I did a got clone and checkout of openwrt then did a make menuconfig set the device i wanted followed by a make. This produced the .bin files as expected but after doing a subsequent make menuconfig and adding a single package after doing a make again no bin files are created only manifest.
file contains the right device/packages that i added via make menuconfig
Just trying to find the issue at this point, since you have a clean build maybe try:
rm -rf bin
to see if it finished up with an error.
Note that when you add a package, the package and all dependencies are add to your config, but when you back a package out, the dependencies remain. So a reason to set aside configdiffs, as per above command, as you change things up.
Bit of an update when i build the default image and flash the router and then try and add nano via luci it says "not enough space" so that ties in with the build failing but if i try and remove nano form make menuconfig and try a make clean etc it still fails with too large so seems like files are still hanging about.
Thanks for that i'll take a look, how do sort the issue with make menuconfig when removing packages the build still says too bug so seems like depenadancies etc are still kept even though unchecked in menuconfig.