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Flashes stored a long time often suffer from capacitor failure. The first thing to try however is leave the batteries in for a few minutes powered on to see if they will charge. If this doesn't work, then they'll need professional repair.
You don't need a Manual. In 285 HV there is only one Power on/off switch. If that switch is on and batteries are new Alkaline (like duracell-no chepo )or fully charged and working rechargebles,and yet the ready light do not come the flash has defect inside.For sure.
A new company has bought Vivitar from Synatx Brillion - Sakar is in the process of uploading the user manuals at this time. However they will not continue to validate any warentees that were before August 2008. Try looking here www.orphancamera.com
There is nothing wrong with your flash unit. The regular AA batters are 1.5 v volts each- if 4 batteries are used that is a total of 6 volts for proper operation. The rechargeable batteries are 1.2 volts each and 4 will get you 4.8 volts- thats 1.2 volts short and that is probably the root of our problem .
Try recharging you rechargeable batteries and put the im one more time- if the same problem happens you will have to stick with standard AA batteries. There external 6 volt packs that will work with your flash unit0 the are a bit of an expense at first but you will save on replacement batteries in the long run,.