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By Chris De Herrera 
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Windows CE IrDA FAQ
By Chris De Herrera, Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000    
 Version 1.14  Revised 3/20/2000

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One of the easiest methods of communications for Windows CE based PC Companion (Handheld PCs, Handheld PC Professional Edition, H/PC 2000, Palm-size PCs or Pocket PC) is IrDA. It offers a wireless connection for ActiveSync at up to 115.2k baud which is comparable to a cable connection. The some of the H/PC Pro units can communicate at up to 4 megabits per second! Most notebook PCs have IrDA ports and some desktops do too.   You can purchase a Jeteye PC adapter from Extended Systems or an Aegis IRCE if you want to add IrDA support to a desktop without it.  Only Windows 95/98 based systems can use IrDA with Windows CE. Microsoft does not offer an IrDA driver for Windows NT.  You can use Windows NT with IrDA on the IBM Thinkpad's IrDA port or with QuickBeam from Extended Systems.  Most units can not use the IR port as a remote control.  The IR port is configured to support IrDA and not consumer IR.  An exception is the HP 620/660LX  - SkyCommander - Universal Remote for Windows CE and Palm Remote (formerly Remocon) for the Mips based Palm-size PCs including Casio E-15/100/105 and Compaq Aero 2100.

You can also use the Network Client to access Windows 95/98/NT/NT Server drives as well.  I personally have used IrDA with multiple Handheld PCs, Handheld PC Professional Edition and Palm-size PCs to my desktop.

You can also send Contacts, Voice Memos and Pocket Word/Notetaker files to and from PC Companions and the Auto PCs.    The contacts are sent from the Contacts program by selecting the contact to send and File - Send. To receive the contacts you must be in the Contacts program and use File - Receive.  To send a file from one PC Companion is via the Windows Explorer.  Select the file you want to send and use File Send To - Infrared Recipient.  On the other side in Windows Explorer use File - Receive.

You can also communicate unit to unit with other non-Windows CE PDAs via IRChat.    It supports communications with Windows CE, Psion EPOC32 and the Newton 2000.   Coming soon will be support for the Palm Pilot.

Another feature that IrDA can provide is the ability to connect to the latest GSM phones which are common in Europe and are starting to appear in the United States.  This is done as if the phone is a modem and IrDA is used instead of a cable.  This requires an unsupported registry change which is documented on Arne's Windows CE Website.


In order to use IrDA you need the following:

  • IrDA Port - Most notebook computers have IrDA. Some desktops do to. If your desktop does not, you can add it from Extended Systems Jeteye PC or Aegis IRCE.

  • Microsoft IrDA 2.0 drivers - These drivers are supplied on the Windows CE Services CD under the Optional Components. You can only install this driver on Windows 95. Microsoft does not offer a corresponding driver for Windows NT, however Extended Systems does - QuickBeam.    QuickBeam support laptop computers and desktops with their Jeteye PC.


Once you have the IrDA driver installed, you need to configure Windows CE services to use the virtual com port. You can do this via the following screen.  Note that the virtual com port is Com5. This is the one that you must use in Windows CE Services for IrDA to work.


Also, you need to configure the Handheld PC to use IrDA as well. This is done via Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Communications. Select Pc Connection -.> Change then Infrared Port from the list.


You should be already set to sync via IrDA. Use Start -> Programs -> Communications -> PC Link. Don't forget to aim the IrDA port at the notebook or desktop's IrDA port. This may be awkward if your notebook has the IrDA port on the back. Here's the IrDA monitor while the units are connected:



  1. If you are using an IBM Thinkpad, you need to run the Thinkpad Features program to turn on the IrDA port. It is shared with the Com1 port so you can not use both at the same time.

  2. You can check your to see if your IrDA port is working by using a digital camera or a Radio Shack Infrared Sensor Card.  It is part # 276-099, price $5.95.

  3. Distance and lighting can prevent 2 units from talking.  IrDA connections can be affected by fluorescent lighting so you should try to put the 2 IrDA ports as close to each other as possible.  Most units do not work reliably beyond 12 to 24 inches.


Now you can use the Handheld PC the same way you use it with the serial port. You can synchronize, backup/restore and install applications.

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