar Principles
- The Technician's Handbook, Master Glossary
- Test Methods and Practices
- Introduction to Digital Computers
- Magnetic Recording
- Introduction to Fiber Optics
Note: Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS) content is U.S. Navy property in the public domain.
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