• Scanner Antenna for Car, Suggestions?

  • Discussion related to railroad radio frequencies, railroad communication practices, equipment, and more.
Discussion related to railroad radio frequencies, railroad communication practices, equipment, and more.

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by bwparker1

I would like to by an antenna to use with my handheld when in the car. Something that mounts on the exterior of the car, and something not too expensive. I don't need ot pick up signals 75 miles away, but would ike to avoid the interference from the car shell and get a little more range than with the rubber antenna the acnner came with. I have a Bearcat XLT-60, pretty basic but is fine for what I need, just the 160-162 range.


  by keeper1616
I have a BC350A - but you need to be careful, as most states (as well as PA if I remember correctly) require you to be a law enforcement official or an amateur radio operator to have one in your car...
  by jmp883
First and foremost....as stated above.....make sure it is legal to possess a scanner in your vehicle. In states where it is illegal, they can be taken from you at the location of the motor vehicle stop. Check with both your local and state authorities.

Now then, if it is legal, Radio Shack makes a magnet mount all-band scanner antenna that works just great. If putting a magnet on your vehicle isn't what you'd prefer to do, you can buy a car stereo antenna splitter (also from Radio Shack) and use your factory radio antenna for both the scanner and the car radio. This is the arrangement I use in my car, between a BC-780 and a Kenwood CD/FM Tuner and neither radio suffers for performance.

There are glass-mount antennas, my experience with them has not been all that good. They do receive, but at least in my geographic area, not all that well.

Hope this helps. :D

Joe P
Railfan (Long Live The EL)
Scanner Buff
Emergency Services Dispatcher

  by TAMR213
I have an MHB5800 by Maxrad that I got through Railcom. Is a mag mount, and scans all bands. Has a 12 foot cord too, so you can go some distance away from the engine with it. I find that it works verywell while on a car and out in the open, and works pretty good while in my apartment building. IIRC, it cost me around $70 or so.

  by james1787
Definitely make sure it is legal in your state first. I am a ham radio operator and a volunteer firefighter, so I am covered in two areas. Although I don't know of anyone who has ever had their scanner taken away, I've hear enough stories. I'm sure perhaps they'll be a little more cautious in this day of age.

As far as antennas go, I don't like mag mounts. Unless you own a car that you don't care about the paint, stay away from them. They do a great job of scratching the surface. I use the trunk-lip type mount on anything that's leased. I also have an older pickup truck with real bad paint. That sucker has a permanent drilled mount.

  by SeldenJrFireman
If your car has a roof rack, you can also permanent mount it to that.

  by Engineer
Take the Radio Shack magnet mount, and use only the top for or so whip piece and put that directly into the base. The antenna is then "tuned" in the VHF-Hi range pretty close to 160MHz, and is an improvement over using the whole antenna.

  by railohio
Diamond NR770HA 2m/70cm dual bander and a suitable mount.

  by oldrails
For 160 to 162 about the best thing you are going to get is a 5/8 wave or 4/8 (just putting a half wave in perspective to a 5/8) antenna. Usually mounted on a magnetic mount with a cable going into the scanner.

Someone recommended a dual band ham antenna, that's what I use, they're not cheap but they work very well and will be resonant at vhf and uhf so you can hear the end of train devices further.

Another option is a quarter wave cut for 160 mHz, not meters :) . Someone in this forum mentioned the radio shack antenna using only the top section. That should work out about right although, what I have done is use the bottom section without the top coil and whip. Works out to a dual band antenna 1/4 wave on 160 and on 460 as well.
Or you could use it as it was intended which makes it a quarter wave on vhf low, vhf high, and uhf low.

The antenna is everything or almost everything, so it's worth putting some money into a good one if you enjoy listening to your scanner.