Transistor Based Flip-Flop or a (not)RS NAND Latch

Been a while since I did a posting, too much time spent writing grants, and I mean a lot of time. In this blog I thought I’d describe a small project I did a month or two ago to build a sinple RS NAND latch using transitors only.The RS stands for Reset/Set. The latch itself is based on two NAND gates connected to each other in a cycle. The following diagram (borrowed from Wikipedia) shows the latch in terms of two NAND gates: The inputs are designated bar S and bar R (bar meaning not). The outputs are Q and bar Q. Let us assume bar S is set to digital input zero and bar R to one. If you follow the logic through the two NAND gates you’ll realise that this means that Q will have a value of zero and bar Q one. This is the reset state and relative to Q, the circut stores a value of zero. If we now set bar S to one and bar R to zero, the circuit will flip to a new state where Q is now at one and bar Q at zero. Relative to Q the circuit stores a value of one. The point of the circuit is that even if bar S (or bar R) now goes back to zero the circuit remains in its last state. The only way to change the circuit is to apply a one to the reset or set input lines. The two states that the circuit exhibits are stable.

One can buy flip-flops ready made and one can also buy NAND gates ready made (7400). What I wanted to do was build a flip-flop using discrete transistors. I found the following site that describes how to build a 4 bit adder using transitors and from their circuit diagrams I came up with the following NAND circuit using transitors:

In the orgiinal circuit the input resistors were 10K but I wasn’t able to get enough forward bias with 10K so I dropped the input resistors to 4.7K. As with the adder circuit I used common NPN BC 547 tranistors. They are pretty cheap on ebay, you can get 50 for a dollar (!). I used 10 volts for the voltage supply but 9 volts willl work too. I used the following PCB boards, cut in half, to make a single NAND circuit: Again you can find these cheaply on ebay for about 7 dollars for 10 boards. The image below shows a single NAND gate made using the circuit above. I made two of the above NAND gates andf connected them together. I also made two LED driver circuits that would cature the outputs Q and bar Q. The final circuit looks like: There are two push buttons on the broad board next to the Set and Reset labels which momentarily take the inputs high (one), turning on the transitors. The circuit on the right that uses the white PC board is a simple LED driver, this also uses a BC547, with a 1K resistor on the output and a 4.7K resistor on the input. When the output from the flipflop goes to one current flows into the LED driver transistor base which in turns switches on the transitor allowing current to flow through LED which lights up. The LED circuit is shown below: The following video shows the circuit in operation. For those who might be interested in taking this idea to the extreme, I suggest you check out the megaprocessor.

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