After working for 2 years though not used often my Nikon SB600 Speedlight did not switch on the day after successfully being used to take 20 indoor shots at my school concert. The device was not knocked or tampered with.
Hope you have some advice for me because I am stuck now.
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Nikon hot shoe is rated up to 250V (canon's is rated up to 6V) so you can use almost any tipe of flash, except maybe for old studio flashes. Vivitar 283 (older versions) is ~200V rated, and much lower on newer versions. It should work.
If red light on flash is blinking, flash is charging. In shooting rapidly, sometimes flash will go off even though it isnt fully charged. This can give dark shots. Flash eats batteries like crazy, best to always use fresh batteries for each shoot.
Remember that even though sb-600 is wireless, it is based on infrared. This usually means having a clear line-of-sight between flash commander and remote flash. Any object that gets in way can block signal from flash commander. Weak batteries in flash will also cause remote operation to be sporadic.
I have sent my SB-600 to Nikon twice in the past 6 months to resolve this problem. They have fixed it both times, but never told me what the problem was. I've had it back for exactly 1 day now, and it's started back up again already. If I receive a solution (or replacement), I'll let you know!