Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
In 2018, one of the best beginner drones was launched, the DJI Tello. But it’s not entirely manufactured by DJI. Ryze Robotics collaborated with DJI Flight technology and Intel processor to come up with this drone.
So, what makes it so fascinating?
The Ryze Tello is a small under $100 drone that’s great for kids and other drone enthusiasts who don’t want to spend a lot of money on their first drone. It comes with cool features such as several flight modes, a camera, an extended flight time, programming capabilities.
Please keep reading to find out more about this drone and why you should get one for yourself.
Table of contents:
- How Do You Set Up Your Tello?
- How High/ Fast Can Tello Fly?
- What Are the Features of DJI Tello?
- How to Control Your Tello?
- How to Program Ryze Tello?
- What Is the Difference Between Ryze Tello and Tello EDU?
- Pros and Cons of Ryze Tello:
- What Are The Alternatives to Ryze Tello?
- Final Thoughts:
How Do You Set Up Your Tello?
The setup process of a Ryze Tello drone is very straightforward. It can fly right out of the box. Below is a step-by-step process, so here you go
- Insert the battery and press the power button on the side of the drone.
- It doesn’t have a controller, so you will have to install the Tello app on your smartphone.
- It also connects through Wi-Fi. So on your smartphone, available Wi-Fi networks, look for the Tello and connect to it. And launch the App.
- As a new user, the App will give you a tour of how it works, and you’ll be good to go.
- The user interface is also easy to use. You’ll find the auto-takeoff option, flight modes, and settings.
- Since it’s your first time flying the Tello, ensure the speed is set to slow. You can change it to fast when you gain more experience.
- At the settings, you can also switch between on-screen viewing and FPV viewing. This is through the VR option. But for FPV flying, you’ll need to purchase a controller and the FPV goggles.
- You also have the option to set the photo and video quality. Always ensure the photo quality is set to High, and the bit rate should be at 100%.
- Other functionalities include the play button for playing the videos you’ve recorded. And the option to switch from recording to the camera.
- Once you familiarize yourself with the controls, you can click the takeoff button and slide to fly. There are several flight modes to use, but we’ll discuss them in detail later.
How High/ Fast Can Tello Fly?
The Tello can fly up to 30 meters high. Even though that’s possible, the Tello will have stability issues since the sensors are designed at an altitude of 10 meters or less. If your Tello is limited, several apps can help you extend the altitude.
The DJI Tello also has a maximum speed of 8 m/s (17.8 mph), which is pretty nice for such a drone. It also has an operating range of 100 meters.
If you fly it past that, it starts losing image quality and the connection to your phone. You may end up crashing it.
Tello Range Extender:
As mentioned earlier, the Tello connects to your phone through a wireless connection. This connection isn’t that strong, and it may lead to a lag in the video and even low-quality images.
This connection also limits how far you can fly the drone. Luckily, it’s possible to extend the range. All you need is a USB Wi-Fi repeater with a built-in amplifier and a portable power bank.
So, you connect both the phone and the Tello to the repeater. This gives a stronger connection and a more extended range.
Setting up the repeater isn’t that complicated either; you just have to follow the manual provided. Besides, when you establish the connection once, you won’t have to do it ever again, unless you’re setting up a new device.
How Long does a Tello Battery Last?
The manufacturer states that the battery lasts for 13 minutes. But in most cases, it only lasts between 5 and 10 minutes, especially if you’re flying too fast or using the programmable features.
What Are the Features of DJI Tello?
Now let’s explain some of the features that make this drone worth your time and money.
Despite being small and cheap, the DJI Tello has a 5Mp camera, and it achieves a 720p video quality.
This is quite impressive, considering that most drones at this price range can only achieve 2MP image quality. Other DJI drones come with gimbals to stabilize the images and videos.
They had to get creative with Tello by including Electronic Image Stabilization. So, you get flawless images without attaching heavy and expensive attachments.
We were also surprised to find it’s one of the few drones under $100 that have this Electronic Image Stabilization.
As mentioned in the setup process, Tello has no GPS. Instead, it has sensors and cameras underneath it that help it maintain the altitude.
These include infrared sensors, altimeters. The sensors also make it favorable for flying indoors. It’s challenging to do this with a GPS-enabled drone.
You can fly this drone from the ground by clicking the takeoff button. But it also has other flight modes that give you a couple of ways to fly it.
- Throw and go–This mode allows you to fly it by throwing it in the air. If you want to fly by throwing it, click on the Throw and go flight mode and throw the drone in the air within 5 seconds.
- Flip – This is a fun feature that allows you to flip the drone in 8 different directions by swiping your finger. The battery levels have to be above 50% to do the flips.
- 360 turn – This feature makes the drone rotate in 360 degrees. It can be helpful when you’re recording videos.
- Up and out – This mode allows you to fly the drone in “selfie” mode. The camera will be facing you or at the object of interest, and the drone moves further away and to a higher altitude.
- Circle – This mode enables the drone to circle an object (point of interest).
- Bounce Mode – Just like the name suggests. The drone bounces up and down.
- Landing – You can hand-land this drone by placing your hand under the drone within five seconds. You can also land it on the ground.
How to Control Your Tello?
As mentioned earlier, the Tello drone doesn’t have a controller. But the Tello App is still useful. It has self-centering features and an easy-to-use User Interface.
It also gives you a tour, so you’ll be flying the drone within minutes. Some users noted a lag in the video but switching off WhatsApp and other background apps helped solve this.
The Tello also doesn’t have internal memory, and it doesn’t have a slot for a Micro SD card. It saves the videos and images on your smartphone through Tello App.
If you need to use a controller, you can use the Bluetooth-enabled gaming controller.
This drone doesn’t come with many accessories. But this is understandable considering its low price.
In the package, you’ll find an extra set of propellers and a tool for removing the propellers. It also comes with a 1100mA battery.
It doesn’t come with a charging cable. I guess that’s one of their ways of cutting on the manufacturing cost.
The good thing is that it can use any other USB cable, like those you use to charge your smartphones.
The Tello has pre-installed propeller guards to protect the props from damage and to prevent any injuries.
You can also opt for the Ryze Tello combo, which includes two sets of propellers, three batteries, a charging hub, and a USB charging cable. This combo goes for only $149.
Now let’s get into a very important and editor feature of DJI TELLO that is coding.
Coding with Tello: Educational Purpose for Children and Teenager:
Flipping and rotating aren’t the only stunts this Toy drone can pull. It’s also programmable with Scratch, a programming language for kids and programming enthusiasts.
You can use Scratch to control the drone from your laptop or create pre-programmed flight plans.
Setting up Scratch:
Setting up Scratch can be quite frustrating, especially for a beginner. But with a little patience, it can be done. Below is an easy-to-follow process.
- Download the Scratch offline editor.
- For those using Mac, you need to install Adobe Air. Make sure you download the appropriate version based on your device.
- Download the Node.JS version that’s suitable for your device.
- Download these two files from Ryze Robotics – Tello.js and Tello.e2e. You need them to control the drone from your device effectively.
Setting up all the files:
- Install the Ryze files by holding down the shift key and pressing the “File” key.
- Click “Import Experimental HTTP Extension.”
- Then select the Tello.e2e you downloaded earlier.
- This will lead you to “More Blocks,” which contains specific functionalities for the Tello drone.
Running the Scratch script on your Computer – This process is similar to installing other applications through the Command-Line.
- On a Windows computer, hold down the Windows key and press “r.”
- In the Run window, type “cmd.exe.”
- On the screen that appears, fill in the path to where you saved the Scratch files.
- To access these files, go to Windows Explorer, and access the Scratch file, and copy the path at the top.
- Once you have the path, type “cd” in the screen that appeared earlier, and paste the path.
- Type “node tello.js” and click “Enter.”
Connect to the drone:
- Tello connects through Wi-Fi. So switch it on and access the available Wi-Fi connections.
- Tello should appear like any other Wi-Fi connection. So click on it and fill in the details.
Scratch has a Tello Control indicator. If it’s green, then you’re good to go. Another frustrating fact about Scratch is that you have to go through this process every time you switch on the Computer.
How to Program Ryze Tello?
Once you have set up all the aspects, programming the drone is very straightforward. Below are the key features you’ll be using.
- Event – This is a block that triggers an action. Be it the start of a flight or a flip. You start a flight by pressing the space bar or clicking the green flag.
- More blocks – This is a selection of commands specific for the Tello. They include flip, takeoff, etc.
- Controls – This feature allows you to customize the instructions.
- Sounds – You can include sounds within your programmed plan. But these sounds will be on the Computer, not on the drone.
You assign the controls by dragging and dropping them on the right side. Once it’s there, you can fill in your instructions.
Start with basic commands before moving to more complex ones as you hone your coding skills. It’s intimidating at first, but eventually, it becomes more fun.
If you are tech-savvy, you can also explore how you can program Tello with GO.
What Is the Difference Between Ryze Tello and Tello EDU?
Tello EDU (Education) is pretty much an upgrade to the Tello. And it’s slightly more expensive. While you can only program the Tello with Scratch, you can program Tello EDU with Scratch, Swift, and Python.
Another significant difference is the ability to create drone swarms. Tello EDU allows you to program several drones simultaneously and have them pull some cool stunts.
You will have to purchase several Tello EDU drones to use this functionality.
The Tello EDU also comes with SDK 2.0 and mission pads. So, you can program it to flip, rotate, or do any other activities once it detects the mission pads.
Besides the standard Tello App, there’s a Tello EDU app that allows you to program the drone using Scratch. This App has a cartoon like interface that may not be so appealing to some people, but it’s an excellent way to learn programming before moving to Switch and Python.
Pros and Cons of Ryze Tello:
- The Tello drone is one of the most affordable drones.
- The sensors stabilize it efficiently while both indoors and outdoors.
- It has several flight modes that are fun and unique for its price range.
- Coding it with Scratch helps you learn how to code as you have fun.
- The digital image stabilization enables even beginners to capture smooth footage.
- The 720p image quality is relatively low for photography tasks.
- It’s easily blown away by wind due to its lightweight.
- The manufacturer doesn’t include a controller. Controlling it through the phone may have some glitches, and a Bluetooth controller comes at an extra cost.
- It has no in-built memory or memory slots. So, you have to rely on your phone’s memory.
- It has no “return-to-home” feature and other GPS capabilities.
What Are The Alternatives to Ryze Tello?
The DJI Tello may not be the only unique drone under $100. More models have sprung up and are giving Ryze Tello a run for their money. Below are two good alternatives.
Parrot Mambo Fly:
This is another mini-drone that costs half the Tello’s price when you include all the accessories.
Besides being relatively cheap, it comes with a Bluetooth connection, which, in some cases, may work better than a Wi-Fi connection. But the Bluetooth connection also limits the range to about 80 meters.
The Parrot Mambo Fly has no camera. But considering you can’t use the Tello’s camera for any professional business, this may not be a deal-breaker.
You also don’t need to use a smartphone when controlling the Parrot Mambo Fly, just a gaming controller. Even though it has no camera, you can purchase an FPV camera.
Some other accessories designed for it include a canon for shooting small beads and a grabber that can carry items weighing at least 4 grams.
The Parrot Mambo Fly uses the same sensors as the Tello, but it’s not always that stable. The battery also lasts a maximum of 9 minutes. It also doesn’t have the flight modes you’ll find in the Tello.
If you don’t want a camera, the Parrot Mambo Fly can be a perfect replacement for the DJI Tello. Better yet, you can also program the Parrot Mambo Fly with Swift. So, you get to do most of the cool stuff at a lower price.
Holy Stone F181W- My Pic:
Holy Stone is another brand that manufactures affordable beginner drones. The Holy Stone F181W has some advantages over both the Ryze Tello and Parrot Mambo Fly.
For starters, it has a 1080p camera which ensures high-quality videos and photographs. You just have to download the app to use the FPV mode.
The altitude hold works just like the image sensors in the Tello. So, the drone can hover for a long time as you take photographs and record your videos.
We didn’t find much about programming it with scratch and other languages, but you can customize the flight path through the app. It can also do a 3D Flip.
The battery lasts for 8 to 10 minutes, and it has an operating range of up to100 meters. The other cool features include voice control, gesture control and even a headless design that makes it easier to fly.
Another reason why you should consider this drone is the accessories that come with it. For roughly $60, you get the drone, a controller, two batteries, two charging cables, extra propellers, propeller guards and a screwdriver.
Not A Bad Deal!!
And that’s it on the Ryze Tello. It’s small, sleek, cheap, and the perfect drone for a beginner. What we find fascinating is the ability to code with Scratch. It’s a good way for you and your kids to learn and have fun.
An upgrade to the Tello EDU can also be a good idea for those who’d love to try other programming languages.