Which one should I buy?
The Tello drones are made by Ryze Technologies, but use DJI flight control systems and Intel processors. They are also only available via DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer, distribution networks. So, these pretty much form the entry level drone in the DJI product range. But which drone is best for schools and for STEM education outcomes? This is the question we are going to answer below.
The hardware of all three Tello drones are the same. An 87 gram drone, 5 MP forward facing camera (no gimbal), visual positioning sensor (no GPS), and it is programmable. As an entry level drone there is a lot packed into this 87 grams and for the relatively cheap price point.
Each drone also comes with one interchangeable LiPo battery that has a claimed flight time of 13 minutes, but this is likely in laboratory conditions, hovering, and draining the battery below a recommended 20% discharge. In the real world of flying, flips (did we mention you can do flips with this drone), and a little bit of a breeze or movement from fans or aircon, then landing with 20% battery life left, a more reasonable 9 minutes of flying can be expected.
What is the Tello good for?
The Tello is a fantastic entry level drone for those who are nervous about getting started with something larger, more expensive, and that can do more damage. This makes it a fantastic drone for students, and drone for schools.
Being able to program the Tello as well (more on that soon) makes it a fantastic fit for the STEM and Digital Technologies curriculum.
What is the Tello not good for?
The Tello is 87 grams. It fits very much in the microdrone category and as such it has some limitations when compared to its larger cousins in the DJI range.
A little bit of wind if flying this outdoors and as much as those little motors are going to fight to keep it stable, this will not be the little drone that could. It will drift away with the wind, and if students are flying outdoors then panic and a moment of chaos will ensue. We recommend that the Tello is flown indoors in an enclosed space, particularly in schools. Even a bit of a breeze from gymnasium fans and air conditioners can create havoc.
This is not the drone for capturing drone data for mapping, or creating a cinematography masterpiece either. The camera is pretty amazing for a 87 gram drone, but not that amazing.
Can I program with the Tello?
Yes, you can! This is where we believe the real power of the Tello range is. With each of the Tello’s you can do block coding with the Tello endorsed third party app, and you can even code with various line coding languages with DroneBlocks. This makes it an amazing learning tool for problem-based learning challenges, where the drone is just the tool for engagement. We have plenty of STEM and Digital Technologies teachers, as well as teachers from other subjects using the Tello drones in their classrooms.
Tello EDU App
This is the app we use for the classroom manual flight and coding.
What is the Difference Between the Three Models?
Between the Tello and the Tello EDU, not much!
The Tello has a white top and sits in the Consumer division of DJI products. It is only available (in Australia) via the large electronics resellers such as JB HiFi and Harvey Norman. It can still be flown with the Tello EDU app, and coded with DroneBlocks. It also has a boxed Tello Boost Combo option, which comes with two additional batteries (so three in total in the box), and a 3 port charging hub.
Tello - $169
Tello Boost Combo - $239
The Tello EDU has a translucent black top and sits in the Education division of DJI products. It is only available (in Australia) by education resellers such as She Maps. The Tello EDU comes with what DJI calls mission pads, and are essentialy mouse pad size fancy QR codes that can be used with object recognition coding. The Tello EDU has more access to the SDK (software Developers Kit), than the consumer range Tello, for more advanced coding features.
Tello EDU - $219
Tello EDU Boost Combo - $299
The Tello Talent
The Tello Talent is an all red drone and sits in the Education division of DJI products, again only being sold by education resellers. It also comes with the mission pads, as well as a ESP32 open-source controller that clips onto the top with a lego type connection, and is powered via the micro usb port on the side of the drone. It supports Arduino and Micro Python, a programmable dot matrix LED screen, distance measurement and obstacle avoidance, and the ability to integrate other sensors.
Tello Talent - $389
Tello Talent Boost Combo - $469
Both the Tello EDU and Tello Talent are not sold with boxed Boost Combos, however we recommend buying two additional batteries per drone and a 3 port charging hub. We package these up as our own boost combos when you buy with us.
So which Tello should I buy?
It depends! We recommend that most schools start with the Tello EDU. By purchasing through an education reseller such as She Maps, then you get the educational advice that you potentially won’t get by walking into JB HiFi or Harvey Norman.
The Tello EDU when compared to the Tello Talent is going to have enough learning in it for the vast majority of schools getting started with drones, or wanting to introduce some line coding with the drones. The Tello Talent is created for those schools who have mastered the fundamentals, and are already advanced with Arduino or Micro Python applications, and are wanting the additional challenge of flying!
To get some tips on the Tello Talent, you might like to watch this video from our recent EduDrone conference, where Chris Swallow talks about how he is integrating the Tello Talent into his classroom.
What drone equipment accessories should I get?
As we mentioned above, we recommend you get the extra batteries (so you have 3 per drone) and a charging hub. We sell these as Boost Combos across each of the Tello EDU and Tello Talent.
Each drone requires a tablet to connect to and fly with using the apps. They can be coded with DroneBlocks using a laptop via Chrome, but you can do the manual flying with a laptop. We use iPad Mini 2’s. Other schools are successfully using Android devices as well.
Other accessories on offer are a drone cage that fits over the top of the drone, and handheld controllers (like a playstation controller) that connect to the tablet via bluetooth. We generally don’t recommend schools get these as the propellor guards that come fitted to the drone provide sufficient protection when using the drone properly. The handheld controllers don’t provide any additional learning functionality, and are an added piece of equipment where the money is best used elsewhere.
What are the most common tech challenges?
Like all technology, there are challenges along the way. These include connection issues, drones drifting and not hovering in one place, setting up drones for the classroom, and using the right Tello apps.
Watch Paul’s recent EduDrone Video, How to remove the gremlins from your drones before you fly
Where does this fit within the curriculum?
Each year we run an online conference called EduDrone. This brings together teachers, academics, and industry professionals who share their stories of how drones are being used to inspire, educate, and solve problems. Here are two more talks from 2019 and 2020 that might help you.
Using drones to Engage with STEM by Stealth, Dr Karen Joyce
Teaching Digital Technology on a Shoestring, Clair Allan
About She Maps
She Maps is Australia’s leading experts in drone and geospatial education.
Here’s three ways She Maps can help:
- Teachers Guide – Learn how to set up a Drone Program – Free eBook & Learning Solutions Guide
- Teacher Resources – Find out more about our programs here and purchase individual programs here
- Teacher Professional Development & Support – Discover how we can provide ongoing PD and support with our She Maps Membership here
Ready to buy drones for your school? We are an authorised DJI reseller in Australia.