Not 100% sure yet, but it appears that the ViewMate free Gerber viewer from 
Lavenir can cause great grief with Protel 99SE (SP6)..

I was using PCB Express for quick turn protos, but between the last job I 
sent them and the previous one they stopped accepting Protel PCB files. So 
I generated Gerbers and they strongly suggested using the free ViewMate 
viewer to make sure that the Gerbers would exactly match what they would 
see.  They say that they use ViewMate there.

So, I installed ViewMate on the same machine that I'm running Protel 99SE 
on.  This is a Win2K box with 512Megs of RAM.  ViewMate worked fine, but 
when I started Protel it hit an exception loading one of the DDBs I had 
open.  I've had months of error free operation with SE99 / SP6 on this 
machine, so I think it's highly likely that ViewMate screwed up the machine.

After working on isolating it I find that Schematic editing is the 
culprit.  Even starting fresh, with no DDB.. If I open a blank schematic 
document and do something like try to print, Kaboom.

I've un/re-installed SP6.  No fix.  Did a repair installation on Protel 
99SE and re-installed SP6.. No fix.  Completely un-installed Protel 99SE 
(and SP6).  Deleted all residual 99SE files, e.g. INI, etc. Re-installed 
99SE and SP6..  No fix...  This is not a corrupted DDB, since I'm starting 
with a fresh one.  About the only thing I can think of is that the ViewMate 
viewer did something to ODBC that is only impacting the schematic editor, 
but that seems unlikely.

If I just open a DDB with an existing PCB with no schematics open then it 
doesn't seem to crash.

Has anyone else run into a similar problem?  If so how did you correct 
it?  If not, consider this a warning that, at least under some conditions, 
that software from Lavenir may cause you great grief.  I've sent e-mail to 
Lavenir asking them what they muck with during installation, but don't know 
when I'll hear back from them.

I'm hoping that I don't have to nuke Win2K to recover from this, but I 
suspect that it may come down to it..

Burt Bicksler

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