Closing the loop on what the hints were about:
Clue 1 - Image of Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park Texas. Cedar Park is the location of the Wiffle Ball Championship. The game element for HotShot! is not the trademark Wiffle Ball but a similar one designed for harder use.
Clue 2 - Image of Uranus, discovered by William Hershel - thus the references to William Perry and Herschel Walker. William Herschel is also credited with discovering the IR range of the spectrum. As you know the IR beacon and sensor are a key part of the game. This information would have been available as soon as the first kit shipped - at which point the "secret sensor" would be known.
Clue 3 - Image of the Transformer "Hot Shot" - Game name for 2009/2010. People got the first two but I saw no note about this one - and it was pretty easy...
Clue 4 - Just an FYI, the two robots shown were gifts for Affiliate Partners attending the conference at FIRST in August. To the side of the two robots was a Wiffle Ball on a cup. My thought was that it would go un-noticed. I decided to pull the photo about 2 hours after posting it and replaced it with the photo-shopped version you saw. This was the original photo:
Clue 5 - Photo of the kit of parts. We sourced 95% of the parts in HotShot! from Home Depot. To test the accuracy of the bill of materials we went to Home Depot and asked them to kit up the list and deliver it to FIRST. They did - and this is what it looked like on the FIRST dock. For about $60 in delivery fees this might be a good option for Partners and perhaps some teams without a truck.
Clue 6 - Was all about determining the number sequence 4-16-60. This refers to the 4 bonus balls, 16 balls allocated to alliances at the start of the match (8 each), and 60 balls in the ball chutes. The New Yorker cover was from 4/16/60 as is Curt Young's birthday. Sea Hunt aired the episode "The Living Fossil" on the same date.
Clue 7 - In addition to a couple references about firing and shooting the photo was taken through one of the scoring elements. The red PVC pipe seen through the hole is the ball chute release arm. Teams may have been able to determine the scoring element based on the unique ribbing on the inside of the ball.
The blog got a ton of attention leading up the the launch so I guess it served a purpose. I was encouraged to see the increased traffic and some of the resulting discussion on Chief Delphi.
I'll keep this blog populated with some key information and some of my thoughts as well. Thanks to the GDC for help with many of the clues.
Finally - just a reminder, this blog is written solely by me. It includes stuff on my mind and things that I hope teams and volunteers get some value from. I do read your comments. If I see a thread or issues that need to be addressed I'll do that here too.
See you out there,