I had a lot of trouble getting it to work, even contacted the developers and we confirmed I was doing right (programming wise). But the problem was the lower operating voltage of the Chipkit.
It only took a logic level 3.3V <-> 5V converter and a whole lot of patience to get it working!
No pictures yet, but the difference is spectacular: 16+1 colors and no flickering!
The 4X CPU speed of the Chipkit really shines here, and as an additional bonus, it seems I'm able to update the columns at 20 MHz speed instead of 5MHz, another speed increase of 400% right out of the box! I'm using regular digitalWrites with hardware SPI, so I figure I could push the refreshrate up a notch if needed.
Now I can focus on getting the display system back on track, continue on the serial communication, SD card reading, etc...
But I'd still say -
Chipkit, you sure were worth the trouble!