With the increasing adoption and implementation of IEC 61850 based substation automation systems (SAS), it has now become very important for power system engineers to know and understand technologies outside the realm of regular power system concepts which are not taught until graduate studies. Present day tools and systems are either costly and proprietary in nature or, are open source but not easy to understand and use them to implement and test protection and automation schemes based on International Electro technical Commission (IEC) 61850 in a lab based environment. Taking this as motivation, an IEC 61850 based laboratory prototype is developed using royalty free and free and open source software (FOSS) for modeling the power system and the distance relay. In order to show the flexibility of the proposed framework, a complex and vital protection scheme known as local breaker backup (LBB) which has been recently integrated into a centralized bus bar protection scheme is implemented and tested. Personal computers are used as merging unit (MU) and intelligent electronic devices (IEDs), and, Ethernet based local area network (LAN) and switches have been used for implementing process bus and station bus. This cost effective prototype can be used by the academia and engineers to study, understand, implement and test various IEC 61850 based protection and automation schemes. © 2013 IEEE.