One of the difficult parts about building accessories and reproductions of vintage machines is that some of the parts are getting more difficult to find. Over the years I did few prototypes using modern CPLDs and FPGAs but always opted to stick with 74xx series parts because then anyone could understand my designs and fix them if something went bad. It was also nice to use parts that were available in that time frame.
More and more of the parts I use are getting difficult to find in the surplus market, some of them are going up in price, and others aren’t available in small quantities at reasonable prices. This is forcing me to reconsider going to a modern CPLD for some designs. A modern CPLD is in the $1.50 range, which can replace a few parts that cost $5 or more, and are readily available from many distributors.
During a recent session of building SS-50 boards, my supply of female Molex connectors ran low. That’s usually not a problem because several vendors normally keep them in stock, but when I went to order more, all but one of my supplies said they will no longer stock that part and had none in stocks. The one remaining vendor had none in their inventory but will be getting more in late February, so I ordered more than 300 of those connectors. This is a concern because there are no second sources of this very old connector, so if the manufacturer stops making them, the available supply will disappear.
I normally have a large stock of assembled products ready to go, but until the new connectors arrive in about six weeks, some SS-50 products won’t available once the existing stock is sold. When the connectors appear, I’ll start building boards and increase the inventory of assembled products.