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I am using an npn transistor in TO-220 package, and its collector is electrically connected to the metal part on it. I have checked it via a multimeter. I use a heatsink for that transistor, with isolator. So after mounting it to heatsink with isolators, it is no longor electricaly connected, I have checked again. However, when I inspect the signals in the circuit via oscilloscope, I see there is some noise on waveforms, while trying to understand where it comes from, I have touched the heatsink with a metal, to be precise with the tip of the following instrument:

enter image description here

It becomes much smooter. I didn't understand how touching it would affect the stability. After some reading on the web, I saw some say that heatsink itself should also be grounded. I wanted to have your thoughts on this.

By the way, transistors(npn&pnp) are used in a class B audio amplifier.

p.s : This doesn't answer my question.

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By the way, transistors(npn&pnp) are used in a class B audio amplifier.

This is an important detail. The transistor tab is usually connected to the Collector pin, and your standard insulator will add about 15pF capacitance between the tab and the heat sink, so this is about knowing whether this capacitance can cause problems or not.

If the heat sink is grounded, then the collector will have 15pF to ground capacitance in series with the connection inductance. Then the heat sink will also capacitively couple to whatever traces or signals are around.

If your amp uses an emitter-follower output stage, then both power transistors collectors are connected to power supplies (or ground if it is a single supply amp). Since power supplies are decoupled to ground, there is already a low impedance HF path between collectors and ground, therefore grounding the heat sink should make no difference. However, if the heat sink is external, or part of the enclosure, and the enclosure is already grounded at another point, grounding the heat sink on the amp pcb will introduce a ground loop.

If your amp uses a common emitter output stage, then the collectors are connected to the output, and the capacitance will be between output and heat sink. Some amps omit the insulator for better thermal resistance and have the heat sink connected to the output voltage, but this requires it to be inside an enclosure and not accessible. Anyway, if you ground it, then you have to consider if the extra 15pF to ground could make your amp unstable. For an audio amp, this is unlikely.

when I inspect the signals in the circuit via oscilloscope, I see there is some noise on waveforms, while trying to understand where it comes from, I have touched the heatsink (...) It becomes much smooter.

If the output voltage appears fuzzy on the scope, your amp could have stability issues. You can try single shot mode and see if you observe oscillations or just noise. If the amp does have stability issues, they are probably not related to case-to-heatsink capacitance, the problem would come from somewhere else, like layout or decoupling.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks for the answer, I have good signals, there is only little oscillations on top of the sine waves most times. The collector pins are connected to the +/- voltages. emitters are connected together. Something similar to this : sub.allaboutcircuits.com/images/05320.png . The heatsink is external, I mount it to the transisors via screws and insulator between heatsink and transistors. \$\endgroup\$ – muyustan Dec 22 '19 at 23:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's no way this amp will be stable, you can put the schematic in a new question if you're interested, it would be too long for a comment. \$\endgroup\$ – bobflux Dec 23 '19 at 0:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did it, please see: electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/472923/… \$\endgroup\$ – muyustan Dec 23 '19 at 0:37
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The electrical insulator such as Mica or Thermoplastic becomes a capacitor (100pF ??) but if you press your finger onto it your fingerpad, it could be 10x bigger (1nF) and shunt the crosstalk.

If the insulator is needed for safety, ground it. If just for DC and not personal safety but to protect the IC, it doesn't matter. You know what to do.

For HV and highspeed FETS, IGBT's its a different game and load capacitance should be minimized during high dV/dt.

AS long as you have an RC snubber on the speaker output to suppress parasitic oscillations... 10R+0.1uF

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  • \$\begingroup\$ actually, I tried 10 ohms + various different capacitor values but didn't help much. I am not sure did I try 0.1uF or not though. It should be parallel to speaker, right? \$\endgroup\$ – muyustan Dec 22 '19 at 23:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes that is just to prevent positive feedback full power at unit gain freq which may oscillate in some layouts. To prevent hot drivers.But I don't know what noise you see, hear. \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart Sunnyskyguy EE75 Dec 22 '19 at 23:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ actually, I suspect all that noise may be resulting from the fact that it is implemented on a breadboard with lots of bad connections compared to a pcb etc. But, as I said, touching the heatsink makes a noticable difference, which made me suspect from the heatsink \$\endgroup\$ – muyustan Dec 22 '19 at 23:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Possible CM (common mde) noise from floating DC, RF cap to earth (PE) gnd to 0Vdc \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart Sunnyskyguy EE75 Dec 23 '19 at 0:00
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Your ungrounded Heatsink is actually a not too shabby capacitively coupled Antenna which radiates into sensitive low level circuits .Ground your isolated heatsink and the problems will go away .The time not to ground is say a SMPS that generates lots of noise at the drain of the switching transistor that you do not want to be injected into the ground causing an EMC fail.

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seeing as the transistor is electrically insulated from the heatsink, grounding the heatsink should not do any harm. but note that grounding the heatsing will change the capacitance to ground on the collector of that transistor. that may effect the way your circuit operates.

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