This unit has been sitting in the box since last Christmas. My son wanted to learn more about how to program it and noticed that it was on but had no display. Tried removing the batteries, etc. Pushed the tiny reset button as well. No change.
When I push the orange button it makes it's startup tone and a thin single horizontal line displays sometimes (not consistent). The other buttons make noise when depressed.
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Sep 2, 2011 ... The link above will allow you to
download a copy of the software for your set. ... Before you
install LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Software, please ...mindstorms.lego.com/en-US/News/ReadMore/Default.aspx?id=351333mindstorms.lego.com/en-US/News/ReadMore/Default.aspx?id=351333
You will need to download the 2.1f3 patch, from here: http://education.lego.com/en-gb/preschool-and-school/secondary-11-18/11plus-lego-mindstorms-education/downloads/ When you get there, check the check box labeled "software update/patch," and find the 2.1f3 patch.
If you're getting the program from the RoboCenter, double check that all off the blocks are set right. If that doesn't work, open the programming software, click Tools> Update NXT Firmware. Connect your NXT with the USB (or it might work with Bluetooth...) Then click Check and download the latest firmware (or just click download). Don't be alarmed if the display turns off and the brick makes a ticking noise.
I just posted this same question, but after a little digging, I think I have the answer. There is a notice on the Mindstorm site that shows that the side motors need to be in ports B and C to work. They give a corrected diagram as well.
Port A is apparently for additional jobs, leading me to believe that it is only for programmed movement. This makes sense as you would not want your robot to continually sort or use an arm, etc. You would want it to move only when and how programmed.