Has anybody here had success with daisy chaining that many MAX7219's using SPI? I built a chain of 60 MAX7219's, and the SPI seems to be crapping out after going through only 8-12 MAX7219s.
Yes it will, this is due to what is known as the fan out of the driving output. It means the number of inputs you can connect an output to. If you use a pair of inverting buffers like that found in the 74LS04 you can buffer batches of 8 chips at a time.
Can I connect them to a transistor (or relevant IC) that will be able to provide the necessary current to the MAX7219s?
i had asked in another post if I can use a logic level shifter from sparkfun to act as a logic booster. since the shifter uses its own vcc/ground supply, i'm hoping it will be able to provide the necessary current. does this sound like a viable option?
Yes that is what I said use a 74LS04.
I think I'd make 6 strings of 10 MAX7219, give each string its own buffer chip so the 328P is only driving 6 loads. That also limits the delay in updating a string, only have 10 chips worth of data to send out vs 60.