Exceeding bounds of operating temperature of A5V-38

I am interested in making a low-cost slit sun sensor using a linear photodiode array that could operate on a high-altitude balloon with the eventual goal of using it on a CubeSat. I noticed that the operating temperature for the A5V-38 is only -30 degrees Celsius. Is this lower bound flexible? What would happen if the sensor went below this temperature say -50 degrees Celsius?


This one is rated for -30C. If you go beyond that there is no information on how or how long it would work before failure.

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Hello Paul,

With so much at stake, your best bet is to use components that have successfully flown with a proven track record. It’s very disheartening to put in all the work only to have the CubeSat fail to operate.

Perhaps you could include testing of various low-cost sensors as your primary mission - that is with satellite control using proven technology.

May I point you and our readers to documents such as this.

Best Wishes,


P.S. I once attended the CubeSat conference. My head was spinning with all of the possibilities. There is so much ingenuity applied to these tiny objects - truly amazing.

Published op temp ranges communicate the span over which a device is warranted for use and (sometimes) the range over which published specifications apply. So long as you’re willing to do your own characterization and accept responsibility for any bad outcomes, you can do whatever you want.

One can expect performance characteristics to vary with temperature, and differing thermal expansion coefficients present risk of physical damage. Things tend to stiffen and become more brittle at low temperatures, so a person could easily imagine a failure of the die or cover glass attachments, or possibly a fracture of either. Or if the package material shrinks more than the leadframe, the pins passing into the device could act like 40 little wedges splitting the package apart in-plane. There’s lots of possibilities…

They’re obsolescent now and I don’t know if anybody’s making something comparable, but these linear optical sensors were pretty slick. Small tends to be an advantage and a 10x cost reduction makes sacrificing a bucketful for experiment a lot more palatable.

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