Convert Protel 99SE to Kicad?

I’m a new convert, and I’d like to transition some older projects from Protel 99SE (which doesn’t run reliably on Windows 10) to Kicad. I did find altium2kicad, but it doesn’t seem to work with Protel files. Is there another tool available, or an intermediate conversion that might work? (Circuitmaker perhaps?)

Is that the same as pcad? Like PCAD Schematic Import ?

Sadly, no, it’s a different package, technically the precursor to Altium. (But not compatible).

I did try to go from Protel to Altium to Kicad, but it didn’t quite work, all of my pads were missing.

Where your pads missing in Altium or in KiCad? If it was in KiCad using the native importer after being correctly imported in Protel, I know a guy that may want to take a look at your imported file :grinning:

Everything looks perfect in Altium.

What looks like is happening is that the parts/footprints are not being imported at all. So their pads (both SMT and through hole) are not being imported. Silkscreen is still there though, as are manually placed pads. Nets are labeled correctly sometimes, such as on vias and manually placed pads, and some of the traces and fills. Mask and paste layers are blank.

I tried resaving to PCB 5.0 format (from Altium) but altium2kicad didn’t process it at all.

Oh, soldermask and paste layers are totally missing as well, even for the manual pads and vias and whatnot that did seem to work.

If you can convert to Altium first, you should probably try KiCad nightly builds (v5.99). There’s built-in Altium import for board files (using standalone pcbnew). It should be better than altium2kicad. However, nightly builds are unstable (potentially causing crashes and data loss), and you can’t go back to v5 with projects which have been edited in nightly builds. But 5.99 has new features and Altium conversion is better than what you can ever have in v5.1.


Oh tempting. Can two versions of kicad play nicely when installed at the same time? I suppose I could use a vm if I had to.

I see now I failed to tell clearly and explicitly that you can safely install 5.99 alongside 5.1 on Windows, even though 5.1 uses the old configuration. Only the Start menu is a small problem.

Thank you for the detailed answer. I’m very new to Kicad and am proceeding carefully, so I don’t bork my setup.