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I understand. I am trying to fully understand the process here. The decade timer is what allows the message to move across the LEDs, correct? If scrolling wasn't necessary, the decade timer doesn't seem necessary as well. Additionally, I'm wondering how people know how to design these types of things. Before reading this article I didn't know these components existed and if I decided to make my own device of some kind (not this in particular, though it is really cool) I wouldn't know how to look up the components I'd like. I would have no idea what to call a shift register, for example. Any suggestions?
I don't understand the necessity of the transistors. Why not just have the row of LEDs connected directly to the output (with a resistor) to the decade counter?