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I have a piece of hardware that my grandma gave me along with her old laptop. I have no idea what it is and neither does anyone I know. It has a mono 3.5mm plug on one end, but plugging it into a headphone jack does nothing. Same result with a microphone jack. It has a 16 foot long cable. Pictures below.

both ends

unknown end

3.5mm end

Can someone please tell me what it is, what it does, and how to use it?

4

Looks like an infrared sender. Old method of communication on some laptops, and external tools, though it depends on the frequency of light it puts out. That's all I can see it doing.

Normally the receivers are not clear, that is usually the sender. If it was a receiver it would be similar to the one in Kamil's answer, with a filtered input so that it doesn't confuse the incoming signals.

  • how would I use it? does it plug into the mic port? – cheesits456 Dec 18 '16 at 1:46
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    If you plugged it into a mic port it may turn on but it would be useless, unless you wanted to program your sounds to output a specific signal. :P Usually there is an Infrared sender port on a device like a remote that it would get plugged into and then you would point it at the TV. Very basic. – cengbrecht Dec 18 '16 at 2:01
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I used to have a TV card with a remote. The remote receiver was an IR diode in a casing, connected to the card via mini jack – just like the thing in question.

Notice the "REMOTE" label below:

TV card

The receiver itself:

receiver

Technically those things may send signals (like the other answer suggests) even if they were designed as receivers, I think. Still my bet is your mysterious item is a receiver shipped with some device and an IR remote.

  • Normally the receivers are not clear, that is usually the sender, if it was a receiver it would be similar to yours, with a filtered input so that it doesn't confuse the incoming signals. – cengbrecht Dec 18 '16 at 2:15
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    @cengbrecht You are probably right. I have added your comment to your answer because I think it is relevant and interesting; it surely belongs there as well. – Kamil Maciorowski Dec 18 '16 at 9:35

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