Able Archer 83 2020

The annual Able Archer 83 event is an opportunity to set up and operate military radios from the sixties, seventies and eighties and make contacts with other Ham stations during a twenty four hour period. In the year of Covid we did a smaller event at Fort Miles, Cape Henlopen State park in Delaware.

 All equipment is brought to the site and set up for the weekend and is period correct.


The Sunair SSB station inside the building.

Checked into MMRCG and MRCA Nets useing the GRC-106 in the M-151 Saturday morning and also opperated RTTY from the mutt for the first time.

The AAR of the event:

AAR Able Archer 83 on November 21/22 2020

What was supposed to be achieved by this project?

Make as many contacts with as many modes as practical using Cold War era equipment at a remote location. This year we operated from Fort Miles/NAVRADSTA Lewes Delaware.

Available resources included my M151A1 mutt with AN/GRC-106A for SSB and RTTY along with VRC-46 for FM and Walt’s 1 kW Sunair transceiver and assorted smaller radios and a set of period correct Autovon analog telephones.

What was actually achieved?

We received authorization to operate from the Fort Miles Complex from the Delaware State Parks Service and arrived on site Saturday morning. I set up the mutt in front of the barracks building we were using and Walt set up his Sunair station in the building.

I operated the forty-meter MMRCG Net and the Moose & Squirrel Net at noon, also ran RTTY in the afternoon conducting a half hour long QSO with K4NYW on 7080

Inside they had a couple pile ups operating both as the AA83 event and a National Parks on the Air event but later in the day they started having issues with crowded band conditions due to the ARRL QSO party that was this weekend.

We hosted maybe two hundred visitors thru the event include two boy scout troops, we had more civilian traffic at this event then any other that I have been involved with.

 What aspects of the project work?

 Logistics with the State Park people worked out great, they were very supportive and great host allowing us to drag out the mutt, S-250 Shelter and all the antennas and wires and the like. They also provide local power and came thru with space heaters for the night.

Despite some local interference on 60 meters did check into both regular scheduled Military Radio Nets and was also able to operate RTTY from the field using the GRC-106, and although the QSO contest did affect contact numbers think are total contacts not including the Military Nets was over one hundred.

If you are one of the stations that worked W3A on the nets I can provide information for getting a QSL from the event, just let me know if there is any interest.

 What didn't work and why?

 One cable came apart but we had spares on site. Radio operations were all good with the exception of the issues with the QSO Party and the local interference on sixty meters during Moose & Squirrel Net.

Largest concern may be non-radio related being the lack of any furniture in the building resulting to having to spend the night in sleeping bags on a cold concrete floor. I was lucky being I left before that and returned later on Sunday.

What would you change if given a second chance?

We are looking into making this  a all weekend event for next year. Arrive on Friday and set up, operate all day Saturday and Sunday morning with opps ending at noon on Sunday with tear down and pull out at that time.

I will also be on site entire time next year. I was late getting back Sunday morning and did not get to do any operating. Did do a couple RTTY CQ on 7087 at 1300 hours but no response.

Hope all the Covid craziness will be behind us and not have to use a mask next year. Want to also work on getting more people on site. There were only three of us this time and what was happening is that in the building we tended to get fair size groups of people and someone would have to address them.

Also want to establish some form of backpack or field radio exercise something along the lines of what we do at Gilbert for MRCA every year. The park is huge and has many places to operate from.





Link to the "Official" Able Archer 83 website:



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MAR 21