A toroid appears!
We're happy to say that after six long months of waiting, the first sample of our stamped toroid has finally arrived!
Looks good, doesn't it? This first sample is cut a little rough at the rim and has a few tiny wrinkles at edges, but our manufacturer assures us that he's painstakingly making adjustments to the die to get it just right. As for an estimate of when the finished product will arrive, it seems to be perpetually "a few weeks away." This is quite frustrating for both us and our manufacturer, but it turns out that stamping a toroid is more difficult than we all expected. While he's a fantastic machinist, fabricating a shape with tight curves like our toroid seems to require specific experience in stamping. If we could start over we'd look for a facility that specialized in metal spinning. Lesson learned.
So far we've shipped approximately the first 150 kits, and then we ran into a hiccup with the chassis manufacturer. We initially awarded the job to a manufacturer who sent us several samples of his own accord, had valuable design suggestions and always replied immediately to messages. We were happy to work with him initially, but in the past two months he has become unresponsive. Shipments of 25 chassis at a time came more and more infrequnetly, until, finally, he stopped responding to emails and phone calls altogether. We've already paid for everything, so it's not easy for us to just award the job to someone else now. However, in the interim we've found an excellent Chinese supplier that we're getting several hundred units from in 8 days to keep production going.
In other news, quite a few people have put together their kits already! We've received invaluable advice and corrections from this first round of builders; for example, Bill's extensive post here, JimKirk's advice here, and Junktronix's advice here. We've consolidated the information in these posts into an errata post on the forums - please read it before you start building! We're printing the first manuals in sets of 100 at a time to fix errors and incorporate people's suggestions. We recommend that you download the latest manual before you start working on your kit.