How to measure intense ambient light

Thread Starter


Joined Feb 17, 2012
I am helping my HS freshman son in a science project to measure ambient light at different elevations. We have a friend in a high altitude (100,000 ft) balloon club who offered a 750 gram payload on a flight this spring! What a great opportunity. We bought a TAOS "light to voltage" photodiode TSL14S-LF and made the circuit at When pointed at the sky the output tops out at 4.5 V so I think that is full scale. I need ideas about how to change the circuit to get more dynamic range. Or maybe I need a different photodiode. Maybe we should use a photoresistor or something else? Thanks for the help!


Joined Apr 24, 2011
From what I quickly gathered on the TAOS part it is not adjustable.

You could start experimenting with various shades. Old sun glasses, two polarized plates (rotate till intensity OK), and things like that.


Joined Sep 7, 2009
It shouldn't be at maximum even in full sunlight, it has a sensitivity of 16mV per (μW/cm^2) which means it should be about 2.1V in full sunlight (137mW/cm^2).
Have you got the load resistor of 10K connected?


Joined Aug 7, 2008
Photographic film exposed to different degrees works well to adjust sensitivity-- as used to adjust sensitivity of LDR's in solar tracker.