DJI Tello Alternatives – Top 5 Best Educational Drones

By Pilot Institute
Posted on March 7, 2024 - 5 minute read

The DJI Tello fills a niche in the drone market – a cheap, small, and programmable drone.

Much to the disappointment of Tello fans, the drone is no longer available in the DJI store.

So, if you can no longer buy a DJI Tello, what should you get instead?

In this article, we take a look at three Tello alternatives that might be just as good – or better.

What’s Up With the DJI Tello?

The DJI Tello drone is possibly discontinued.

The DJI Tello has been out of stock in the official DJI store for several months. DJI has not officially confirmed that they have discontinued production of the drone. However, DJI hasn’t publicly stated they will continue manufacturing the Tello either.

Of course, buying the DJI Tello from third-party vendors is still possible. You can also consider getting used DJI Tello drones. However, with no indication of new DJI Tello drones entering the market, it may be the end of the DJI Tello era.

Features to Look for in a DJI Tello Alternative

DJI Tello with text pointing out the four main features.

In looking for an alternative to the DJI Tello, we must consider the question – what made the DJI Tello so good? Despite its simplicity and age, the Tello has enjoyed enduring popularity. This is particularly true among beginner drone pilots and STEM students.


At just $99, the DJI Tello has long been one of the most inexpensive ways to get into drones. The Tello Booster combo with extra propellers and batteries is priced at a very affordable $149.

Small and Light

The DJI Tello is also an incredibly compact drone. It may not have the foldable propeller arms that the Mavic drones have made popular, but it still has a very small footprint. This makes it perfect for carrying around.

User Friendly

DJI designed the Tello specifically to appeal to beginners. For newcomers to drone flying, it ticks all the boxes – from the included propeller guards to its fun gesture control.


One of the more unique things about the DJI Tello is that it can also be a tool for STEM education. More specifically, the drone can be programmed using the Scratch coding platform. This allows you to program the DJI Tello to perform simple actions in response to specific commands. The coding is very rudimentary, but it’s a great way for young learners to get into coding.

There are plenty of cheap, light, and beginner-friendly drones out there.  What makes the DJI Tello truly unique is its value as an entry-level drone for STEM education.

If you can’t get your hands on a DJI Tello anymore, check out this list of the best educational drones you can buy instead.

Top 5 Best Educational Drones

Crazyflie Drone in the DroneBlocks Autonomous Drones Level II Kit

A picture of the Crazyflie drone.

The Crazyflie Drone is part of the DroneBlocks Classroom Bundle, a STEM drone kit designed for classrooms of all skill levels. Weighing only 27 grams and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the Crazyflie is perfect for indoor flight within classroom settings. They are agile, accurate, and Section 889 compliant.

Drones in the DroneBlocks Classroom Bundle can be programmed using either block coding or Python programming via the DroneBlocks app. The app itself is designed to be modern and accessible, making it an excellent learning environment for both teachers and students. It also has a simulator function for real-time testing and refining of the code before the drone actually takes off.

RoboLink CoDrone EDU Drone Kit

RoboLink CoDrone EDU in front of a laptop.

The RoboLink CoDrone EDU is the best pick for a DJI Tello alternative. The drone kit starts at $215, which is significantly more expensive than the DJI Tello. However, the CoDrone EDU is arguably a more capable drone.

The CoDrone EDU is similarly small, lightweight, and can be programmed with easy-to-use coding blocks. However, this drone can also be coded using Python, making it appropriate for more advanced coding students.

The CoDrone EDU has seven sensors, lights and sounds, and an LCD screen. Even the Smart Controller, which comes with the drone, is programmable. All of these parts combine to create a wide range of possibilities for coding and automation.

RoboLink CoDrone Mini Programmable Educational Drone Kit

RoboLink CoDrone Mini and controller.

The RoboLink CoDrone Mini is a much cheaper version of the CoDrone EDU, starting at only $99. It is also lighter, smaller, and safer for younger students.

Like the CoDrone EDU, the CoDrone Mini can be programmed using both a coding block platform and Python. It has fewer sensors and lacks the fancy LCD and audio features of its more expensive counterpart. Even so, it’s a perfectly serviceable learning tool for coding.

Despite the low cost, the CoDrone Mini also has built-in propellers and is appropriately durable for young users. It’s relatively safe to fly indoors and can take a fair bit of punishment.

DEXI Drone in the DroneBlocks Autonomous Drones Level III Kit

A picture of the DEXI drone.

The DEXI – short for Drone for Exploration and Innovation – Drone is described as the ultimate research and development drone for high school and college students. It is a drone that students will need to build from scratch, then program and customize. This makes the DEXI a fantastic teaching tool for mechanics, electronics, and aerodynamics.

Learning real-world coding skills via DroneBlocks and Python becomes particularly engaging with the DEXI, with its PX4 flight stack and an all-in-one controller that integrates optical flow sensing and onboard computing capabilities. Again, the DEXI is compliant with NDAA and Section 889 regulations.

Raspberry Pi Drone

Custom-built Raspberry Pi drone.

A drone built with a Raspberry Pi admittedly stretches the definition of an ‘educational drone.’  

This advanced project is not the kind a beginner in drones or coding would want to take on. A Raspberry Pi drone is for those who are really into building and customizing drones.

The central element of this type of drone, of course, is a WiFi-enabled Raspberry Pi board. You are also going to need an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC), battery, telemetry module, propellers, motors, a power distribution board, and an RC controller. Putting all these elements together into a robust drone frame is a worthy challenge, even for the most experienced drone hobbyists.

How the Raspberry Pi board interacts with the drone’s sensors and flight components is where your skills in coding will come in. The most common programming language used with the Raspberry Pi is Python. Several Python-based libraries are adaptable to drone flight. These libraries allow for fairly advanced functions such as mapping and obstacle avoidance.


The DJI Tello is a very unique drone that fulfills a niche that perhaps no other drone does. It’s not going to be around forever, and there is a chance that you may not be able to get one anytime soon.

Fortunately, there are affordable alternatives that offer a similar experience to the DJI Tello.

Scored % on their FAA Exam