I had the same issue, the unit would not turn on. The issue was coming from the battery compartment. the battery were a bit lose and I had to bend out the contact at the bottom of the unit to make it work again. The 2 battery with the + facing up were the problem. I have inserted a small screwdriver to bend the contact upward a bit and the unit is now working fine. The batteries don't make noise anymore when I shake the unit, it was make a bit of noise before.
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Re: SB-600 will not turn on
Remove the batteries. This will reset everything.
Re-insert, Turn the unit on, wait for the ready light, then select your flash setting option. Test flash it a few times. Be sure the flash head and diffuser is capable of sliding with the zoom lens focal length and not blocked by anything like tape or a diffuser.
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Try doing a reset - press the "Mode" and "On/off" buttons together for a few seconds and you go back to factory settings. Sounds like you got into some funky mode, assuming everything else is working ok.
I believe that there is a safety feature built in that if the voltage in the capacitor gets too large the flash will fire, to prevent damage, could be this that is faulty, if it is a new main circuit board is required.
1) i-TTL: TTL flash control by 1,005-pixel RGB sensor, built-in flash, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400: i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL flash 2) AA (Auto Aperture-type) flash: Available with SB-800 used with CPU lens 3) Non-TTL Auto: Available with Speedlights such as SB-800, 28, 27, and 22S 4) Range-priority manual flash; available with SB-800
In whacky situations like this it is always best to re-set your camera and flash settings. Somewhere on your D80 you will find two function buttons with small green dots next to them. These are the resets. Push both in at the same time until the display LCD flashes.. The camera is now reset to default settings.You will now have to re-set your FV button to the custom setting you had it at before.
Also, reset you flash by turning on the power and removing the batteries and re-install them.
My SB 600 is doing the exact same thing. I used Nikon's online support service and this is the response I got:
"I would try doing the 2 button reset on the flash and then see if that helps. Also disconnect any battery packs you may have connected especially if its a third party battery pack. If none of the above work then please service the speedlight"
Sounds like they don't know what it is, either. I tried the reset to no avail. I'm not sure I want to send it in to have it fixed, since it does seem to be working. But you're right, it's annoying.