Base Bias Circuit Configuration and Calculations

The simplest biasing applies a base-bias resistor between the base and a base battery VBB. It is convenient to use the existing VCC supply instead of a new bias supply. An example of an audio amplifier stage using base-biasing is “Crystal radio with one transistor . . . ” crystal radio, Ch 9 . Note the resistor from the base to the battery terminal. A similar circuit is shown in Figure below.

Write a KVL (Krichhoff’s voltage law) equation about the loop containing the battery, RB, and the VBE diode drop on the transistor in Figure below. Note that we use VBB for the base supply, even though it is actually VCC. If β is large we can make the approximation that IC =IE. For silicon transistors VBE≅0.7V.


Silicon small signal transistors typically have a β in the range of 100-300. Assuming that we have a β=100 transistor, what value of base-bias resistor is required to yield an emitter current of 1mA?

Solving the IE base-bias equation for RB and substituting β, VBB, VBE, and IE yields 930kΩ. The closest standard value is 910kΩ.

What is the emitter current with a 910kΩ resistor? What is the emitter current if we randomly get a β=300 transistor?

The emitter current is little changed in using the standard value 910kΩ resistor. However, with a change in β from 100 to 300, the emitter current has tripled. This is not acceptable in a power amplifier if we expect the collector voltage to swing from near VCC to near ground. However, for low level signals from micro-volts to a about a volt, the bias point can be centered for a β of square root of (100·300)=173. The bias point will still drift by a considerable amount . However, low level signals will not be clipped.

Base-bias by its self is not suitable for high emitter currents, as used in power amplifiers. The base-biased emitter current is not temperature stable. Thermal run away is the result of high emitter current causing a temperature increase which causes an increase in emitter current, which further increases temperature.

Article extracted from Tony Kuphaldt’s Lesson in Electric circuits Volume III Semiconductors under the terms and conditions of Design Science License.

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