According to the invoice which I found today, I purchased my current DVD recorder in 2011 - six years ago. The machine has done sterling service, recording myriad films and tv series. But a few days before we went on holiday, I started having problems with it: I would start recording something and after a minute, the machine would automatically start formatting what it had recorded. This is normally the sign of a bad disc, but after trying several non-consecutive blank discs, I came to the reluctant conclusion that maybe the recorder had reached the end of its life and that it needed to be replaced.
I tried looking for a dvd recorder in the electrical shops nearby but without any luck. The duty free electrical shop in the airport also didn't have one.
Today I turned the dvd machine back on, set it up for long play (maybe that was the problem) and tried to record something. There was no sound coming from the tv when fed from the dvd recorder, but at least the machine did not try to format the disc before time. When I played back what I had recorded, the picture was fine but the audio was one long screech. I put a prerecorded disc in the machine and played this back: again, the picture was fine but not the audio.
I then started disconnecting all the cables and reconnecting. This didn't help, but I did notice that for one cable, the RCA plug had left its male connector in the appropriate connector in the dvd machine. I tried to extract the piece of metal but with no luck. In the next few days, I'll disconnect the dvd machine totally, clean it up and shake it - hopefully the connector will fall out. I may even open the machine up and see whether I can push the connector out.
Failing that, I will have to take the machine to some laboratory for repairs, which is going to be a tedious experience.