So I replaced the capacitor in the VCR and it is now back to life. The Freeview recorder, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky: its behaviour hasn't changed at all.
I'm still fairly sure the fault lies within the power supply, which seems to emit a quiet but audible click at a frequency of about 1.2Hz, and I guess the next suspect is the switching IC (a TOP234YN). So, I could…
- Try replacing every component on the board one by one until it works. Difficult, long-winded and rather intricate, and relies on my being able to read the rather small and faint numbers on some of the parts.
- Order a new identical circuit board which, miraculously, seems to be available. It's not cheap: with delivery and VAT it comes in at over 40 quid, but that's cheap compared to the cost of a whole new unit. It's not 100% guaranteed to fix the problem, since the failure of the power supply could have taken out other components, though it is quite likely that everything else will be OK.
- Junk it and buy a new one.
- Turn the server in the corner of the room into a media PC with a couple of Freeview tuners.
- Upgrade my cable TV package to V+. Or possibly,
- do without.
The old one is a basic model and has the unfortunate habit of crashing when the disk is nearly full (even though it looks like there should be space left on it) and also mildly corrupts any recording that might be in progress when you ask to display the recordings library (it's as if the processor doesn't have enough power to both load the library and keep recording the current programme). On the other hand, it's out of guarantee so I can take it apart and suck all the programmes off its hard disk and turn them into DVDs. In addition, it would be nice to get the old programmes back. (They aren't lost, since they've been sucked off the disk, but they are in a somewhat less convenient format that can't be displayed with a couple of presses on the remote control, and they need to be processed before anything useful can be done with them.)
A V+ box would be able to record channels that aren't on Freeview (such as Discovery), but opening it up would be a big no-no and I bet it doesn't have anything sensible such as a USB port (if anyone has one, perhaps they could correct me on that). I guess the best sort of device from that point of view would be a combined hard disk and DVD recorder, but that gets you into the very-expensive range, and being something of a perfectionist I might still want to edit the DVDs on a computer if they had been recorded by this method.