Hey all I have been researching antennas for prospective scanner I am looking to buy, ideally I want a handheld for my car and rig a magnetic mount antenna on the trunk, though is it worth it? What is the range of handheld antennas?
I would start here by reading this thread...
Those little duckies that come with handhelds are no better, in many cases, than a wet noodle on most frequencies - they are designed to be a compromise, and no more than that. There are handheld antennas that are designed for more broadband operation but putting them in a metal cage (a car or truck) just wipes out the advantage. You need to get the antenna outside.
Typically, duckies won't hear more than a couple of miles, dependent on numerous factors, which the thread above will no doubt address. Could be, and may very well be, less.
While a trunk mount will work, much better is to get the antenna on the roof, in order to take more advantage of the larger ground plane the mount would provide, as well as getting the additional height. However you must consider your normal driving habits - do you typically park in a garage or covered lot? If so, putting the mount on the roof might be a problem if you have a somewhat taller antenna. Are you constantly in an urban area? If so, a taller antenna, with somewhat more gain, might prove to be too much for the scanner. It may overload or desense. This is especially a problem with some GRE radios
I had such a situation a few years ago. I was working in College Park, Maryland, and also had to commute to DC from time to time, forcing me to adjust what antennas I used with my scanner. I used the Spectra whenenver I was in College Park, since that was an open lot, but had to resort to a small antenna (like the Austin Metropolitan) when I went to DC and had to park in a garage. At the time, I had a simple trunk lip mag mount, and didn't think I would have a problem with the Spectra in DC, but it was simply too much for the radio I was using (a Yaesu VX5R, so I could keep in touch with some DC ham friends of mine) - I had to use the Metropolitan, which worked quite a bit better.
Take the time to consider your normal driving habits and route - certainly a trunk lip mount (mag or physical trunk mount) will be better than a simple duckie. The other thing is that a mag mount can scratch the heck out of your trunk if you don't put something under it to pad it. That's because grit can accumulate under the mount over time.