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Fit the camera to the tripod. Set the camera to timed exposure and use either a cable release, or a remote control to open the shutter and either release the lock on the cable release or press the remote control a second time.
Make sure you set the camera's release mode to one of the two remote modes. See "Release Mode" in the manual (page 65 in my copy). Also, make sure you have a clear line-of-sight between the remote and the sensor on the front of the camera.
Set the camera's release mode to one of the two remote modes. Quick-response remote mode fires the shutter when you press the button on the release, while delayed remote mode gives you two seconds to hide the remote behind your back before firing the shutter.
To change the camera's release mode, hold down the release-mode button to the right of the LCD panel on the top of the camera (marked with the overlapping rectangles) and turn the command wheel on the back of the camera. The icon at the top-right corner of the LCD panel will change. The quick-response remote mode is indicated by a picture of the remote, the delayed remote mode is indicated by both the remote and the self-timer (one-handed clock).
I assume you're refering to the ML-L3 wireless remote control.
Change the shooting mode on the camera by holding down the shooting mode button and turning the main command dial. You want either delayed remote or quick-response remote. The quick-response remote fires the shutter as soon as you press the button on the remote, the delayed remote gives you two seconds to hide your hand behind your back before the camera fires.
Your description suggests bad/dirty contacts inside the remotes and jammed volume buttons on one of them. Cleaning the rubber pads and the circuit boards on all of the remotes might solve the problem.
Use some ethyl or isopropyl alcohol and cottonwool to clean them.
By the way, here's a nice way to test a remote using your mobile phone's camera:
Turn the camera on, point the remote towards the camera lens so you can see it on the mobile's display.
Look at the display on your mobile phone and press buttons on your remote - you should see bluish/greenish flashes from your remote's emmiter each time you press a button on the remote (the camera on your mobile shows infrared light from the remote as visible light on the display - if it doesn't do so in the normal mode, try the night mode for the camera instead).
If you press a button and there are no flashes, that button probably has a bad/dirty contact.
if the remote is making flashes even when the buttons are released, this means that a button is jammed (you need to clean the rubber pads and the housing, especially the holes where the buttons come through as there's probably some dirt that keeps the button pressed in, which causes the volume to go up/down all by itself).
I am using the same remote on both a Nikon 990 and 995 coolpix cameras. I had trouble with the 990 but reset the unit to factory default and it appears to work in manual mode. The nikon site says that it may take 10 seconds or so for the camera to relize that it is not connected to a computer via the usb cord.