There may be a short somewhere inside between the lead going to the pin and the one going to the camera body, such that when the capacitor has a full enough charge, the flash itself is firing (thinking that it has been triggered by the camera, just without the camera). Unscrew the foot - two small Philips screws, and check to see if any of the wires have damaged or melted insulation, and ensure they're not crossed. The ones to watch for primarily are the RED lead and the black lead. Repair any damaged insulation with electrical tape, and carefully reassemble and test.
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The 283 and 285 require an adapter to hold the 4 AA batteries. This is because there is an available battery pack NC-3 (NiCad) that works with the Charge-15 rapid charger. Loose AA batteries cannot be used without the adapter known as AP-1. They are all over eBay and quite reasonably priced.
The Vivitar 285 HV is specified to have a trigger voltage of 12V. The Nikon DSLRs are specified to be safe up to 12V. This puts the combination right at the fuzzy point. It should be safe, but if the flash goes a little high while the camera goes a little low, you might run into trouble.
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.
Then I'd say it's a reasonably sure thing that the green light is just burned out, The lights are supposed to be off at first, then red when there's a partial charge, then green when there's a full charge, then flashing between red and green when the "battery saver" kicks in. If you're seeing off, then red, then off, then flashing red, then that means everything in the charging circuit is working perfectly, there's just no green light.