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Reliable and efficient operation of substation equipment is of considerable importance to transmission and distribution networks. The paper explores the new emerging IEC61850 substation communication standard and presents an IEC61850 based laboratory platform that consists of real time digital simulator (RTDS), several embedded programmable interrupt controller (PIC) boards and a PC. The RTDS is used to simulate a substation suitable for the investigation of various monitoring, protection and control functions. Embedded microcomputer boards are used as intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) or relays to sample and control the substation equipment. The PC is used as the substation micro SCADA system having client/server communication software and human machine interface (HMI). It displays the status of the substation equipment graphically. An integrated application for monitoring the power quality in the substation is presented and discussed.