We describe the development and the first characterization of a compact trace-gas sensor based on cantilever photoacoustic spectroscopy (CEPAS). The sensor was characterized in order to find the optimal operating parameters (pressure, molecule absorption line and laser modulated frequency). N<sub>2</sub>O was selected as test molecule. A quality factor of 200 at 10 mbar of cell pressure were determined. Furthermore, the first test measurements showed a minimum detection level of hundreds of ppb with integration time of 30 ms.