Blog  /  Protel PCB: Basic Knowledge in Definition, Features, and Advantages

Protel PCB: Basic Knowledge in Definition, Features, and Advantages

One of the factors in producing Printed Circuit Boards is using software to help with challenging designs. PCB Software helps engineers in analog techniques, advanced schematic, and circuit drawing, among others, thus following design rules. Examples of PCB software include EDA board, Altium, Protel, etc. Today, we will discuss Protel PCB software. Let’s get started!  

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What is Protel PCB?

  Protel PCB is software that electronic engineers use to design PCB layouts. Generally, engineering companies use Protel PCB to develop PCB by confirming schematic circuit designs, retrieving previously used board designs from PCB archives, and designing.  

What is Protel PCB Used for?

  Protel PCB provides PCB designers with efficient and accurate software for designing PCBs. The software has years of innovation and development attributed to its current version (Altium Designer) since its inception in the 1990s.   Altium designer

(Altium designer)

  Functionally, the software works by testing, verifying, and completing PCB design concepts. Unfortunately, being an older version, you will need to operate it using a virtualization tool. Also, Protel is an easy-to-use, highly reliable, features-loaded, high-performing, and cost-effective software, thus achieving high accuracy.  

What are the characteristics of Protel PCB?

  Some of the main features and characteristics of Protel PCB design software are;  
  • Advanced route and place tools  

  The design system of Protel includes place tools and great reroutes and has better advancement in the Altium Designer. Consequently, that helps organize and position your components via intelligent placement algorithms.   electronic components

(electronic components)

  • Improved utilities and functionality

  Secondly, the software improves your competitiveness by routing the circuit board track much faster. Additionally, it has an Active BOM feature that assists you in choosing the components in a PCB layout and evaluating component data.  
  • Unified Interface

  The easy-to-use unified interface feature helps newbies and experts (designers/engineers) to achieve a great design.  
  • 3D visualization

  The 3D visualization feature is a result of upgrading Protel PCB to Altium designer. The feature helps designers and engineers to visualize and interact with their PCB designs. Also, the board layout tools enable you to place and route your tasks with no errors.   PCB 3D illustration

(PCB 3D illustration)

  You can adjust your placement against a piece of imported mechanical information and further see the PCB design in a 3D format.  
  • Customer interaction use case

  Lastly, Protel PCB maintains an interaction between the customers and designers. For instance, as a designer, you can get information from your customers on how they are progressing with your PCB designs by sharing snapshots. Then, any device can access the images.  

Special Offer: $1 for 5 PCB Assemblies!

One requirement only: Order must be placed using a company account.
Please email [email protected] for details.
Special Offer: $1 for 5 PCB Assemblies!

What are the advantages of Protel PCB?

  The Protel PCB software has several advantages listed below.  
  • User-friendly
First, since you can easily use and comprehend the software, it benefits newbies or experts in the field. Furthermore, any engineer can utilize the easy-to-use tools, importers, exporters, well-detailed library files of components, and design templates.
  • Reduces design complexity
Secondly, it eases design complexity into logical designs using a Protel schematic capture with rightfully selected parts. Additionally, you can find and import some vendor components from the cloud and use them in your design. Designers can also make circuit designs on single-layer and multi-layer boards.
  • Saves costs on production
Using a Protel PCB means forgoing designing physical prototypes because you now use software designs.   electrical PCB board chip

(electrical PCB board chip)

  Therefore, the engineers shift their focus to virtual prototyping. They also dedicate labor and resources to building a cost-efficient final product.
  • Reduces Errors
Further on, Protel software identifies and solves compatibility errors early enough, reducing the chances of future inaccuracies. Ultimately, it enables designers to keep track of their work and reduces delays when getting to the production process.
  • Generates new ideas
Finally, Protel PCBs have helped engineers make hierarchical designs and get new ideas by thinking widely. Moreover, they can use a trial-and-error basis to determine how the method works.  

What is the Design Process of Protel PCB?

  The process uses a digital twin to comprehensively depict the entire PCB system with substrates and multiple devices. Moreover, the digital twin helps you automatically verify heterogeneous assemblies via;
  • Substrate-level design rule checking (DRC),
  • LVS (Layout versus schematic)
  • LVL (Layout versus layout)
  • Parasitic extraction,
  • Thermal and stress analysis, and
  • Testing.

How do you avoid Common Mistakes in Protel PCB Design?

  A Protel circuit design software should always have quality layout circuit designs to ensure the PCB components function efficiently. Unfortunately, most engineers have a hard time picking the best layout. A poor structure often results in ineffective functionality, especially when the device has a smaller pitch and higher pin counts. Fortunately, the challenge is solvable. For instance, manufacturers should opt for PCBs with a smaller number of components. The closeness of the elements reduces PCB footprints hence improving functionality.
A row of through-holes acting as pin header footprint

A row of through-holes acting as pin header footprint

Source; Wikipedia   

How to Convert the PCB Protel into a PCB Gerber File?

  The steps comprise the following;
  • Begin by opening your PCB design on the Protel PCB software, then check the files' integrity.
  • Then, go to the file menu and select the ‘new’ option.
  • Thirdly, choose the default options on the 'New document’ page.
  • Afterward, select the Gerber (Generates Gerber files) and press Next on the Output Wizard page.
A Gerber format file

A Gerber format file

Source; Wikipedia  
  • Name your File and choose default options for the two pages that follow.
  • When you get to the Menu of Plot layers, select the option ‘used on.’
  • You can also set a default option for the following three pages.
  • You’ll get to the last page, where you'll click the ‘Finish’ option. Here, you’ll have finished all Gerber files except the drill file.
  • Next, follow the steps, cam page blank to Insert NC drill to Suppress, then the leading zero option.
  • If you press F9, all cam files become export files.
  • Finally, export the Gerber files to your folder by left-clicking CAM for PCB and then right-clicking it. Identify the export option, then move files to a specific folder that's viewable on an online Gerber viewer website.

How do you open a Protel file in Altium?

  Use the solution here if you’ve ever had a Protel file but cannot open it in Altium. A Design Database (DDB) file is either a binary file with actual project files or a text file directing you to the project files. Under the circumstances, you'll find the existing PCB file containing a layout in the PCB file. For example, in Protel 99, the PCB file format is in the PCB 4.0 Binary File. Thus, open File, select Altium Designer, and you'll get an instant conversion window.  


To summarize, PCBs require software that eases up their design and development. One important software is Protel PCB. Besides ensuring release management tools, it also has 3D visualizations and advanced routing technology. For more information, kindly contact us. We’ll be thrilled to help.    

Special Offer: $1 for 5 PCB Assemblies!

One requirement only: Order must be placed using a company account.
Please email [email protected] for details.
Special Offer: $1 for 5 PCB Assemblies!