While transistors have many uses, one of the less known uses by amateurs is the ability for bipolar transistors to turn things on and off. While there are limitations as to what we can switch on and off, transistor switches offer lower cost and substantial reliability over conventional mechanical relays. In this article, we will review the basic principles for transistor switches using common bipolar transistors.

The most commonly used transistor switch is the PNP variety shown in Figure 1. The secret to making a transistor switch work properly is to get the transistor in a saturation state. For this to happen we need to know the maximum load current for the device to be turned on and the minimum HFE of the transistor.

» Mike Martell | rason.org