On the left side there is a momentary type switch to turn on the meter, is that what you are refering to? The other items on the left are (IIRC)focus, spool release knobs, and battery compartment. You can find an owners manual at butkus.com for it. There may be other sites on-line with more info.
Just a thought, is the flash synch pointing to X , must be to activate self timer, or possibly damage shutter if not.. Also is the shutter cocked, you may need to wind until the counter indicates a frame number(1)before it will fire. Opening the back resets the counter.