You're welcome Big. I only mentioned the X-65F because of your concern about ruggedness. In light of your subsequent elaboration, I would re-emphasize the Saitek X-52 Pro. As Allen points out, a *lot* of them have undoubtedly been sold. It has the added advantage over the earlier X-52 of looking more like something from an aircraft, as opposed to some futuristic spaceship. I've read that some improvements were made internally, as well.
If your main purpose is testing controller compatibility with software that you are developing, I would suggest that you make the effort needed for the software to accept any standard USB controllers. (You may very well be doing that, but the way your postings were worded leads me to avoid assuming that you are.) Also, rather than get wrapped up in figuring out whether a HOTAS sticks will work without the Throttle... just leave the throttle connected and tucked away out of sight if you don't want to use it. I say this because: 1. Your sim users will likely be using the entire HOTAS (Not just the stick) 2. Any recently developed sim software should be able to use multiple USB controllers (So it shouldn't be necessary to disconnect unused portions if doing a "mix and match" from multiple controller sets.
Whatever it is that you're up to... Good luck with it!